The spirit of the cross is a silent spirit. It suffers without advertising the depth of its suffering. It can be subdued, scolded, criticized, misunderstood, misrepresented and hindered in a thousand ways, without a groan or a kick or a trace of impudence. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth, who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet 2:21-23).
This spirit has calmly signed the death warrant of self. It can have snatched away a thousand little gifts and treasures, harmless earthly pleasures, pleasant hopes and friendly ties without clutching its fingers to hold on to them. It can obey God and be rushing at full speed on lines of service and duty for Him. Then, at the touch of God's air brake, it can be brought to an instantaneous standstill without shaking the train to pieces by a single jar or the least jostling of the will from its perfect repose in Jesus.
It is a flexible spirit with no plans of its own. Without a moments' notice, it can be turned by the finger of God in any direction. With equal ease of freedom it can walk into a dungeon or a throne, into a hut or a palace. As a floating cloud partakes of the air that encircles it, this spirit partakes of the movements of the Divine mind.
With a thankful and sweet disposition, it can wear old threadbare clothes and live on plain food without even a thought of envy of coveting the nice things of others.
It looks with a quiet, secret, and joyful contempt on all earth's honors and pleasures, learning and culture, and honorable Splendors. Because it sees into heaven, it inwardly despises what other people are longing to get hold of. It is so fascinated with the magnitude of coming glories that even the pretty and honorable things of the world look ugly to it.
This spirit of total sacrifice, embraces the rugged cross with a secret, subtle joy, for it knows that all suffering will enlarge and sweeten its love. What other Christians shun as hardship it will gladly accept as an opportunity of sweeter union with God.
It loves its enemies with a sweet, gentle yearning affection utterly beyond what they would be willing to believe. Bruised and trampled on, it can turn with a quivering, speechless lip and tear-dimmed eye, and kiss the foot of, and pray for the one that under the pretence of religious duty is trampling it in the dust.
It will not receive human honors unto itself. If it is praised or honored by its fellows, instead of eating it as a sweet morsel, it instantly offers it up to the Lord, as did the angel with the good dinner presented to him by the parents of Samson. Its highest delight is sinking into God and being little. It loves to humble itself before God and man.
It shuns debate and strife. It is modest, retiring, and loves to get out of God's way and watch Him work. It does not make others wear its sackcloth. It would rather take other people's sufferings than their joy on itself.
It is as a very hot fire that takes hold on wet logs and makes out of them fresh fuel for more sacrifices of love. This inner spirit of the cross wears out the patience of persecutors. It softens the hearts of stone. It converts enemies into friends. It touches the hearts of sinners. It wins its way through a thousand obstacles. It outwits the genius of the devil, and makes the soul that has it, as precious to God as the apple of His eye.
"'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself Of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2:5-8).