AN ODD LITTLE PASSAGE in the Book of Ecclesiastes speaks of an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. It is not hard to understand why an old king, especially if he were a foolish one, would feel that he was beyond admonition. After he had for years given orders he might easily build a self-confident psychology that simply could not entertain the notion that he should take advice from others. His word had long been law, and to him right had become synonymous with his will and wrong had come to mean anything that ran contrary to his wishes. Soon the idea that there was anyone wise enough or good enough to reprove him would not so much as enter his mind. He had to be a foolish king to let himself get caught in that kind of web, and an old king to give the web time to pet so strong that he could not break it and to give him time to get used to it so that he was no longer aware of its existence. Regardless of the moral process by which he arrived at his hardened state, the bell had already tolled for him. In every particular he was a lost man. His wizened old body still held together to provide a kind of movable tomb to house a soul already dead. Hope had long ago departed. God had left him to his fatal conceit. And soon he would die physically too, and he would die as a fool dieth. A state of heart that rejected admonition was characteristic of Israel at various periods in her history, and these periods were invariably followed by judgment. When Christ came to the Jews He found them chuck full of that arrogant self-confidence that would not accept reproof. We be Abrahams seed, they said coldly when He talked to them about their sins and their need of salvation. The common people heard Him and repented, but the Jewish priests had ruled the roost too long to be willing to surrender their privileged position. Like the old king, they had gotten accustomed to being right all the time. To reprove them was to insult them. They were beyond reproof. Churches and Christian organizations have shown a tendency to fall into the same error that destroyed Israel: inability to receive admonition. After a time of growth and successful labor comes the deadly psychology of self-congratulation. Success itself becomes the cause of later failure. The leaders come to accept themselves as the very chosen of God. They are special objects of the divine favor; their success is proof enough that this is so. They must therefore be right, and anyone who tries to call them to account is instantly written off as an unauthorized meddler who should be ashamed to dare to reprove his betters. If anyone imagines that we are merely playing with words let him approach at random any religious leader and call attention to the weaknesses and sins in his organization. Such a one will be sure to get the quick brush off, and if he dares to persist he will be confronted with reports and statistics to prove that he is dead wrong and completely out of order. We be the seed of Abraham will be the burden of the defense. And who would dare find fault with Abrahams seed? Those who have already entered the state where they can no longer receive admonition are not likely to profit by this warning. After a man has gone over the precipice there is not much you can do for him; but we can place markers along the way to prevent the next traveler from going over. Here are a few: 1. Dont defend your church or your organization against criticism. If the criticism is false it can do no harm. If it is true you need to hear it and do something about it. 2. Be concerned not with what you have accomplished but over what you might have accomplished if you had followed the Lord completely. It is better to say (and feel), We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. 3. When reproved, pay no attention to the source. Do not ask whether it is a friend or an enemy that reproves you. An enemy is often of greater value to you than a friend because he is not influenced by sympathy. 4. Keep your heart open to the correction of the Lord and be ready to receive His chastisement regardless of who holds the whip. The great saints all learned to take a licking gracefullyand that may be one reason why they were great saints.A.W. Tozer[i]The Root of the Righteous[/i]
IF WHILE HEARING a sermon we can fix on but one real jewel of truth we may consider ourselves well rewarded for the time we have spent. One such gem was uncovered during a sermon which I heard some time ago. From the sermon I got one worthy sentence and no more, but it was so good that I regret that I cannot remember who the preacher was, that I might give him credit. Here is what he said, Listen to no man who fails to listen to God. In any group of ten persons at least nine are sure to believe that they are qualified to offer advice to others. And in no other field of human interest are people as ready to offer advice as in the field of religion and morals. Yet it is precisely in this field that the average person is least qualified to speak wisely and is capable of the most harm when he does speak. For this reason we should select our counselors carefully. And selection inevitably carries with it the idea of rejection. David