Sunday, August 16, 2009

I was talking with a friend about the thing most needful, and I ran across the following quote by John Newton. I think it reduces things down to its essentials.

"The longer I live, the more I see of the vanity and the sinfulness of our unchristian disputes; they eat up the very vitals of religion. I grieve to think how often I have lost my time and my temper in that way, in presuming to regulate the vineyards of others, when I have neglected my own; when the beam in my own eye has so contracted my sight that I could discern nothing but the mote in my neighbor's. I am now desirous to choose a better part. Could I speak the publican's words with a proper feeling, I wish not for the tongue of men or angles to fight about notions or sentiments. I allow that every branch of gospel truth is precious, that errors are abounding, and that it is our duty to bear an honest testimony to what the Lord has enabled us to find comfort in and to instruct with meekness such as are willing to be instructed; but I cannot see it my duty, nay, I believe it would be my sin, to attempt to beat my notions into other people's heads. Too often I have attempted it in time past; but now I judge that both my zeal and my weapons were carnal. When our dear Lord questioned Peter, after his fall and recovery, He said not, Art thou wise, learned, and eloquent? Nay, He said not, Art thou clear, and sound, and orthodox? But this only, "Lovest thou me?"
An answer to this was sufficient then; why not now? Any other answer, we may believe, would have been insufficient then. If Peter had made the most pompous confession of his faith and sentiments, still the first question would have recurred,
"Lovest thou me?"

Photo by J. Gao


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred:)

This wonderful post projected very forcefully three thoughts in my my mind.

REGULATING THE VINE YARDS OF OTHERS: Perhaps this is what I have been doing most of my grown up life when I neglected my own vine yard. I have been criticizing, condemning, finding fault, poking finger at others where as I have done precious little to improve my own self. What is the result? I have not been able to improve any one and neither have I improved. I always felt a strange heaviness and unhappiness in my heart. Only the other day while I was going through a blog I read- ENJOY WHAT YOU HAVE. Very profound words. I have innumerable things to enjoy. But my eyes were always on others and other things. These four magical words lifted the veil over my eyes. These wonderful four words are slowly changing my attitude towards others and my own self. I look forward to each day with great expectations.

The other set of words which struck me as profound wisdom—INSTRUCT WITH MEEKNESS : Considering our age, we are in a position to talk with authority on many things and brow beat others into submission. But to what effect? No one will listen to us. If it all they listen, they will take it with one ear and leave it through the other ear. I remember my elderly boss telling me when I was young---JOSEPH, DON’T RESPECT GREY HAIRS, RESPECT YOUNG THINKING. If we are meek and kind, there is a possibility that others will listen us. I must congratulate you for doing what you are doing without trying to push down knowledge and wisdom into peoples throats.

One more set of words which strikes me as wonderful is –SUCH AS ARE WILLING TO BE INSTRUCTED: We can take the horse to the water, but we cannot make it drink. If people don’t have an open mid, if they are stubborn in their thoughts, if they have an inflexible mind, what ever we say will fall on deaf ears. It will be like spreading pearls before pigs.

You have inspired me today because you were meek and I was willing to be instructed.

Wish you a fantastic day Fred:)
Your friend,

fcb4 said...

That is a great post.

fcb4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danielle&Hannah said...

Hey there Fred,

This is a deep quote. It brings to mind several facets of the Christian life/walk.

When I was a young christian (and much younger too ;) I was very excitable and also critical... knowing that Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life... and perfectly so, I was determined that I knew the way, truth and the life... though I knew the Lord… I was not as tolerant as I should be, nor was I the epitome of a saint, even when I thought surely I was. Life’s lessons since then have taught me how fallible I am and how merciful He is. This Christian/earthly life is a journey… where we are able to learn from our faults and not be condemned by them.. where we realise we are totally human and in need of a perfect living God.

I also recall in particular, a lesson I heard, and it was about Peter and this very event.. We couldn’t be closer to the Lord’s will than when we adhere and ‘feed’ his sheep... Isn't God so good - and patient - and oh so unlike us who have fault especially when we think we have it all.. I stand in awe of Him.. daily!

Thank you for sharing that quote – it is so meaningful!

FCB said...

Hi Joseph,
Good to hear your thoughts and it is gratifying for me to see that things that speak to me do to you as well.
I'm always eager to hear how a certain quote or thought will strike others, and this one spoke to me in much the same way as you. Not a year ago I asked the Lord that the final years of my life would be the best years spiritually. Not just to make up for all the dead wood and past blunders, but that I would put to action the many wonderful and encouraging things I have heard from others and read. Jesus asks for fruit, much fruit; when I examine the branches I fear I see far more leaves than fruit, may it not be so along the rest of the way. You are an encouragement to me along that way Joseph, and God bless you,

Hi Eric,
I knew you would like it, it is the way you choose to live.
Love Dad

Hi Danielle and Hannah,
I'm afraid I was much the same as you describe when I was a younger Christian. In spite of myself, as God has moved in me as I age, I took notice that he spread His love in me far more widely than ever. This caused me to question positions I have taken in the past and made me think - if as sinful as I am, I find myself loving more freely, what must this pure heart of God be like who is far higher than my limited vision. I will never comprehend its depth but the surface holds majesty.
God bless,