- Jim Townsley
- Nov 18, 2006
The beautiful temple erected in Jerusalem was not only practical, but symbolic. The temple was the most sacred edifice constructed by the Israelites. The temple was a place of sacrifice, prayers, and redemption. Within the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant and the shekinah glory where God manifested Himself. The temple was known for the intercessory work of the priests. But in addition, the temple building and its furniture reflected many spiritual types. One of the seemingly obscure aspects of the building was two brass columns located at the entrance of the temple. At the top of these columns were chapiters that were garnished with a special detail of pomegranates and lilies. And upon the top of the pillars was lily work: so was the work of the pillars finished. -1Kings 7:22 These columns were over fifty feet tall. From the ground it would have been nearly impossible to see the beautiful detail of the lilies. This work was clearly done strictly for the glory of God and seen only by Him. This was "lily work."
There are some deeds done specifically for the glory of God that will remain unnoticed by the world. Some works are to be done in and have no other purpose than to glorify God. The Bible speaks of praying and giving in secret. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. -Matthew 6:6 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: -Matthew 6:3 In addition, the Bible makes clear that New Testament Christianity involves visiting orphans and widows. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. -James 1:27 Real Christianity involves service to God that expects nothing in return. Widows and orphans have little to offer to the growth of the church, yet visiting them characterizes true religion. This work is "lily work."
Obviously, the goal of the church is to reach the lost and increase attendance, but the process of church planting should be done in such a way that it is characterized by a sprit of sacrifice and service. The early church did not distinguish itself by affluence, but by sacrifice. Jesus was known to eat with sinners and publicans, to heal the sick, and He clearly indicated the importance of going out into the highways and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. -Luke 14:21
Real Christianity should be exemplified in every new church. The church should learn to love people regardless of their social standing or past history. New visitors may seem to have little to offer, but they are lost souls for whom Christ died. If the pastor teaches the church the importance of service to others expecting nothing in return, the church will develop this same spirit. The goal of church planting is not to merely build a strong congregation and beautiful facilities, but to exemplify Christ-likeness. "Lily work" should be a trademark of every new church. Some practical examples of "lily work" might include;
Preach the gospel to a neighbor, but giving them a hand when needed.
Visit the widows and shut-ins. Mow their lawn. Give them a ride to church.
Greet every visitor enthusiastically and show a genuine interest in them, even if they may never become members.
Fast and pray in secret.
Exalt the service of others while minimizing personal service.
When asked to do something do it well.
When offended, overlook the hurt and pray for the offender.
Develop a servant spirit that the entire congregation can epitomize.
Some day when we get to heaven we may be surprised by the greatness of a preacher who served at a country crossroad, who never missed the mark, and was a faithful servant of Christ. Let us all be busy at "lily work."