Romans 14:7-8: “For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself; for whether we live, we live to the Lord, and whether we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s.”
After Brother Lee discusses who should be full-time in chapter 7 of Elder’s Training, Book 8, he goes on to explain exactly what it means to serve the Lord full-time in chapter 8.
The real meaning of being full-time is to live to Him. To go full-time does not mean to drop your job and become a preacher. It does not mean that you give up your business and become one who preaches the gospel or who labors in the word all the time. A full-timer is one who lives to the Lord. We have to live to Him because He is ours and we are His. To live to Him is based upon the fact that we are His. Not only is He ours, but we also are His.
To be a full-timer means that whatever you do, you do to the Lord; whatever you are, you are to the Lord; and whatever you have, you have to the Lord. If you remain in a job, you remain there to the Lord. If you leave your job, you leave it to the Lord. As long as you are to the Lord you are a full-timer. Whatever you have to do practically all depends upon the One to whom you live. He leads you. To be full-time simply means to live to the Lord.
To begin to see this matter, we must realize the nature of our relationship with the Lord: we belong to Him and we are one with Him (1 Cor. 3:23; 7:23; 6:17). Even the name “Christian” implies that we are not merely for Christ, but belong to Him. Because we have such a relationship with the Lord, we are constrained to not just live for the Lord, but more deeply, to the Lord. Brother Lee makes a clear distinction between these types of living. If we are those living for the Lord, we can still be separate from Him and maintain possession of ourselves, our belongings, and our capabilities. For example, if we have something “for” the Lord, that indicates it is still in our possession. Even though we may be keeping it for Him, we are still the owner, and He must essentially ask our permission before using it. If, however, we are living to the Lord, everything we are, everything we have, and everything we can do belong to Him. At the same time, everything He is and has is ours (1 Cor. 3:21-23). To be to the Lord means we are one with Him. There is not only no separation between us and the Lord, but also no distinction between He and us. We breathe to Him, eat to Him, walk to Him, and even exercise to Him. If we are practicing the real ownership of the Lord, we will do everything to Him. This is the expression of being one with the Lord.
Brother Lee illustrates this fact using the example of marriage, where the husband belongs to the wife, and the wife belongs to the husband. After marriage, they become not two separate persons living for one another, but one person with one living. They do not have to ask permission to use each others’ possessions. They do not live merely for one another, but to one another. We also should have such a relationship with the Lord. We should not have to ask permission to “use” Him, nor should He have to ask our permission to use us. This should be the nature of our relationship with the Lord – not living for Him, but to Him.
If we truly realize that everything we are, everything we have, and everything we can do belongs to the Lord, and that everything the Lord is and has belongs to us, our living will be to Him. Such a living is what it means to serve full-time. Our living in such a way is our full-time service to Him. It is not what we are doing that matters, it is our being that matters. Whether we are prophesying in the meeting or reading Curious George to our children does not matter. We are doing so to the Lord and are therefore serving the Lord in doing it. In this light, a brother arranging chairs at the meeting hall may not be serving the Lord because he is in his natural man working for the Lord, while a sister may be serving the Lord by living to Him in her grocery shopping and cooking for her family.
May we all be brought to consider our being before the Lord and give ourselves to serve Him full-time by living absolutely to Him in whatever situation we are in.
Brother Lee also recommends the following verses as a “cluster of the divine Word” that describes the matter of being full-time: 1 Cor. 3:20b-23; 7:22b-23a; Rom. 14:7-9; 2 Cor. 5:14-15.