By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
Text: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God." Rom. 8:14.
There is another passage a little like this, recorded in Gal. 5:25, which reads thus: "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Mark the Divine order: Here we find that life precedes activity. It does not say, If we walk, then let us live, but rather, "if we live, then let us walk." God's order always puts first things first while the human order reverses this plan. The human says, "Be intensely active, do, DO, DO this and that, in order to be spiritual." But the Divine plan is, first be spiritual, take time, "tarry until endued," and then be intensely active.
If we live in the Spirit and are led by the Spirit, we will do certain things and avoid certain things: this will make us different from the generality of professed Christians. In what respect?
I. We will sing with the understanding. 1 Cor. 14:15.
II. We will avoid doing rash things. 1 Cor. 13:4.
III. We will be saved from worry. Ps. 37:1-3.
IV. We will be saved from hurry. Isa. 28:16.
I. We Will Sing With The Spirit And With The Understanding
If we could always keep in the Spirit what glorious singing we would have! Instead of singing a number of songs with perhaps only an occasional one catching fire and bringing supernatural blessing, we would save this wasted time and energy and sing the Spirit-inspired-song at the beginning. We would not sing it too high, nor too low, too fast, nor too slow, but keep step with the blessed Holy Ghost. For, sometimes He may lead to sing very softly, while at the next moment it may sound like a mighty army charging the foe. Sometimes He may lead to omit several verses and at other times to repeat the same verse, or chorus again and again. Now, if we are trying to sing according to order, or at the direction of a fastidious leader, the Holy Spirit's leadings are likely to be set aside. Human leadership may sound nice to musical ears, but there is no thunder-clap from the upper skies. No doubt if we were always able to sing in the Spirit, we might not need so much preaching, for we would be able to sing a revival down.
II. We Will Avoid Rash Things
To always mind the checks and leadings of the Spirit is a fine thing. Many times one is about to say, or do a certain thing, when the Holy Spirit gently checks him. Now, if he is blinded by lust, or love of praise, he will disregard these gentle misgivings and like a mule, plunge ahead, saying or doing the thing that temporarily pleases, but the after-effect will be, leanness of soul.
Paul says that the characteristic of love is freedom from rashness -- "vaunteth not itself." If we live in the Spirit we will avoid doing rash things. There are multitudes of good people, who, as they review the past, deplore many places where they marred God's original plan and did something out of the Spirit. They can see where they drove some one away who might have been reached. They can see where they wrote a hasty letter and broke fellowship with a brother beyond reparation. One hasty step may require a thousand other steps to recover the lost ground -- if ever it is recovered.
We read, "Be not rash with thy mouth and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God." Many a man has said one rash word to a loving companion from which she never fully recovered. Forgiveness may have been sought and received, the wound may have been healed, but the scar ever remained. We have known individuals who would have gladly parted with their right hand, or a large sum of money, could the hasty and unkind word have only been recalled, but it was too late. All this can be avoided if we will but "live in the Spirit."
III. We Will Be Saved From Worry
And what is worry? Worry is a polite term for unbelief. We profess so much that we are not quite ready to say we are full of unbelief, but we will admit that we worry at times. John Wesley said, "I would as soon curse and swear as to fret or worry." And a greater than Wesley has said, "Fret not thyself because of .evil doers." "In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."
"With patient mind thy course of duty run,
God nothing does, nor suffers to be done
But thou wouldst do thyself, if thou couldst see
The end of all events as well as He."
There are multitudes of people who have gray hairs and wrinkles that they ought not to have. These have been brought on by worry. People worry about things that have never happened and never will happen. While so doing they not only take all joy out of the present life, but unfit themselves for future opportunities. Worry burns up not only soul tissue, but physical endurance. Worry is a slam at God's providences, for it says, "God, or somebody has made a serious mistake and I must chafe, complain and worry over it." I remember my sainted mother. Peace be to her memory! In Western Pennsylvania, they have untimely frosts in the spring of the year. After having visited the orchard I can see mother now, with a distressed look upon her sweet old face as she sat by the table, or fireside and with hands folded remark: "Dear me, I do not know what we will do the coming winter for fruit. The jars will all be empty, for the peaches, apples, plums, pears and cherries are all killed." After continuing on this strain for sometime the children looked at each other as much as to say, "my poor stomach!"
But what did God do? He turned in and blessed the blackberries, strawberries, and elderberries and we had wagon loads of tomatoes, so that before winter the jars were full and overflowing. God saw that the apple trees had borne so heavily the year before, they needed a year of rest -- for a tree can bear itself to death. He also saw that we had not appreciated this kind of fruit as we should, and a year's abstinence would serve as a good lesson. He also saw that our systems needed another kind of acid, such as can be found only in smaller fruits and he was doing the very best he could to prolong our lives as well as the fruit trees on the hill.
And what was dear mother doing? Worrying about the best thing that could have happened. You have done the same thing, and in your blindness have fought against your best and highest good. Now, if we are led by the Spirit, we will see God back of everything and thus "rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks." If God has commanded us to do this, then he proposes to give special grace to carry it out in our lives.
