(From the book ‘A Basket of Summer Fruit‘ by Susannah Spurgeon)
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
I have heard of some people, who openly boast that their religion is, and ought to be, confined within the walls of their church, and that they do not seek or desire to bring it into any connection with their daily life and its duties or delights. They go to church on the Sabbath morning, perform various pious genuflexions, hear certain selected words softly intoned by vested priests, pay a small tribute to the Deity who perchance may have some influence over their affairs, and whom, therefore, it is just as well to propitiate with a coin; get it all over as soon as they can, and then feel free to take their own way, and cram into the rest of the day, and all the subsequent days of the week, as much of gain and greed and worldly enjoyment as is possible! The fact itself is not a novelty, but I think the unblushing boast of it, is a new feature, and a very significant sign of the times—the God-dishonoring, man-exalting times in which we live.
There is another class of people, whose spiritual sight is not so darkened as to lead them to mistake evil for good, as do those described above, yet who so far imitate them that they fall short of the high standard of holy living and godliness which assures “a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.” They are well described in a passage which I read in one of Mr. Andrew Murray’s books: “How much our Christianity suffers from the fact that it is confined to certain times and places! A man, who seeks to pray earnestly in the church, or in the closet, spends the greater part of the week or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with that in which he prayed. His worship is the work of a fixed place or hour, not the blessed outcome of his whole spiritual being.”
Dear friends, to which of these two classes do you and I belong? I ask myself the question, and find that, though I may be blameless on the first count, on the second I must plead “guilty” before God.
Kneeling before the Lord in prayer, in the early morning—it seems so easy to hate sin, and dwell in Him, that one looks forward to the day’s trials and perplexities, that they can all be overcome. There is a tenderness of heart, a yielding of the will to God, an eagerness for communion with Him, and a desire to be well-pleasing in His sight, all of which are very delightful and precious.
But, alas! when I leave the mercy-seat, and go about my daily work and service, the most of this fades like a beautiful dream! Too often, when reviewing a day begun under such sweet auspices, I find, to my dismay, that God has not been in all my thoughts, sin has crept in unawares, many things have been said and done contrary to the law of kindness; and, in the highest spiritual sense, the day has been a sad failure.
The humble, trustful, thankful spirit, which seemed to characterize the quiet hour with God in the morning, has not been carried into all the events and experiences of the day; the resolution to “set the Lord always before me” has been for a while forgotten, and I have allowed the fogs and glooms of earthly cares, ay, and even the smoke from the altar of sacrifice and service, to obscure my soul’s vision, and hide, for a time at least, that glorious goal towards which my heart pressed, when I felt myself to be in the presence of God.
Must you not, my dear readers, many of you, join me in making the same sorrowful confession? Yet it ought not to be thus. If the Spirit of God dwells within us, a different state of things is not only possible, but it is enjoined upon us. If we pray in the Spirit, we must also walk in the Spirit; and “the exceeding greatness of His power to us who believe” is more than equal to any strain which our cares or circumstances can bring to bear upon it.
Surely, could we but realize the close presence of the Lord Jesus, hour by hour, and minute by minute—Heaven would be begun on earth. But, sometimes, even work for Him so entirely engrosses thought and heart, that He himself seems forgotten. Sweet “frames and feelings” vanish when the burden and heat of the day oppress both soul and body.
Yet I am sure this should not be. Christ says, “Abide in Me,” and He would not tell me to do an impossible thing. “Blessed Jesus, put forth Your hand, and take Your poor, silly, fluttering dove into the ark of Your love!”
What a revolution there would be in all our Christian circles, if each one of us carried into every thought and word and action of the day the fragrance and freshness of our seasons of sweet communion with our Master! It is good to talk with God; it is far better to walk with Him. About the former, we may be self-deceived; but about the latter—never!
Well, dear friends, we cannot set the world right; we have not the power to persuade or convince multitudes of their errors of doctrine or practice; but we can see to it that we ourselves are walking “worthy of God,” and letting our light shine so brightly that all may see more plainly the pathway to the Celestial City, because we are passing along it.
“Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood-bought name,
As one who fears but grieving You,
And knows no other shame.
“As one who daily speaks to You,
And hears Your voice Divine
With depths of tenderness declare,
Beloved, you are Mine!”