By S.D. Gordon
Our Drawing Power.
The greatest human winning force is a man swayed in every bit of his being by the Spirit of Jesus. Man himself is the most attractive thing on God's earth. He has the greatest drawing power.
He is attractive to God. He drew out of the creative power of God this world of beauty and splendor. He drew Jesus down from the throne of God to the earth, to poverty and hard labor, to the limitations of human life, to misunderstandings and suffering and pain and death. These were gladly yielded to because it was all for man. How the crowds used to draw Jesus! He would give His strength out to them without stint, until those closest to Him, not understanding, sought to interfere for the sake of his strength.
One man was a sufficient magnet to draw him away from His rest, and to draw out of Him the best of love and strength He had. Nicodemus' earnest presence wooed out of His busy life a whole evening, and drew out the matchless words that the world has been feeding upon ever since. The woman of little half-breed Sychar, though an outcast, drew from Him the touch of power that transformed her life and her village.
Man is attractive to his fellows. There is no power so attractive to a man as another man. The phenomenal growth of modern cities is one of the evidences of this. Everywhere men acknowledge the attractiveness that their fellows have for them. Every friendship, every leadership, every family circle, and gathering of men for whatever purpose tells of the winning power that man has for his fellows. It is modified by all sorts of surrounding conditions, and exists in many different degrees. The great leader and the great orator have it in unusual measure. Every man has some of it. Each man is a magnetic north pole. Every man of his spirit-current is drawn toward him with a steady pull.
Man can win man. That fact at once brings out strikingly his winning power. For the hardest thing in all this world to win is a man. Of all luggage man is the hardest to move. He won't move unless he will move. Only as the string is tied inside to his will can he be persuaded to move. The heart may help open the door into the will. Most often that is the way to get in. Sometimes intelligence, the reasoning powers, open the way in, but rarely; often these two, the heart and the reason, combined. But even then they go tandem, with the heart in the lead; only man can get that door open, and tie the tether to the other man's will, and draw him out, whither he will. He can do it. And only he can. Man yields to the drawing power of his fellow.
With the deepest reverence be it said that when God would redeem a world He sent a Man. Aye, He came as a man. And, while Jesus was so much more than man, we must always insistently remind ourselves that He was truly and fully a man. He was as really human in every bit of His make-up and life as though only human. Because of man's power to win his fellow, Jesus came to the man-level, as a Man, that so He might win men.
Sowing Ourselves in Life's Soil.
Man is winsome, wherever found, just as he is. He may be shackled and slimed over with sin, as he plainly is. He may have lost much of his winsomeness, as probably he has, through deeply rooted prejudice and superstitions, and endless limitations of surroundings and education, but he still remains a powerful magnet to his fellow.
But he is most winning in his winningness as he returns to the original as God planned him. His native winning power comes out fully only as sin is taken out of him, washed out, and burned out; the desire for it removed, and the hurt of sin upon his bodily and mental powers overcome. Jesus is the sort of human that God planned. And only as He is allowed to come into a man's life, and treat the sin trouble at the core, and rule from within, can man come to his own in his rare winsomeness.
Only won men can win men, of course. Only the man who has felt the power of Jesus can tell some one else of that marvellous power. Nobody else wants to. Nobody else can. For nobody else knows that power. But that man must. There is something inside that compels him to. The man who realizes most keenly that he has been saved will be the most intent on getting others saved, too. The passion for Jesus becomes a passion for telling others about Jesus.
Jerry McCauley must spend out his life in Water Street because he had been gripped by the Man who spent out His life for him. The passion is irresistible. Splendid young Hugh Beaver must win the Pennsylvania students to Jesus because Jesus had become the magnet of his own life. Livingstone must plunge into the depths of the African wilds, and Duff into India's heat, and Hudson Taylor into China's inner provinces because of the Jesus-passion that gripped them.
Now the thing to mark very keenly is this: that God's chief reliance in His passionate outreach for His world is men. He is counting on you and me. The power that actually wins men is the power of God. Only He can so play upon human wills and hearts as to induce them gladly to open to Him. That is true. But it is as true that only through the winsome power of men can He use His winning power fully.
I am not going to take up just now why this is so, though that is full of helpful suggestion. But simply to have you mark that straight through this old Book, and through church history, and in actual experience this has been His way of reaching men. God's pathway to one human heart is through another human heart.
When men have failed Him God's plan has failed. His sovereignty doesn't mean that His plan doesn't fail. It means here that with endless patience He clings to the failed plan until He can get the man through whom it can be carried out. But meanwhile there has been serious delay and sad suffering for man.
There is a most striking sentence spoken by Jesus in explaining the parable of the tares, in Matthew, Chapter thirteen. He said, "The good seed are the sons of the kingdom." We think of the truth, the Gospel message, as the good seed that we are to sow, and so it is. But there's a far better seed. It is men, saved men. We are to sow our saved selves, our lives, in the soil of men's lives. Our presence among men was meant to be God's greatest sowing of the seed of life. Upon that seed He sends the dew and rain and sunlight of His Spirit. And through that sort of sowing He wins His greatest harvests.
Our Need of a World to Win.
Now I want to turn aside here a bit, and say this: we men need a world to win. The world needs winning. There's no doubt of that. And just as really we men need a world to win. We need the impetus and stimulus, the grip and the swing of having a world to win. The Master's command fits with great exactness into the need of our lives.
Every man needs a great purpose to grip his life. So he is anchored and held steady against the world's tidal movements. If he isn't tied to some great gripping purpose the wash of the sea will send him adrift, or the fierce undertow will suck him under. And many are adrift. And many are in the deadly suction of the undertow.
Jesus' command provides the great purpose that every man needs to hold him steady and to bring out, and bring out best, all the splendid powers with which we are endowed. When we are not gripped by the great purpose planned for us we swing off into smaller, meaner purposes.
I mean, of course, those of us who are awake. Many people are habitual somnambulists. All their walking and moving about is done in a state of sleep. Some men never wake up. They go through the motions of life so far as they must. The mechanism of habit keeps certain motions going, but the real man within is asleep or dozing, with occasional spells of being sleepily awake.
But men who are awake, and doing something, find a vent for their energy on some lower level. The God-given energy will move out and stir itself to action. But, having somehow missed the real purpose planned for them, they allow the lower purposes to grip them. They organize great affairs, or less great, industrial, intellectual, political, fraternal, social, and spend their energy on these. It is the response they make to the call of their natures for some great gripping purpose. But it looks very much like another case of meeting a request for bread with cold hard stones.
These things in themselves are right, of course; so far as they are right. They belong in the scheme of life. They should be given full place in one's life. But that place is always a distinctly secondary place. They belong in as number two.
A Christian business man gives most of the day and year to his business, and gives of the best of his thought and strength to it. But if he have gotten his bearings straight, his business is not in first place. It is made to serve something higher. It earns the gold with which to finance the great purpose of Jesus' life, and of his own life, namely, the purpose of winning men, and of winning a whole world of them. How it would sweeten business and fraternal and social contacts and friendships, if the salt of this great purpose seasoned them!
Living Broad Lives in Narrow Alleys.
We need the bigness of this great purpose. So many lives are dwarfed by their very littlenesses. We are bothered with being short-sighted. The eyeglasses of the Master's purpose for us would wondrously widen out our scope of vision. And through the new eyes would come broader, farther, clearer views, and changed action. The littleness of our ideas would be amusing if it were not so distressing.
I recall one day riding on a Fort-Wayne train through Indiana. I chanced to overhear a bit of conversation. Two men, chance acquaintances, were talking. One of them had his home in Elkhart. The other asked him where Elkhart is. By the side of the Elkhart man there sat a little sweet-faced boy. Instantly, as the question was asked, he looked up with surprised eyes, and said, "Don't you know where Elkhart is? Why, Elkhart is down where I live."
The amusing childish words seemed to have a familiar sound. I seem to have run across a few people whose idea of God's world is about on the level of the small boy's. The world is where they live. The rest is a hazy, vague something, or--nothing. It exists for them, if it exists at all in their thoughts.
"Living for self, for self alone, for self and none beside; Just as if Jesus had never lived, as if Jesus had never died."
It would be pitiable and pathetic enough if only these people themselves were concerned in their poor, stunted, narrow-alley living. But it is more than that; it is tragic, because of the multitude of brothers, here and abroad, sorely needing the help that was meant to go out to them through us.
Then most men live narrow lives so far as the daily round is concerned. The home, or shop, or store, or office is their daily horizon, with practically the same round of duties day after day, year in and year out. The very narrowness of the round tends to make narrow people. They get into as much of a rut in their thinking as their daily action is apt to become. Their work runs in fixed grooves that are apt to become fixed ruts. And this makes ruts in their thinking. Their souls seem to grow small by the very smallness and sameness of the daily tread. That is the life of the great crowd of men all over the world.
