Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Life Lesson From A Long Ago Leader

"All men are approachable at some time or in some way. It is very imprudent to rush at everybody as soon as you see them..."  These words seemed to come alive as I read them today while putting the finishing touches on Sunday's sermon.  They are not original to me, Charles Spurgeon penned these words in 1880 in preparation for a sermon of his own.  Over a century has passed since God gave Spurgeon this inspired thought, yet while our linguistic patterns have shifted the powerful message of Spurgeon's declaration still rings true.  I am inspired to share a larger portion of His May 9, 1880 message, confident that it will offer the same challenge to you as well:

If I desire the salvation of anyone I ought to tell him as best as I can what his condition is, and what the way of salvation is, and how he may find rest. All men are approachable at some time or in some way. It is very imprudent to rush at everybody as soon as you see them, without thought or ordinary prudence, for you may disgust those whom you wish to win: but those who earnestly plead for others, and bestir themselves to seek them, are generally taught of God, and so they are made wise as to time, manner, and subject. A man who wishes to shoot birds will, after a while, become expert in the sport, because he will give his mind to it: he will after a little practice become a noted marksman and know all about guns and dogs. A man who wants to catch salmon has his heart set upon his angling, and becomes absorbed in the pursuit. He soon learns how to use his rod and how to manage his fish. So he who longs to win souls, and puts his heart into it, finds out the knack of it by some means, and the Lord gives him success.

 I could not teach it to you, you must practice in order to find out; but this I will say, no man is clear of his fellows’ blood simply because he has prayed to be so. Supposed we had around this parish of Newington a number of people who were dying of hunger, and we were to have a prayer meeting that God would relive their wants: would it not be hypocrisy worthy to be ridiculed and help up to reprobation if, after having prayed for these people, we all went home and ate our own dinners and did not give them a farthing’s worth of bread? The truly benevolent man puts his hand in his pocket and says, “What can I do that my prayer may be answered?” I have heard of one who prayed in New York for a certain number of very poor families that he had visited, and he asked the Lord that they might be fed and clothed. His little sons said, “Father, if I were God I should tell you to answer your own prayer, for you have plenty of money.” Thus the Lord might well say to us when we have been interceding, “Go and answer your own prayer by telling your friends of my Son.” Do you sing, “Fly abroad, thou mighty Gospel”? Then give it wings covered with silver. Do you sing, “Waft, waft, ye winds, his story”? Then spend your breath for it. 

There is a power in your gifts; there is a power in your speech; use these powers. If you cannot personally do much, you can do a great deal by helping another to preach Christ: but chief and first you ought to do somewhat by your own hand, heart, and tongue. Go and teach the good and right way, and then shall your prayers be heard.

"Go ahead and teach the good and right way and then shall your prayers be heard."  A powerful challenge to respond to God's heart for the lost and see God respond to your heart.