A Great Soul

By E. E. Shelhamer

    Everyone admires a great soul. It is pleasant to fellowship with such a one. It is possible to be great in some respects and in others to be little and mean. The following are some signs of magnanimity or the lack of it.

    • The ability to apologize. Few can do this in a gracious manner. If you have spoken or acted unadvisedly, it will help rather than hinder to humbly acknowledge it.

    • To forgive and forget. It requires only an ounce of grace and a thimbleful of brains to hold a grudge. But to entirely forgive and forget an injury (were it really such), is beautiful.

    • To avoid arguments. A bigot can quickly pitch into an unprofitable debate. But it takes a great soul to look ahead and studiously avoid anything that might break fellowship. This is greater than to win an argument. “He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32).

    • To avoid mixing up in a quarrel. Children may fuss over a little toy or a few green plums, but parents ought to be too big to pull off in spirit from good neighbors over such trifles.

    • To choose not to go to law. The devil and unprincipled lawyers will magnify a supposed injury. But a wise and peaceful person will “rather suffer wrong” (1 Cor. 6:7) than spend time and money defending personal rights.

    • To not be stingy. How sad that anyone should imagine he is ahead when he gives just enough to ease his conscience and yet less than his full share to a worthy cause. In the end he and his children are the losers. “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Prov. 11:25).

    • Taking snubs and reproofs well. It is a false idea that those possessing true greatness must be curt and resentful toward those who dare to cross them, especially one’s inferiors. How lovely to behold one who can be gracious and gentle when information or reproof is given that was not needed.

    • Not boastful. How blessed to meet a big soul whose silence speaks louder than words. We go away enlarged and enriched. But how different from the man who monopolizes all the time in calling attention to self – where he has been and what he did. “Let another man praise thee… and not thine own lips” (Prov. 27:2).

    • Mastery over the flesh. It is a sign of being heavenly minded when earthly and fleshly joys are gladly set aside for things eternal. The behavior of a mature saint is always in view of What would Jesus do?  This will make carnal pleasures look cheap.

    • Stooping to help others. Years ago General Booth was walking down a side street in London, when he was seen to stop and help a poor man load some bags of coal. An onlooker was impressed and inquired who this “silk-hat” man was. Later he gave a large donation to the General, saying: “Such work is worth supporting.”