1 Cor. 15:19.
H. C. Anstey.
Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 16.
Either under Satan's hand or under God's.
"What is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." (James 4:14.) But it is this life, so apparently unworthy of consideration, yet so pregnant in its after results, that Satan seeks to wholly usurp for his own use, as the wilfulness in a child does a toy - to destroy it, and then cast it away.
The life of the apostle Paul is a remarkable illustration of a life at one time in Satan's hand, at another in God's. Earnest we find him in each. When the Lord takes up the natural life, despoiling the "strong man" of his prey, that life becomes supernatural, and so was his. He is touching the strings of Paul's life (after Acts 9), and in Acts 20:24 what sweet music its chords give forth: "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course." And is this the life that was once spent in breathing out "threatenings and slaughter" against Christ, and against all that were His? Yes, it is the same life. It is still "the life that I live in the flesh" with all its cares; for thus he speaks of it in Galatians 2. But a new power is behind it. What is it which has wrought this wondrous change? The answer is not far to seek, it is in verse 20: "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." It is the hand of the Master that is sweeping over the strings now, bringing out the music of His will, and the melody of the strain thrills our hearts as we listen to it.
What grace has come in to carry us by a power above nature - supernatural - to alter the whole occupations and objects of a man's daily life! "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." He says, "I have suffered the loss of all things." Nature had no voice here. Does he regret their loss? No. If he has suffered the loss of all things, his present judgment of them is, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things Loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
Oh that we all as Christians knew more of the satisfying power of the Master's hand playing on the strings of "this life!" What a deliverance would it be for us from all the miserable selfishness so commonly seen in the lives of some called Christians today. Instead of it what heavenly melody would be produced from us, carrying its own reward with it - the satisfying joy of a life devoted to others. Paul knew this, and it encourages us to listen to him - if in any way seeking the same path. "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." This as to his serving the saints; and if it were a question of the race he was running, it was, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as the one that beateth the air." Or, again, was it a question of satisfaction in his every day circumstances? He will say, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content." Paul carried that truth which made him a debtor to all men, and he lived merely for others. "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise."
Does the meditation humble us? We are here but for Christ, as Paul was. May we know more of the power of the Master's hand bringing out from us, and also satisfying us. May "this life" of yours and mine be onward one bright illustration of the meaning of our Lord's own words, "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."
H. C. A.
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Absolute consecration to Christ is the strongest bond between human hearts. It strips them of self, and they have but one soul in thought, intent, and settled purpose, because they have only one object.