The Key to the Saints' Success
In last Sunday's sermon, I shared a quote that had impacted me recently, and I wanted to share it again here with another brief comment or two. The quote is from a book called Creative Prayer by Bridget Herman, written in the early years of the twentieth century. I came across these words from her book while reading Gordon MacDonald's classic book, Ordering Your Private World. Here's the quote:
They were never hurried; they did comparatively few things, and these not necessarily striking or important; and they troubled very little about their influence. Yet they always seemed to hit the mark; every bit of their life told; their simplest action had a distinction, an exquisiteness which suggested the artist. The reason is not far to seek. Their sainthood lay in their habit of referring the smallest actions to God. They lived in God; they acted from a pure motive of love towards God. They were as free from self-regard as from slavery to the good opinion of others. God saw and God rewarded: what else needed they? They possessed God and possessed themselves in God. Hence the inalienable dignity of these meek, quiet figures that seem to produce such marvelous effects with such humble materials.
MacDonald cites Herman to make the point that the daily discipline of private prayer and intercession has always been the secret to the success of the great Christian saints of the past. Again, "their sainthood lay in their habit of referring the smallest actions to God." Her words impacted me as I contemplate the rebellion against God that lies within my fallen heart. Reflecting on Absalom's rebellion against his father, King David, I see in myself the same rebel's heart—a thirst for my own kingdom, fame, and glory.
Do you? If not, stop and read the quote again. Ambition, diligence, and hard work are certainly virtues to cultivate. But we had better search our heart to make sure they are not motivated by the pride of securing our own kingdoms, otherwise they may be the greatest vices at work in our ordered lives.