William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Faith in the Choice of Occupation

Excerpted from Everyday Religion by C. H. Spurgeon

True faith in him who loved us, and gave himself for us, also seeks direction of
the Lord as to the sphere of its action, and waits upon him to be guided by him
in the choice of a calling This part of our discourse may be useful to young
persons who have not settled upon what they are to do in life. Faith is a great
service to us here. Much depends upon the choice of our pursuits. Very grievous
mistakes have been made here-as grievous mistakes as if a bird in the air should
have undertaken the pursuits of a fish, or a labouring ox should have entered
into competition with a race-horse. Some people are trying to do what they were
never made for, ambitious beyond their line. This is a grievous evil. There
should, therefore, be a seeking unto God for guidance and direction; and faith
leads us to such seeking. This prayer may be used in many senses: "Show me what
thou wouldest have me to do." In the choice of a calling faith helps a Christian
to refuse that which is the most lucrative if it be attended with a questionable
morality. If the Christian could have huge purses of that gold which is coined
out of the drunkenness, the lust, or the ungodliness of men, he would scorn to
put them among his stores. Trades which are injurious to men's minds and hearts
are not lawful callings before God. Dishonest gain is awful loss. Gold gained by
deceit or oppression shall burn into the soul of its owner as the fire of hell.
"Make money," said the worldling to his son; "make it honestly if you can, but,
anyhow, make money." Faith abhors this precept of Mammon, and having God's
providence for its inheritance, it scorns the devil's bribe. Choose no calling
over which you cannot ask God's blessing, or you will be acting contrary to the
law of faith. If you cannot conceive of the Lord Jesus wishing you success in a
certain line of trade, do not touch it. If it is not possible to think of your
Lord as smiling upon you in your daily calling, then your calling is not fit for
a Christian to follow.

Callings should be deliberately chosen with a view to our own suitableness for
them. Faith watches the design of God, and desires to act according to his
intent. It had been ill for David to have lived in retirement, or for the
prophet Nathan to have aspired to the throne. The law of the kingdom is-"Every
man in his own order"; or in other words, "Every man according to his several
ability." If the Lord has given us one talent let us use it in its own market;
or if two, or five, let us trade with them where they can be most profitably
employed, so that we may be found faithful servants in the day of the Master's

We should also by faith desire such a calling as Providence evidently has
arranged and intended for us. Some persons have never had a free choice of what
vocation they would follow; for from their birth, position, surroundings, and
connections they are set in a certain line of things, like carriages on the tram
lines, and they must follow on the appointed track, or stand still. Faith
expects to hear the voice behind it saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it."
Trusting to our own judgment often means following our own whims; but faith
seeks direction from infallible wisdom, and so it is loaf in a right way. God
knows your capacity better than you do; entreat him to choose your inheritance
for you. If the flowers were to revolt against the gardener, and each one should
select its own soil, most of them would pine and die through their unsuitable
position; but he who has studied their nature knows that this dower needs shade
and damp; and another needs sunlight and a light soil; and so he puts his plants
where they are most likely to flourish. God doeth the same with us. He hath made
some to be kings, though few of those plants flourish much. He has made many to
be poor, and the soil of poverty, though damp and cold, has produced many a
glorious harvest for the great Reaper. The Lord has set some in places of peril,
places from which they would gladly escape, but they are there preserved by his
hand; he has planted many others in the quiet shade of obscurity, and they
blossom to the praise of the great Husbandman.

So, then, you see, faith has much to do with the force and direction of our life
in the flesh. It provides impetus by giving a man something to live for; it
shows him the far-reaching influences of the thoughts and deeds of to-day, and
how they issue in eternal results; and faith also takes the helm and steers the
vessel along a safe channel towards the haven of holy rest. Happy are they who
in the early days of their youth believe in him who loved them and gave himself
for them, and so begin their life-walk with Jesus. Blessed be God for converting
some of us while we were yet boys and girls. O happy young people, who begin
life with the early dew of grace upon them! No prince of eastern empires was
ever so richly bejewelled! You will not in after-days have to lament a score
years spent in error, or half a life wasted in sin, or a whole seventy years
frittered away in idleness. O that you, who are yet young, who have the world
before you, may now be led by the Spirit to follow Christ, who pleased not
himself but did the will of his Father, so shall the life that you live in the
flesh be lived by the faith of the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for


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