George Mueller was known for his faith. He was used by God to house over 10,000 orphans over his life span. Although he was able to care for thousands of precious orphans, helping them was not his primary goal. His purpose in ministering to those children was to magnify the glory of Jesus Christ. He did this primarily by depending upon Christ to supply their needs through prayer alone. He determined that he would ask for money from no man. Instead he would place his trust in the goodness and the greatness of God. God would magnify his power and grace and Muller would have the great joy of being the vessel of His glory.
Once he was asked the secret of his service for God and he gave this startling answer:
There was a day when I died, utterly died- died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will- died to the world, its approval or censure- died to the approval or blame of my brethren and friends- and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.
The apostle Paul used similar language when he wrote to church at Phillipi from his prison cell in Rome: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Phil 1:20-22] Paul appears to have come to the same life changing crisis that Muller did. Both men made radical, life changing decisions for the same reason: they had come face to face with the glory of Jesus Christ.
When we see the beauty and kindness of Jesus all other values pale in comparison. Our ideas and opinions and the promotion of our own will fall to the back ground when we come to enjoy the glory of Christ. The only thing that really matters is the exaltation of the name of Jesus, whether it is by our living or by our dying. This passion surges through our hearts and controls every waking hour. Like Paul and Muller we come to “eagerly expect and hope” that nothing will hinder our desire to see Christ magnified in this world. Every great person of God thought like this. They believed that the greatest good of all is Jesus Christ, and that for him to be magnified through their mortal flesh was all that really mattered.
When we magnify him we don’t make him any bigger. When you magnify something you are simply making it larger to the eye. Christ cannot be made bigger or more glorious than he is already. But like the Hubble telescope we can be instruments that help to display the wonders of God to those who have limited vision. Great men of God want one thing: to glorify God in all that they do so that more and more people come to know and enjoy the beauty that is in Christ. As he is greatly glorified his servants are greatly satisfied.
Of course, we are tempted to revert back to the promotion of our own glory. The power of this world is strong. Paul knew that and that is why he feared only one thing- that he would bring shame to the name of Christ failing to give him the glory he deserves. Thomas Cramer lived to see the day he did bring shame to the name of Christ. If you will remember, Cramer was the Archbishop in England when Queen [“Bloody Mary”] Mary came to her reign. Because of the reforms he had made he was a candidate for martyrdom. He was arrested and a demand was made that he would recant. At first he held his ground. When thrown into a dark damp prison his fingers were rubbed raw as his inquisitors sought to get him to repent of his rebellion against Rome.
Faced with the possibilities of death he did recant. With his right hand he signed a confession where he renounced his “heresies and errors not in agreement with the Church of Rome.” He ended his confession by stating: “I am sorry that I ever thought otherwise and led others away from the Church of Rome.”
Unfortunately, “Bloody Mary” was not satisfied with his confession and ordered the Archbishop’s execution. When the day arrived for his death, St. Mary’s Church was overflowing with spectators who came to hear the Archbishop give his endorsement of the Catholic Church before he died. After kneeling and praying he stood to address the assembled throng. Instead of a recantation Cramer spoke these words:
And now I came to the great thing which troubles my conscience more than anything I ever did in my whole life. I now renounce the things written with my hand against the truth in my heart. I feared death, I wrote the recantation to save my life, and because my hand has offended, writing against my heart, therefore my hand shall be punished first, for when I come to fire, it shall be burned first. And as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy with all his false doctrines.
As he was brought to the fire amidst the jeers of the people he stretched out his right hand and said, “This unworthy right hand, this hand offended!” he thrust his hand into the fire and a few seconds later was consumed by the fire.
Seeing the awesome glory of Christ does not remove the temptations of this life. It will take courage to resist the pleasures that last for a season. It will take courage to stand for Christ when all others compromise and settle for the comfortable. It will take courage to say “No” when all of your closest friends are saying “Yes” to the lure of worldly pleasures. It will take courage when our body is wracked by pain and we face that last great enemy death. But our one great fear will drive away all lesser threats. We will not allow the name of Jesus to be brought shame in our body whether is by living or dying. We may have our lapses but thank God for his forgiveness and grace. May our prayer be, “Lord, let me finish well.” Or, in the words of Robertson McQuilken who penned these words in a poem, let us say: “Lord, let me get home before dark.”
Our deep and satisfying communion with Jesus is the fuel that sets the direction of our goal. Whether in life or death, nothing else matters than to be able to glorify God and enjoy him. That is why Paul would hesitate between wanting to stay here or go home to heaven. For him “to live was Christ and to die was gain.” Every waking moment was centered on glorifying Jesus with his body. But, if in God’s sovereignty it was time for him to go home, so much the better. He would get to “depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” [Philippians 1:23]
The end result of a Christ-glorifying life is joy and hope. There is no despair. No regret. No boredom. There is always more to discover and celebrate. Even when faced with the final moment of life, hope and joy continue. So it is that the great evangelist of Wales could write in the final moments of his life:
All that others have in this world, and in religion, and in themselves-pleasures, and riches, safety, honor, life, righteousness, holiness, wisdom, bliss, joy, gaiety, and happiness….And if a child longs for his father, a traveler for the end of his journey, a workman to finish his work, a prisoner for his liberty, an heir for full possession of his estate; so in all these respects I cannot help longing to go home.
When some one sees and comes to love the glory that is in Christ nothing else matters. Only Christ magnified in our bodies, whether by life of death is important. His value gives a life dominating passion to our goal. And we sing with Isaac Watts: “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small, Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.” May we all come to see and love the glory of Christ so that we too will have a passion to see Christ magnified in life and in death.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1348 | Nixa, MO 65714 USA | 417.619.9536
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