By Hannah Whitall Smith
If all that has been written in the preceding chapters on the life hid with Christ is true, its results ought to be very noticeable in our daily walk as Christians. The people who have entered into the enjoyment of it ought to be "peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). My son once wrote to a friend saying something to this effect: that we are God's witnesses necessarily, because the world will not read the Bible, buy they will read our lives. Their belief in the divine nature of the faith we possess will be influenced by our lives. This age is essentially an age of facts. All scientific inquiries are being increasingly turned from theories to realities. If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more than a theory. We must present to the investigation of the critical minds of our age the realities of lives transformed by the mighty power of God.
I want to speak very solemnly concerning what I see to be the necessary fruits of a life of faith such as I have been describing. I want to convince every one of my readers about their personal responsibility to walk "worthy of this calling" (2 Thessalonians l :11 ) . I think that I may speak to some of you as personal friends. I am sure I will be pardoned if I go into some details of our daily lives which may seem of lesser importance, but which make up the largest part of our existence.
A Christlike Nature
The standard of practical, holy living has been so low among Christians that the least degree of real devotedness of the higher Christian walk is looked upon with surprise and often even with disapproval by a large portion of the Church. For the most part, the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are satisfied with a life so conformed to the world in almost every respect that, to a causal observer, no difference is discernible.
But we, who have heard God call us to a life of entire consecration and perfect trust, must do differently. We must come out from the world and be separate. We must not be conformed to it in our characters or in our lives. We must set our affections on heavenly things, not on earthly ones. We must first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and surrender everything that would interfere with this. We must walk through the world as Christ walked. We must have the mind that was in Him. As pilgrims and strangers, we must abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. As good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must disentangle ourselves inwardly from the affairs of this life, that we may please Him who has chosen us to be soldiers. We must abstain from all appearance of evil. We must be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us. We must not resent injuries or unkindness, but must return good for evil, and turn the other cheek to the hand that hits us. We must always take the lowest place among our fellowmen. We must not seek our own honor, but the honor of others. We must be gentle, meek, and yielding. We must not stand up for our own rights, but for the rights of others. We must do everything, not for our own glory, but for the glory of God. And, to sum it all up, since He who has called us is holy, so we must be holy in all manner of conversation. It is written, "be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45) .
Some Christians seem to think that all the requirements of a holy life are met when there is very active and successful Christian work. Because they do so much for the Lord in public, they feel a liberty to be cross and ugly and unChristlike in private. But this is not the sort of Christian life I am depicting. If we are to walk as Christ walked, it must be in private as well as in public, at home as well as abroad. It must be every hour all day long, and not at stated periods or on certain fixed occasions. We must be Christlike everywhere and to all. It is in daily living that practical holiness can best show itself, and we may well question any "professions" that fail under this test of daily life. An anxious Christian, a discouraged, gloomy Christian, a doubting Christian, a complaining Christian, an exacting Christian, a selfish Christian, a cruel, hardhearted Christian, a selfindulgent Christian, a Christian with a sharp tongue or bitter spirit, may be a very earnest worker and have an honorable place in the Church. But, he or she is not a Christlike Christian, and knows nothing of the lessons of this book concerning the higher Christian life.
People must see that we walk as Christ walked, if we say that we are abiding in Him. We must prove that we "possess" that which we "profess." We must, in short, be real followers of Christ, not followers in theory only. This means a great deal. It means that we must completely turn our backs on everything that is contrary to the perfect will of God. It means that we are to be a "peculiar people" (Titus 2:14), not only in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of the world around us. Wherever we go, it should be known from our habits, our attitudes our conversation and our pursuits, that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must demonstrate that we are not of the world, even as He was not of the world. We must no longer look upon our money as our own. We must look at it as belonging to the Lord to be used in His service. We must not feel at liberty to use our energies exclusively in the pursuit of worldly means, but must recognize: "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). We will find ourselves forbidden to seek the highest places or to strain after worldly advantages. We will not be permitted to make self the center of all our thoughts and all our aims. Our days will have to be spent, not in serving ourselves, but in serving the Lord. We will find ourselves called upon to bear one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. All our daily duties will be performed more perfectly than ever because whatever we do will be done, "Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Ephesians 6:6).
Results Of A Hidden Life
We will undoubtedly be led into all this by the Spirit of God, if we give ourselves up to His guidance. But unless we have the right standard of Christian life set before us, we may be hindered from recognizing His voice by our ignorance. I desire to be very plain and definite in my statements for this reason.
I have noticed that wherever someone has been truly faithful following the Lord, several things have inevitably followed sooner or later. Meekness and quietness of spirit in time become the characteristics of the daily life. A submissive acceptance of the will of God is shown as it comes in the hourly events of each day. There is a willingness in the believer whose life is in the hands of God to do or to suffer all the good pleasure of His will. There is a sweetness when provoked. There is a calmness in the midst of turmoil. There is a yielding to the wishes of others, and an insensibility to slights and affronts. There is absence of worry or anxiety. There is deliverance from care and fear. All these, and many other similar graces, are invariably found to be the natural, outward development of that inward life which is hid with Christ in God.
