LIVING TO GOD’S GLORY
By: J. C. Philpot
Wherever the grace of God is, it constrains its partaker to desire to live to His honour and glory. But he soon finds the difficulty of so doing. Such is the weakness of the flesh, the power of sin, the subtlety of Satan, the strength of temptation, and the snares spread on every side for our feet, that we can neither do what we would, or be what we would. Before we are well aware, we get entangled with some idol, or drawn aside into some indulgence of the flesh, which brings darkness into the mind, and may cut us out some bitter work for the rest of our days.
But we thus learn not only the weakness of the flesh, but where and in whom all our strength lies. And as the grace of the Lord Jesus, in its suitability, in its sufficiency and its superaboundings, becomes manifested in and by the weakness of the flesh, a sense of His wondrous love and care in so bearing with us, in so pitying our case, and manifesting mercy where we might justly expect wrath, constrains us with a holy obligation to walk in His fear and to live to His praise.
We are such strange creatures. We are willing and more than willing to be taught of the Lord, for we are continually, in all sincerity of heart, begging Him to teach us; and yet we do not like His way of teaching when it crimps the flesh. We feel earnestly desirous to live to the honour and glory of God; and yet when to do so demands some sacrifice of money, or ease, or comfort, or reputation – still more when it seems to require the plucking out of a right eye, or the cutting off of a right hand, then we draw back and rebel that there is not a more easy and pleasant way for the flesh. And yet, perhaps, if we are enabled to make the sacrifice required by the Word and our conscience, there is a sweetness to our spirit mingled with the bitterness to the flesh. It is almost with these bitters to the flesh as Mr. Hart speaks of repentance:
“Nor is it such a dismal thing
As ’tis by some men named;
A sinner may repent and sing,
Rejoice and be ashamed.”
It, perhaps, has been a call to make a sacrifice of a little money in possession or in prospect; and after a stout battle between a liberal spirit and a covetous heart, the better principle prevailed. Now, when the victory has been gained, do we not often find that what has been given is but little missed; and the good it has done to the cause of truth, or to any of the Lord’s poor and needy children, is an ample compensation for having overcome the opposition of a covetous spirit, and the crying out of the old man as he had a nail or two driven into his miserly fist? But, soon, perhaps, as he dies hard and writhes under the crucifying nail, there will come forth a cry from us, or some one connected with us, “Spare thyself. Why, if you go on like that, you will rob your wife and family, and bring them to beggary. There is this and that bill to be paid, and you know how hardly money is got, and how swiftly gone.”
But some kind providence turns up, and then drops the head into the dust, with a “Lord, I am vile, and Thou art good. Pardon my covetous, unbelieving heart. O let me never doubt Thee again.” So, if a little of our good name or fame, or darling respectability must be parted with, the flesh soon begins to cry out, and cannot endure the shame of the cross. But how soon the Lord can so break in upon our heart with a sense of His goodness, mercy and love as to make us feel even unworthy to suffer shame for His Name’s sake, and count it an honour to endure His reproach.
We need not pursue the subject further. Our readers’ own experience will supply them with abundant instances both of the weakness and wickedness of the flesh and the superaboundings of grace; and they will agree with us that both misery and mercy, all that we have seen and felt of the evil of sin and all that we have tasted, felt and handled of salvation, all that we know of self, and all that we know of the Lord, call upon us and constrain us, as with one voice, to walk in His fear, live to His praise, and seek to glorify Him with our body and spirit, which are His.
And with this desire will certainly follow a willing readiness to serve the Lord’s cause, help the Lord’s poor, sympathize with them in their afflictions and trials, and manifest to them our esteem, affection and love.
In what other way can we manifest the truth and reality, the life and power of our religion? Men will judge us, and rightly judge us, by our works, not by our words; by our fruit, not by our leaves; by our Christian spirit, meekness, quietness, humility, sincerity, disinterestedness, readiness to service rather than to rule, and general willingness to bear and forebear, to seek others’ advantage, not our own, and do what good we can to the souls and bodies of our fellow-men.