Subject 13 : The Gospel According to MATTHEW

[Chapter 16-3] Peter’s Love for Jesus (Matthew 16:21-27)

Peter’s Love for Jesus
(Matthew 16:21-27)
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’ Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”
In my previous sermon, I explained how the born-again righteous people must deny themselves, take up their respective cross, and follow the Lord. Through the example of Peter, let us give some more thought to this issue. 
Jesus told His disciples that He would go to Jerusalem, suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise from the dead on the third day. Peter then took the Lord aside and tried to dissuade Him earnestly and desperately, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” My fellow believers, can you understand what was in Peter’s heart? He had followed Jesus as his teacher. Even though Peter had followed the Lord staking his entire life on Him, all of a sudden Jesus said one day, “I must now go to Jerusalem, suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed. And I must rise from the dead in three days.” Peter was so shocked to hear his teacher saying that the time was nearing for Him to die. So Peter took the Lord aside and asked Him earnestly, saying, “Please don’t do that! Don’t go to Jerusalem! And You don’t need to suffer from them and be killed by them. Don’t allow this!” 
We can probably understand what must have gone through Peter’s mind to say this. After all, who would be pleased to hear that someone whom he respects would suffer and be despised? I can indeed appreciate Peter’s wholehearted love for the Lord.
However, Jesus Rebuked Peter’s Love
However, Jesus rebuked Peter harshly, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Of course, Peter was not Satan. He was clearly a disciple of Jesus. Why did Jesus then say to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!”? That’s because Satan had gone into Peter’s heart and was working there.
When we consider Peter’s words from our human perspective, we can fully understand his sentiment because it reflects the fundamental nature of mankind. Isn’t it our basic human nature to seek the comfort and prosperity of our flesh? Most people just seek their own comfort. If we pay closer attention to church names, in just one city alone we would probably see several churches named “Church of Peace” or something close to it. How much do people desire to be at peace? It’s because people want peace that churches are named after it. That’s why Peter was so appalled when his teacher, to whom he had devoted his entire life and respected so much, said He would suffer persecution and why he tried to block the Lord’s way. Would your heart be unperturbed if your teacher were to bear physical suffering and die? As a disciple, it’s only natural for you to be distressed if your teacher were to suffer such things. 
We can therefore appreciate what was in Peter’s heart. We can understand why Peter said such things to Jesus. And we can also understand how such thoughts may arise from the hearts of our brothers and sisters and God’s servants. Like everyone else, Peter did not like physical pain either and was mindful of his own things rather than the things of God and that is why he said such things. 
When we look closely, we see how people are so obsessed with their own affairs just like Peter. At each and every moment, people think of only their own affairs. Since it’s a basic instinct for them to love themselves, living according to basic instincts is to live for oneself. And people think that it’s only natural for them to live instinctively just for themselves. Do they ever think about God’s work? No, countless people live without any interest in God’s work. Now, rather than just living instinctively, it’s imperative for us to pause and give some serious consideration here, ruminating on the difference between the things of men and the work of God.

Jesus Christ Is Asking Us If We Are Mindful of His Work

Jesus said to Peter, “You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” From Peter’s perspective, it was only a matter of fact for Him to be concerned about his teacher’s well-being, but he was actually rebuked for this. After all, Peter was only too human, and so how could he have been pleased to hear that his own teacher was to suffer physical persecution? If there was any disciple who accepted Jesus’ death as a given and was unperturbed by it, then it’s he who would be a bad disciple. In other words, Peter’s heart was the same as ordinary people’s hearts. This, in other words, is the very nature of mankind. Likewise, you and I also have such a heart. So even though we say that we love God and cherish Him, when we examine ourselves more closely, we see that in many cases we are actually mindful of our own affairs rather than the work of God. As a result, some people often say different things from their own perspective and sometimes they also find themselves leading their lives of faith for their own sake. Such people do whatever they like in the church, and some of them even give up their lives of faith at the slightest hint of any harm or suffering that’s on their way. What’s the reason for this? That’s because they are mindful of the things of men rather than the things of God. It’s because we are not mindful of God’s work that we instinctively end up thinking only of our own affairs.
