Unwarrantable Interferences 11


Times We Must Leave Men Alone

If there are times when we must leave God alone, there are times when we must let men alone. And that is our second thought; there are times when we must let men alone.

And here again, as was the case with God, these times are rarely the times when men would like it. The very hour when a man cries to be let alone may be the very hour when I dare not do so. The Bible is full of instances of that. One notable one springs up, and it is this. It is the morning when Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum, and there was a man with an unclean spirit there. And the man cried, “Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?” And Jesus? Jesus rebuked him saying, “Hold thy peace and come out of him.” It was impossible for Christ, just because He was the Christ, to let that devil-ridden soul alone. And wherever men are living on in sin, helpless and bound, strangers to peace and God, the Church of Jesus Christ cannot let them be. A sinful soul may cry, Let me alone! But with a sweet and masterful intolerance, Christ is still deaf to that; and we must help, and we must save mankind, even against their own wishes.

This grace, then, of letting alone, frees no man from his moral responsibility either towards his wandered or his heathen brother. Where, then, does it enter into human life? We shall take another Gospel incident and see. I find Christ sitting at Simon the leper‘s table, and the woman who was a sinner is kneeling there, and she has broken the alabaster box and is pouring the precious ointment on the feet of Jesus. And the disciples murmur and are indignant. They cannot understand this gross extravagance. “Might not this ointment have been sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” Let her alone, says Jesus, why trouble ye the woman? Let her alone, you do not understand. She is serving with a service of her own, moved by the passion of an all-pardoning love: there is one work; there is one character for her; there is another service and another life for you.

And that is one glory of the Gospel. It does not crush men into one common mould, but it gives the greatest freedom to individuality and perfects and crowns each struggling soul uniquely. You are never yourself till you are Christ’s, and woe to that preaching of an exalted Lord that forces men’s service into a common type! It is not because I want to be original, it is because I want to be a Christian, that I say to all murmuring disciples, let me alone; I have my box to break; it is not yours. I want to see the keen man, the man who is honorable and Christian in his business. And I want to see the philanthropist, the man who is eagerly bent on doing good. And I want to see the dreamer, the man who feels the beauty of the world, and never does anything, perhaps, except reflect it. And I wish to say to the philanthropist, Do not upbraid the merchant. And I wish to say to the keen man of business, Do not despise the dreamer. Let him alone. He too is serving God. There is need for the purification of the market. There is need for heroic work among the poor. There is need that the beautiful should be interpreted. And when all is over and the morning breaks and the manifold service of a million hearts is unified in Christ, you will be thankful that you let others alone, for there will be more “well done” than you have ever dreamed!

In the meantime, let us all and individually work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

Pray That God Never Lets You Alone

There are times, then, when we must leave God alone. There are times when we must let man alone. I just want to say this in closing: Heaven grant it that God never lets you or me alone.

There is a terrible text in the Old Testament: “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.” I have pleaded with Ephraim, says God, for years. I have pleaded with Ephraim as a father with his child. But Ephraim has spurned Me; he has given his heart to his idols; and Ephraim is reprobate. His day of grace has set. “Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone.” Drive on thy chariot, Ephraim, to thy hell. There is a terrible text in the New Testament. It is when Jesus says to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly.” For I have pleaded with thee, O Judas; I have prayed with thee. And now his doom is sealed; let him alone. Out, Judas, get it over, get it done, and to thine own place, hastily.

The hour then comes when God really lets us alone. May that not be your portion.

Do you say that hour will never come to you? Watch! For it is not by a desperate career, and it is not by one black and awful deed, that a man shall sin away the grace of God. It is by the silent hardening of our common days, the almost unnoticed tampering with conscience, the steady dying-out of what is best under the pressure of a worldly and adulterous city; it is by that the spiritual dies, it is by that men become castaways.

Better the harshest discipline than that.

Great God of mercy, let none of us alone! Deal with us, lead us, chasten us as Thou wilt, if only we be sanctified, ennobled, and drawn out of self into the light of Him who is chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.

As I close, I pray that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened and may we desire the patience and mind of Christ Amen.

Rebecca Ajibola

Unwarrantable Interferences


The Chastisement of Uzzah

The Chastisement of Uzzah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him— Joh_11:48

The Error of the Pharisees

There was a sense in which the Pharisees were entirely wrong. Historically, and in the sovereign will of God, it is just because the Pharisees did not let Christ alone that we believe and worship Him. Had they let Christ alone, I speak with reverence, there would have been no Calvary for Jesus. And had Jesus never been lifted up on Calvary, He never would have drawn all men to Him. They were quite wrong, then, these Pharisees, in one sense. Their interference was a predestined thing. They plotted and schemed and compassed the death of Jesus. And they said, That ends it, none will believe Him now. Yet the King in His beauty is the crucified Redeemer still.

