The Spring of all Devotion to Christ

It is surely one most sorrowful indication of the low and backslidden condition of the majority of the children of God that devotion to Christ should be spoken of as something to marvel at and to praise. It is undoubtedly beautiful, and must yield sweet fragrance to the Father whose beloved Son Christ is, but that it should call for special comment on our part when it shows itself only proves that it is sadly exceptional, and clearly demonstrates the need of recovery.

We speak of the wonderful character of the devotion of Paul the Apostle when he laid all his glory in the dust as dross, and counted all that in which he might have boasted as a burden of which he was well rid that he might have Christ for his gain, but was it really wonderful when in the same breath with which he tells us of his own renunciation he also tells of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord? Notice how he speaks of Him, not as "the" Lord, nor "our" Lord, but as "MY LORD." Let the heart who knows the Saviour linger there for a while, and then answer. "Would it not have been wonderful if he had acted otherwise? Would it be wonderful if a woman abandoned a torn and filthy garment for a costly robe adorned with gold and gems? Then how can it have been wonderful on the Apostle's part to discard his own righteousness and be found IN HIM, having that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith?"

We marvel at Paul rejoicing that Paul had gone from his thoughts, crucified with Christ, so that he no longer lived for Paul, for Christ had displaced him, in every sphere of life in which he moved, but why should we marvel when he tells us at once that the One who now enthralled him and controlled him wholly was "THE SON OF GOD WHO LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME" (Gal. 2:20)?

Let us draw near and stand by this servant of Christ and put ourselves into his words, each for himself, and we marvel no more at his selfless life.

Why should we wonder that Paul laboured that whether living or dead he might be acceptable to his Lord (2 Cor. 5:9, N.Tr.). He would not have us to wonder at it at all, and hastens to tell us that "THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH US." It would seem as though the marvel crept into his mind, that it could be a marvel to any that he should so labour when he adds, "We thus judge that if One died for all then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves, but UNTO HIM WHO DIED FOR THEM, AND ROSE AGAIN."

In all these passages in which Paul speaks of his own devotion to Christ it is as though he stretched out his hands to the saints to whom he wrote, and to us also, and cried — Do not marvel that I wholly love my Lord; if you had seen Him as I have seen Him you would love Him wholly too! If He had come to you as He came to me, when I lay broken and dumb at His feet in my sinfulness, and folded me — worthless as I was, and chief of sinners in my hatred of Him — warmly to His heart, you could not forget Him. If you knew His mighty embrace as I do, and if your life bathed itself in that love that is "too vast to comprehend," you would cease to marvel at me; instead you would. marvel that any heart on earth could hold back from Him, and any lip remain silent before Him. And you would weep in your astonishment, that any having tasted of His preciousness should have another thought of self or turn again from Him to the base and beggarly world!

Strange that we should think it a matter for praise that Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His word, the wonder is that Martha could keep away from that sacred spot. We do not wonder that men delight to listen to exquisite music, or that the heart of the maiden thrills at the voice of her true lover, and that when he is near she has neither eyes nor ears for any but he. Then why should we wonder that the voice of Jesus was sweet to Mary. In His voice there is heaven's own music, and when He speaks it is from the heart of eternal love. If we look at Jesus as Mary saw Him, and know Him as she knew Him, we shall cease to wonder that she broke her alabaster box and poured its costly treasure on His feet. We shall take our place with her and do likewise, for He will fill our vision and possess our hearts. And the frowns of sisters and the condemnation of disciples who think themselves more practical and wiser than we will not disturb us as we wonder and worship in the presence of unspeakable preciousness.

"My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem" (S. of Sol. 5:16).

If the purpose of heart that made Paul what he was and the devotion of heart that made Mary so acceptable to the Lord are in any measure to mark us, we must transfer our thoughts from them to Him, and from self to Him. In this only is true recovery, and it is worth our while to do so. As with the Bride in Solomon's Song. So now. What Christ is in His own exceeding grace and loveliness must command the heart; if this is refused Him all else, whether service, doctrine, or maintenance of true principles, is valueless to Him.