It is not the only thing by any means. There is a multitude of things perfectly proper and that must be done and well done. But through all their doing is to run this one strong purpose. These other things are details, important details, indispensably important, yet details. The other is the one main thing toward which the doing of all the others is to bend and blend.
Please mark keenly that there are three lives here; three in one. The secret life of prayer, the open life of purity, the active life of service Not one, nor the other, not any two, but all three, this is the true ideal. This is the true rounded life. And note sharply that this gives the true perspective of service. The service life grows up out of the other two. Its roots lie down in prayer and purity. This explains why so much service is fruitless. It isn't rooted. There is no rich subsoil.
It seems to be a part of the hurt of sin that men do not keep the proportion of things balanced, and never have. In former days men shut themselves up behind great walls that they might be pleasing to God. They shut out the noise that they might have quiet to pray. They thought to shut out the sin that they might be pure, forgetting that they carried it in with them.
In our day things have swung clean over to the other extreme. Now all is activity. The emphasis of the time is upon doing. There is a lot of running around, and rushing around. There is a great deal of activity that seems inseparable from dust. The wheels make such a lot of noise as they go around. Doing that does not root down in the secret touch with Jesus, may be quite vigorous for a time, but soon leaves behind as its only memory withered up branches. This is a practical age, we are constantly told. Things must be judged by the standard of usefulness. That is surely true, and good, but there is very serious danger that the true perspective of service be lost in the dust that is being raised.
The imprint of this disproportion or lack of proportion can even be found in the theological teaching of long ago and now. At one time religion was defined as having to do with a man's relation to God. That was emphasized to the utter hiding away of all else. In our own day the swing is clear over to the other side. Definitions of religion that make everything of helping one's brother and fellow, are the popular thing. There seems to be a sort of astigmatism that keeps us from seeing things straight. Though always there have been those that saw straight and lived truly.
Mark keenly that true touch with God always brings the longing to be pure, and the loving of one's fellow. The nearer one gets to God the nearer will he find himself getting to men. Often we find ourselves getting new wonderful glimpses of God as we are eagerly helping somebody. Up seems to include out, as though the line that drew us up to God led through men. Yet with that always goes the other fact that touch with God makes one long to be alone with Him.
There are always the three turnings of a true life, upward, inward, outward. Upward to God, inward to self, outward to the world. The more one knows God the keener is the longing to get off with Himself alone, the deeper is the yearning to be pure, and the stronger is the passion to help others regardless of any sacrifice involved.