Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grace Is Little At First

There are several ages in Christians, some babes, some young men. Faith may be like “a grain of mustard seed” (Matt. 17:20). There is nothing so little as grace at first, and nothing more glorious afterward. Things of greatest perfection are longest in coming to their growth. Man, the most perfect creature, comes to perfection little by little; worthless things, like mushrooms and such, like Jonah’s gourd, soon spring up, and soon vanish. A new creature is the most excellent creature in all the world; therefore it grows up by degrees. We see in nature that a mighty oak rises from an acorn. It is the same with a Christian as it was with Christ, who sprang out of the dead stock of Jesse, out of David’s family (Isa.53:2), when it was at the lowest; but he grew up higher than the heavens. It is not with the trees of righteousness as it was with the trees of paradise, which were created all perfect at the first moment. The seeds of all the creatures in the present goodly frame of the world were hidden in the chaos, in that confused mass at the beginning, out of which God commanded all creatures to arise. In the small seeds of plants lie hidden both bulk and branches, both bud and fruit. In a few, principles lie hidden, all comfortable conclusions of holy truth. All these glorious fire works of zeal and holiness in the saints had their beginning from a few sparks. Let us not therefore be discouraged at the small beginnings of grace, but look at ourselves as elected to be “holy and without blame” (Eph. 1:4). Let us look at our imperfect beginning only to encourage further  striving toward perfection, and to keep us in a low opinion of ourselves. Otherwise, in case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those he intends to make fit for himself. Christ values us by what we shall be, and by what we are elected to. We call a little plant a tree, because it is growing up to be so. “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zech. 4:10). Christ would not have us despise little things. 

The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbs. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kindness by Douglas Winston Phillips

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I am stuck on a conundrum, and it’s making me reflect,
About a troubling weakness, and a character defect.
It’s one that often plagues me, and it plagues some friends of mine,
I’m speaking of the painful message sent when we’re not kind.

The greatest act of kindness in all of history
Was modeled by the Savior while hanging from a tree:
“Forgive them Father,” was His cry, “they know not what they do.”
In those few words He demonstrated kindness pure and true.

He could have said, “Forgive them,” and then let the matter stand.
He could have just ignored them, as He hung there by His hands.
But instead He showed them kindness, by taking up the case
Of wretched hypocrites and fools who merited disgrace.

It’s easy to show kindness when there’s nothing on the line.
It’s easy to be generous to those who treat you kind.
It’s easy to be kindly to the beautiful and handsome;
It’s easy to think kind thoughts when invited to a mansion.

But when you can show kindness to those who want your hide,
Or those have betrayed you to save themselves, then lied,
Or if your act of kindness gets you nothing but a loss,
Then you’ve an inclination of Christ’s wording on the Cross.

Kindness is how and why you love your drooling little brother.
Kindness is the way you sit beside your aged mother.
Kindness is showing mercy on a loved one in despair.
Kindness is forgetting your own hurts, to show them that you care.

There are some folks who act kindly, when they have something to gain.
There are others who feign kindness, when hiding their own blame.
There are some who are selective in the kindness that they show.
And others who are only kind to certain folks that they know.

There’s something very ugly when a good man acts unkind;
But before you judge him harshly, keep this one thing in mind:
You too have been quite unloving, unthoughtful, maybe cruel,
And if you hope for mercy, don’t forget the golden rule.

Yes, there’s been enough unkindness on everybody’s part,
That now would be the perfect time to call for a fresh start.
It’s time to think right kindly of the loved ones you call friend,
The way you hope they think of you when you’re feeling at the end.

’Cause the precious few who treasure kindness deep within their heart.
And even when they are hurt by others, always play the part
Of being so truly, deeply wholly, passionately kind,
Are the folks that touch your heartstrings and are always in your mind.

You will meet with many prophets, and with mercies not a few,
You will walk with those hospitable, and charitable too.
You will learn from the diligent, and from some humility,
But to meet a truly kind man, is to glimpse eternity.

— • —

By Douglas Winston Phillips