Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gems from "The Christian in Complete Armour" - II of ?


I. Temporary External Assets
Encouragement in the Battle
     The world honors beauty, heritage, wealth, and intellectual giftedness with more prestige than they are worth. But sincere grace covers them all and re-focuses rightful attention on the person himself. It gains more abundant honor in the sight of God, angels, and men (if they are wise men) than any dishonor and contempt which the lack of external assets can call forth from the world.

(a) Beauty
     This is a universal idol which the world stares at. But it is wisdom which makes the face lovely. Who would choose an ornate but empty bottle instead of the vessel full of rich wine? If sincere grace does not fill the heart, nature's beauty of the face makes the person worth very little. A beautiful person without true grace is like a pretty weed - it looks best if you see if from a distance. On the other hand, a sincere heart, without the obvious attraction to itself, is like a sweet flower unpainted with such bright colours - it is better to hold than to look at, more pleasant to smell than to see. The nearer you come to a sincere man, the more you sense life radiating from his heart.

(b) Poor family background
     No matter how unworthy a man's birth may be, real grace brings a glorious coat of arms to it, cleanses the bloodline, and makes the family illustrious. 'Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee' (Isa. 43:4). Sincerity is like a gleaming mark of honor; and wherever this star shines over a lowly cottage, it tells you a great prince lives inside.
     Most importantly, sincerity brings the man into the family of the Most Hight God; and this new oneness blots out his own tarnished name and lets him carry the very name of God. He is joined to God by faith unfeigned; and who can say the bride belonging to the Prince of Peace is a commoner?

(c) Poverty
     This word sounds like shame to a proud world. But even if a man is obviously very poor, he has access to a rich mine which will lift him above the world's contempt if a vein of sincere grace runs in his heart. He may have to admit he has no money in the bank but he cannot say he has no treasure; for the man who holds the key to God's treasury is rich beyond compare: 'All things are yours; ... and ye are Christ's' (1 Cor. 3:21,23).

(d) Mental giftedness
     The tradition of men gives a standing ovation to intellect and loudly applauds the excellency of knowledge. Indeed, mental ability stands more level with man's noblest faculty, reason. Those others (wealth, beauty, high birth) are so far beneath the spiritual nature of reason that they are like those soldiers of Gideon who could not drink water from the stream. A man cannot rejoice in them until he first debases himself far beneath the lofty stature of his reasoning soul. but intellect, abilities and knowledge seem to lift up man's head and stand him at full height. Therefore none are held in such contempt by the 'wise' world as those with lesser mental gifts.
     Thus let us discover how sincerity can cover this nakedness of mind. If you grieve because your shallow understanding seems dull and does not measure up to those with sparkling intelligence, be content with your sincere heart. Their pearl is only in the head, and even a toad can wear a jewel; but yours is in the heart. this pearl of grace is your 'pearl of great price' (Matt. 13:46).
     A sincere heart sets you higher in God's heart than weakness debases you in the world's opinion. And even without the abilities natural men have, you will find our way to heaven; but they, for all their mental achievement, will be tumbled down to hell because they lack sincerity. Just remember that, while your small gifts do not make you incapable of heaven's glory, their unsanctified gifts are sure to make them capable of more of hell's misery. And while you shall get a better head, they shall not get better hearts.

II. Sinful Uncomeliness
     This is the worst sort of spiritual unattractiveness because it blackens the soul and spirit, which God intended to be the source of the Christian's loveliness. Whatever stains and deforms the soul must be the most serious hindrance to the beauty of holiness sketched on it by the Holy Spirit's perfecting pen.
     The soul-monster of sin has so marred man's sweet countenance that it is no more like the comeliness God created than the fiend of hell's similarity to the holy angel which he had been in heaven. But by His grace Christ has undertaken to heal this wound which sin has given to man's nature. His healing power is at work in His elect, but the cure is not yet so complete that no scars remain; this, then, is the uncomeliness which sincerity covers.

William Gurnall

No comments: