Just this morning I retweeted this to my Twitter friends [now *there’s* a sentence I never dreamed I’d write twenty years ago]:
My soul was pained to think of my barrenness and deadness; that I have lived so little to the glory of the eternal God.
– David Brainerd
There’s no doubt I can agree with young Mr. Brainerd, long now with the Lord. I, too, feel that pain. There’s also a wide gap in me between fiery devotion and waning delight which could cripple me big time if I didn’t know where to go with my guilt.
I thought to follow it up with another tweet but you’re only allowed 140 characters and, well, ‘twould be an Everest-sized undertaking to cram it all in, so that’s why these words are looking back at you from your screen today.
All due respect to David Brainerd, there’s nothing I can do but cling to the Gospel. Quotes like that would’ve had me all twisted up in knots a few years ago, focusing more on my failure rather than his faithfulness. The truth is, I can’t live to the glory of the eternal God, no matter how hard I try. I must rest in the perfect righteousness of Christ – who lived to the glory of God and loved the Father without rival. Thankfully, because that righteousness is mine through faith in his Person, God’s love toward me is not fickle!
“It is the weakness of man to change purposes; God’s love is not fickle and inconstant. We have good purposes, but they are speedily blasted; God’s eternal purpose shall certainly stand…We have many backsliding thoughts: we think to love God, but new temptations carry us away. So, we are fickle and changeable, but God changeth not. He cannot deny himself (2Ti 2:13).”
– Thomas Manton (1620–1677)
Now, none of this relieves me of a part I play in response, which is to lay hold of said righteousness and lay down (lie down?) in surrender to his life-changing grace.
If I let myself, I can be a letter-of-the-law, card-carrying Pharisee. Growing up in legalism as I did, I’ve learned that legalism acts like leaven, and it takes a lifetime for it to ooze out of your system.
Here’s my go-to verse to remind me my pledge is to the Gospel of Christ, not religious exercise, and my salvation is that Christ has mercy for me:
But you on your part, beloved, by building up yourselves by means of your most holy faith in connection with the Holy Spirit, while praying, keep yourselves in God’s love, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for life eternal! (Jude, vv20-21)
There are scriptural admonitions into which we are called to enter, yes, but God knows none of us can even get through the door without the life of Jesus already operating within.
Paul Tripp’s words offer some help with regard to our topic. And with this, I bid you a life of restfully divine preoccupation:
What drives our life must not be: an unwavering commitment to biblical theology; a comprehensive Christian world-view; a dedicated pursuit of involvement in the body of Christ; a persevering commitment to ministry; or a zeal for daily study and devotion. Yes, these things are certainly important, but they shouldn’t be our driving motivation.
Our lives should not be so much about pursuing these things; we should be pursuing a Person. The eyes of my heart need to be focused on Christ. My soul needs to be filled with appreciation and brimming with affection for Him. I need to walk around astounded that He would place His affection on me. I need to live with hope that I will be united to Him and live with Him forever!
– Paul David Tripp