I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! –Psalm 119:30-31
The important thing about a man is not where he goes when he is compelled to go, but where he goes when he is free to go where he will….
A man is absent from church Sunday morning. Where is he? If he is in a hospital having his appendix removed his absence tells us nothing about him except that he is ill; but if he is out on the golf course, that tells us a lot. To go to the hospital is compulsory; to go to the golf course, voluntary. The man is free to choose and he chooses to play instead of to pray. His choice reveals what kind of man he is. Choices always do….
I think it might be well for us to check our spiritual condition occasionally by the simple test of compatibility. When we are free to go, where do we go? In what company do we feel most at home? Where do our thoughts turn when they are free to turn where they will? When the pressure of work or business or school has temporarily lifted and we are able to think of what we will instead of what we must, what do we think of then?
The answer to these questions may tell us more about ourselves than we can comfortably accept. But we had better face up to things. We haven’t too much time at the most. Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 158-161.
“Lord, as a pastor or teacher I can’t choose to play golf on Sunday morning, but I can choose a lot of other things that are just as revealing of my inner character. Help me to make choices today that are pleasing to You. Amen.”
Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God. They timidly remember how the Pharisees refused to accept Christ when He came, and they do not want to be caught in the same snare, so they either reserve judgment or shut their eyes and accept everything without question. This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit. Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. Try the spirits is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine. And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. And the more as we see the day approaching.
“Father we pray: Bless thou this truth. Oh God, thy mercies are abundant. Are not thy mercies full and free, and have they not, oh God, found out me? We thank thee for thy mercies, thy many, abundant, full mercies. Now we pray that thou will help us to lean back upon thy mercy and trust, and not be afraid; heed sin and love righteousness, flee from iniquity and follow after godliness, but always know that in all that we do mercy is around us like the air; underneath us as the earth; above us as the stars, and we live in a merciful world and serve a merciful God; live and swim and move and have our being in the abundant mercies of the triune God. Graciously grant us, we pray thee, properly to understand this and to apply it to our hearts, and we give thee praise through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The notion that we enter the Christian life by an act of acceptance is true, but that is not all the truth. There is
much more to it than that. Christianity involves an acceptance and a repudiation, an affirmation and a denial.
And this not only at the moment of conversion but continually thereafter day by day in all the battle of life till the
great conflict is over and the Christian is home from the wars. To live a life wholly positive is, fortunately,
impossible. Were any man able to do such a thing it could be only for a moment. Living positively would be like
inhaling continuously without exhaling. Aside from its being impossible, it would be fatal. Exhalation is as
necessary to life as inhalation. To accept Christ it is necessary that we reject whatever is contrary to Him. This
is a fact often overlooked by eager evangelists bent on getting results. Like the salesman who talks up the good
points of his product and conceals its disadvantages, the badly informed soulwinner stresses the positive side
of things at the expense of the negative.
It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be.
Our Lord placed this beyond dispute when He said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Hunger and thirst are physical sensations which, in their acute stages, may become real pain. It has been the experience of countless seekers after God that when their desires became a pain they were suddenly and wonderfully filled. The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so. The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness. Born After Midnight, 8.
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