Chapter 7, Part 4
Overcomers have to be Faithful
When the gracious Lord was on earth, He clearly stated: ''The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." (Luke 6:45) Also, the Holy Spirit spoke through Solomon: "Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flows the springs of life." He also told us that the behavior of a person is totally dependent on how he thinks (Prov. 4:23,23:7). These truths reveal to us that the man's heart and action are inseparable! This is just like that described in the chapter on "Rectifying One's Heart'' in the Chinese Classics entitled The Great Learning: "When the heart is not there, the eyes look but do not see; the ears hear but do not understand; the mouth eats but does not know the flavor." So the cultivation of the personality is dependent on the rectification of the heart. Mencius even said, "Education is no other than the concentration of loose thoughts!" So the overcomer must have the internal (heart) before its form can be seen in the external. There has to be the existence of overcoming in the internal before the realization of overcoming. If not, all efforts would be wasted like chasing after the wind! What then should be the internal attitude of the overcomer?
Everyone living with a free will, whether it is of the spirit, or of the flesh, must be tested and chosen in order to partake as overcomers in the Kingdom. In the example of Gideon, 300 men were selected from 32,000 after a double elimination. The brave men of David were all victorious fighters. The Scriptures also tell us that being chosen is largely dependent on the training before the choosing. For example, the difference between Saul and David can be seen from the cause and effect standpoints. From the effect standpoint, the former rebelled against God whereas the latter obeyed God. From the cause standpoint, the latter was trained extensively over a long time period and then tested. The former did not have any testing. Moreover, even the gracious Lord was trained for thirty years! After thirty years, He still had to be tested!
A. The Truth of Faithfulness
How can one overcome? The Scriptures clearly state: "be faithful" (Rev. 17:14). The reason that Moses is Moses is because of his faithfulness. This extends even to Christ! This is just as the Scriptures recorded: "He (Christ) was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house." (Heb. 3:2) The gracious Lord saved us and gave us a dual position: to be His children and also His servants. Since we are His children, we should love Him. Since we are His servants, we should be faithful. No wonder the Scriptures repeatedly teaches us to love God and also be faithful (John 14:21; Matt.24:45; 1 Cor. 4:2). He did tell us that when the master returns to settle the account with the servants, only those good and faithful servants can be assigned to rule over many things in His Kingdom.In Luke, He even said, "Have authority to rule over ten cities...five cities." (Luke 19:17-19) What then is faithfulness?
"Faithful" and "good" (Matt. 25:21) in this Scripture portion should be synonyms according to the grammatical structure and it is quite obvious in Luke. The "good" mentioned in the beginning of the verse is the "faithful" mentioned later (Luke 19:17). The Greek word "good" often has the meaning of "best". When Jesus was preaching at Mary's home, Martha complained about Mary because she did not help her. Jesus defended Mary by saying, "Mary has chosen the good part". The word "good" here is the same "good" used in the previous verse and the meaning is "best". This is what David said in his Psalm: "Thou art My Lord, I have no good besides Thee." (Pss. 16:2) James also said, "Every good (best) thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above..." (Jas.1:17).
Since ''faithful" is "best", the meaning of "best" should be "doing one's best". Therefore, "faithful" is "doing one's best". This matches the Chinese definition of the word "faithful" which is "doing all one can". In fact, if a person can do his best and try his hardest, a "non faithful" person will become faithful. So, no matter it is the west or east, in religion or philosophy, faithful is "doing one's best". So as long as the servant is willing to do his best, the master is satisfied. This is why the master gave the same praise to the servant who made two thousand and the servant who made five thousand. What the master is concerned is not with the results of the work, but the person trained and built up through work. Although the one who made two thousand is three thousand less that the one who made five thousand, he has put forth his best effort and accomplished the master's desire. He was chosen! Suppose the one who made five thousand only made four thousand five hundred. Although he is two thousand five hundred more than the one who made two thousand, would he be chosen? Would the master praise him? This is an interesting question. Simply stated, the gracious Lord has always been more concerned with the worker more than the work. The Kingdom needs people, those who are brave and faithful, those who live not for themselves but for the Lord and are even willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the Kingdom. The Kingdom does not need denominations, buildings, organizations, etc.!
Then a common question "Why is it that many faithful and good workers in the church were taken by the Lord in their prime?" is also answered. If they live longer would they not be more beneficial to the ministry of the Kingdom of Preparation? Yes, the ministry of the Kingdom of Preparation is important, but the personnel required by the Lord in the Eternal Kingdom is even more important. They have been trained and have become useful vessels. They have taken the test and passed. They are qualified to be "the chosen ones". At the same time, the Eternal Kingdom needs them. Certainly the gracious Lord would want them to put down their earthly labor and do what He has prepared for them since the foundation of the world and enjoy the glory prepared for them! This is why Christ Himself was only on earth for thirty three and a half years and concluded His life on earth with the word ''finished" and returned to Heaven.
In fact, in regard to work, when Christ was on earth, other than the twelve disciples, only five hundred believed Him. But when He was on the cross, he said,"It is finished!" "Finished!" What does that mean? At that time, not only everyone in the world are in the hand of the evil one, steeped in sin, even in Judea, there were tens of thousands who were not saved. ''They were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd!" If He could have lived for another thirty or forty years, would there have been many more souls saved? How can He say: "It is finished"? Yes, it is "finished"! Not that the complete salvation is now finished but that the training that He ought to have was finished. His mission was finished. This is just how He witnessed to God the Father concerning what He Himself did: "I glorified Thee on earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." (John 17:4,5)
This does not mean that work is not important. Rather, work is not the end but the means. Work is a tool. If there is no work, then there would not be any training. If a person is not doing his best in his work, he cannot become a faithful and useful Kingdom personnel! Being faithful is not just talk. Faithfulness is achieved by "getting down to business" and accumulated over years of training through work!