For our brothers and sisters, and myself as well, we sometimes waver back and forth, dithering between the work of God and the things of men. When I speak of God’s work to someone whose mind is set on the things of mankind, he gets angry. What’s the reason for this? It’s because this person does not like God’s work. Such people think like this: “Now that I believe in Jesus, shouldn’t my life be comfortable? It’s great to go to Heaven, but I believed in Jesus to live comfortably on this earth as well, to prosper. Why else would I have become a Christian? Why would I believe in Jesus if I have to forsake myself and my circumstances won’t improve? It’s all for my own happiness that I go to school, make money, and believe in Jesus as well. So what kind of nonsense is this? One moment, I am told that Jesus has blotted out all my sins, but the next moment, all of a sudden I am told to live for the work of God. Isn’t this work of God all about asking for my money?” 
Those who cherish only their own flesh, not realizing just how precious God’s work is, cannot deny themselves even after they receive the remission of sin. Their hearts are set on money first. So we need to contemplate on what the work of God is and what the things of men are. Young people are often thoughtless and act very immaturely. They only know themselves. But what happens when they mature? They become reflective. Now is the time for us to also be reflective.
What is God’s work? God’s work is the work of God, plain and simple. To be more concrete, God’s work on this earth is the work of saving people from sin. We are planning on holding some revival meetings in the first half of this year. These revival meetings are God’s work. It’s also God’s work for us to gather together in the church to worship God, listen to His Word, offer our time, our material possessions, and our everything to serve the Lord. Planting churches is God’s work as well. Spreading the gospel throughout the whole wide world is also God’s work. That’s why we are preaching the gospel through both our literature and our lips. We also offer our material possessions for the spreading of the gospel and we pray for this gospel and praise God. All these things are God’s work. All these things that are used by the Lord as His precious instruments are God’s work. If we were seeking only our own comfort, all that we have to do is just not preach the gospel all over the world. If we were to give up our world mission, there wouldn’t be any need for any offerings marked for this ministry either. Wouldn’t your flesh then be more comfortable? Your flesh would then be at peace. But we will have nothing to do with God then.

The Work of Men Stands against the Work of God

I recently purchased a copy machine for my church. Did I buy it on my own whim? No. I had many conflicting thoughts before I actually bought the copier. The reason why I wanted to buy it was to make a gospel newspaper in tabloid size, so that the Truth may be spread to even those who are too foolish to understand and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit no matter how much it is preached to them. However, even the best machine is completely useless if it’s used inappropriately. Likewise, without a technician who can run the copy machine to make the gospel newspaper, it would have been of no use even if it were purchased. So I was vexed at this, unable to make up my mind. I was told that a copy machine would cost around $1,200, so I carefully considered what could be gained from investing this money. When I told the salesman that we were planning to print 48,000 copies in a week, he was shocked and told me that the particular machine I was looking at could not handle that much. I was then told that to handle such a load, I would have to buy a copy machine priced at $3,000 to $3,650. 
So I grappled with conflicting thoughts, but the copier had to be purchased. We needed to print the hymnals of our church as well as the gospel newspapers. So I couldn’t just put off the purchase because of its high cost. Although we were using computers in our ministry, there was a limit to what could be printed by using computer printers. That’s why we bought the copier. Our minds are torn while carrying out such a work of God, but if we weren’t doing such works, would we have anything to worry about and be quite comfortable? If we didn’t need to make our hymnbooks and the gospel newspapers, then we wouldn’t have had to purchase a copy machine. While we might have been comfortable in our flesh, our hearts would have been rather uncomfortable. 
However, once I bought the copier that cost $3,000 for our ministry, I felt an acute financial burden and thought to myself, “What should I do now?” Back then, our finances were so fragile that we couldn’t even make that payment all at once. So all kinds of thoughts came to my mind and I wondered, “Why did I buy it? I shouldn’t have purchased this copier.” But what would happen to us if we were to give up everything and stop working? We would inevitably turn into jobless people. If we don’t carry out the work of the gospel, there would be no burden for us, but our hearts would be even more indebted to the gospel, since we wouldn’t be doing what we must do only as a matter of fact. If we don’t do the work of the gospel, we could probably lead our lives of faith amicably in pleasure just by ourselves, being kind to each other.
