Thine Eye, is it Single?

A word on serving.

"If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Matthew 6: 22.

If a child has been habitually heedless of its father, and taken no pains to get acquainted with his thoughts and wishes, one can readily foresee that that child, in presence of a difficulty, would be in no position to understand what would please its father. There are things God leaves in generalities for the testing of individual condition of soul. Suppose, instead of the child just referred to, the question to be one of a wife in relation to her husband; would not a wife, with the feelings and mind of a wife, be able, in all probability, without a moment's hesitancy, to know what her husband would desire, and that even though he had never expressed a will on the subject? Now you cannot escape this testing, and God, moreover, will not let His children escape it. "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."

As for an easy and comfortable way of knowing God's will, as one might have a receipt for this or that, there is no such thing, of knowing it, I mean, without reference to our own state of soul.

Again: we are frequently of vastly too great importance in our own eyes, and deceive ourselves in supposing that there is a "will of God" at all, in such or such a case. He may have nothing to say to us about it. The evil is in our having set ourselves at work. God's will may be that we should quietly take a less prominent place.

Again: we are searching at times after "the will of God," desiring to know how to act in circumstances when that we should not be found in them at all is His only will; and then, were conscience in exercise, its first effect would be to make us get out of them. Our own will has placed us there, and yet we would enjoy the comfort of having God's guidance in a self-chosen path. This is a very common case.

We may rest assured, that if near enough to God, we shall not be at a loss to know His will.

In a long and active life it may happen that God, in His love, does not always just at the moment show us His will, and this in order to make us realise our dependence when there is the disposition to do our own will. Nevertheless, "if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Hence it is certain, when the whole body is not full of light, the eye is not single. You will say, "A poor consolation that." I reply, "A rich one to those whose sole desire it is to have the eye single, and to walk with God "not, so to speak, to avoid the trouble of learning His will in an objective way, but whose desire it is to walk with God. "If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." (John 11:9-10.) Still the same principle: "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12.) We cannot get from under this moral law of Christianity. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Col. 1:9-10.) The connection of these things, the one with the other, is of immense importance to the soul: we must know the Lord intimately, in order to "walk worthy" of Him; and so shall we grow in the knowledge of His will, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." (Phil. 1:9-10.) Finally, it is written, "He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (1 Cor. 2:15.)

It is, then, the "will of God," a blessed will, that we should not be able to discern His will otherwise than according to our own spiritual state. In general, when we suppose we are judging as to circumstances, God is judging our condition. That which we have to do, is to keep near Him. He would not be good to us, were He to permit us to find out His will otherwise. It might be convenient, in the way of having a director of consciences, but we should thus be exempted from the discovery and correction of our moral condition. So that if we are seeking to know the "will of God," apart from that, we are seeking wrongly. And this is of daily occurrence.

One Christian is in doubt, in perplexity; to another, more spiritual than he, the thing is clear as the day, he is astonished - where can there be any difficulty? there is none to him, and it ends in the discovery, that the difficulty lies altogether in the condition of soul of the former.

As to circumstances, I believe that a person may be led by them. Scripture has settled that. But this is what it calls being "held in by bit and bridle." (Ps. 32:9.) "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go I will guide thee with mine eye," such is the promise to, such the privilege of, him who has faith. Near enough to God, to comprehend through one look of His, God, who is faithful, has promised to direct him thus. He warns us against being "as the horse or the mule," which have no understanding of the will, the thoughts, the desires of their master. They must be "held in by bit and bridle." Without a doubt, even that is better than stumbling, or falling, or jostling against Him who has us in charge, but it is a sorry condition to be in. And there we see what it is to be directed by circumstances. It is merciful on the part of God to do it; but it is very sad on ours to require it.

Here, however, we need to distinguish between forming a judgment as to what it is right for us to do in certain circumstances, and our being directed by them. He who allows himself to be directed by them is ever acting blindly as to the "will of God." There is absolutely nothing of that which is moral in it - that which influences is from without. But it is very possible that I may have no judgment arrived at beforehand as to what I should do; I know not what circumstances may transpire, and consequently my mind is not made up. Yet so soon as the circumstances are there, I judge, with a full and divine conviction, what is the path of the "will of God," and of the intent and power of the Spirit. This requires spirituality. It is not a being guided by circumstances, but being guided by God in circumstances, through being near enough to Him to judge at once what is right to be done when the circumstances are there.

