J. R. Miller, 1908
Loyalty to Christ begins in the heart. We must love Him supremely. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10: 37). Nothing makes worthy discipleship, if love is lacking. In these days, Christian activity is emphasised and required. Never was the church of Christ as active as it is now. This is good. But with all our activity, we fear lest we are not loving Christ as we should.
In one of the epistles to the seven churches, Jesus commends the church of Ephesus for many things—its works, its toil, its patience and that it could not bear evil men. “Nevertheless,” He adds, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Rev 2: 4). With all its activity and self-sacrificing service—it did not love Jesus as it used to do.
G. Campbell Morgan tells of a friend of his who had a little daughter that he dearly loved. They were great friends, the father and daughter, and were always together. But there seemed to come an estrangement on the child’s part. The father could not get her company as formerly. She seemed to shun him. If he wanted her to walk with him—she had something else to do. The father was grieved and could not understand what the trouble was. His birthday came and in the morning his daughter came to his room, her face radiant with love, and handed him a present. Opening the parcel, he found a pair of exquisitely worked slippers.
The father said, “My child, it was very good of you to buy me such lovely slippers.” “O father,” she said, “I did not buy them—I made them for you.” Looking at her he said, “I think I understand now, what long has been a mystery to me. Is this what you have been doing the last three months?” “Yes,” she said, “but how did you know how long I had been at work on them?” He said, “Because for three months I have missed your company and your love. I have wanted you with me—but you have been too busy. These are beautiful slippers—but next time buy your present—and let me have you all the days. I would rather have my child herself—than anything she could make for me.”
We are in danger of being so busy in the Lord’s work—that we cannot be enough with the Lord in love’s fellowship. He may say to us, “I like your works, your toils, your service—but I miss the love you gave Me at first.” There is real danger that we get so busy in striving to be active Christians, so absorbed in our tasks and duties, our efforts to bring others into the church—that Christ Himself shall be less loved and shall miss our communing with Him!
Loyalty means first of all—heart devotion. Has Christ really the highest place in your heart? It is not your work He wants most—it is you! It is beautiful to do things for Him—it is still more beautiful to make a home for Him in your heart!
Then there must be loyalty of life. If there is true, supreme love in the heart—there should be a holy life and character. Here again we need to guard against devotion to the work and service of Christ—while in the life the world sees there are so many flaws and blemishes, that the impression is not to the honour of Christ. He is very patient with our infirmities and our stumblings. If He were not, who of us ever could hope to please Him?
We are inexperienced, mere learners, at first. We misspell our words. We blunder in our grammar. We sing out of tune. Some of us are just beginning our Christian life, and are discouraged already because we have failed to be what we are meant to be, and to live as beautifully as we were sure we would live. Christ is patient with us—when He knows that we are true in our heart, that we really want to be faithful.
Charles Kingsley says: Oh, at least be able to say in that day, “Lord, I am no hero. I have been careless, cowardly, sometimes all but mutinous. Punishment I have deserved—I deny it not. But a traitor I have never been; a deserter I have never been. I have tried to fight on Thy side in the battle against evil. I have tried to do the duty which lay nearest me, and to leave whatever Thou hast committed to my charge—a little better than I found it. I have not been perfect—but I have at least tried to be perfect.”
Christ never forgets how frail we are. But He does not want us ever to give up. Though we stumble when we are learning to walk, He wants us to get up and try again. Though we are defeated in our battle tomorrow, He wants us to rise at once and keep on fighting. (… to be concluded) (Extracted from Gracegems website)