There are many things that we must pay close attention to serve the gospel: we have to prepare financial resources with pledge offerings; we have to invite God’s servants and hold revival meetings; we have to invite souls and make them receive the remission of their sins; and we have to pray to God and ask Him, “Lord, we need money,” because we are also planning to go to Yanbian, a northeastern region in China to preach the gospel. Like this, there are so many things that we have to take care of. 
Should we then give up the work of serving the gospel just because our flesh is struggling too much? No, unless the righteous are engaged in God’s work, they will fall into the flesh. Will you do the work of the flesh according to your own thoughts like Peter, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord. Why should You die? You haven’t done anything wrong, and so why should You be persecuted and killed? This shall never happen to You!” Peter had himself in mind when he said to Jesus, “Far be it from You, Lord,” because his own heart was uneasy at the prospect of his teacher suffering. My fellow believers, you and I both have a heart like Peter. I, too, desire to live comfortably, saying to myself, “Carry out God’s work, but take care of yourself a little bit.” In times like this, we have to think about what is gained from doing God’s work and what is lost from not doing it. Of course, it’s true that carrying out God’s work entails financial burdens and requires us to be diligent, busy, and even put up with suffering. That’s why our bodies get weary when we do God’s work. Nevertheless, there is so much that is gained from this. 
We are prone to be mindful of the things of men rather than the things of God. My fellow believers, this is none other than our own minds. You and I also have Peter’s mindset, thinking, “Pastor, why are you doing such a thing? Don’t do it. It wouldn’t be beneficial to you nor to any of us. We would be comfortable if you don’t do this, and so why are you doing such a thing?” But do you think that you would prosper if you don’t do God’s work? No, far from prospering, you will end up dying. Unless the leader of God’s Church pushes the flock to serve the Lord, they will fall into their own affairs and be swept away along with the world to their spiritual death.
Do you like what’s comfortable for you? Of course you do. We all like to be comfortable after being saved by believing in Jesus. But what can we gain from living comfortably? Unless a merchant is engaged in his business, what can he possibly gain? Regardless of the particular type of business that the merchant might be running, there are many complicated issues that demand close attention from him. On the other hand, if the merchant is not engaged in his business, then his life would be a whole lot more comfortable. But could the merchant stop running his business when this is his livelihood? Even though running the business may be cumbersome and tiring, there is much to be gained from it. 
Standing Water Is Bound to Be Polluted
I am saying these things because there is no one here who just received the remission of sin. If those who have just recently received the remission of sins were to hear me now, they would probably think, “What’s so good about receiving the remission of sins? What’s ahead is so bleak!” If the recently redeemed come to the church and do not leave even for just one year, then this by itself is fortunate enough. So those who regularly come to the church gatherings led by their family members are blessed. If you go out into the world, your heart will drift toward it, you will lose all your faith, and you will be trampled by Satan. This is what happens unless we do God’s work. 
What is God’s work and what are the things of men? The things of men seek the comfort of the flesh. God’s work, on the other hand, is something that saves souls. All too often we are mindful of the things of men rather than the work of God. In our family and in our individual heart, our minds are often set on the affairs of man. Our faith must begin from the work of God. Just as God divided the light from the darkness and the waters which were under the firmament, from the waters which were above the firmament, at the very beginning of His Creation (Genesis 1:4-7), so must you be separated from the world after being saved. What would happen if you were not separated from the world? Even though you have been saved, you would only seek your own comfort and what’s good for your flesh. In the end, your faith will be corrupted and all mixed up in the world, and you will be destroyed. That’s all that will happen to you.
Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Therefore, anyone who has been saved must clearly separate the work of God from the things of men. We have to know what is God’s work and what is man’s work, and we must make up our minds as to whether we would carry out the work of God or the things of men. We need to ask ourselves, “Will I do the things of men or the work of God?” and our hearts must be set to answer this question clearly. For those who lead their lives of faith without setting their hearts on the work of God, even though they may carry on when their circumstances are ideal, when something that’s disadvantageous or damaging to them comes along, their spirits end up dying and they renounce their life of faith. 
