More Than For Service
Another popular notion is “consecration to work” in order to obtain “power for service.” This idea dwarfs and belittles consecration, making it only human doing. Consecration is more than doing. In fact doing is a very small part of it. It means to be, to do, and to suffer the will of God – all three. Sometimes it is easier to do the will of God than to be what we ought to be, or to suffer the will of God. We have heard old soldiers say that it took more courage and firmness to lie still under the fire of the enemy than to rush into the thickest of the fight. It is easier to do than to suffer. God calls us to both. Those who are putting emphasis upon “consecration for work” do not recognize the fact that God cares more for what we are than for what we do. He is seeking to fully stamp his image upon the soul. He cares more for character than for conquest. He declares in his word, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Most people had rather take a city than rule their own spirit. It is more pleasing to be a great conqueror, whose name is exalted among the people, than to rule the spirit. It exalts the self-life to be called a great saint, a wonderful preacher, a noted evangelist. Many a man passes for a great spiritual leader who is far from being consecrated to God. There may be a great deal of self mixed with the thought of getting “power for service,” with the idea of self-exaltation in it all; the desire to make ourselves some great one instead of possessing the lowly graces of a holy character. This was the case with Simon Magus. He wanted to buy the Holy Ghost power so that he could work miracles. He offered money, while some today offer their consecration to buy the power of the Holy Ghost. Some one says that seeking the Holy Ghost just to get power for service is like a man marrying his housekeeper not from love, but because it is cheaper and he can save by it. He who obtains the gift of the Holy Ghost obtains him first in his abiding fulness, not in order to get his help, but from a love that desires his constant companionship. There are thousands willing to be illustrious in the church, through the help of the Holy Spirit, who are unwilling to be holy through his abiding presence. God is seeking lowly character. He delights to dwell with him that is of a contrite heart. It may be the Lord wants you to be a perfect, patient Job to shame the devil and let him know that God has those who are ready to suffer his will. If consecration were only to do, and to have power for service, were we banished like John in Patmos, where we could do nothing, we would be tempted to think that we had lost our salvation. All John could do was to be “in the spirit” and listen to what God had to teach him. It requires a higher degree of grace to be in the nursery with cross children, as many a mother has to be, and keep patient, than it does to stand on the walls of Zion and blow a big trumpet. Holy character is the mightiest power in this universe. Paul declares that although he might have the eloquence of men and angels combined, the power to penetrate into all mysteries, the ability to move mountains because of his great faith, the possession of a liberality that sacrificed everything, and yet if he failed to be clothed with the lowly garment of perfect love, he would amount to nothing. Purity is power in itself. A holy man or woman has a character that penetrates and moves society wherever they dwell. Seeking for power amounts to nothing. No man ever got power by seeking it. And yet it is possible to get great crowds to come to the altar seeking power for service, while very few can be persuaded to seek purity of heart, the real condition of power.
The popular notion of power is entirely different from the power of purity. A great deal of the seeking for power is a seeking for a kind of misty, intangible something that is expected to come over the seeking soul and compel him to do certain duties which he is not quite willing to do, just as a tyrant has to drag a subject up to an unwelcome task. Some people think to be full of power is to be like a great reservoir full and slopping over, and that it puts a kind of gush in us that enables us to do hard, disagreeable things because of the gush. There never was a greater mistake. God does not want great reservoirs. He wants clear, empty channels through which he can pour himself out on a lost world. If we will keep ourselves clean, empty channels he will flow through us to the world about us. He wants insulated wires. If we will be insulated, separated entirely from the world, he will turn his divine power through us on the world all about us. When we are wholly given up to him, we will do or speak or suffer or be, entirely regardless of any particular gush of emotion. We shall not stop to ask how we feel or whether duty is easy or hard. He has genuine power who is so yielded to God that God can shine through him upon the world. And many times he is accomplishing most when he himself realizes it least. Let us disabuse our minds of the idea that the froth and foam and bustle and noise are power. Sometimes they are tokens of feebleness. The power that keeps the locomotive on the track is mightier than the power that speeds it along the track. The latter is the power of steam. The former is the power of gravitation that holds the planets in their places. “The power that can keep us from flying the track, that can keep us sweet and true to God, is greater than the power that helps us blow the whistle and ring the bell.” There are many people who would like the power to suffer and be humble if some one could only know it and give them credit for it.
It may be objected here that we imply that it is not of importance that we are zealous workers for God. We intend to convey no such idea. We do mean that work is not of the most consequence. Character comes first in the teachings of the sacred scriptures. God gives us salvation; then we are to work it out. We are to be first of all, then we shall do. Being right is a great help to doing right. Christ died that he “might purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.” We see here then that when our character is what he wants it, and he has purified us, then we shall be “zealous of good works.” This then is the order — purity of character, then zeal for good works. The first command is “Be” – “Be ye holy.” When we are what he wants us to be, we shall do all he wants us to do. Then he can take our little and feed a great multitude. There need be no fear of our being without power when we are wholly consecrated to be, do and suffer the will of God. Some one says that “God can thresh a mountain with a worm.” This is true. The reason he does not thresh more mountains is because there are so few willing to be worms. So many want to be great. It is only when we get small enough and weak enough that God will use us. Here is where so many fall into the snare of wanting to be great. More evangelists and preachers have become powerless here than at any other point. They sought power in order to show off. If we would not be ensnared right here, let us be sure we are consecrated to be, to do and to suffer the will of God.
Then we shall not be elated by success, nor cast down by apparent failure, because we have given all the glory to God. God says he will not share his glory with another, and many are trying to rival him. The word of God does not command consecration for service or to work – but to God.