Divine Wisdom and God's Guidance
"I will guide you with My eye." Ps. 32:8
Will you turn to the 32nd Psalm, from the seventh verse to the end? “Thou art my hiding-place, Thou shalt preserve me from trouble.” That is very precious, but it is not enough; it is not enough for Him, though sometimes we think it is enough for us. We see next, “I will instruct thee,” etc. Who is this spoken to? Look at the last verse again: it is to the upright in heart. And now, how will He guide them? First of all they believe He will guide them—the beginning of it is expectation of guidance. This does not mean thinking, “I will try and see whether He will guide me”—that is not the way. Simply trust Him; or rather, as has been well said during these meetings, simply trust Him. How will the guidance come? “I will guide thee with mine eye.” That means that we are to be looking out for it, looking up at Him. If we do not do this, how can we get the guidance? Yesterday morning I came into the meeting rather late, and I knew Mr. Smith would be looking at me to catch my eye to get me to come up on the platform. I did not want to go, so what did I do? I simply did not look at him. He may have been looking at me to guide me with his eye, but I do not know, for I did not look at him. If we treat God’s guidance like that, of course we do not get it.
Now turn, if you please, to Proverbs 3:5,6 throws fresh light on the subject. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” comes in again here; and then come three other things to be done, or rather one thing not to do, and one thing to do, and one thing for God to do.
First, the thing not to do: “Lean not to thine own understanding;” don’t think you are wise in little things. Some man of the world will say, “That is really silly; it is good for babies.” Yes, it is very good for babies; we want to be little babes before Him. He would take all “the pride of life” out of us. Now the thing to do is, “in all thy ways acknowledge Him”—all thy ways. Is it hard to trust Him for that? Don’t you think that when He died to lead you to glory, He will lead you every step? Then the thing is done as far as you are concerned. God will do all the rest. He will take different ways for different people; different ways, perhaps, for the same man on different days. If you begin thinking how it is to come about, you will make mistakes; you must get quite away from your own wisdom. This is not so easy; it is easier to distrust our own strength than our own wisdom, just as it is easier to distrust our own righteousness than our own strength. But He is “made unto us wisdom”—there could be nothing stronger than that.
Now will you turn to John 10:1-6. “They understood not.” So it is still; people say it is all very mystical, very impracticable. It happens to be the most practical thing in the world. We see the matter put very beautifully here. “A stranger will they not follow.” Even if the stranger wants to lead you today, when Christ led you yesterday, you won’t follow; you have only got to follow Him, to hear His voice. This simplifies the whole of life. You may get up in the morning with the feeling, “How am I to get through the day? I have so many things to do, so many people to speak to, I hardly know what to do first, or how I shall get through them all.” You will never have more than one thing to do at a time, and that one thing will be to follow the voice of Jesus. How are you to hear that voice? You will hear it in many ways, in the voice of circumstances—in the voice of friends. Of course in His Word, and by the Holy Spirit in your heart, or by your minister, in these things you will hear His voice, and if you don’t hear His voice—His “It is I!”—don’t follow; don’t do anything that in the least obscures communion with Him. Perhaps there will sometimes be something hard which you want to do for Him, but which He does not want you to do. Sometimes there will be something hard which He does want you to do. An instance of guidance occurred at this morning meeting. God laid it on the heart of one present to repeat a promise from His Word; it was done in trembling, just done because it seemed His will, and the note was pitched in which many, perhaps 200, joined.
There is one other thing to be noticed about this guidance, if you want guidance for something far off in the future. He won’t show it to you today; it will just come step by step as it is needed. We have noticed that so clearly with regard to this Oxford meeting. It was first just a suggestion from some brother at Broadlands, that we must have some meeting like the one there, to which, all might come; then the idea was taken up; then Oxford was thought of; then all the arrangements were made, so quickly, so easily. It was just God guiding it all, and I think every one here would say it could not have been ordered better. If some brother had taken it into his head that he would get up such a meeting, and had advertised it largely and taken a great deal of trouble to get people to attend, would the result have been the same? Brethren, where the future is concerned just trust for it, leave it with Him. When the day comes the guidance will come, and it will be accomplished quietly.
In the last place, we will just turn to St. Paul’s story. In his conversion his first question is “Who art Thou, Lord?” His second question is “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” That last question was the motto of his life. We see it again in Acts 22:22,23, He went about “not knowing the things that shall befall me there,” but still in perfect peace. When we go away from this quiet time with Jesus we know not the things that will befall us, but we know He will guide us much more than even here. As somebody said when we were leaving Broadlands, if a child in this beautiful place is led and kept and guided, much more it will be led and kept and guided in the bustle and confusion of the streets. Brethren, if Jesus has been guiding us in these meetings, much more will He guide us in the din and whirl of outer life.
There was one question raised at the end of our meeting yesterday, which there was not time then to answer fully, and I should like to say a few words about it, before going on to-day’s subjects. The question in many minds is “To what extent am I to be kept from sinning? When am I to expect to be kept?” The only answer we can give is, “You are to expect to be kept from sinning now.” God does not give a reserve stock of grace, which you can look at and say “that is mine.” He just gives you, minute-by-minute, and moment-by-moment, what is needed. It is like this: suppose a man says to his friend—”I will give you an empty purse, and in it you shall find any money you want the very minute you want it. I shall never give you any to keep in your pocket, but you may go to your purse for anything.” Would that man be a very rich man, or a very poor man? I think he would be both. If he wanted a penny to buy a newspaper, he must call on his friend, and go to his purse for it, if he wanted a shilling, he could go for that; if he wanted a hundred pounds, he could go for that; he could get any thing he wanted, but there would be something he could not do—he could not put money on the table, and look at it, and say, “What a rich man I am!” He would get up with an empty purse, and go to bed with an empty purse, and yet he would have all he needed. That is the way God gives us His grace, never more than we need for that very minute—always quite enough.
Here is a downloadable pdf of this talk.
Monod shared this talk at the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness at Oxford, England, which took place from August 29 to September 7, 1874.
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