It's an immense relief to see something big Big things always attract. Is it partly because our daily round is so narrow and small? Jesus plans a bigness that shall refresh us constantly. We have hearts big enough to hold a world, and brains able to plan for a planet, even while our feet tread the same old shut-in path.
A young man may be going a commonplace, treadmill sort of grind, in a small corner of some great manufacturing concern, and be at the same time carrying on a bigger enterprise than the president of his concern. For he may be planning and praying for a world, and actually lifting it up in the arms of his strong purpose toward the level of God.
The shipping clerk may be hammering in barrel-heads all day long, but each blow may help emphasize the prayer of his heart for China, or India, or his Sunday-school class.
"Forenoon, afternoon, and night,
Forenoon, afternoon, and night,
Forenoon, afternoon, and what? no more?
The empty song repeats itself. Yea, that is life.
Make this forenoon sublime, this afternoon a psalm,
This night a prayer, and time is conquered, and thy
crown is won."
The Master's gracious plan is that we shall have the refreshment of doing big things. We are made for big things. They help us grow into the big size that belongs to us. World-winning is a great boon to the crowd compelled by the habit of life to tread a narrow path.
Giving God Free Use of Ourselves.
Now the great question every earnest man asks himself is, How can I be of most use to God and my fellows? I want to suggest three things that have helped me in answering that question. It may be that they will help you, too, in getting your answer to it.
First of all is this: that we let God have the free use of us. Whatever I am, whatever gifts and opportunities I have--these I will turn over to God, that He may have the fullest and freest use of them. God asks from each of us a consecrated personality. And "consecrated" simply means that I give God the use of myself, and that He makes use of what I have given to Him. That's the double meaning of the word in the Bible.
My personality, that is, what I am in myself, is the chief thing I have in life. It is through this personality, which men recognize as I, that the Spirit of God works in His reaching out for others. My personality is the make-up of all that I am. My presence is that subtle something that combines all that I am. It clings to me wherever I go. Men know it by my name. Out through it goes the power of the man within.
The body, the glance of the eye, the quality and intonation of the voice, the way the body is carried, and the something more than these that unites them into one--these go to make up the presence, the outer shell of the personality. All the power within makes itself felt through this. A man's mere presence is an immeasurable influence.
There is a subtle, intangible, but very real spirit influence breathing out of every man's presence. It is proportioned entirely to the strength of the man living within. With some it is very attractive. Sometimes it is positively repulsive. It is the expression of the man within. The presence becomes the mould of the spirit within, large or small, noble or mean, coarse or fine, as he makes it. The strength of a man's will or its weakness; the purity of his heart or its lack of purity; the ideals of his life, high or low; the keenness or slowness of his thinking--all these express themselves in his presence.
We know the difference between a man of strong presence and one whose presence is weak; though very few of us are skilled in reading, except in a very small way, the character it reveals; through our presence each of us is constantly influencing those with whom we come in contact. Now this is the chief thing we have for our winning work. This is the thing that Jesus uses. It is this that the Spirit of God takes possession of, if He may, and that He uses in His outreach to others. We win most and best through what we are.
Now, of course, I do not mean that we are to be thinking of it that way all the time. The thinking that you have a winsome presence would itself rob you of the most winsome part of it. Winsomeness of presence is greatest and sweetest when we are wholly unconscious that there is such a thing about us. As we are absorbed in Jesus, and in our fellows, the winsomeness that is native to us shines out most attractively. It has been covered up and hidden away a good bit by sin. Some men seem to have none. Some have a great deal, in spite of their ignoring of God.
But as He is allowed to play upon us, as we seek to let His Spirit rule our conduct and control our powers, the original God-image comes out. This is a return to natural conditions as planned by God. What has been lost through sin is restored and grown bigger and richer by the Spirit's presence. I can give God the full use of this precious gift of personality.
Growing Bigger for Service's Sake.
There's a second thing to do. This consecrated personality can be made a developed personality. We don't start into life full size. We have to grow. The greatest task of life, as well as one of the sweetest, is in growing fine in grain, and big in size, and skilled in action. The highest achievement of life and the rarest to find is self-mastery, that is, all that one is in himself grown big and fine-grained, skilfully used and held steadily to its true use. All other achievements are through this one.
The stronger I can make my body the more I can give God to use. The more thoroughly I can understand the great, simple laws of my body, and the more I can get into the habit of obeying them, the more can God use me in His plans. Such common things as eating and drinking, breathing and exercising, sleeping and resting and dress, may not be called common any more, if through thoughtfulness here you and I can be of greater use to our Master and our fellows.
