Without further comment I want to share a couple of quotes about obedience for servants of God.
They must not pick and choose: “This I will do and that I will not do.” They must not say, “This is too hard,” or “This is too mean,” or “This may be well enough let alone.” Good servants, when they have chosen their master, will let their master choose their work and will not dispute it.
Christ hath many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. . . .But then there are other works wherein we cannot please Christ but by denying ourselves.
Richard Alleine in A Vindication of Godliness in the Greatest Strictness and Spirituality of It from the Imputations of Folly and Fancy: Together with Several Directions for the Attaining and Maintaining of a Godly Life,pages 211-212 and 215.
“Would I ever leave this company? Look, I’m all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I’m being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I’m going wherever they value loyalty the most.” Dwight Schrute on The Office
Sometimes our self-centeredness warps our virtues to the point they are but offerings made on the altar of our own self-worship.
God, help us sort out our motives.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ).
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
This morning as I read through a section of Devotional Classics, I was struck by the following prayer from Dag Hammarskjold.
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
Give us peace with Thee
Peace with men
Peace with ourselves,
And free us from all fear.
“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”
–John Piper, from God Is The Gospel, p. 15.
Today I received by e-mail this quote from the writings of John Stott. It’ s just too good to keep to myself. Enjoy.
“Ostensibly Jerusalem rejected Christ on theological grounds, and outwardly the Pharisees condemned Jesus for blasphemy. But beneath these intellectual and doctrinal objections was a hostile will. Jesus had exposed their hypocrisy and unmasked their sins. Their pride was wounded. They felt humiliated. They hated him for his holiness. They were jealous of his influence on the common people. These things were at the root of their repudiation of Christ. But it was more respectable to find fault with his theology than to admit their moral embarrassment. Their doubts were a cloak for their sins. It has often been so. I do not say it is always so, because of course many people have genuine theological problems. But frequently a man’s deepest need is not intellectual but moral, and his supposed inability to believe is really an unwillingness to obey.”
–John Stott, from “Authentic Christianity”, p. 179
I have long been convinced that my preaching too often is focused on me, or us, rather than on God. Reading this passage today was a needed reminder. Caution: you may want to read the following words slowly and repeatedly; in other words, chew thoroughly before swallowing.
“We take the mirror of God’s image, which was intended to reflect his glory in the world, and turn our backs to the light, and fall in love with the contours of our own dark shadow, trying desperately to convince ourselves (with technological advances or management skills or athletic prowess or academic achievements or sexual exploits or countercultural hair styles) that the dark shadow of the image on the ground in front of us is really glorious and satisfying. And in our proud love affair with ourselves, we pour contempt (whether we know it or not!) on the worth of God’s glory.”
The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper, p. 32.