Tuesday, May 05, 2009

THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL
...variety, the rule of grace

by C.H. Spurgeon

MANY persons are greatly disquieted in mind because their experience of conviction or comfort has not been like that of others. They fancy that they cannot have come to Christ aright because they have not felt precisely the same joys or expressions as certain saints of whom they have read. Now, should these good people be so troubled? We think not. Uniformity is not God's rule of working either in nature or in grace. No two human faces display exactly the same lineaments; sons of the same mother, born at the same birth, may be as different as Jacob and Esau. Not even in leagues of forest will two leaves be found in all respects alike. Diversity is the rule of nature, and let us rest assured that variety is the rule of grace.

Mr. Beecher has given us this truth in a very beautiful form in the following lines:
"What if God should command the flowers to appear before him, and the sunflower should come bending low with shame because it was not a violet, and the violet should come striving to lift itself up to be like a sunflower, and the lily should seek to gain the bloom of the rose, and the rose the whiteness of the lily; and so, each one disdaining itself, should seek to grow into the likeness of the other?" God would say, 'Stop foolish flowers! I gave you your own forms and hues, and odours, and I wish you to bring what you have received. O, sunflower, come as a sunflower; and you sweet violet, come as a violet; let the rose bring the rose's bloom, and the lily the lily's whiteness.' Perceiving their folly, and ceasing to long for what they had not, violet and rose, lily and geranium, mignionette and anemone, and all the floral train would come, each in its own loveliness, to send up its fragrance as incense, and all wreathe themselves in a garland of beauty about the throne of God."
Reader, the saints are one in Christ Jesus, but they are not one in their peculiarities. Be we who we may, if we rest on the Redeemer our eternal life is sure; and if not, we are dead while we live. What is Jesus Christ to me? that is the main question. If he is my all, then all is well; if not, I may be very like a saint, but a saint I am not.

3 comments:

Detoured By Travel said...

Steve - Thanks for sharing this. When speaking with new (and sometimes former) believers, I do run across those who are discouraged because someone has told them their walk with Christ should fit into a certain mold. They then assume that their experience wasn't real...and become "wounded (or worse yet, killed) by friendly fire."

I'll print this out and keep it in my Bible. I give thanks to the Lord for you and for your service to Him that will not fail to reward you on that day.

richardabanes said...

We seem to forget that each of us is a different person, created with different:

- minds,
- hearts,
- personalities,
- weaknesses,
- strengths,
- creative/artistic qualities (which affects how we think, feel, respond, and express ourselves).

Then add to that our external influence: i.e., our upbringing, life experiences, influences, hurts, victories, failures, etc.

All rolled together, this makes us each as unique as a snowflake -- and only God can understand that kind of complex creation.

So often, however, we like to play God. We judge, point fingers, act holier-than-thou, speak from ignorance (rather than wisdom), show impatience, forget about love, and almost shun any degree of patience, gentleness, and kindness.

I am reminded hear of a verse: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:3-6).

We usually have no idea what others might be going through when we are so quick to judge them -- i.e., seek to condemn them for not living up to some self-imposed standard of righteousness. God is the only Master of his servants, and the scriptures are clear, especially with regard to the freedoms we enjoy as Christians:

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand" (Rom. 14:4).

This does NOT mean we shouldn't identify sin for what it is, or point out doctrinal error. But what it does mean is that we are NOT the final judge, we are not the Master of any servants. We should not relish the concept of being metaphorical weed-pullers in favor of flower-planters ( see an excellent article on weed-eaters at I-monk, http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/a-note-to-weed-eaters ).

peace in him,

RAbanes

Darrin said...

Brother Steve, Amen. I was sent this excerpt which is relevant to a few of your recent posts:
"If you want, or rather intend, to take a splinter out of another person, then do not hack at it with a stick instead of a lancet, for you will only drive it in deeper. And this is a stick – rude speech and rough gestures. And this is a lancet – tempered instruction and patient reprimand."
- John of the Ladder, 6th century