With regard to impressions, God may suggest them, and as to fact, it is certain that He does suggest a thing to the mind; but then the suitability of that which is so suggested, and its moral character, will be as clear as the sun at noonday. When we are in prayer, God may free our hearts from certain influences, the which being removed, other and spiritual influences are allowed to have all their own place in the soul; or He makes us feel the importance of a duty which, it may be, has been entirely lost sight of through the pre-occupation caused by some engrossing object.

This may occur between two individuals.

A person may not have sufficient spiritual discernment to find out what is right, whilst he may assent to the truth at once, when it is pointed out to him by another. Everybody is not an engineer, but a simple waggoner knows a good road when once it is made. Thus those impressions which are from God do not always remain simply impressions. But they are usually clear when of God. I have no doubt, however, that He often makes them on our minds when we are, walking with Him and listening to His voice.

When you speak of obstacles raised by Satan; it is not said that God Himself has not permitted these obstacles to a right desire, obstacles occasioned through the abounding evil of circumstances around us.

A person acting without the knowledge of God's mind, is a case that ought to have no existence. The only rule that could be given is, never to act when we do not know the will of the Lord. Acting in ignorance of it we are at the mercy of circumstances; God making all turn, nevertheless, to the good of His children. But why act when we do not know God's will, is there at all times such an exceedingly pressing necessity for action? If I do a thing with the full certainty that I am doing the will of God, it is clear that an obstacle then is nothing more than a test of my faith, and ought not to stop me. We get stopped, perhaps, through lack of faith; because, if not walking sufficiently near God, in the sense of our own nothingness, we shall lack faith to accomplish that which we have faith enough to discern.

When we are doing our own will, or are careless as to our walk, God, in His mercy, may warn us through an obstacle, which arrests us if we give heed to it, while "the simple pass on and are punished." (Prov. 27:12.) Where there is a good deal of activity and occupation in the work, God may allow Satan to raise up obstacles, in order that we may be kept in dependence on the Lord; but He never allows Satan to act otherwise than on the flesh. If we leave the door open, if we get away from God, Satan may harm us; otherwise it is but a trial of faith, to warn us against some danger or snare - something which would have the tendency to exalt us in our own eyes. It is a means for our correction. That is to say, God allows Satan to afflict the spirit and make the flesh suffer outwardly, that the inner man may be preserved from evil. If it is something else than this, then it is probably our "buts" and our "ifs" that are stopping us, or the results of our carelessness which has given an open door to Satan to trouble with doubts and seeming difficulties between God and ourselves, through our not seeing more clearly. "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (1 John 5:18.) In a word, the question is wholly moral.

If a question presents itself, which on first looking at we are unable to determine, we shall very often find that there would be no such question at all, were our position not a false one, had we been antecedently in a good state of soul, had a genuine spirituality kept and preserved us. All we have to do in such a case is, to humble ourselves about the whole matter. Then let us examine if Scripture does not furnish us with some principle suited for our direction; and there, it is evident, spirituality is the essential thing - is all.

'Do that which Jesus would have done in such or such a circumstance' has been given as a rule an excellent one where and when it is applicable. But are we often in the circumstances in which the Lord would have been found? It is frequently useful to ask oneself, Whence have I such a wish? or the thought of doing this or that? I have found that that in itself settles more than half the perplexing cases in which Christians find themselves involved. Two-thirds of the remainder result from our rashness or from former sins.

If a thought is from God, and not of the flesh, we have only to look to God as to the manner and means of putting it in practice, and we shall soon get guidance.

There are cases where one has need of being guided not altogether apart from motives, as, for instance, where I hesitate as to a visit, or the like. A life of more fervent charity, or charity in more intelligent exercise, or called out in drawing near God, will make plain the motives of charity on the one hand or the other; and we may frequently discover that ours was only egotism.

Do you say, But what if the question be one neither of charity nor of obedience? Then I answer, You owe me a reason for acting; for if it is only your own will, you cannot make the wisdom of God bend to your will. Here again we have the source of a numerous class of difficulties which God will never solve.

In such cases He will teach us, by His grace, obedience, and make us see how much time we have lost through our own activity. "The meek will He guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His way."

Let us remember that the wisdom of God leads us in the path of the will of God. If our own wills are at work, God cannot accommodate Himself to that. This is the essential thing to discover. It is the secret of the life of Christ. I know not of any other principle on which God could act, though He pardons and makes all turn to our good.

He guides the new man which has no other will than Christ, He mortifies the old, and in this way purges us that we may bear fruit.

"Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God; I delight to do it."

It is the place of a door-keeper to wait at the door, but in doing that he is doing his master's will.

Rest assured that God does more in us than we for Him; and what we do is only for Him, just in so far as it is Himself that works it in us.