Consecrating our Everyday Lives

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do–do all to the glory of God!” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Religion is not to be confined to devotional exercises–but rather consists in doing all that we are called to do, with a single eye to His glory and will, from a grateful sense of His love and mercy to us. This is the chemistry which turns every mundane thing into gold, and stamps a value upon common actions!

When a mother is making or mending the children’s clothes, or teaching them, or cleaning the kitchen, or a saucepan–she may be as well employed, as when she is upon her knees or at the Lord’s Table.

It is an great mistake to think that all time is lost–which is not spent in bible-reading, or hearing sermons, or prayer. These are properly called means of grace–and should be attended to in their proper season. But the fruits of grace–are to appear in our common daily course of conduct.

It would be wrong for a mother to neglect the house of God–and it would be equally wrong to neglect the prudent management of her own house. It is chiefly as a wife and mother of a family, that she can let her light shine to His praise. I would not have her think that she could serve the Lord better in any other station, than in that in which God in His providence has placed her.

A simple desire to please God, to walk by the rule of His Word, and to do all to His glory . . .
like the fabled magic stone, turns all to gold,
consecrates the actions of common life, and
makes everything that belongs to our situation and duty in domestic life, a part of our religion.

– John Newton, 1725-1807

Editor’s note: There is no “secular” and “sacred” in the life of the Christian. Everything done to the glory of God is a religious exercise.

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“Man Proposes; God Disposes”

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

“Man proposes, God disposes.” Man deliberates here and there how he will begin and carry on this or that; but his short-sightedness leaves much out of view which God sees; his calculation does not comprehend many contingencies which God disposes of and man cannot foresee. The result and issue are thus of God, and the best is, that in all his deliberations, one should give himself up without self-confidence and arrogance to the guidance of God, that one should do his duty and leave the rest, with humility and confidence, to God.

– Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Editor’s Note: We make our plans, but ultimately, God is the One who determines whether those plans succeed or fail.

 

The Daily and Quiet Virtues of Life

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; – Ephesians 4:2

With longsuffering

Bearing patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others. The virtue here required is that which is to be manifested in our manner of receiving the provocations which we meet with from our brethren. No virtue, perhaps, is more frequently demanded in our intercourse with others.

We do not go far with any fellow-traveler on the journey of life before we find there is great occasion for its exercise. He has a temperament different from our own. He may be sanguine, or choleric, or melancholy; while we may be just the reverse, he has peculiarities of taste, and habits, and disposition, which differ much from ours. He has his own plans and purposes of life, and his own way and time of doing things. He may be naturally irritable, or he may have been so trained that his modes of speech and conduct differ much from ours. Neighbors have occasion to remark this in their neighbors; friends in their friends; kindred in their kindred; one church-member in another. A husband and wife — such is the imperfection of human nature-can find enough in each other to embitter life if they choose to magnify imperfections and to become irritated at trifles; and there is no friendship that may not be marred in this way, if we will allow it.

Hence, if we would have life move on smoothly, we must learn to bear and forbear. We must indulge the friend that we love in the little peculiarities of saying and doing things which may be important to him, but which may be of little moment to us. Like children, we must suffer each one to build his playhouse in his own way, and not quarrel with him because he does not think our way the best. All usefulness, and all comfort, may be prevented by an unkind, a sour, a crabbed temper of mind — a mind that can bear with no difference of opinion or temperament.

A spirit of fault-finding; all unsatisfied temper; a constant irritability; little inequalities in the look, the temper, or the manner; a brow cloudy and dissatisfied — your husband or your wife cannot tell why — will more than neutralize all the good you can do, and render life anything but a blessing. It is in such gentle and quiet virtues as meekness and forbearance that the happiness and usefulness of life consist, far more than in brilliant eloquence, in splendid talent, or illustrious deeds that shall send the name to future times. It is the bubbling spring which flows gently; the little rivulet which glides through the meadow, and which runs along day and night by the farm-house, that is useful, rather than the swollen flood or the roaring cataract. Niagara excites our wonder; and we stand amazed at the power and greatness of God there, as he “pours it from his hollow hand.” But one Niagara is enough for a continent or a world; while that same world needs thousands and tens of thousands of silver fountains, and gently-flowing rivulets, that shall water every farm, and every meadow, and every garden, and that shall flow on, every day and every night, with their gentle and quiet beauty.

So with the acts of our lives. It is not by great deeds only, not by great sufferings only, like those of the martyrs — that good is to be done; it is by the daily and quiet virtues of life — the Christian temper, the meek forbearance, the spirit of forgiveness in the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend, the neighbor — that good is to be done; and in this all may be useful.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870

 

Vainglory

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Philippians 2:3‭‭

“Let nothing be done through vainglory‭.” The word here used —‭κενοδοζια‭ ‭kenodoxia‭, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the adjective—‭κενοδοξος‭ ‭kenedoxos‭, occurs once in ‭Galations 5:26‭.  It means, properly, empty pride, or glory, and is descriptive of vain and hollow parade and show. The idea seems to be that of mere self–esteem; a mere desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object.

The command here solemnly forbids our doing ‭anything‭ with such an aim—no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. ‭Self‭ is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive. Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this, or would touch on more points of human conduct, if fairly applied.

Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power witch which it is done! Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee? Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire? If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain–glory,” how small a portion would be left!‭

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

Do Nothing Through Strife

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Philippians 2:3

Let nothing be done through strife‭. With a spirit of contention. This command forbids us to do anything, or attempt anything, as ‭the mere result of strife‭. This is not the principle from which we are to act, or by which we are to be governed. We are to form no plan, and aim at no object, which is to be secured in this way. The command prohibits all attempts to secure anything over others by mere physical strength, or by superiority of intellect or numbers, or as the result of dark schemes and plans formed by rivalry, or by the indulgence of angry passions, or with the spirit of ambition. We are not to attempt to do anything ‭merely‭ by outstripping others, or by showing that we have more talent, courage, or zeal. What we do is to be by principle, and with a desire to maintain the truth, and to glorify God. And yet how often is this rule violated! How often do Christian denominations attempt to outstrip each other, and to see which shall be the greatest! How often do ministers preach with no better aim! How often do we attempt to outdo others in dress, and in the splendor of furniture and equipage! How often, even in plans of benevolence, and in the cause of virtue and religion, is the secret aim to ‭outdo others‭. This is all wrong. There is no holiness in such efforts. Never once did the Redeemer act from such a motive, and never once should this motive be allowed to influence us.

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

Light Thoughts of Sin

“Sin… exceeding sinful.” — Romans 7:13

Beware of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and  then follows an unholy presumption: “We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent.” So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how you think lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual drippings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Savior, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, Morning and Evening, March 11, (Morning)

The Word of God

Next to praying, there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading.
By reading that Book, we may learn . . .
what to believe,
what to be,
what to do,
how to live with comfort,
and how to die in peace.

The Bible alone is “able to make a man wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15. It alone can . . .
show you the way which leads to Heaven,
teach you everything you need to know,
point out everything you need to believe,
and explain everything you need to do.

It alone can show you . . .
what you are–a sinner,
what God is–perfectly holy,
the great giver of pardon, peace, and grace–Jesus Christ.

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the grand instrument by which souls are converted to God. In this way the Bible has worked moral miracles by thousands! It has made . . .
drunkards become sober,
immoral people become pure,
thieves become honest, and
violent people become meek!

The Bible has wholly altered the course of men’s lives!
It has caused their old things to pass away–and made all their ways new.
It has taught worldly people–to seek first the kingdom of God.
It has taught lovers of pleasure–to become lovers of God.
It has changed the stream of men’s affections–to run upwards instead of running downwards.
It has made men think of Heaven–instead of always thinking of earth.

The Bible can enable a man . . .
to bear afflictions without murmuring, and say, “It is well.”
to look down into the grave, and say, “I fear no evil.”
to think on judgment and eternity, and not feel afraid.

Is a man drowsy in soul? The Bible can awaken him.

Is he mourning? The Bible can comfort him.

Is he erring? The Bible can restore him.

Is he weak? The Bible can strengthen him.

Is he in company? The Bible can keep him from evil.

Is he alone? The Bible can talk with him. (Proverbs 6:22)

All this the Bible can do for all believers;
for the least–as well as the greatest;
for the richest–as well as the poorest.
It has done it for thousands already–and is doing it for thousands every day!

It is in Scripture alone that infallibility resides. It is not in the Church. It is not in the Councils. It is not in ministers. It is only in the written Word.

All other books in the world, however good and useful in their way–are more or less defective. The more you look at them–the more you see their defects and blemishes. The Bible alone is absolutely perfect. From beginning to end, it is “the Word of God.”

A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test: Does it square with the Bible? What do the Scriptures say?
The only question is: Is the thing said Scriptural?
If it is–then it ought to be received and believed.
If it is not–then it ought to be refused and cast aside.

The churches which are most flourishing at this day, are churches which honor the Bible.
The nations which enjoy most moral light, are nations in which the Bible is most treasured.
The godliest families are Bible-reading families.
The holiest men and women are Bible-reading people.
These are simple facts which cannot be denied.

Every one who cares for his soul ought . . .
to treasure the Bible highly,
to study it regularly, and
to make himself thoroughly acquainted with its contents.

– J. C. Ryle, 1816-1900

 

We are being prepared for Heaven

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. – Titus 1:2

LOOK upon all the Lord’s covenant dealings with you as but preparatory to your approaching emancipation from all sin, suffering, and sorrow. Welcome your trials—they are sent by your Father. Welcome the stroke of His rod—it is a Parent smiting. Welcome whatever detaches you from earth, and wings your spirit heavenward. Welcome the furnace that consumes the dross and the tin, and brings out the precious gold and silver, to reflect in your soul, even now, the dawnings of future glory. Oh! be submissive, meek, and quiet, under God’s chastening and afflicting hand, and receive all His dispensations as only tending to fit you more perfectly for “the inheritance of the saints in light.” Let his “hope of eternal life” cheer and comfort the bereaved of the Lord, from whose hearts have fled the loved and sanctified ones of earth, to the eternal heaven. Oh! how full of consolation is this prospect! Where have the departed fled, who sleep in Jesus? They have but exchanged the region of darkness and shadow for the regions of light and glory. They have gone from the scene of impurity, defilement, and sin, to the place of perfect holiness, complete sanctification, and eternal love.

– Octavius Winslow, 1808-1878, Morning Thoughts

The Place of Humiliation

If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. —Mark 9:22

After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. Peter thought it would be a wonderful thing for them to remain on the mountain, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley, where the true meaning of the vision was explained (see Mark 9:5-6, Mark 9:14-23).

“If you can do anything….” It takes the valley of humiliation to remove the skepticism from us. Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?

– Oswald Chambers, 1874-1917, My Utmost for His Highest (October 2)