There is an eloquence far more powerful than the eloquence of words in the quiet, consistent life of a pure, true Christian. What a man is has more influence than what he says. A godly life is a living epistle, known and read of all men.
Character is not something shaped from without, or put on; it is something radiating from within. If true goodness, purity, meekness, and equity are dwelling in the heart, this will be manifest in the character; and such a character is full of power.
The officers who were sent to take Jesus came back with the report that never man spoke as He spoke. But the reason for this was that never man lived as He lived. Had His life been other than it was, He could not have spoken as He did. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, full of love and sympathy, benevolence and truth.
True religion consists in doing the words of Christ; not doing them to earn God’s favor, but because, all undeserving, we have received the gift of His love. Christ places the salvation of men, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness. Doing, not saying merely, is expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Not those whose hearts are touched by the Spirit, not those who now and then yield to its power, but those who are led by the Spirit, are the sons of God.
By the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, true Christians reveal Christ. The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, show to the world that they are children of God. Men take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus.
To those who have named His name Christ says, “You have given yourselves to Me, and I have given you to the world as My representatives.” As the Father had sent Him into the world, so, He declares, “have I also sent them into the world.” As Christ is the divine channel for the revelation of the Father, so we are the channel for the revelation of Christ. While our Saviour is the great source of illumination, forget not, O Christian, that He is revealed through humanity. Every individual disciple is Heaven’s appointed channel for the revelation of God to man. Angels of glory wait to communicate through you heaven’s light and power to souls that are ready to perish. Shall the human agent fail of accomplishing his appointed work? O, then to that degree is the world robbed of the promised influence of the Holy Spirit.
When Christ would define the advancement possible for us, He said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This advancement is not gained without effort. The Christian life is a battle and a march. But the victory to be gained is not won by human power. The field of conflict is the domain of the heart. The battle which we have to fight–the greatest battle that was ever fought by man–is the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love. The old nature, born of blood and of the will of the flesh, can not inherit the kingdom of God. The hereditary tendencies, the formed habits, must be given up.
He who determines to enter the spiritual kingdom will find that all the powers and passions of an unregenerate nature, backed by the forces of the kingdom of darkness, are arrayed against him. Selfishness and pride will make a stand against anything that would show them to be sinful. We can not, of ourselves, conquer the evil desires and habits that struggle for the mastery. We can not overcome the mighty foe who holds us in his thrall. God alone can give us the victory. He desires us to have the mastery over ourselves, our own will and ways. But He can not work in us without our consent and co-operation. The divine Spirit works through the faculties and powers given to man. Our energies are required to co-operate with God.
The victory is not won without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Our will is not to be forced into co-operation with divine agencies, but it must be voluntarily submitted. Were it possible to force upon you with a hundredfold greater intensity the influence of the Spirit of God, it would not make you a Christian, a fit subject for heaven. The stronghold of Satan-would not be broken. The will must be placed on the side of God’s will. You are not able, of yourself, to bring your purposes and desires and inclinations into submission to the will of God; but if you are “willing to be made willing,” God will accomplish the work for you, even “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Then you will “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
— Signs of the Times, May 18, 1904