No sermon is ready for preaching, not ready for writing out, until we can express its theme in a short, pregnant sentence clear as a crystal.
The Lord heard both the heart cries, and the needed succour was given. The Lord can hear cries that never pierce the human ear. There is no sigh so low as to escape His hearing. The faintest breath of an aspiration sounds like thunder in the ears of the King. “He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
“Trust in the Lord.” “Trust.” It is, perhaps, helpful to remember that the word which is here translated “trust” is elsewhere in the Old Testament translated “careless.” “Be careless in the Lord!” Instead of carrying a load of care let care be absent! It is the carelessness of little children running about the house in the assurance of their father’s providence and love. It is the singing disposition that leaves something for the parent to do. Assume that He is working as well as thyself, and working even when things appear to be adverse.
“Thy will be done.” And with what better comment upon the words can I begin than this from John Calvin: “The substance of the prayer is that God would enlighten the world by the light of His Word, would form the hearts of men by the influence of His Spirit, and would restore to order, by the gracious exercise of His power, all the disorder that exists in the world.” John Calvin thus brings us to a very definite conception as to what the prayer implies. The Kingdom comes just as God’s thought and Spirit become dominant — His grace pervading human affection, His counsel illumining human judgment, His purpose fashioning human desire. His will controlling human movement. The Kingdom comes when His throne is revered, and when “the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne” constrains our wills in glad and spontaneous obedience. The Kingdom comes just as human relationships are shaped and beautified by the character of God, His righteousness expressed in our rectitude, His grace flowering in our graciousness, and His love finding a witness in everything lovely and of good report. The Kingdom comes when the King is honored and when His statutes become our songs.
Commenting on “The Lord is my song”:
It is a singing religion, a religion that sings while it serves, a cheering, musical religion that is going to save the world!
What He wants me to do, He does. What He empowers me to be, He is!
We shall never really know Christ as He is to be known until we begin to tell what we already know. In the realm of religion we never really know until we testify. Until the disciple becomes an apostle he is never an advanced disciple. Every teacher knows this; his knowledge grows while he imparts it. I heard a friend of Watts say in the Tate Gallery some time ago, when he was taking a little party through the famous chamber: “Every time I try to explain these pictures I see more to explain!” In the act of stating a principle the light brightens for ourselves. . . . While we declare the grace of redemption, grace more abounds toward us. While we testify as to the way of peace we are led into the more secret place. If we would be fine learners we must be ready teachers. Are you saying you cannot be? Is there anything you know about the Lord? Tell the little you know, and the little will grow. Have you no sick neighbor, no care-worn friend, no depressed fellow-pilgrim who is fainting on life’s way? Teach him the little you know. You will be perfectly amazed at the effect upon your friend, but still more wonderful will be the effect upon yourself. As you go home from that house, the truth which hitherto shone like a candle, will burn like a star. “He that doeth the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, the same shall be called great.” These are some of the secrets of successful discipleship in the school of Christ.
Assuming that there is no distorting lens corrupting our judgment, and that the offense is palpable when seen through cool and simple sight, what then should be our course? “Rebuke him.” Well, that would be pleasant enough. It is an exercise which provides a feast for the majority of people, and we set about it with rare satisfaction. But there are rebukes and rebukes. There is a rebuke which is only intended to satisfy the offended, and there is a rebuke which is purposed to rectify the offender. A legitimate rebuke is more than a vent for passion — it is a minister of redemption. It is intended to do more than work off my spleen; it is purposed to remove my brother’s defilement. It is to be used not so much for the relief of my wound, but for the healing of his. The wound of the offended is clean, and time will most surely heal it. But the wound of the offender is unclean, and it may easily fester into something worse. And therefore I say the primary purpose of a rebuke is not to gratify my temper, but to help my brother to recover his broken health.
Now, we may quite easily ascertain whether our rebuke has been of the kind counseled by the Master, a medicated kind, and the test is to be found in whether we are prepared to go further with our Lord. “If he repent, forgive him.” If our rebuke has been healthy and wholesome, we shall be quite ready to take the further step as soon as occasion offers. The fine aim and trend of all Christian rebuke is ultimate reconciliation. A rebuke is not an instrument of punishment; it is an instrument of adjustment. It is not penal, but surgical, and always and everywhere it is purposed to be a minister of moral and spiritual restoration. To put the matter in a word, in all the offenses we suffer, our after-conduct should seek the moral recovery of the offender.
J. H. Jowett, Things That Matter Most