We have to die as those in the Lord’s service and not only as sinners. It is an awful experience when death lays hold of our service. When, as a worker, as a preacher, we go down to death and by sheer force of circumstances, adversity, fruitlessness, spiritual ineffectiveness, we throw up our hands in despair and say, “I am at an end, I have finished.”
Here comes the test of ourselves and our service. How much was it a matter of popularity? Were we out to make a name for ourselves? Was it a matter of reputation? Did it matter whether people said nice things about our work, that is, did we feel pleased and flattered? Or did it matter if they said nasty things, criticized, distorted, or detracted, and we went home and had a bad time? How much were we in the business?
Before the test came, of course we should have said, “I have no such personal ambitions, it is not my interests I am seeking.” But when we go down to death and the door of service seems to be closing upon us, then we are laid bare as to our motives, as to our feelings, as to whether we are more concerned for our name than His. From all this self-life we have to be emancipated before God can use us. We have to get to the place where it does not matter in the least what people think, or say, or do, so long as God is satisfied and we are in the way of His will.
This is the way of peace and this is the way of victory. But we have to go down to the realm of death; the “I” has to be slain. It is just in this measure in which that “I” has been crucified that Christ in the power of His resurrection can be revealed.
To one who asked George Muller the secret of his service, he said: “There was a day when I died, utterly died …”; and, as he spoke, he bent lower and lower until he almost touched the floor “… died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will ― died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.”
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