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Standards Of Life And Service by T. H. Howard

II Consecration Complete

'Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.' (Romans xii.1.)

Surely, amongst those who love God and desire His Kingdom to come, there can be no difference of opinion with regard to the duty of whole-hearted consecration to the service of God.

The rightness of God's claims is beyond dispute among His own people; and so it ought to be recognized as our absolute duty to yield fully to those claims. The feeling of every professed servant of Christ ought to be, nay, surely is, 'I am not my own; I am bought with a price: I should |therefore glorify God in my body and soul, which are God's|'.

Whilst, however, in so many words all this is acknowledged, when it comes to practically facing the question, with its personal responsibility, how few there are who respond to the claims of the Master, rendering Him that out-and-out devotion of which we hear and speak.

Of a consecration that consists in attending Holiness Meetings, singing hymns, and uniting in prayers full of the most sublime sentiment, we have an abundance. With eyes closed and hands upraised, many vow that henceforth they will live, not unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again; but when the Meetings are over, the surroundings changed, and the actual duty presents itself, how much of this consecration is found to be mere sentiment, for 'as the early cloud and morning dew' so it passeth!

1. Now, let it be understood that real consecration is a practical thing. I have a saying, which cannot be repeated too often -- 'that which I give away I no longer have'. If we can only persuade people to recognize that truth, and make their consecration on these lines, something practical will follow.

Men like to say, 'I am the Lord's!' but when the Lord wants to make practical use of His own, Oh, what backwardness to obey! What slowness of speech on the part of the tongue that was professedly given to the Lord! What weariness of body will sometimes be found when that body is demanded by the Master for some special service! A dumb devil seems to take possession of the tongue, and the fear of man brings a snare, and all this often results in a shameful compromise. The fact is, much of the popular consecration means, 'Everything in general and nothing in particular' -- mere words, clouds without water, leaves without fruit -- and the world is little better for the vows that have been made.

We may want to follow Jesus without denying ourselves; but He says plainly that we cannot. If any man will deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Christ, he, and he only, shall be a true disciple.

Real, true consecration is a plain, matter-of-fact piece of business; sublime, not so much because of the character of the work it does, as because of the constraining love that is the motive and the results flowing from it. The beautiful halo and glamour clinging round our vows and prayers and songs during a Meeting, are gratifying to our senses; but real consecration manifests itself in hard, self-denying labour, when no eye but His sees; often, perhaps, when no heart but His appreciates, and no voice but His commends. The halo no longer seen, the glamour no longer felt, the soul steps forward and meets its duty, and, in the strength of God, does it: that is the consecration which tells for God and the Kingdom.

2. Let us also understand that real consecration is an 'all-round' thing. Many recognize the claims of God in great things, but are not so particular in the ordinary matters of everyday life.

I recall a young man, who, in private Meetings, and on the platform, would go into rhapsodies as he spoke of his love for a perishing world, and his intense desire to be sent on some great mission. I spoke to him of the hundreds of recklessly godless men with whom he daily associated at his work, and who lived round about his house, and asked him what he did in reference to these. Need I tell you how suddenly this man collapsed? He did not think that consecration meant such a commonplace thing as being faithful in the ordinary duties and walks of life, for I had inquired as to what happened when the men gathered for meals or conversation in the intervals of work.

Does it seem to some of you an evidence of entire consecration that we stand on platforms and lead Meetings, or are doing some work which draws other eyes towards us in appreciation of -- what is deemed -- untiring devotion? Well, I trust that the appearance does not go beyond the spirit of the business; but I tell you, the real test lies elsewhere. It shows itself in such an abandonment to God and the interests of the Kingdom, that no duty is felt too small or trifling. The man is not found saying, 'I'll do this', or 'I won't do that', and 'that doesn't matter'; but whatsoever his hand findeth to do, he does with his might, and does it unto the Lord.

Be not deceived, my friends. Consecration in great things will not atone for neglect in smaller and more trifling matters, and that only is a perfect consecration which is real and all round in its application. In little things and great things self is to be denied, ignored, and God and His glory to be the one end from attaining which the consecrated soul never swerves.

Let this be faced at the commencement, and it will save endless controversy later on. It is because so many do not take all this in at the beginning, that disappointments come, and very often breakdowns. Let your consecration take in all time and circumstances, and remember that the soul's responsibility is only limited by its opportunities. 'All for Jesus' should mean 'nothing left out'.

3. Whole-hearted consecration is a joyous thing. I don't know how the delusion has become so popular that entire devotion to the service of God means melancholy and sadness, and irksome duties and burdens. It may have only come by a roundabout road, but it is a doctrine of the Devil, who is a liar from the beginning, and the fully consecrated soul hurls the lie back to its father, proclaiming, with a heart full of gladness, 'I delight to do Thy will, my God'; 'My meat and my drink is to do the will of my Father', and 'His fruit is sweet to my taste'.

Singleness of purpose and simplicity of intention soon clear discontent and unhappiness out of a man's heart. When the soul has cut loose from all self-considerations, and has put an end to such wretched questions as, 'Will it pay to follow the Master?' or such thoughts as, 'If I give myself fully to God, perhaps I shall have to suffer the loss of many things I hold dear; people will be down upon me, and chaff me, and, perhaps, persecute me; and, besides, I really do want to make a little money for myself and my family, and I must not be righteous over-much'; when, I say, men or women have cast aside all such thoughts, and come to the determination to live for God and for God alone, then indeed are they freed from many things which cause sadness and bitterness. It is the double-minded who are strangers to true lasting joy and peace.

The great sorrows of most lives spring from disappointed ambitions, covetousness, or from love of praise, fear of man, or similar things; but when this life of selfishness is crucified, and a man is alive only unto God, none can deprive him of that which he most values. Whilst others may be saying, 'We know thy poverty', he hears the Lord say, 'But thou art rich'. Christ has been revealed to him as a living Friend, and though by the outward eye he sees Him not, 'yet believing, he rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory'.

Do you remember what John said about that white stone which will be given to him that overcometh? It had 'written in it a new name which no man knoweth save he who receiveth it'. The joy of whole-hearted service for God is like that; no man really understands it save he who possesses it, but of its reality thousands daily testify.

Are you fully consecrated? Not after the fashion we spoke of at the beginning, but practically, and in a whole-hearted, all-round way? Have you settled it to go all lengths for God? If not, 'I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies -- yourselves -- a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service'.

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