My fellow believers, what is it that we must do after receiving the remission of sin? Think about what kind of work we should do and what it is that we must do. How should we live the rest of our lives, now that we have been born again of the water and the Spirit? What should we do in our lives? You must decide whether you would live your life carrying out the work of God or the things of men.
What is it that you want to do? Do you want to do God’s work or man’s work? I am sure that you all want to carry out God’s work. If this is true, then you must set your mind on God’s work. You must change your entire mindset like this. If you are mindful of the things of men, then you are bound to fall into the affairs of men and turn into a hypocrite before God. If, on the other hand, you are mindful of the things of God, then you will carry out God’s work, for your heart will be immersed in His work. Therefore, where our minds are focused is critically important and everything comes to pass according to this mindset. If we are mindful of God’s work and ponder, “What should I do to fulfill God’s work?” then we will eventually accomplish God’s work and harvest abundant fruits before the Lord. We would be able to say to Him, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them” (Matthew 25:22).
In contrast, if we are mindful of the things of men, then we will say, “What has God ever given me? All that He has given me is this salvation, and yet He is so demanding!” We will then hide the talents of His salvation in the ground—that is, in our hearts—and seek only our own comfort to perish away in the end. Such people come to live recklessly in the world, thinking to themselves, “I like being comfortable. It’s a headache to carry out God’s work, since I would have to serve so much. I won’t do this. At least I have been saved, so I won’t end up in hell anyways.” If this happens, then they will be cast out into darkness, just like the servant with one talent. Even after receiving the remission of sins, some people may still think that it’s important to keep their human relationships at all costs. They neither wage the war of the gospel nor show any interest in God’s work thinking that people would be offended if they say to their acquaintances, “You will be cast into hell if you have sin. So receive the remission of your sins.” If this is how you lead your life, you will surely perish away. 

We Must Be Mindful of Spiritual Work in Our Labor

One must be properly minded. In particular, it’s even more imperative for the born-again to be properly minded. The Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts wants to do the work of God. If this is the case, then we ought to be mindful of God’s work and the leaders of God’s church should provide the congregation with opportunities to carry out God’s work. No matter how much you may desire to do God’s work, unless your leader guides you to carry out God’s work, you cannot do the work of God at all throughout your entire lifetime. If this happens, then when the Lord demands you to submit what you have done for Him in the future, you won’t have anything to show Him. 
As such, no one can carry out God’s work all by himself. You can do it only when your leaders in your church guide you and entrust you with His works. The leaders must be mindful of God’s work, propel the congregation to carry out the work of God, and enable the saints to participate in this work. It’s when the saints share their leaders’ mindset that they can finally do God’s work. Even for the righteous, God’s work can never be carried out all alone. Can you understand what I am trying to say here?
Peter spoke to Jesus being mindful of the things of men and the Lord rebuked him, “You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Peter made a serious mistake. That’s because he was motivated out of his human desire. Later on, Peter came to realize that was wrong. We, too, must reach this realization like Peter, and we must be mindful of the things of God rather than the things of men. Initially, when Peter first began to follow the Lord, he was too mindful of the things of men. But eventually, he came to realize what God’s work was and turned his heart around.
It is written, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’” Those who are mindful of God’s work must deny themselves. Anyone who wants to follow God must do so. The Lord Himself said, “If you want to come after Me, take up your cross and follow Me.” 
You and I must deny ourselves. You can take up your cross, and follow the Lord only when you deny yourself. If you and I want to carry out God’s work, then it’s absolutely imperative for us to deny ourselves. We must deny ourselves to follow God. Anyone who cannot deny himself cannot follow God. Do you understand this, my fellow believers? Why must we deny ourselves? It’s to carry out God’s work, and to follow Him, that we must deny ourselves. It’s not to deny ourselves that we are laboring, but it is to carry out God’s work that we must deny ourselves. 