The keener and clearer and stronger we can make our thinking, by dint of self-discipline, the greater power have we with other men. The purer the heart, the loftier the practical ideals that control the personal habits, the greater is the winning power at command.
We may not be conscious of the difference. We will not be thinking of that. But the increased power of attraction is there, and is breathing out of one's presence, and is distinctly felt by others. And, more, it is making a distinct mark upon others, more than they know. We must set ourselves to growing bigger and better for service's sake.
The third thing is a world-wide vision. That is to say, our thinking and planning and praying and giving shall be on a world scale. There is nothing remarkable about this. The strangely remarkable thing is that there is so little of it. Man was made on the world size. It is natural to us to grasp the world in our thinking and action. This other thing of living on a smaller scale is the cramping effect of sin. We were, made big. We are big. We need a big world. We enjoy bigness. We get this from God. We are truest to ourselves as we live on the world plan. The world was given us originally to subdue, and now to win.
This does not mean to neglect anything or anybody nearby. It's a bit of the cramping of sin that anybody thinks so. The man who spreads a map of the world beside his open Bible in the morning or evening prayer-hour is likely to have a warm hand for the fellow next him. We are made that way, to grasp the globe, and each thing close at hand that needs our care. That's a bit of the image of God in us. As we allow Him sway, the original power is restored to us.
One result of this will be that many of us will go in person to some far-away part of the great world-field. That's a serious thing to do, requiring some special qualification of body and of training. For the task out there is a great one. There are trying conditions to be met. The very best is called for.
If a man may go in person to the foreign field he is greatly favored. Let nothing hold him back. It is a privilege to serve anywhere. But the highest privilege of service is out there. Many cannot go; and many may not go. Some are plainly bidden to stay. The home administration of the missionary enterprise requires strong men at home.
A second result will be that wherever we are, will be a mission-field to us. We are, where we are, to give, not to get. Whether in far-off China or maybe in some disillusioned commonplace home town, we will be winning men to Jesus all the time by direct touch. The mastering thought will be to let the wondrous Spirit reach out through us, freely and fully, unhindered by anything in us, and so touch every one whom we touch.
In any circle, business or social, our hearts will be saying, "I am among you as he that serveth." Consciously, by direct word, by indirect touch, with love's rare diplomacy we will win men. Unconsciously, by our presence, we will as really be winning them.
No one has an imagination vivid enough, or words graphic enough, to tell the power of that direct human touch. All life is athrill with its magic. Even when it becomes less direct, a bit removed from the personal, its power is indescribably great.
John Eliot's work among the Massachusetts Indians kindled David Brainerd. Brainerd's flame touched Jonathan Edwards. Edwards' pamphlet on "Extraordinary Prayer for a Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom on Earth" suggested to William Carey the plan of an organized society. Fire spreads. Where the touch of God comes the fire of God goes out through that human touch.
A third result will be this: we will be reaching out and winning men in all the rest of the world by our spirit-touch. You may be in some African fastness or in the midst of China's age-old civilization or just here at home, but you can be exerting a tremendous spirit-power that can be felt out to the ends of the earth.
It will all be in the Name of Jesus. It will be in the power of the Holy Spirit. Only in that Name and through the Spirit can such winning influence be exerted at all. So a man can have spirit-touch with the man by his side. And just as truly he can have spirit-touch with men at the farthest reach of the earth.
There is a spirit influence going out from each of us in addition to that which goes through the direct personal touch. It is not a conscious influence. That is, we are not concsious that it is being exerted. It goes out from us as we pray. It goes out of us as our thought is centered on those far-away parts and peoples. Its strength will depend on the strength of one's personality.
We are familiar with the fact that a man of strong personality has a greater influence upon his fellows whom he touches directly than a weaker man has. It is just the same with regard to one's spirit-touch. The stronger and keener and purer I may become, the more I know of the self-mastery which comes through Jesus-mastery, the greater force can I exert as a winner of men, both by direct touch and by spirit-touch.
Will you kindly come up nearer in spirit, as we close our talk together, and let me ask softly: Have we given the free use of ourselves to the Master? Are we growing ourselves into bigger-sized, finer-grained, better-controlled men and women daily? For the Master is depending on us. He is counting much on having the use of us. He can reach out to the very ends of the earth through each one of us. May we not fail Jesus!