H. C. G. Moule
Christ and Sanctification
Ch. 8, Practical Inferences
The earnest reader, who has followed me thus far with substantial sympathy of conviction, will bear with me in the attempt to touch, if only at a point or two, the great ﬁeld of practical inference from the principles and the secret of Christian Sanctity.
We have seen that this sacred Thing is no intangible and always eluding vision. It is a reality, a fact, attainable and solid, able to be touched and clasped by the hand of faith, which itself is held within the Almighty hand of the Master, Keeper, Friend, and Indweller of the soul.
It is, then, a thing meant for practical and prosaic application. It is meant to be a phenomenon, a thing visible, observable; not, of course, in its essence and principle, nor wholly in its results, for many of these, and the most vital of them, will take place within the world of the inner man, witnessed only by conscience, and by the Lord, and perhaps by unseen spiritual beings. But in a thousand ways, nevertheless, Christian Sanctity will come out clear and legible to human eyes on the open page of daily life.
‘Not I, but Christ,’ is a fact meant to shine out. It is designed calculated, to light up the common daily path of the person whose will has really let it in. Have you said that Self, and all Self’s interests and aims, are now laid at, laid under, the Master’s feet? That you are literally, and wholly, not your own, but His? Then the spring and centre of your life being transferred to the Will of Another, there will be a quiet but real revolution in the working. Things will, in some very practical sense, look different for the change. The life lived to Self, and the life lived to the Lord, though they may often coincide here and there in details, cannot, on the whole, look alike.
Here let us search ourselves; or rather, let us come with the Psalmist and say: “Search me, 0 God, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He can both search and lead. He can show us the wrong, the deﬂection, the inconsistency, and He can ‘work in us to will’ the putting away, at all costs, whatever in our practice really contradicts the high avowal that we are His.
How is it, then, with your Time? You have sung, and from the heart: “Take my moments and my days.” Are you watching unto this prayer? Do you really ﬁll the hours, the ﬂying hours, with the Master’s business, and not at all with your own pleasure as an end apart from Him? He may, doubtless, make His business and your comforts to coincide. But He may not, and very often He will not, and He has the right, the full right, never to do so. Are you simply waiting and watching His orders what to do with this great talent of Time, ever dwindling as to quantity, ever growing in indestructible results and responsibility?
How is it with your Recreations? Is His despotic will simply, and without wavering, your rule? Here are delicate problems, I know. Bodies and minds, worn and tired in this our humiliation-state, need, often need, recreation. And remember, the Master can enter into that need. He has not forgotten His rest by the well of Sychar, and on the cushion of the ﬁshing-boat, and amidst the family of Bethany. But are you loyally, and in the spirit of His bondservant, consulting Him about it all? Are you willing to yield to Him, with a smile of entire consent, your dearest earthly pursuit, if He asks for it? He may not ask you to renounce it wholly. If it consists in the exercise of special gifts of His to you, He very probably will not do so; though He may. But if He says: ‘Keep it, do it,’ He will put a new impress, a new cachet, upon it. Somehow or other, it will be signed with the Cross. Literature, Music, Art of other sorts, faculty of speech, charm of conversation, richness of affections, wealth of knowledge, strength and skill of hand and frame, will be deﬁnitely and (sooner or later) visibly transformed into vessels for the Master’s Use. In these matters, or some of them, you and I once yielded our members as instruments to unrighteous self-pleasing. Now we ‘yield them’ in these things, in the same way, unto God. As to the details, ask the will of God soberly, but unreservedly, with eyes open to the Bible and to your ﬁeld of service, and ‘He shall guide thee continually.’
How is it with your MEANS? Surely, on plain Scripture principles, if you have the power (and your Lord knows if you have, and you wish to go wholly by His knowledge), you ought to devote at least a tenth to His distinctive work. But you must not stop there. You are to recognize, whether you have a thousand a year, or ten thousand, or whether you painfully earn a little weekly, that it all belongs to Him, on the principle of divine bond-service. Your accounts must be kept for His inspection. Your casual spendings must be done as in His presence. You are to be at once thrifty and generous, because you are His trustee and His agent. In your own person you are to do your utmost to negative the reproach against the Church of Christ that a man may be converted and yet keep an unconverted purse.
And He has given you, not money only, but wealth of other sorts? Wealth of leisure, wealth of garden, and ﬁeld, and carriage, and sweet chambers of a beautiful home? Shall it be said that your use of them is precisely that of your wealthy neighbour, who honestly avows that he makes his own comfort, and this life, his aim? Ah! is it not so too often? But shall it be so now, now that you so deeply realize yourself the slave of Jesus Christ, trusted with these items of His property? No; you will ﬁnd out delightful ways to utilize them for your beloved Master. Possessions, inﬂuence, all shall be used to bring revenue to Him. You will do good with these things, watching and loving the opportunity. The weary and the sad shall be the better for them. The poor and pleasure-less shall get some gladness out of them. The household of faith shall feel a common property in them.
True, you see in His word the steady recognition of a great right of personal property. No enforced communism ﬁnds place there. But the communism of a soul that has found itself to be not its own glows from every page of Scripture; a law for Philemon who retains his household as much as for Barnabas who sells his ﬁelds.
The poorest saint may act upon it. I heard of one, straitened in means, but not in love, who had apportioned the very fruittrees of her garden to the aid of this and that work for Christ. What may not the rich man do?
How is it with your Family? Do you recognize that they also belong to your Master? By the Hebrew law of slavery they would do so; and they do so by the law of Christ. Is your ﬁrst concern, your ﬁrst prayer and effort, for your children, that they should live to God, should be of use for God? True, you cannot almightily bend their wills, nor give them grace. But you can present them unreservedly and daily to One who can. And you, by His grace, can so live before them as to commend Him to them as their end and all. And you can so manage their education as to have a ﬁrst regard, and not merely a second, to their establishment in the faith, and their preparedness for God’s service. Is your choice wholly thus for them? Would you very far rather see them poor, and even less completely educated, while knowing and serving Christ, than see them admirably placed, and splendidly informed, and perfectly respectable, without decision for Him?
How is it with your FRIENDS? Few questions involve more difﬁculty in the answer when one tries to go into detail. But then, in a true sense, you need not do so. Take the initial step of entire recognition of the Lord’s ownership over you everywhere and in everything, and more and more the crooked things will be made straight. Are you doing this? Do you entirely recognize that your friendships are things to be formed and carried on under your Master’s eye, and as by His slave who is also His friend? Are you entirely willing to consult Him, your inmost Friend, about the whole problem? The simplicity of the will in this matter will solve a thousand complexities of the circumstances. You will surely see, with a holy tact, how and when to be ‘in the world,’ in a social sense, while ‘not of it,’ and how and when with quiet decision to break off, to retire, to decline; how to be silent; how to speak; how always to witness for your Lord in the tone and temper of common intercourse.
With this fragment of practical thought I leave the blessed subject we have had before us, or rather let me turn, humbly and in the strength of Christ, to life, and to this hour’s calls to live to Him as His own.
Our position, our secret, as His slaves, His implements, His friends, His members, we must carry into everything, into the details of all that is modern in our English world, as well as into the hours when we retire into the great past, or the eternal future. ‘To the Lord’ must be, will be, the motto. It will govern practice in our dress, our table, the books we read, the holidays we take, the furniture we buy. And oh! how it will govern the thoughts we think, the temper we show the words we speak!
It will pass into the texture of our life. The spiritual, by a sacred law, will descend evermore into the practical. To us ‘to live shall be Christ.’ HE will be made to us, in all the experiences of human doing and being—Sanctiﬁcation.