Taking Steps in Self-Denial

Hudson Taylor


Prior to serving in China, Hudson Taylor prepared himself for living in China, by seeking to live in England as if he were already in China in some respects, including depending totally on God for his finances, busily working for the people around him, etc. A significant area of preparation had to do with self-denial. In this regard, he chose to adopt a more austere diet and to dispose of unnecessary possessions.

Accustoming Himself to Endure Hardness and Economizing

"Having now the twofold object in view," he wrote, " of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economising in order to be able more largely to assist those amongst whom I spent a good deal of time labouring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I had previously thought possible. Butter, milk and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs. In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become." For the Lord is no man's debtor ; and here in his solitude Hudson Taylor was learning something of what He can be to the soul that leaves all for Him. In these days of easygoing Christianity is it not well to remind ourselves that it really does cost-to be a man or woman God can use? One cannot obtain a Christ-like character for nothing ; one cannot do a Christ-like work save at great price. And is there not a sense in which even Christ Himself is to be won? It is easy to pray a little, help a little, love a little; but the missionary apostle meant more than this when he said:

"What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him: ... That I may know-Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the out-resurrection from among the dead: ... If I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. {1-Phil.3:7-12}—Hudson Taylor in the Early Years

Disposing of Unnecessary Possessions

Coming to appreciate the second coming of Jesus in a greater way, and the privilege of living as one who was waiting for the soon return of Jesus, Hudson began going through his possessions and disposing of those things that were not necessary. Thus portions of his library and extra clothing were given to needy neighbors. He commented on this as follows:

"It has been very helpful to me from time to time through life, as occasion has served, to act again in a similar way; and I have never gone through my house, from basement to attic, with this object in view, without receiving a great accession of spiritual joy and blessing. I believe we are all in danger of accumulating—it may be from thoughtlessness, or from pressure of occupation—things which would be useful to others, while not needed by ourselves, and the retention of which entails loss of blessing. If the whole resources of the Church of GOD were well utilised, how much more might be accomplished! How many poor might be fed and naked clothed, and to how many of those as yet unreached the Gospel might be carried! Let me advise this line of things as a constant habit of mind, and a profitable course to be practically adopted whenever circumstances permit."—Hudson Taylor, Retrospect