This article comes courtesy of Newton Mortha, a fellow gospel worker online.
1 Timothy 4:5-10 5:
For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
Of George Herbert, his favorite poet, the Puritan Richard Baxter said: “heart work and heaven work make up his books.” By “heart-work” Baxter meant cultivating the spirit of grateful, humble, adoring love to one’s divine Lover and Savior, as Herbert does in this poem (nowadays a familiar hymn):
King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee; And that love may never cease I will move [ask] thee. Thou hast granted my request, Thou hast heard me; Thou didst note my working breast, Thou hast spared me. Wherefore with my utmost art I will sing thee, And the cream of all my heart I will bring thee. . . .
Holiness is a paramount need in evangelical life today—by humanity. The deepest word that can be spoken about sanctification is that it is a progress towards true humanity. Salvation is, essentially considered, the restoration of humanity to men. This is why the slightly inhuman, not to say unnatural, streak in some forms and expressions of sanctification is so far removed from the true work of grace in the soul. The greatest saints of God have been characterised, not by haloes and an atmosphere of distant unapproachability, but by their humanity. They have been intensely human and lovable people with a twinkle in their eyes. The assertion I make, and must now myself face, is that Brain, Warren and Philip are right. Genuine holiness is genuine Christlikeness, and genuine Christ- likeness is genuine humanness—the only genuine humanness there is. Love in the service of God and others, humility and meekness under the divine hand, integrity of behavior expressing integration of character, wisdom with faithfulness, boldness with prayerfulness, sorrow at people’s sins, joy at the Father’s goodness, and single-mindedness in seeking to please the Father morning, noon, and night, were all qualities seen in Christ, the perfect man. Christians are meant to become human as Jesus was human. We are called to imitate these character qualities, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that the child- ish instability, inconsiderate self-seeking, pious playacting, and undiscerning pig- headedness that so frequently mar our professedly Christian lives are left behind. “Holiness, rightly understood, is a beautiful thing, and its beauty is the beauty and tenderness of divine love”—which is precisely the beauty of truly mature humanity. I need to remember all this, and take it to heart, and set my sights accordingly.