IV. We Will Be Saved From Hurry
There is a valuable passage in the Word that is seldom quoted. I have never seen it on the wall as a motto. What is it? "He that believeth shall not make haste." Isa. 28:16. Did you hear that? What does it mean? Simply this! He who lives in the Spirit and believes God as fully as he might will not get frustrated and in a hurry. You can safely set it down that when you feel a hurry spirit pressing you to do this or that and do it now, you are about to get out of Divine order. A hurry spirit is always from beneath! A hurry spirit says, "You must write that letter now, you must go and reprove that person now, you must sing or hold that street meeting now; if you hesitate you will miss your last opportunity and fearful consequences will follow." Ah! friend, this is the subtle voice of the tempter.
What does God say? "Believe me and do not get in a hurry. If, in the past your motive was pure and you did the best you knew, I stand ready to rule and over-rule, and, if need be, will give you another chance. If your motive was not entirely pure, and yet, if you will humble yourself in proportion to the offense, I can yet wrest victory out of the jaws of defeat and you will get a life-long lesson and I will get glory, because you believed me."
I do not wish to add to any one's domestic disappointment, but will say that about half of the best people in the world are out of Divine order. Away back there in their boyhood or girlhood days they got in a hurry, pulled away from mother, or good advice and insisted on going to town, or a party and there formed an acquaintanceship which later ripened into a love affair and the result was a hasty marriage. This would have been averted had they sat up in the "amen corner," rather than half way back where they wrote love letters and flirted to their own undoing. But, thank God, later on they repented and were saved and perhaps sanctified and are now on the way to heaven; nevertheless they are out of Divine order more or less and consequently are handicapped and crippled in their effectiveness. Why? All because they got in a hurry!
The same could be said of multitudes who hastily withdrew from one church and joined another. Now, there are times when a change of church relationship may be perfectly in order, but never, NEVER, NEVER while agitated and wrought up because something has not gone to suit you! Please put that down in your notebook! O, the church splits and disrupted families and entire communities wrecked beyond all possibility of repair, simply because one, or two persons got in a hurry and insisted on having their own way.
This likewise holds good in the business world. Here is a man who has a good wife. Of course she is not a business woman, but she has that God-given gift of intuition which enables her to arrive at proper conclusions more quickly and accurately than do her husband's reasoning powers. He is about to sign up and take stock in a certain business concern. The good wife says to him, "Now John go slow." He asks the reason why? The answer is, "just because." He laughs and ridicules the answer saying, "That is the old woman's reason." Later on, when he is down town and she is not present to pull his coat sleeve, he meets a slick-tongued agent who talks "investments" and "dividends." As he listens he can see the big silver dollars rolling at him like wagon wheels if he only "gets in" on this wonderful opportunity. As his name goes down he says to himself, "I will happily surprise my wife next Christmas with a crisp fifty dollar bill." When she looks at it and says with astonishment, "John where did you get it?" My reply will be, "This is part of the dividend declared on that investment," and further says to her, "You might have had plenty of these had you not hindered me so frequently in my business adventures." "Of course," (he goes on to say), "women have their place -- in the kitchen, but men know best after all when it comes to business."
Well, do you remember how your wife looked that next Christmas when you handed her that new fifty dollar bill? No! You may not remember that, but you may remember very keenly how you felt when you wished you could borrow fifty cents of her. And why all this? Simply because you got out of the Spirit and did not take time to inquire of God and others as you should.
But I hear you reply, does not the Scripture say, "The king's business requires haste"? Very well, if you will turn to 1 Sam. 21:8, you will find the account of David's flight from King Saul. He comes down to the city of Nob and in a hurry requests of Ahimelech, the priest, some bread. He also asks for a sword and of course Ahimelech wants to know the reason for his haste, and the answer is, "The king's business requires haste." Now the fact is, David is not on the king's business at all, but rather fleeing from the king in order to save his life. He deceives the good priest and later on when Saul hears of it through Doeg the Edomite, he summons Ahimelech into his presence. After inquiring of him if he saw David and if he had pronounced a blessing upon him, Saul shrieks out, "Thou shalt die Ahimelech." Ahimelech pleads in vain for his life, but at Saul's direction Doeg takes off his head and then goes to the city of Nob and slays "four-score and five persons that did wear the linen ephod." Not only so, but he slew "both men, women, children and sucklings and oxen and asses and sheep with the edge of the sword." When David heard of it he set up a wail and took all the blame upon himself saying, "I have occasioned the death of all the persons of my father's house." So remember, dear friend, when you are about to get in a hurry and in order to substantiate your position you quote David -- please remember the four score and five godly priests who lost their heads because one man deceived another by getting in a hurry and failing to be led by the Spirit.
Yes, all these things could have been avoided in the past, and can be averted in the future if every one will insist on being led by the Holy Spirit. It may require a siege of dying out, but it will pay. Brother, will you hold yourself to it? Eternity will reveal your decision.
"Take time to be holy, the world rushes on,
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone;
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be,
Thy friends in thy conduct, His likeness shall see.
"Take time to be holy, let him be thy guide,
And run not before him, whatever betide;
In joy or in sorrow, still follow thy Lord,
And looking to Jesus, still trust in his word.
"Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul,
Each tho't and each motive, Beneath His control;
Thus led by the Spirit, to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted, for service above."