The following piece was written by C.H. Mackintosh. We pray it will be a blessing to you. ________________________________________________________________
The following little paper was never intended for publication. It was written expressly and exclusively, for two very dear and valued friends. A brother whom I greatly love and esteem, happening to see it, urged me to give it to him, with a view to publication. I demurred; but my friend so earnestly pressed me to allow him to print it, that I gave way.
May the Lord graciously deign to use it! C.H.M. Dublin February, 14th, 1889
You enter your room, and find the fire all but out, there seems scarcely a trace of vitality. The fire-irons are there, all polished and laid in order; but what could they do? Nothing! A thousand sets of the most splendid fire-irons could not produce a single spark. There must be a living hand to move them, or they will lie there motionless and powerless.
What is to be done? You seize the poker, rake out the ashes, and introduce a current of air; then you stir up the almost dead lumps of coal; and, in a few moments, you have a brilliant and beautiful fire. Who thinks of praising the poker? Who would say, "Dear, what a marvellous poker!" It is not the lifeless poker, but the living hand that does the work. True, the hand uses the poker; but the poker is useless without the hand.
Now, there is a fine moral lesson here for all who are, in any little way, used in the Lord's blessed work. We have ever to bear in mind that the works that are done upon the earth, God is the doer of them. If He deigns to use us, let us never forget that we are but mere instruments, just as helpless and powerless as the poker. No doubt, we have enjoyment in the work; but we are not now dealing with the question of enjoyment, but ability. If any real work is done, God is the doer of it. To Him be all the glory.
"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." (1 Cor 3: 5-7.)
It is a very serious thing to attach undue importance or give an undue place to men, how much soever they may be used in the Lord's work. We have seen the work marred and workmen morally ruined by this very thing. It is a fatal mistake. Men are taken out of the place in which God has put them they are lauded, lionised, and gazed at as a sort of phenomenon; their lives are written and published before their death. In this way, they are lifted into an entirely false position, like a person walking on stilts, and then some terrible fall comes, to bring them to their senses, and recall them to their true place.
The Lord's servants should carefully guard against this terrible evil. See how the blessed Master ever retired from human applause and human excitement. When men wondered at His teaching, He said, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." When they would come and take Him by force and make Him a king, He retired into a mountain to pray. When they wanted Him to show Himself to the world, He said, "My time is not yet come." We ever find Him hiding Himself, blessed for ever be His precious, peerless Name. Oh, to drink more into His spirit, and walk in His footsteps! To be well content to be a nothing and a nobody, so that Christ may be magnified! May God grant us this immense favour.
Oh, how this message is needed to be preached in Christian circles today. The idolatry of certain CCM and rock artists by the youth is unbelievable. They think and dream about their favorite "stars". They worship mere man. They listen intently to the music but yet have no time for prayer.
The world has many idols and they always will. The Christian should not yield himself to idolatry. The Christian should be looking unto Jesus-- the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
Even worship leaders can be idols to the congregation facing them every Sunday morning. Biblical O.T. worship was that of prostration...not looking upon man but humbling themselves before God. As Christians, we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth but yet many Christians stare at the worship leader. The Early Church usually met in private homes for worship and instruction so there was no need for the uplifted podium.
The idolatry of many popular preachers is equally out of control. They have become "puffed up" in their pride and money. They have forgotten why they became a preacher to begin with. The screaming "fans" and praise of men will do that to a person caught up in the "hype".
Yet the Christian is to be humble. Leaning upon Jesus, seeking no glory of his own. Every talent we have is given to us by God-- every ability...whether it is preaching, teaching, or playing a musical instrument-- all is to glorify Him! Amphitheatres and big arenas were not designed to keep a Christian man humble. They were built to congregate around the worldly man in awe of their skill or great words.
Let us understand that we are but mere instruments that God can use, as we yield to Him in all areas of our life. Putting on a "great show" is not what it is about. Glorifying Jesus is the Christian life-- Understanding that true ministry must be a humbling experience...seeking to bring the Lord honor; understanding that without Him, we can do nothing.
Christ Jesus told us plainly in John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.