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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : The Lord’s interests in His church by T. Austin Sparks

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 The Lord’s interests in His church by T. Austin Sparks

“Now, if we are selfish, it will be very clearly marked by our having
no concern for the Lord's interests and for the interests of the
Lord's people, which are the same thing. Selfishness and
self-centredness and self-interest will keep us from any kind of
active and costly concern for the interests of the people of God. If
we lack that kind of concern for the Lord's interests and the
interests of the Lord's people, the interests of souls, the interest
for the house of God; if we lack that kind of sacrificial and active
concern, it is because we are wrapped up in ourselves and our own
interests, that we are self-centred and utterly selfish. The
unselfishness of the Lord was seen in that He forgot Himself and let
go everything for the Father's interests. If we are not right out for
the Lord's interests, right out for the sake of the people of God (and
that must not be just a mental picture of service, it may be something
very near to us, those with whom we are most closely in touch every
day), if we are not actively concerned for their spiritual welfare,
however much it costs us, that betrays a selfishness of the grossest
kind. Unselfishness is seen in this costly self-sacrifice for the
Lord's interests in His people. Samuel embodied that, and because he
embodied that, he became who he was and therefore he is a great
example of spiritual growth.

Let it be recognised that our spiritual growth comes not by turning in
on ourselves and being occupied with ourselves and our own misfortunes
and our own troubles, but it is in travail, a travail which is outward
for the Lord's interests - suffering, yes, not because of our
disappointment, our set-back, because we are not getting what we want,
and what our hearts are set upon, but it is, after all, the Lord in
the Lord's people and the Lord's house.

We will never grow by being occupied with ourselves. Real spiritual
growth comes along the line of outward objective exercise and travail
for the people of God, whether those people of God be saved or
unsaved. It is that the Lord should have what His heart desires in a
people. Israel was in a very needy state at this time, and this
travail undoubtedly was sovereign travail. It was not just ordinary
natural travail. It was something that God was doing, it was all going
to be God's doing, God's miracle, to get Samuel. But the point is that
Samuel, as we shall see, grew and grew to the whole dimensions of a
great spiritual need in the Lord's people. He became the personal
embodiment of this travail, this suffering, this selflessness, which
was not drawing and holding to itself, but was turned out. Hannah, as
soon as she possibly could, weaned this child to take him and leave
him at the house of God for God's purposes. You see, then,
unselfishness of that kind is a way of spiritual growth and spiritual
enlargement.

Now, what is our spiritual condition? Do not let us think that
intensity of personal occupation with spiritual things, which locks us
up in ourselves is a mark of spiritual growth, or that we are going to
grow that way. Real heart concern for the Lord'senlargement in His
people and those round about us, immediately next to us, His interests
in this life that is nearest to me every day, and those lives around
and beyond, will bring me out into enlargement and be the way of my
spiritual increase. If I am just turned in all the time on my problem,
my difficulty, my disappointment, my need, my failure, it may become
just the expression of selfishness. The fact is that we come into an
awful morass, into a quagmire, along that line, and the Lord does not
get us out. If we are waiting for the Lord to get us out, we will wait
a very long time. The Lord says: 'You do something about this, you
take action about this; I am not going in until you have resolved and
taken hold of this situation, and then I will help.' But the Lord has
no interest in selfish people; the Lord does nothing with people
turned in on themselves. He leaves them there until the time comes
when they either fade right out or say, 'This cannot go on any longer.
I am getting nowhere, something has got to happen!' And then the Lord
does come to our help.”


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