When you want to buy something from a store, you have to pay its price. To carry out God’s work, you also have to give up your own affairs and bear your hardship in your life. How then, can we, the born-again saints, deny ourselves? It’s because we are mindful of God’s work that we can deny ourselves. How can you control your fiery personality? How can you overcome your own stubbornness? It’s not we who have changed ourselves, but it’s the Lord who has transformed us. Therefore, if you and I desire to carry out God’s work, then we should overcome our stubbornness and cast aside our own thoughts as well. It’s because we are mindful of Gods’ work that we can do all things. If you weren’t mindful of God’s work, why would you need to bend yourself? If this were the case, there would be no need for us to bend ourselves, nor deny ourselves, nor do anything that we don’t want to do. Isn’t this true? Of course it is.
That is indeed the case. You and I must think about God’s work. This year also, we must continue to be mindful of God’s work. This year and the next year alike, all our brothers and sisters and God’s servants throughout the churches in Korea must set their minds on the work of God, rather than thinking of only themselves or being mindful of the things of men. It is only right for us to think of God’s work first. When we carry out God’s work, our minds must prioritize it first. Whatever it is, we must participate in any work if it is God’s work. 
If the church doesn’t make you carry out the work of the gospel, you will be completely lethargic. The same goes for the servants of God as well; anyone who does not carry out God’s work is bound to turn into a completely useless person. It’s because people are mindful of the affairs of men rather than the work of God that they are so worried and wonder, “My future is so worrisome. I need something. How should I make a living? What I should eat? What should I drink?” 
However, if we are mindful of God’s work, then we can rise up to the challenge by faith. Those who are mindful of God’s work can grow their faith and carry on with their lives in society by faith. And they can do everything and anything by faith. This faith is not only necessary to serve the Lord, but it’s also necessary to live in society. There is so much that’s gained by having faith. The faithless, on the other hand, cannot gain anything at all.
My fellow believers, we must be mindful of God’s work this year. Do you understand? You and I each must think of God’s work. I ask you to also teach others who have only recently been saved to be mindful of God’s work. What will you accomplish this year no matter how hard you try on your own? What will you accomplish in your entire lifetime? Won’t you manage to just get by? We don’t just get by, but we carry out God’s work in our lives and then we meet the Lord. What do you prefer? Would you like to live like us or would you like to live the rest of your lifetime doing nothing else but committing sin? Is the prosperity of your flesh all that you care about? You should say these things to those who have just recently been born again. They, too, desire to do what is right in their lives, but because they don’t know how they can do it, you have to teach them what the proper life of the born-again is and provide them with an opportunity to also follow the greater cause of the Lord. That’s because in many cases people end up living a worthless life simply because they do not know what is right. My brothers and sisters, do you now realize that each and every one of us must be mindful of God’s work?
When I put my mind on God’s work, I cannot help but pray. When my mind is set on the work of God, my mind is broadened, faith springs forth, and I am strengthened. Although our flesh would be comfortable if we were not to do God’s work, there will be no progress of faith. Everything that we are now doing in God’s church is His blessed work. If you carry out God’s work, faith will spring forth in your heart, you will be strengthened, and many souls will also be saved. 
This discipleship training camp itself is God’s work also. So when we participate in this camp realizing that this is God’s work, it brings great blessings to our hearts. For us to come to the gathering of the church is also God’s work. To spread the gospel your own faith must grow, so if you attend every church gathering and you do this realizing that this is God’s work, your heart will be tremendously blessed. Whatever we do, if we labor knowing that it is God’s work, then anything can be a blessing for us. For revival meetings also, if we participate in them knowing that it’s God’s work, then the Word will be engraved in our hearts, we will come to desire to serve the gospel willingly, we will be strengthened, and we will also be blessed by God. However, if we are mindful of the things of mankind, you will likely think, “Why do we need to hold revival meetings? There were many souls who received the remission of sin even without holding a revival meeting.” But in reality, such thoughts come to our minds because we think, first of all, that we would save money if we were not to hold revival meetings, and secondly, we wouldn’t be persecuted. 