We see such Christians sooner or later laying aside thoughts of self and becoming full of consideration for others. They dress and live in simple, healthful ways. They renounce selfindulgent habits and surrender all purely fleshly gratifications. Some helpful work for others is taken up, and useless occupations are dropped out of the life. God's glory, and the welfare of His creatures, become the absorbing delight of the soul. The voice is dedicated to Him, to be used in singing His praises. Money is placed at His disposal. The pen is dedicated to write for Him. The lips are dedicated to speak for Him. The hands and the feet are dedicated to do His bidding. Year after year such Christians are seen to grow more unworldly, serene, heavenlyminded, transformed, and more like Christ, until even their faces express so much of the beautiful, inward, divine life, that all who look at them can see that they live with Jesus. They are abiding in Him.
Have you not begun to feel dimly conscious of the voice of God speaking to you in the depths of your soul about these things? Has it not been painful and distressing to discover how full your lives are of self? Has your soul been plunged into inward trouble and doubt about certain attitudes or desires in which you have formerly indulged? Have you begun to feel uneasy with some of your habits of life? Have you wished that you could do differently? Haven't paths of dedication and service begun to open out before you with the longing thought, "Oh, that I could walk in them!''?
Moment By Moment Obedience
All these questions and doubts and this inward yearning are the voice of the Good Shepherd in your heart, seeking to call you out of that which is contrary to His will. I beg you not to turn away from His gentle pleadings! You know little about the sweet paths into which He means to lead you by these very steps. You know little of the wonderful stores of blessings that lie at their end, or you would spring forward with an eager joy to yield to every one of His requirements.
The heights of Christian perfection can only be reached each moment by faithfully following the Guide who is to lead you there. He reveals the way to us one step at a time, in the little things of our daily lives asking only that we yield ourselves up to His guidance. Be perfectly pliable then in His dear hand. Go where He leads you. Turn away from all which He causes you to shrink from. Obey Him perfectly the moment you are sure of His will and you will soon find that He is leading you out swiftly and easily into such a wonderful life of conformity to Himself. lt. will be a testimony to all around you, beyond what you could have ever thought.
I knew a soul dedicated in this way to follow the Lord wherever He might lead her. She went from the depths of darkness and despair into the realization and actual experience of a most blessed union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of the midst of her darkness she consecrated herself to the Lord. She surrendered her will completely to Him so that He might work in her to will and to do His own good pleasure. Immediately He began to speak to her by His Spirit in her heart, suggesting to her some little act of service for Him, and troubling her about certain things in her habits and her life. He showed her where she was selfish and unChristlike, and how she could be transformed. She recognized His voice and yielded to Him each thing He asked for, the moment she was sure of His will. Her swift obedience was rewarded by a rapid progress. Day by day she was conformed more and more to the image of Christ. Her life became such a testimony to those around her that some who had begun by opposing and disbelieving were forced to acknowledge that it was of God and were won to a similar surrender. And finally, her Lord was able to reveal to her wondering soul some of the deepest secrets of His love, by fulfilling the marvellous promise of Acts 1:5-by giving her the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Do you think she has ever regretted her wholehearted following of Him? Do you think that anything but thankfulness and joy can ever fill her soul when she reviews the steps by which her feet have been led to this place of wondrous blessing? lt is divine joy even though some of those steps may have seemed at the time hard to take. Ah, dear soul, if you would like a similar blessing, abandon yourself like her, to the guidance of your divine Master, and shrink from no surrender for which He may call.
Surely you can trust Him! And if you think that something may not be worthy of the Lord's attention, remember that He does not see as man sees, and things that seem small to you may be the key and the clue to the deepest springs of your being in His eyes. No life can be complete that fails in its little things. However small a look, a word, even a tone of voice may seem to human judgement, they are often of vital importance in the eyes of God. Your one great desire is to follow Him fully. Can you not continually say, "Yes" to all His sweet commands, whether they are small or great? Trust Him to lead you by the shortest road to your fullest blessedness.
My dear friend whether you know it or not, this, and nothing less than this, is what consecration means. It means inevitable obedience. It means that the will of God is to be your will, under all circumstances and at all times. It means that you surrender your freedom of choice, and give yourself up completely into the control of the Lord. It means following Him hourly, wherever He might lead you, without any turning back.
All this and far more was involved in your surrender to God, and now l appeal to you to make good your word. Let everything else go, that you may live in a practical, daily walk and conversation, the Christlife you have dwelling within you. You are united to the Lord by a wondrous tie. Walk, then, as He walked, and show to the unbelieving world the blessed reality of His mighty power to save, by letting Him save you to the very uttermost. Do not fear to consent to this, for He is your Savior, and His power is to do it all. He is not asking you to do it yourself. He only asks that you yield yourself up to Him, that He may work in you and through you by His own mighty power.
Your part is to yield yourself. His part is to work. Never, never will He give you any command that is not accompanied by ample power to obey it. Take no thought for the future in this matter. Abandon yourself with a generous trust to the Good Shepherd, who has promised never to call His own sheep out into any path without going before them to make the way easy and safe. Take each little step as He makes it plain to you. Let Him regulate and guide all the details of your life. Follow the sweet suggestions of His Spirit in your soul gladly and quickly. And day by day you will find Him bringing you more and more into conformity with His will in all things, molding and fashioning you as you are able to bear it, into a "vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21). Your light will shine so brightly, that men seeing, not you, but your good works, will glorify, not you, but your Father which is in Heaven.