 

Don’t Leave God Alone When He Wants to Be Prayed to

Now the strange thing is—and I call it strange though to the man who knows his Bible it is quite familiar—the strange thing is, that the times when we must leave God alone are not the times when God appears to wish it. Go back to the story of Exodus, for instance. Recall that sad scene of the golden calf. The people made their idol and they danced around it, and they played the harlot and forgot God around it till the anger of God was like a scorching flame. And what did God cry to Moses? “Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, that I may consume them.” And Moses simply refused to let God be—he fell on his face, entreated passionately, saved the people, and was never more Christlike than in that splendid disobedience. Or take the cry of the Syrophoenician woman. “Lord, save my daughter, save my daughter, Lord!” And if the silence of Christ meant anything at all, and if His word about the lost sheep of the house of Israel meant anything at all, it meant, “Let Me alone.” But her mother’s heart refused to let Christ alone. She pleaded, she parried, she found a choice argument in His refusal, till Christ was mastered by that most disobedient persistency, and she went home to find her daughter healed.

I think you see now what the lesson is. With a life to live and with a death to die, never let God alone by not praying. “Let me alone,” the God of science is crying, “for I work by my inexorable laws, and I shall not change them at my creature’s bidding.” “Let me alone,” the God of providence is crying, “for your neighbor yonder has not prayed for years, and yet he has all he needs.” But I take sides with Moses and that woman. And if new depth, new insight, new power for the little self-denials of everyday, new cravings for holiness, new humility—if these things rise in me as the tide rises, come to me like a bird upon the wing, I shall thank God that I have learned the lesson of never letting Him alone in prayer.

Let God Alone to Have His Way with You

That, then, is one sphere where the earnest heart cannot leave God alone. And I have thought it right to touch on that to safeguard this topic from abuse. But there is another sphere where God is sovereign. It is the sphere of action. It is the realm of life. And there it is wisdom, it is peace, just to let God alone to have His way with you. I suppose there never was a general, not even Lord Roberts, who was more loved by his soldiers than the Viscount de Turenne, who was marshal of France in the time of the great Louis. It was he who, if he gained a battle, used to write we won, and if his army were defeated, wrote I lost. Well, I have read how one night, going the round of his camp, he overheard some of the younger soldiers bitterly murmuring at the discomforts of the march. And an old veteran just recovering from a wound was saying, “You do not know our father. When you are older, you will never talk like that. Be sure he has some grand end in view that we cannot make out, or he would never allow us to suffer so.” And brave Turenne, who tells the story himself, used to say that that moment of eavesdropping was the proudest and happiest moment of his life. The young men were bitter and angry at his leadership. Things would be different if they were in command. But the old veterans who had fought with their general in many fields and marched with their general in many  weary mile, they let him alone because they so loved and trusted him.

Do that with God. It is one secret of a strenuous life. The deepest philosophy comes to its crown in that. I have known fathers whose hearts turned hard as adamant when the angel of death stooped down and kissed their children. They are the raw recruits in life’s great army, and they cannot let their General alone. But the trained soldier trusts Him, believes in a life-plan that he cannot see, and prays for submission to the will of God, though the cup be bitter and the cross be sore. O follower of Christ, let God alone. Perhaps it is kinder to bring the rod upon our back than to put the jeweled ring upon our finger. He has a path for thee. He has a plan for thee. He has a heaven for thee. Watch, wait, cooperate, accept, but do not insolently interfere.

I believe, too, that there is a wider sense in which we are called to let God alone. For I am conscious in the religious life of our time of a certain fretful anxiety and unrest and the absence of a quiet and solemn dignity that gave a grandeur to our fathers’ piety. I am amazed, indeed, to note how men and women can be engaged for years in so-called Christian service, and it never seems to dignify their characters, and never lifts them an inch above the world, and never sweetens their so unkindly tongue. Do you remember Uzzah? Do you remember how the ark of God on the new cart was jolted and shaken by Nachon’s threshing-floor? And Uzzah, in terror lest the ark should fall, put out his hand, took hold of it, and steadied it. And the anger of God was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there, and he died. Happy for Uzzah had he let God alone! And the spirit of Uzzah is very much abroad today.

