Pilgrim's Path Daily

Friday, December 09, 2005

CHRISTIAN STUDY RESOURCES

"SOUL FOOD"
A Book By G. D. Watson - A 19th Century Deeper-Life Author
CHAPTER 8: "Fretting Over Ourselves"

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(To HEAR the PREVIOUS Chapter, CLICK HERE)

There are two extremes of feeling regarding ourselves; one is the feeling of self- complacency, and the other is the feeling of self-abhorrence; and between these two extremes there are any number of feelings with regard to ourselves in which these two sentiments may be more or less blended. When we begin in thorough earnestness to follow Christ, with a definite view of being made like Him, it will necessarily make us meditate a good deal on Jesus. The more we apprehend of Christ, His Nature and Disposition, the more we see the infinite disparity between Him and ourselves; and when at times we get a full view of ourselves, there seems to be so many things in us that are incorrigible that we are tempted to despair of ever becoming like Christ. There is a good way and a bad way of grieving over our frailties. It is the policy of Satan, if he cannot fill us with self-conceit and self-complacency, to try the opposite policy of making us fret over ourselves.

There are various causes which lead devoted souls to chafe over their imperfections. One cause is that, by a subtle self-love, the soul desires to be good and fair and grand in its own eyes; it would love to look into the mirror of God's Law, and behold its reflection without a flaw, with the same sentiment that a handsome woman loves to behold the reflection of her beauty. This spirit of gloating over the beauty and symmetry of one's moral character is often alluded to in the Scriptures. The Lord Says of such an one: "Thine heart was lifted up; because of thy beauty thou has corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy appearance; I will bring thee to the ground!"-Ezk 28:17

God watches the finest motives and intents of the heart, and if we desire great degrees of perfection for our own admiration, God will Allow great trials and weaknesses to mortify us to all refined self-admiration.

Another reason why devoted souls fret over themselves is the failure to fully appreciate the most infinite meanness and blindness and deceitfulness of our human nature. There are capabilities of sin, and all sorts of unlovely things in our nature, which we have never dreamed of. Just to the extent that we see the ever-widening, deepening glory and beauty of Jesus Christ, we see the opposite in ourselves.

When souls first begin in the way of perfection, they think their defects are very few and very shallow; and after months and years of walking -WITH- God, even though their hearts have been cleansed from sin, they discover certain defects and infirmities still adhering to them, which they thought would never annoy them beyond their first fervors of love. They find irresolution in the will, and dullness in the faculties and sluggishness in their nature; such a lack of heavenly cheerfulness, promptness, warm-heartedness; many narrow thoughts; such a liability to be agitated and jostled by simple trifles of the day; such a facility of forgetting lessons we have already learned; such baby-ishness, and faintness, and pusillanimity of spirit, as we never expected would cling to us. Perhaps we never can see the infinite extent of the fall of man; it may be we shall to eternity be deploring it.

Could we, from the beginning, see into all the unsounded depths and crevices and hidden caves of our souls, and comprehend the greatness of the reality of full restoration to God, we might more perfectly be prepared to bear patiently with ourselves. There is the subtle desire to seem good in the eyes of others, for the sake of being glorious; most devoted souls have lofty ideals which they endeavor to reach. I know a very pious woman, very refined and beautiful in her manners. When she was seeking sanctification, she had an intense desire to be a model of a minister's wife; she had a lofty and a beautiful ideal in her mind. But in after-years, passing through great trials and afflictions and humiliations, she found that her petty ideal was broken over and over again, at least in her own estimation. The Spirit will not Allow us to fill the phantom of the ideal. God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, and when we lie in self-abhorrence at Jesus' feet, with all our religious ideals shattered to fragments, He sees His Ideal being carried out in us. Fretting over ourselves is a very subtle sort of self-righteousness. Self-upbraiding and calling ourselves hard names may seem like humility, but in reality it is spiritual pride!

The true medicine for our defects is a deep, quiet, patient hatred of self [Lk 14:26], which is very calm and peaceful. Any view of our faults which disturbs our quiet repose in Jesus is a wrong view. [1Cor 4:5, Phil 4:6]

God sees our infirmities infinitely beyond what we do; He pours over us an unceasing stream of Patient Love, in which there is no upbraiding, nor severity; and whatever breaks our quietness of spirit, our firm rest in God, is of the evil one. [Ro 14:23]

I have heard of family feuds, where people hated with such a settled and life-long hatred that the very name of the enemy was never mentioned, and no allusion made to him. This illustrates, in some sort, the calm, settled hatred we are to have for self. It is to be so fixed and so deep that we shall ignore self in everything, and keep our minds on the things of God, and when we see our defects, quietly leave them with Jesus, without being discouraged or agitated. Think how soon the conflict will be over, the trials all past! Think of the long bright years in heaven! Think of the time when every pain and mortification of this life will be forgotten in the sea of ecstasy, or else remembered only as a cause of Praise! The best death to self is where we can see everything mean and ugly and disagreeable in our lives, or in our composition, and look at it with quietness and sweetness, and a loving self-abhorrence which glows with fervor to Jesus, and at the same time does not chafe nor murmur with ourselves.

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