Effective Service

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Christians are always, more or less, affected by the prevailing spirit of the world which surrounds them. In the early days of Christianity, this was illustrated by the Corinthians, who, dwelling in a city noted for its luxury and license, soon had these evils springing up in their midst. One of the most striking features of our day is its general shallowness and lack of that serious purpose which deep conviction gives, and nowhere is this more painfully pronounced than in the church of God.
We do not usually fail in our pathway of testimony upon earth because of lack of knowledge, but rather because we are not utterly possessed by it, and hence feel so little. We resemble some broad but shallow lake, rather than a well of small circumference, but deep. It is the man of depth and feeling who is most effective in the service of the Lord.
The Example of Ezra
As an illustration of a man who powerfully affected his fellows, take Ezra. Failure and trespass began to appear in the shattered remnant of Israel that returned from Babylon, and the old sin of mixing with the people of the land threatened again to ruin them. It was an emergency indeed. Ezra called together no committee; he laid no elaborate plans for reforming this abuse; he simply felt things before God and as they affected God. He so felt things that he rent his clothes, plucked off his hair, and sat down astonished, until, realizing the full extent of things, he fell on his knees and commenced a memorable prayer of confession by saying, "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God" (Ezra 9:3-63And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. 4Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. 5And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, 6And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. (Ezra 9:3‑6)).
Then, as Ezra was himself moved, others were moved with him (Ezra 9: 4). Indeed, as the work of God in repentance and confession deepened in him, so the power of God radiated forth through him, until "there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore" (Ezra 10:11Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. (Ezra 10:1)). The result was a national cleansing from their false associations, and the plague was stayed. What a contrast between the noisy and ineffective machinery of man's making, and the quiet ease and grace of a heaven-sent movement. But that movement works through a man who feels things with God.
Jonah’s Witness
Why such extraordinary power with the message? Was it not because the man who cried, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown," had become an example of that mission, fresh from an overthrow himself? Jonah learned experimentally what it meant to be overthrown by God. When, in the belly of the fish, all God's billows and waves passed over him, the agony of it must have burned into his soul in a way never to be effaced. When, therefore, this man preaches an overthrow, there is a power, a pungency, a heaven-born velocity about his words that would have been otherwise unknown.
It is better for us to master well one lesson in the school of God than to acquaint ourselves with much in a superficial way.
F. B. Hole (adapted)