MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK
T. Pierce Brown
Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I recall a story that went something like this: Many years ago in a small Chinese village inCaliforniathere was a large gathering in an auditorium when the lights went out. The manager stepped before the audience and said, “All of you hold up your hands.” They all held up their hands and the lights came back on. A startled newsman asked, “How did that happen?” The manager replied, “Confucius say, `Many hands make light work’.”
I doubt the reality of that story, although John Heywood had a collection of proverbs printed in 1546 in which he quoted a proverb, “Many hands make light worke.” He may have been quoting from Confucius, but it does not really matter who said it first. The thing that matters is that it is true in the proper context.
The context in which I wish to emphasize it now is this: Many have written, and more have read, articles something like this: If each person who smokes would give up one cigar a week, and those who drink a cup of coffee would give up that cup of coffee a week, there would be so many millions of dollars available for all sorts of work, with practically no sacrifice for anyone. This is true, and there is little doubt that there is no job God wants Christians to do that could not be done provided two things are true: 1. None of us are concerned who gets the credit for it and 2. All of us are willing to make some kind of sacrifice for it.
The reality is that very few of us have really given up anything we needed for the sake of Christ and his gospel. The few times I tried to, God seemed to replace it with more, or something of greater value. I confess that I am bothered a little by Romans 8:17. Paul says we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with him in order that we also be glorified with him.” What little suffering I have done for Christ’s sake is not worth mentioning, even if I could remember what it was.
One of the appeals of the cults, and the cultish among our number, is that they urge, if not demand, sacrifice. The fact that it is often accomplished by high-pressure methods that approach brain washing does not militate against the psychological and spiritual values of deliberately making a real sacrifice for Christ.
In my judgment, our usual appeals have done us tremendous damage, both psychologically and spiritually, as they start something like this at our baptism, and continue on about the same plane the rest of our Christian life. “The water is warm, the clothing is ready. It is easy for you to respond to the gospel. All you need to do now, since you do believe in Christ, have repented of what few sins you may have, is to say “Yes” or nod your head when I ask you a simple question, then complete your obedience by being baptized.” So they “complete their obedience,” then if there is a desperate need for sacrificial service, we tell them, “If you will just give up 10 cents a day, that will get the job done.”
The result is, most start the Christian life with no idea of what Christ meant when he said, “If a man come after me, he must deny himself and take up the cross and follow me,” and end the Christian (?) life without ever having denied himself anything, much less denied himself himself. If this touches you, then please get beyond the philosophical and “iffy” stage, and make whatever sacrifice your conscience and will commend by finding a worthy work of winning souls or striving to get the gospel message to some person in the world who has not yet received it. To help you come to some definite figure, why not first ask yourself the question, “How many persons would I like to feel responsible for helping to find a home in heaven?” And then send 25 cents per person for whatever than number is. Remember that many hands make light work, and most of the jobs that we plan really can be done without any sacrifice if each one who claims to be a Christian will do what he can, where he is with what he has. To do the whole job Christ wants done will take some sacrifice, but I have no doubt that God will multiply our seed for sowing and increase the fruits of our righteousness so that we will always have all sufficiency in everything (2 Cor. 9:8) if we would decide to try to make a real sacrifice for Christ.