A Word to Servants
James Smith, 1865
(Editor's note: this article was written when many employed "servants" in their homes. Though we do not have servants today — this article applies to all Christian employees.)
We always consider good servants, very honorable characters. They are a comfort to the family in which they live, and a blessing to all by whom they are surrounded. But none can be really good servants — but such as make the precepts of God's word their rule. Every good servant will often read over the directions of holy scriptures, and earnestly pray for grace to reduce them to practice. A good servant will obey his employers for the Lord's sake; he will perceive that God has appointed him to be a servant, and he can glorify God best, at present, in that character.
To professing Christian servants, we now write. It is their welfare we especially seek. The character of God's cause is to a certain extent in their hands. Their employers will judge of religion — by the tempers they manifest, the course they pursue, and the virtues or vices which they display. It is not what you say — but what you do, which will impress and affect your employers. Your life should preach the gospel to them. They ought to see that religion makes you more patient, industrious, submissive, obliging, and cheerful than other servants. That you have another spirit in you. That you walk by another rule. That you act as under the eye of God. That you have that precept continually before you, "Servants, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free." (Ephesians 6:5-8)
But the subject to which we wish especially to call your attention, is your duty to your unconverted fellow-servants. Most servants have unconverted fellow-servants associated with them; over these they must exercise an influence, either good or bad. They are daily making some impression upon them — but the question is: Is it the right impression? You ought to set your heart upon bringing your fellow-servants to God. Their speedy conversion to God should be kept constantly before your eye. With a view to this, you should avoid whatever would needlessly offend them, and endeavor by all lawful means to win their affections. Kind words and little attentions will often do this. If you are willing to oblige them, as far and as frequently as you can, without sin, you will soon win their hearts; for kindness is almost omnipotent.
Do not be always talking to them about religion — but watch for opportunities. Walk religiously always — but only talk of religion occasionally. Make them feel that you wish to do them good. Speak a word for God whenever you have a good opportunity. Speak kindly as a friend, not as if you felt yourself superior. Invite them to accompany you to the house of God, when you can get out together. Say what you can to commend your minister to them, and to awaken in them a desire to hear him. Talk after the services, of the sermons you have heard, repeat short striking passages. Tell them of any interesting anecdotes you hear. Let them see that religion with you is not a form — but a living reality; that it makes you happy, and that you wish them to be as happy as yourself.
Every now and then give, or lay in their way, some suitable religious tract or little book. Be determined to leave no stone unturned, or neglect the use of any means, until you see them decided believers on the Son of God. Say, both by your words and deeds, "If you perish in your sins — it shall not be through any neglect of mine. If you will go to Hell — I will not be accessory to your destruction!" Set apart special times to pray for them, and pray for their immediate conversion. Pray for them by name. Pray as if you were really in earnest for their salvation, as if your heart's desire and prayer to God was, that they might be saved. Pray for them when you sit by them in the house of God. Pray for them when you know that they are gone out carousing, and are running into temptation. Never despair of doing them good. Never give way to the thought that God will not use such a poor instrument as you are. God does use just such, and will most probably use you, if you really wish him to do so.
I knew a young woman, of no particular talent, who though not exactly a servant at the time, had been; and who, at the time referred to, gained her living by needlework. She went to hear a sermon one week-day evening, the preacher took for his text, Psalm 30:5, and the sermon was an experimental one: the impression made upon her heart was, "If that is real religion, I am a stranger to it." By that sermon the Holy Spirit converted her soul. When she began to enjoy religion herself, she became intensely interested in, and concerned for, the salvation of her old acquaintances. She was living with a widow, who attended the village church, was a stranger to godliness, and deeply prejudiced against Dissenters. She endeavored to induce her to accompany her to the chapel — but in vain: at length one Sunday evening, she continued pleading with her so long, that at last she prevailed; but having two miles to go, they were so late that the sermon was begun. What the widow heard she very much disliked, and made up her mind that nothing should induce her to leave her "dear church" in future. However, kind importunity prevailed again; she came in time to hear the prayer; her eyes and her heart were opened; while the minister was praying, the thought rushed into her mind, "Why, that is spiritual prayer." She listened to the sermon, went home, and became a new creature in Christ Jesus.
She had three daughters and one son; in process of time they were all brought to God. She had a sister with four daughters and a son; and they were all led to the Savior. A number of others from the same village were turned from darkness to light, and a considerable number regularly attended all the means of grace, of whom we cannot speak decidedly.
Here, then, was one young woman, of no extraordinary attainments, in humble circumstances, brought to the knowledge of the truth. Her heart glows with love to Christ. She travails in birth for souls. She labors to bring others under the means, and the result is two whole families are made happy in the Lord, others are consecrated to God, and who shall say where it will end!
Other cases might be mentioned — but I introduce this, because I knew all the parties, many of whom are now living, and can attest its truth.
Servants, set your heart upon the conversion of souls, especially the souls of those who live and labor with you. Let nothing satisfy you but bringing souls to Christ. Live for this. Labor for this. Pray for this. It cannot be in vain; you will reap a rich reward in your own soul, even if you do not witness the success you wish. Our members, who are servants, should be our home missionaries, they should carry the gospel where we cannot go. They should fill the pews, which we cannot do. Beloved friends, we beseech you to help us in the Lord. LIVE the gospel in your situations; show the power, purity, and happiness of religion to all around you; and oblige your unconverted fellow-servants to confess that the Christian religion must be a reality. As I heard a person say the other day, referring to the conversion and consistent life of a near relative, "I know that there is something in religion, by the change which it has made in him."
If an unconverted servant should read this, I would say to such a one, Be not prejudiced against religion by any inconsistencies which you see in some who profess it. There always have been mere professors; we are not prejudiced against a good sovereign because there are counterfeits; but we try to distinguish between them. Do so yourselves.
We tell you that there is such a thing as spiritual religion, and that it is a source of peace, joy, and satisfaction; all we ask of you is, to try and see if what we say is true or false. Take God's invitation, go to his throne, ask for his grace, seek his blessing, exercise confidence in Jesus, persevere in your application — and as sure as you read these words, as sure as there is anything like truth in the world — you shall find acceptance with God, obtain the pardon of your sins, be happy in the present world, and glorious in the world to come. May the Lord bless every servant who reads these lines, and make every one what every Christian should be. Amen.