Rather than line ourself with His perfect will, we find men and women alike advising God, blaming God, telling Him what to do, suggesting to Him, Yes Him, the Eternal, Immortal, Ancient of Days, Our Maker, the Creator of Heavens and Earth, Oh what a folly on our path.

There is an irreligious anxiety for God. And while I thank Him for all loyal service, and praise Him for all consecrated hands, may we believe that the ark is holy, and may we believe that God is sovereign, and may we give a little of the reverence and of the wonder and of the awe brought back again that befit the creature serving his reigning King.

Twelve Hours In A Day


Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him — Joh_11:9-10

The Confidence of Christ

These words are the recoil of Jesus from the fearfulness of the disciples. They had just told Him that if He went into Judaea, He did it at the peril of His life. To that, the answer of their Lord was, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? Is not My life planned out for Me by God? Are not My times in His hand? Till the appointed hour strikes, ten thousand may fall at My right hand, but it shall not (and it cannot) come near Me.” It was this confidence, not in a dark fate, but in the perfect ordering of love, that kept our Savior undismayed and tranquil when fear was on every hand. There were twelve hours in His day, and till the sands of the twelfth hour had run, His enemies were powerless to touch Him.

In View of the Glory of the Cross

Now this was spoken by our Lord when He knew that Calvary was not far away. The miracle He was about to work on Lazarus was to prove to be the crisis of His life. When St. John speaks of the Savior being “glorified,” he is almost always thinking of the cross. That lifting up of Jesus was His glory: the cross was His crown. And when our Lord says here that the sickness of Lazarus was for the glorifying of the Son of God (Joh_11:4), He knew that the impending miracle was to lead Him straight to the bitter way of Calvary. There were twelve hours in His day—with what swiftness these winged hours had fled! It seemed but yesterday since He had played at Nazareth, and now the sun was setting. What deep thoughts of life and opportunity and of the flying shuttle on the loom of time must have occupied the heart of Jesus as, deliberately, He moved onward to Judaea! Must He die just then? Might He not prolong His life a little? It was a sweet, glad thing to be alive—could He not postpone the agony a season? If He was tempted in all points like as we are, surely He was tempted, thus when He went forward to raise Lazarus—and to die (Joh_11:53).

Heavenly Light on the Pathway of Life as Long as It Lasts

And then out of these deep and solemn musings come these wonderful words that stir the heart—”But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles.” The figure is, that as long as daylight lasts the traveler has the light of heaven to guide him. But let him push on into the falling darkness, and he stumbles, for the light is gone. And Christ fought back the insidious temptation to escape death and to live a little longer by that awful thought of stumbling in the night. Just as long as His twelve hours endured He had the promise and certainty of light. Led by His Father, He would be kept from stumbling, however hard and perilous the way. But let Him push on, past the appointed time, into the service of a thirteenth hour, and His feet, which had been beautiful upon the mountains, would stumble in the bewilderment of night. In other words, He must not shun the cross. To escape it would only lead to tragedy. A year gained by avoidance of the agony would be a year bereft of the shining of God’s face. So He set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem and refused the aid of the legions of angels and cried with a loud voice, “It is finished.”

Prolongation of Physical Life at Spiritual Detriment

And for us the lesson is just this—and there are times when we all need to learn it—that we may purchase a few years of added life at far too great a spiritual cost. When a believer, in times of persecution, lengthens his years by being false to Christ;  when a minister shuns the sickbed of infection lest he catch the infection himself and perhaps die; when a physician flees at the approach of plague; when anyone evades or shirks the cross, he is prolonging his life into the night. I do not think I have known a single young fellow who got exemption in the war to save his skin whose character has not deteriorated steadily. Life thus lengthened is always un- illumined. There is no sunshine in the thirteenth hour. To shirk one’s duty that life may be prolonged is to gain years that are not worth the living. And yet how often gentle, kindly hearts beg us to take care and not run risks, just as Peter did when he heard about the cross. We are immortal till our work is done. There are twelve hours in the day. Possibly by shirking dangerous duty a man might add to his day a thirteenth hour. But if he does, says Jesus, no birds will sing for him nor will the light of the glad sun direct his feet— he will walk in the night and he will stumble.

Think on these things my friend especially in these perilous times; when it’s not popular to be a Christian or do your Christian virtue.

But think seriously too, because we all must give account of that which has been entrusted into our ours.

Our time here is for us to fulfill an assigned task from our Maker, as an ambassador when our time is up, its up; right now we have but twelve hours in a day.

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