“Be ye separate.”
2 Corinthians 6:17
The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live,” should be “Christ.” Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith,” and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of his presence, delighting in communion with him, and seeking to know his will, you will prove that you are of heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou art a son of the King of kings. Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world. Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in his beauty–let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets–let not those hearts be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.
Then rise my soul! and soar away,
Above the thoughtless crowd;
Above the pleasures of the gay,
And splendours of the proud;
Up where eternal beauties bloom,
And pleasures all divine;
Where wealth, that never can consume,
And endless glories shine.
“Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies.”
Very bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account, and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its hundred tongues, it will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly. “Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They are hypocrites to a man.” Thus will much damage be done to the cause of Christ, and much insult offered to his name. The cross of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed that we add no offence of our own. It is “to the Jews a stumbling block”: let us mind that we put no stumbling blocks where there are enough already. “To the Greeks it is foolishness”: let us not add our folly to give point to the scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the gospel. How jealous should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our actions, how circumspect should we be! Pilgrims travel as suspected persons through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance, but there are more spies than we know of. The espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the enemies’ hands we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God with scandals against his people. O Lord, lead us ever, lest our enemies trip us up!
All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)
Making a joyful noise to the Lord sounds good and right, doesnâ€™t it? Itâ€™s a no-brainerâ€”so much so that itâ€™s easy not to engage our brains all that actively over a praise passage. Weâ€™re inspired and uplifted when we read such words. Our gait may even be livelier and our gaze focused higher for a while afterward.
The trouble is, our days are often characterized by an operative word other than praise. Despite our best intentions, that word too easily morphs into busyness. Author Cynthia Heald reflects on this issue:
One day when I was reading Oswald Chamberâ€™s My Utmost for His Highest, I was struck by his insight about a rather obscure and easily overlooked verse in Genesis: â€œ[From there he (Abram) went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD.]â€ Chambers writes, â€œBethel is the symbol of communion with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abraham pitched his tent between the two. The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with him. Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.â€
As I meditated on these thoughts, I concluded that I needed a tent! Since my journey usually takes me into Ai (the world) or to Bethel (which literally means â€œhouse of Godâ€), I realized that I needed to pitch my tent (spend time with God) between the world and my times in church. Because I was in church only once or twice a week, I knew that if I wanted to keep my hand in Godâ€™s, I needed to spend time alone with him, one-on-one, every day. In order to do this, I found a â€œtentâ€ and put my â€œaltarâ€ in it. My tent is a cloth bag in which I have placed my altar: my Bible, a journal, and a devotional book. I usually include a Bible study book or a current book that I am reading. A tent can be a cloth bag, a backpack, or a briefcaseâ€”anything that is portable and can be taken with you whenever you leave your home.
My tent stays near my chair in my study, and itâ€™s ready to be pitched early in the morning. But if circumstances keep me from spending time with the Lord at the beginning of the day, I pick up my tent and take it with me when I leave the house. (In fact, I take it with me even if I already have had time with the Lord.) Then throughout the day, I look for pockets of time when I can pitch my tentâ€”unplanned times of waiting or having a few extra minutes before a commitment. I can set up my tent in an airport, a doctorâ€™s waiting room, a coffee shop, a library, a park â€¦ I have found that I am much more consistent in spending time with the Lord because I always have my tent with me.
Think About It
- How much time would it take for you to benefit from a meditation on Psalm 98:4â€“9?
- What difference would it make if you were to reflect on these words several times during the course of a single day or week?
- In terms of your worship tent, does the â€œstow and goâ€ method sound like a possible aid for you as you steward your God-given mandate (and privilege) to praise?
Pray About It
Lord, let me rejoice before you! Let me praise you and worship you!