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him, where there was no recognition of him as a man in the flesh. Hence we find almost every servant of God makes mistakes when he is off his guard; as Moses, speaking unadvisedly with his lips, or Paul, denouncing the high priest. Self is ready to be uppermost, and when it is, it is in collision with the Spirit of God.
Constantly we find in scripture, when two or more of the people of God are engaged in any service, that the man of faith, the man resting on God, is hindered in his service, and strife ensues, because his companion, or companions, seek to serve according to their own thoughts. Thus the greatest strife may ensue between the closest friends. Abraham suffered most from Lot. Lot followed his natural tastes, and, doubtless,' at the time, encouraged himself with the feeling that he was more prosperous than Abraham. See the unhappy collision of Aaron and Miriam with Moses ; the two former seemed, to all natural sense, contending for what was right and proper; but, alas !
envy was at the bottom of it, and it was really with the intent of exalting themselves that they cast this reproach on their own brother, and God's most honoured servant. David was sore distressed by the sons of Zeruiah. In like manner there is strife between Paul and Barnabas, two men who had long worked together in the Lord's service, in the most blessed way. And why?
Because Barnabas considered for his kinsman, and Paul for the Lord only. Barnabas evidently did not think that the Jewish tendencies of Mark were of so grave a nature that he was thereby disqualified from being a companion with him in the Lord's service; while Paul, who considered simply for the Lord and the good of His people, distinctly refused to accept his company or co-operation; and it seems, from the reference made to him in Colossians iv., that there had been orders about him, which were not to be enforced at the time the apostle wrote.
Surely, the more we investigate, the better we shall see that the cause of strife generally between any two Christians is, that one has allowed human consideration of some kind to sway him, while the other, with a more single eye, considers for the Lord only. I do not deny that a great deal of mixed motives intrudes, and the best of purposes may be grievously damaged by the allowance of human interference. Thus the bringing up of the ark, in David's time, was interrupted, and almost defeated, by the well-intentioned interference of Uzzah.
There would be no cause of strife, if we all were so simply devoted to the Lord, that our bodies were a living sacrifice, not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of our minds, that we may be able to prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God. The more positively abstracted we are from all here, and all that influences us here, and in association with the Lord, the
are qualified, like Moses coming from the mount, to judge of what is going on here, and to judge of
it as God judges of it; and as then Moses was at issue with Aaron, so it is
The more any one is imbued with God's things at the moment, the more is he at issue with his closest companion in the Lord, who is literally in the midst of the things here, and thus more or less affected by them.
In any controversy, we can almost judge of the power which influences us, by the first sayings. The tongue betrays the heart. The utterance discloses the real state of it. When it is man that is most before the mind, the tongue expresses it; when it is the Lord, the language is unmistakable. There is, in the opening of the mouth, an indication of what is to follow. As it is said of the wise woman, openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
But this is not all. There is a great practical distinction between divine wisdom and the wisdom of this world. Divine wisdom always ministers to the soul first, and then insists on separation; as it is written, "Forsake the
foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding;" while the wisdom of man panders to man's tastes, and leads captive by giving expectations, where there is nothing real and true.
May we walk so continually in the Spirit, that we may be ready for every emergency, remembering this, that if we are not habitually walking in the Spirit, when a special need for help comes, He will, as it were, stand aside, to make us feel how feeble we without Him, and how we become the occasion of strife, instead of union. The Lord help us to be faithful in that which is least, that we may be faithful also in much.
WHAT IS WISDOM ? We read that "wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding." There is no wisdom apart from Christ, He is the wisdom of God. When He is the controlling object, every effect is wise. “If therefore thine eye be single thy whole