Are We Willing?

WE ARE STARTING another new year—1999, the close of the 20th century. As Christians, it is always appropriate to reflect on the matter of our standing before the Lord, and to rejoice in the blessings he so richly bestows upon us from day to day. Thoughts of this sort should be uppermost in our minds at all times, and not merely at the beginning of a year—albeit the close of a century—although these milestones do afford an excellent opportunity for every follower of the Master to take stock of his spiritual assets and resolve to be more faithful in learning and doing the Lord’s will.

That the opening of another year finds us still standing fast, appreciating the truth, and in full accord with the Divine appointments by which he has kept us from falling, should surely call forth our thanks to God. How appropriate it is for all of us to check back over the past year to see if the above has been true in our own experiences!

“Do we really love the Lord, the truth, and the brethren, more than a year ago?

“Are we willing—for the love of the truth—to sacrifice the flesh and its interests more fully than in the past?

“Are we willing to take humbly the chastenings which our Heavenly Father, in his wisdom and love, sees fit to permit?

“Are we willing, in every way, to suffer humbly for righteousness’ sake when our efforts to serve seem to be misunderstood?”

If we can answer “Yes” to these questions it is because our confidence in the Lord and in his sustaining grace to help in our every time of need is very strong. It is only the Lord who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless “before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”—Jude 24

What wonderful peace of heart and mind we can enjoy as we lay hold upon this reassuring thought! Just as the apostle could say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13), so we too can go forward in the narrow way, knowing that no matter how difficult the journey, the Lord will go with us and help us over all the rough places.

“Are we willing—for the love of the truth to sacrifice the flesh and its interests more fully than in the past?” Indeed this is a heart-searching question. As New Creatures we should be quite willing to sacrifice the flesh, but the flesh rebels against the idea of being sacrificed; so we have a conflict.

Christian sacrifice was pictured in the type of Israel’s Tabernacle rituals by the burning of animals, and this teaches that we are to yield our bodies a “living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12:1) We should expect, therefore, that if we are faithful in sacrificing our flesh there will be suffering involved, but for the New Creature this should be a cause for rejoicing—rejoicing that we have this privilege of helping to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.”—Col. 1:24

“Are we willing to take humbly the chastenings which our Heavenly Father, in his wisdom and love, sees fit to permit?” It is well if we can recognize when the Lord is chastening us, and endeavor to learn the needed lessons. The fact that the Lord does discipline us should be a great encouragement, for, as the apostle explains, it is an evidence of his love. (Heb. 12:6) To be chastened by the Lord is an evidence that he is caring for us—it is one of the Divine appointments which keeps us from falling.

How favored are the Lord’s people! The world has little or nothing upon which to build hopes for 1999, or any other year. We do not, of course, know much about the details of the experiences which will be ours in the weeks and months ahead, but we do know that it will be a year of victory for each one of us in proportion to our faith in the Lord, and our faithfulness in doing his will.

It will be a wonderful year for sacrificing our flesh, if we want to have it so. It will be a happy year of rejoicing in the Lord if we keep ourselves in his love and in harmony with all the appointments by which he keeps us from falling.

If, at the beginning of each day, the question uppermost in our minds is: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12), and apply the answer the Scriptures supply—by fulfilling our vows of sacrifice—our joy in the Lord will be rich, and full, and glorious!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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