However, when we hold revival meetings, Satan goes berserk, but faith springs forth in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. In other words, through the Word preached at these revival meetings, dross is once again removed from the minds of the saints and their hearts are strengthened. With God’s work in mind, revival meetings are indispensable, but if only the affairs of men are what’s on our minds, then there is no need to hold any revival meetings, nor any discipleship training camps, nor any other church gatherings, much less to go all the way to Yanbian, China to spread the gospel. We would think that there is no need for us to go some foreign country only to toil away, but we must realize that all these are carnal thoughts and we must turn from them. If we become carnally minded, we won’t want to do anything at all. Are we completely free from such carnal thoughts? On the contrary, such desires are only too prevalent. We have to admit that we, too, are not entirely free from the thoughts of the flesh and we have to recognize that we are mindful of both the things of men and the things of God. And we must realize that we can live only if we do God’s work. If we didn’t serve God, then while we would be comfortable in our flesh, our spirits would end up dead. 
When we are mindful of God’s work, we are compelled to carry out His work and once we begin serving God, there is much to be gained for our flesh due to His blessings. There is so much that we can gain from listening to the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I have experienced on many occasions how the things of God were accomplished easily even when I didn’t pay much attention to them. If God is willing, everything is possible. When we are mindful of God’s work and unite ourselves with the church for the sake of the gospel, God will surely bless us. When we set our minds on the things of God and carry them out by faith, from the smallest to the largest, then God will actually help us in our everyday life and work on us. As you carry on with your life of faith, you will also experience this for yourself. 
Do you know why Korea is so prosperous? Korea has developed so rapidly to join the rest of the developed countries, people around the world praise it as the “miracle of the Han River.” Yet when it comes to the national traits of the Korean people, they are rather infamous for empty bravado, fighting, and the lack of unity. If we focus only on the people and the natural resources of Korea alone, then there is no cause that explains how the Korean economy has grown so much. Does Korea have any natural resources or did it have any accumulated technological know-how? What does it have? It has nothing. Yet despite this, Korea is quite prosperous. What’s the reason for this? That’s because it has people who are preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is why God has blessed Korea and permitted it to succeed and that’s why Korea is prosperous now. 
It’s been only about 40 years since Korea first devised and implemented economic development plans. Why is such a country then so prosperous? By some measures, Korea is a better place to live than Japan or some other advanced countries in Europe. That’s because the cost of living is much lower. While Korea’s GNP is lower than these countries, the actual standard of living that average Koreans enjoy is not any worse than them. Most Japanese like to visit Korea because Korea is a great place to travel with just a little amount of money. 
Nations, states, families, and businesses alike can prosper only if God blesses them. If you set your mind on the work of God and serve Him then you will prosper in everything you do, for God will actually help you in all things. Korea has no natural resources at all. Yet Koreans are still prosperous despite this, and the reason for this is because there are God’s servants and people who preach the gospel in our country. We have to remember that it’s because of those righteous people here who are mindful of the work of God that He is also mindful of this country and blesses it. 
You and I must be mindful of God’s work. Make sure to keep the work of God in your heart and head, reflect on it, and examine yourself to see whether or not you are really mindful of God’s work. Some people have no consideration for God at all, and their minds are completely set on their own human affairs. Those who have not received the remission of their sins are mindful of only the things of mankind 100 percent of the time. In contrast, the born-again have to focus their minds on the work of God. It’s when we are mindful of God’s work that there can be joy and happiness for us, a sense of fulfillment in anything we do, and fruits in everything we do. 
If we weren’t mindful of God’s work, what kind of work would we be doing at most? Unless our minds are set on the work of God, we can’t help but be like a pig, obsessed with what to eat and what to drink. A pig is only too happy to oink with its head stuck in the sewage, drinking filthy water and rubbing itself against all kinds of filth. Without our minds set on the work of God, we can’t help but live exactly like this pig. That is the inevitable result when we are only mindful of the affairs of mankind.
There is nothing to be gained if we think about only the things of men. When we think about God’s work, even though it’s burdensome and tiring for us, on the other hand, our minds are awake and we are strengthened. Even though we are prone to be mindful of the things of men, the work of God is worthwhile to us. Some people consume so much when it comes to committing sin and spending freely for themselves, and yet when it comes to spending for the Lord, they are so stingy. When the born-again righteous people are mindful of the affairs of mankind, there is nothing to be gained in the world, no hope, only darkness. Try to be mindful of God’s work and see what happens. If you carry out God’s work, you will surely find hope. 
