But I operate the ministry this way for the benefit of the Church at Large. I cheerfully bear the trials and the precious joys of this life of faith if at least some of my fellow-believers might see that a child of God does have power with Him by prayer and faith. Page 164 of autobiography
The legendary faith of George Mueller had an aroma about it which
persistently followed his ministry, writings, preaching, and testimony. That aroma was selfless service. He spent 70 years in a lifestyle of ministry and service, preaching multiple times a week, and providing food, lodging, education, and spiritual discipleship for thousands of orphans in Britain. He pastored the same church for 66 years (Muller of Bristol pg 92), read through the scriptures hundreds of times, never once asked anyone, but God, for a cent, refused to accept a salary (Muller of Bristol pg. 92), started an organization devoted to cultivating strong biblical knowledge and application, established over a hundred schools dedicated to Christian education, disseminated a multitude of tracts, Bibles, and Christian literature. Further, he spent the last several years of his long life touring the world doing a sort of evangelistic preaching mission. Such accomplishments beg the question: what engine drove this man?
We can observe the most ambitious entrepreneur and see him toil and labor in pursuit after pursuit and occasionally a multi-billionaire tycoon emerges. The world stands up and applauds the determination of savvy businessmen, tirelessly campaigning, silver-tongued politicians, empire building executives, and rags to riches superstars. Humanity will pause and cheer in acclamation of some charity minded individual who makes an impressive effort to “improve society.” We can grasp the motivation behind such monumental achievements. Deep appreciation rises within us when we see a young woman–who tirelessly devoted herself to her sport–receive a gold medal and shed tears as her nation’s anthem bellows forth. Genuine enthusiasm arises when we see an underprivileged young man exert himself to achieve great feats of athletic, political, professional, or artistic success! And we all comprehend why they spent tireless hours in their pursuit. It was to attain status for themselves, the promotion of a cause, the fulfillment of a childhood dream, the realization of a sort of destiny, the advancement of some institution, or the honoring of a hero, parent or role model.
But why, I ask, did this man,–who in his youth frittered away his income, time, and energy on drinking, gambling and unwholesome pursuits–spend himself year after year, day after day, defying bills, natural reason, and the advice of sagacity? It appears that he could be lumped in with every other ambitious young man in history except for one glaring inconsistency with the typical pattern of intrepid self or organizational promotion. He did it all for one twofold reason: the glory of God and the benefit of the Church at large. Furthermore, these two reasons are intricately and irrefutably one and the same pursuit.
This man was so enflamed with a zeal for the glory of God it necessarily flowed over into a desire to benefit the church at large. Let’s define what those two phrases mean. First, the word benefit, according to the good old fashioned Webster’s 1828 dictionary, means, “to do good to; to advantage; to advance in health or prosperity; to be useful to; to profit.” Deeper meaning? Muller was operated by the Spirit of God in such a pure way, that he was love-compelled to live His life, run his ministry, and lead his generation in such a manner so that the “Church at large” might be advantaged, advance in strength, and might profit. Further, we can infer that this benefit that Muller was after, was the health, prosperity, strength, and profit of evidencing the riches of heaven upon earth. Because, Muller tasted the goodness of God and wanted the church of His day to gain a position of advantage, not for the sake of the church as an establishment or organizational structure. But, for the sake of the church as an extension of the body of Christ, which comprises the other thread that made up the rope of Muller’s passion: the glory of God, intertwined with the benefit of the church.