All For Christ # 4
2. Wanderings in Prayer.
In church and in our chamber these enemies come in and disturb us. If, for a moment, the mind is fixed, the next instant some new imagination carries us miles away, and we are thinking of some indifferent thing. The best antidote is a more lively sense of Christ's nearness. When the soul truly sees Christ at hand, bowing down His merciful ear to catch each petition - then we speak in reality as a friend to friend. Then, through the Spirit, prayer is a comfort and a help, and we are conscious that our petitions reach the mercy-seat.
3. Evil Tempers.
There are few families where, in some shape, these intruders do not come. Sometimes like the thunderstorm,sometimes like the thick, depressing fog, sometimes like the drizzling rain, or the cold north wind - these enemies disturb our peace and grieve the Holy Spirit. It may be passion, or dead silence, or the perpetual monotony of complaint and bickering, or cutting satire, or the like, that does much harm to the soul of the one who indulges it, and puts no small stumbling-block in the way of others.
But realize Christ's presence, believe that He is in the room, and hears and marks each word and thought and feeling - and it will do much to enable you to overcome this sin. "Would you get into a passion if I were in the room with you?" I once said to a Christian, who was complaining of his inability to overcome this snare. "Of course not," he said. "Then remember," I said, "that there is always someone in the room, and this will help you." The thought was not lost on him. More than a year afterwards he told me that, since he had spoken to me, peace in his home had not been broken.
4. Anxiety and Worry.
Here are the thorns that too often choke the good seed. The word of life cannot grow and bear fruit in the heart, because depressing cares and worries fill the mind. Means are short, money comes in very slowly, debts are pressing, family matters do not run smoothly. A very little thing often brings a great burden - and often a real trouble weighs like a mountain of lead on the heart.
But we have the same resource. Christ's presence is a sure hiding place. His shoulder is strong enough to bear every weight of care of sorrow we have faith to lay upon it. Near to Him, and sheltered beneath His wing, we shall find all that comes to be needful discipline. We shall not repine and we shall not despair, "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" - we shall go on our way, and reach in safety the promised land.
6. Do All After the Pattern of Christ.
He is the Shepherd - and we must walk in His footsteps. He is our model - and we must copy every lineament in His holy and spotless character. He is our Sun - and upon Him must we gaze, that a reflection of His glory may rest upon us.
If we read and study the narratives of His wondrous life, we shall find illustrations of every virtue and grace we need to put on, and types of every good work He would have us practice. Courage and meekness, zeal and gentleness, unwearied devotion, and constant well-doing to those around - tracked every footstep. Oh that every worker in the Lord's vineyard, every minister of Christ, every Christian - were more like the Master, and each would be far more successful in his labors! A few stammering words, backed up by a very Christ-like life, will often do far more for the Redeemer's kingdom than a torrent of eloquence, where this is lacking.
It has been said that "a clergyman may preach two or three sermons a week, but a holy life is preaching a thousand sermons." It is a true witness; therefore follow the Master, and follow Him closely. "He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk, even as He walked."
7. Do All in View of Christ's Second Coming.
Here is the final end of all service. The Lord is at hand. He comes to prove all our work. What is wood, hay, stubble - and what is gold, silver, or precious stone - will then be clearly known. What has been the pure truth according as He gave it, and His Spirit revealed it - and what has been human tradition and the vain imagination of a man's own heart. What has been done before His eye and for His glory - and what has been done for any lower motive. What has been the lasting and permanent result of work - and what only a passing emotion in the breast. What souls have been reclaimed from sin, error, unbelief, worldliness, and impenitence; what true blessing has been granted in raising Christians to a nobler life and a loftier standard - all this is hidden for the present, but will be made manifest when Christ comes.
What a day of revelation will it be! What a day of dreadful discovery to those who have been at ease in Zion, and have taken no pains to please the Master or to advance His kingdom! What a day of loss to those who have been in the main the servants of Christ, but have been building rotten materials on the true foundation! What a day of joy to true faithful Christians, who mourned over their failures, and thought they had done but little for Christ, and yet who went on humbly waiting upon Him, and sowing the heavenly seed with tears and prayers!
In all your work, think of that day! Think of the Master's "Well done!" Think of the joy of His approving glance! Think of the joy of harvest sheaves - souls gathered in safe to the garner, and that forever. Think of the great reward of the faithful follower of Christ, even where there has been apparent failure in the Lord's Work.
I heard the other day a striking illustration of this. A missionary in China was greatly depressed through the carelessness and indifference of his hearers. The old question of Isaiah seemed to suit his case: "Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" But he had a dream. He was standing on a rocky boulder, and with a sledge hammer in his hand was trying to break it. Blow after blow was given, but no impression was made. At length he heard a voice: "Go on; I'll pay you all the same whether you break it or not." So he was contented, and learned the lesson. He could enter into the spirit of the prophet's words: "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing - yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work is with my God."
Think of the Lord's coming, and rejoice in hope. Now is the time for labor and toil - then is the time for rest. Now we sow in tears and fears - but then the ripened grain will be our recompense. Now our faith may be dim, and the Lord may sometimes hide His face, and we may have seasons of darkness and distress - but then we shall see His face, and His name shall be on our forehead, and we shall share His glory and His kingdom. All through coming months and years, let our eye be toward the horizon, where the Sun of Righteousness will arise in His majesty. "Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
(continued with # 5)