Let us all be mindful of God’s work. Mankind is made beautiful only if it thinks of God’s work. For men in particular, if they live for the gospel of God, then even a useless drunk can break free from his rut and do what is right and live a worthwhile life that pleases the Lord. Yet this is impossible if we are mindful of the things of men and that is why we must be mindful of the things of God. All of us must be mindful of the work of God.
The same requirement applies to pastors as well. They, too, must examine themselves carefully. They must ask themselves whether they are now indeed mindful of God’s work or the things of men. Those who have not been born again must also examine themselves carefully to see whether they are mindful of God’s work or their own work. Yet those who have not been born again cannot be mindful of God’s work. Even if they were to give up their lives for the Lord, they are not even qualified to carry out God’s work, for they have not met His requirement. So when the Bible says, “You have to be mindful of the things of God,” it is spoken to the born-again servants of God. 
The Lord often says to us, “Will you be mindful of the things of God or your own affairs? Which is right?” To our brothers and sisters as well, our Lord asks, “Will you think of God’s work or your own work?” And the Lord says again, “You must do God’s work. If anyone wants to carry out My work, he must deny himself. And he must take up his cross and follow Me even in hardship. Only then can he come after Me.” Our Lord is saying this to all of us, you and me alike.
We must never allow ourselves to turn into those who are afraid of the persecution that comes from preaching the gospel, shutting our mouths tight and not even uniting with the church. Any born-again person must be someone who is harvesting the souls with the Lord. God is saying to us, “If you can’t wage the battle of the gospel by yourself, then unite with the church and do what it asks you to do, being faithful to the work that the church has entrusted to you. That is My work. Do not stand against My work, but ask for My help and pray to Me if you are insufficient. Think about what you could do for Me and begin from the smallest work with the right mindset and proper heart. Do not be so calculating, mindful of the things of men. Be mindful of My work? Are you struggling to serve the gospel? That’s not a problem as long as you are persecuted for My sake. I will surely reward you for your suffering.” God told us to be mindful of His work, to serve Him, to deny ourselves, and to never deny the Lord even in hardship, but take up our cross and follow Him. We will then become the Lord’s disciples. Those who deny themselves for the sake of the Lord and follow Him bearing their cross are God’s workers and He will take care of all the lives of His workers. 
Does this then mean that only the ministry workers such as pastors and evangelists are supposed to serve the Lord? No, all of us who have received the remission of sin have the duty to carry out God’s work before His presence, and we all have the privilege to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord. Do not forsake such a precious privilege. Do not bury it in the ground. Do not sell your privilege to someone for a bowl of lentil stew like Esau. If you do so, you will surely regret it later on. We have to ponder on God’s work and we have to live the rest of our lives carrying out this work of God. And we must dedicate our hearts to the work of God. We have to ask ourselves, “What is God’s work? What is in my mind? Am I mindful of man or am I mindful of God? What kind of a person am I?”
Carrying out God’s work does not mean that we would live in poverty in this world. We can make a good living even while doing God’s work. I, myself have nothing to be ashamed of in my life, even though I am carrying out God’s work. On the contrary, I am full of confidence. I often ask myself, “Am I too self-absorbed?” Although there are many pastors ministering who have had the same education as mine, they are so servile to their elders and deacons that they try to flatter them all the time. Unlike them, I am not intimidated in my ministry at all. I can say to the members of my congregation, “The Master for both of us is Jesus. You and I are nothing more than His servants. Even if you were a prime minister that means nothing in God’s church.” Isn’t this true? How ludicrous is it for a pastor, who is supposed to minister to the congregation, to be so subservient to the elders or deacons? To all such pastors, I would like to say, “Why don’t you just quit? Rather than ministering like this, you would be better off to just clean some septic tanks to make a living. If one is appointed as a general, he should act like one. How can a general be a general if he is so helpless before his own soldiers?”
In God’s church, we should become fools for the things of God. It is written in the Bible, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19). 
