The beautiful temple erected in Jerusalem was not only practical, but also 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. These works are to be done with no other purpose than to glorify God. The Bible speaks of praying and giving in secret:
“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 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 6:3, 6).
In addition, the Bible makes it 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 church planting should be done in such a way that it is characterized by a spirit of sacrifice and service. The early church did not distinguish itself by affluence, but by sacrifice.
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 church. Some practical examples of “lily work” might include:
- Share the Gospel with neighbors, and give them a hand when needed
- Visit the widows and shut-ins, mow their lawns, 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’s 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.”