warns against the counsel of the ungodly, and Bible history gives examples of men who made a failure of their lives because they took wrong advice. Rehoboam, for instance, listened to men who had not listened to God and the whole future of Israel was affected adversely as a consequence. The counsel of Ahithophel was an evil thing that added greatly to the iniquities of Absalom. No man has any right to offer advice who has not first heard God speak. No man has any right to counsel others who is not ready to hear and follow the counsel of the Lord. True moral wisdom must always be an echo of Gods voice. The only safe light for our path is the light which is reflected from Christ, the Light of the World. It is especially important that young people learn whose counsel to trust. Having been in the world for such a short time they have not had much experience and must look to others for advice. And whether they know it or not, they do every day accept the opinions of others and adopt them as their own. Those who boast the loudest of their independence have picked up from someone the idea that independence is a virtue, and their very eagerness to be individualistic is the result of the influence of others. They are what they are because of the counsel they have followed. This rule of listening only to those who have first listened to God will save us from many a snare. All religious projects should be tested by it. In this period of unusual religious activity we must keep calm and well poised. Before we follow any man we should look for the oil on his forehead. We are under no spiritual obligation to aid any man in any activity that has not upon it the marks of the cross. No appeal to our sympathies, no sad stories, no shocking pictures should move us to put our money and our time into schemes promoted by persons who are too busy to listen to God. God has His chosen men still, and they are without exception good listeners. They can hear when the Lord speaks. We may safely listen to such men. But to no others.A.W. Tozer[i]The Root of the Righteous[/i]
PRAYER AT ITS BEST is the expression of the total life.Certainly there have been and will continue to be instances when an isolated prayer may be answered even when the one uttering it may not have been living an exemplary Christian life. But we assume that most of those who read this page are not satisfied to get a prayer through occasionally; they want to know a more satisfying prayer life, one that elevates and purifies every act of body and mind and integrates the entire personality into a single spiritual unit. Such prayer can only be the result of a life lived in the Spirit. All things else being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives. In the long pull we pray only as well as we live. Some prayers are like a fire escape, used only in times of critical emergencynever very enjoyable, but used as a way of terrified escape from disaster. They do not represent the regular life of the one who offers them; rather they are the unusual and uncommon acts of the spiritual amateur. William Law somewhere pleads for Christians to live lives that accord with their prayers, and one of our well-known hymns asks that God help us to live more nearly as we pray. Most of us in moments of stress have wished that we had lived so that prayer would not be so unnatural to us and have regretted that we had not cultivated prayer to the point where it would be as easy and as natural as breathing. We do not want to leave the impression that prayer in times of sudden crisis is not a good and a right thing. It most certainly is, and God is said to be a very present help in trouble; but no instructed Christian wants to live his whole life on an emergency level. As we go on into God we shall see the excellency of the life of constant communion where all thoughts and acts are prayers, and the entire life becomes one holy sacrifice of praise and worship. To pray effectively it is required of us that there be no unblessed areas in our lives, no parts of the mind or soul that are not inhabited by the Spirit, no impure desires allowed to live within us, no disparity between our prayers and our conduct. All this may appear to be placing the standard too high to be reached by men and women under the sun. But it is not so. If Christ is the kind of Saviour He claims to be He should be able to save His people from the bondage of sin. This is not to support the man-made doctrine of sinless perfection; it is rather to declare the God-inspired doctrine that it is possible to walk in the Spirit and so not fulfill the lust of the flesh. It is to say that God has made provision in the cross of Christ for His children to be delivered from the galling yoke of sin: Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Undoubtedly the redemption in Christ Jesus has sufficient moral power to enable us to live in a state of purity and love where our whole life will be a prayer. Individual acts of prayer that spring out of that kind of total living will have about them a wondrous power not known to the careless or the worldly Christian.A.W. Tozer[i]The Root of the Righteous[/i]
Wanted to bring this back up for another look.