Long ago, there was a kingdom of the foolish and another kingdom of the wise, and it so happened that these two countries went into war against each other. The people of the wise kingdom were all wise, and the people of the foolish were all foolish. The kingdom of the wise attacked first. However, since all the people in the kingdom of the wise were smart, they all thought, “If I were to advance at the frontline, won’t I end up dead first? Sure I will. Instead of fighting at the front of this battlefield, I’ll just hole up myself and hide somewhere, and come out after the other soldiers have passed by. That’s the only way I can ensure my survival.” Since the soldiers of the wise kingdom were all smart, they holed up themselves and didn’t advance at all to ensure their own survival. 
In contrast, when the soldiers of the foolish kingdom were commanded to charge forward, they all attacked. When commanded, “Pick up your long lance and charge ahead unconditionally,” they kept advancing. While the soldiers of the wise kingdom were trying to figure out how they could save their own necks, the soldiers of the foolish kingdom kept charging ahead relentlessly and so they killed them all and won the war. 
All of us are servants of God carrying out His work. Only when you and I both serve God does everything succeed. If your leaders in God’s church shout out, “Charge!” you must then march forward bravely, just as the army of the foolish kingdom had done. When you give your offerings and serve this church, whom are you serving? Are you serving me? No, that’s not the case. If you served me out of your desire to serve the gospel, then your service was for the Lord and if I serve you out of my desire to serve you, then my service is also for the Lord. For you and I alike, if we were to serve just another man, we would be too disgruntled to do this. It’s because all of us are God’s people that we pray for each other, care for one another, and intervene in each other’s life to admonish one another. As you belong to God’s people, you have to be made into honorable people on this earth also, and that’s why your church leaders intervene when you go astray; if you were just a worldly person, why would your church leaders interfere with your life? Let us then all embark on the same boat and carry out God’s work together until we reach the same destination. This is the gist of my admonition.
Let us be mindful of the things of God. And let us carry out His work. Just how much carnal thoughts did we have this year? If we do not set our minds on the work of God, the worries of the things of men will haunt us all the time. Now, it’s not just pastors or evangelists who are supposed to do God’s work. You and I alike, each one of us must be mindful of God’s work. You must each reflect on what it is that you can do to carry out God’s work, participate in it willingly, and do this work. That is what our Lord has spoken to us. 
This year, we have set several goals for the work of God that we must carry out. First of these is preaching the gospel in Yanbian, China. I get all excited just to think about it. Even though I would have dreaded this if it were a thing of men and I wouldn’t even want to go there if it were my own affair, because it is the Lord’s work I am very excited. A visitor from Yanbian once told me that it’s so cold there that when you urinate, it freezes right away. When I heard this, I thought to myself, “I can’t go there! I can’t even stand it when it’s only -10 degrees, and so how could I put up with -40 degree temperatures? I just can’t go.” If it were my own work, I wouldn’t be able to go, but because it is God’s work, I have to go if God asks. And if it’s God’s work, then I want to be the first to go there. You also want to go there because it’s God’s work, right? I will go there first and pave the way so that anyone can go there to do God’s work. 
Just as we are holding revival meetings because that is God’s work, we are also preaching the gospel to college students and people all over the world because this is all God’s work. When it comes to giving our offerings, bearing witness of the gospel, and running the Mission School alike, we are doing these things all because they are God’s work. It’s also because it’s God’s work that we are serving the Lord. Isn’t this the case, to be honest? It’s indeed true. Sometimes we need something to carry out God’s work. Whatever it is, if it’s indispensable to God’s work then we buy it. If it’s God’s work, we do it right away. 
Whatever we do, we have to base our decision on whether it is God’s work or not. After all, we are of those whose minds are set on God’s work, and we are the saved people who are serving Him. Even though we the born-again are few in number, you and I still must carry out God’s work. It is my sincerest hope and prayer that you and I would all keep the work of God in our minds for this coming year and the rest of our lives as well, and to also carry out His work before we stand in His presence. 
Let us all serve the work of God before we go to see our Lord face to face. Let us all pray to God. Let us pray to God to make us mindful of His work and to be able to carry out all His work that must be done this year. My fellow believers, let us pray, “Lord, please help us and work on us, so that we may faithfully fulfill Your work.”
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