The Lord spoke a parable in Matthew 20 concerning a householder looking for workmen for his vineyard. We have to pay attention to two words, “standing idle.” The householder “went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place, and to those he said, You also go into the vineyard” (vv. 3-4). “And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and said to them, Why have you been standing here all the day idle?…You also go into the vineyard” (vv. 6-7). This parable shows us that God does not want us to be idle; He wants us to work. It also tells us that God has His sphere of work—His vineyard. We may say that we are very busy, and that we are not idle at all. But are we busy in the right place? If we are not working in the vineyard, how is that different from being idle? If we are not living in the will of God, it does not matter how much we have worked; in the eyes of God we are still idle. We may be very busy with our spiritual work, but in God’s eyes we are very idle.
The only work that God approves is work in the vineyard. The work in the vineyard is the work that is genuinely from God and for God. If our work is outside God’s will, our days are idle days in the eyes of God. The householder told the ones standing at the eleventh hour, “Why have you been standing here all the day idle?” The entire day signifies man’s whole life. Brothers and sisters, what about us? Are we idle, or are we working in the vineyard? Do not be mistaken. I am not saying that we have to quit our job and be a preacher. The most important thing is being clear about our standing and knowing that we are standing in the will of God in whatever we are doing. To work in the vineyard means to work according to God’s will. There are many kinds of work in the vineyard. Some are digging the ground; others are sowing; still others are trimming. Whatever we do, as long as it is for the vineyard, it is good. We should not consider that it is God’s work only when we work as certain people do or only when we do certain things. No, we do not have to do that. As long as our days are spent in the vineyard, they are counted.
Brothers and sisters, you may have been saved for three or five years. Or you may have been saved for ten or twenty years. How much time have you spent for the Lord? It is true that you have done much. But for whom are you doing these works? As long as you are sure that you are working according to God’s will, everything will be fine. God has no intention that every Christian drop his job to be a gospel preacher. Sometimes it is contrary to God’s will for someone to give himself up solely for gospel work. It is a matter of your heart and how much it is towards God. Hence, consecration is indispensable. From the day you were saved until now, if you have not had a heart for God, your life has been an idle one. (Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 38: General Messages (2))
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