Fuel For The Flame
By Paul E. Billheimer
Paul Billheimer was a contemporary and a valued friend of Brother and Sister Moore, although they never met in person. This article written from the devotion of Brother Billheimer’s heart struck a corresponding chord in the hearts of Brother and Sister Moore. Their lives were ablaze with love and zeal for God, too. Their very all, down to spare moments of time, to the last ounce of energy, to the lone penny in their pocket—was poured out gladly, zealously for God and the work He had given them to do.
“We must bleed to bless,” Sister Moore exhorted the workers. “God is proving the depth of our love and sacrifice to our Lover Lord by challenging us to do the things others do not love Him enough to do for His Name’s sake...Give your all to Christ. Use every talent you have to bring blessing to the Lord’s people and revival to the churches. Pray for courage and to be utterly His and to be anointed for His service...It is wonderfully blessed to lay down our lives for the Gospel...."
The Moores were consumed as fuel for the flame of God and counted it a privilege to be so, painful though it was at times. Countless are the lives that were deeply touched and that touched others as a result.
“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany...There they made Him a supper; and Martha served...Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith...Judas...why was not this ointment sold...and given to the poor?” (John 12:1-8).
The heart of Mary of Bethany was too full for expression. To relieve the pent up emotion of her soul she seized upon her dearest treasure, an alabaster flask of perfume, and in sacrifice and self-surrender poured it lavishly upon her Lord and Master.
But there were colder and more calculating hearts at the Bethany supper. “To what purpose is this waste? Why was not this ointment sold and given to the poor?” This was the question of Judas.
Judas is gone but his brothers and sisters are not all dead yet. In order to see one of them, all that most of us have to do is to look into the mirror. The same kind of cold calculation where Christ or His kingdom is concerned characterizes too many of our lives.
When this remark was made, “To what purpose is this waste?” Judas was only voicing the sentiment of the average Christian today who feels that he has some rights himself and who rejects the religion of broken alabaster boxes. The broken alabaster box represents the pouring out of the last drop for Christ, of reserving nothing for self, even the legitimate.
The average standard of Christian life today is merely a life lived above known sin or above carnal breakdowns. You may be shocked when I say that a man may give up sin and the ways of the world without really living for Christ except in a very superficial manner. And this is as far as many of us ever get in this matter of positive consecration. Look at others who have caught the vision and are breaking their alabaster boxes, pouring out the last drop of their treasure, lavishing the whole of their love upon Him, and we say, “To what purpose is this waste? Save something for yourself.”
Who dares to say that the average Christian lives the life of the broken alabaster box! I doubt if you could have a bank account if you were living that life. At least you would have nothing above the safe margin of a working capital.
If we believers were willing to break our alabaster boxes this world would be evangelized in this generation. If all believers were willing to break their alabaster boxes—considerations of personal gain and comfort, safety and human affections would not prevent them from offering themselves, person and possessions for the hardest places on earth. If all believers were willing to break their alabaster boxes there would be no lack of gold to send the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Nothing less than the utter breaking of our alabaster box will satisfy the heart of Christ. We may go far enough to ease our own conscience without satisfying the heart of our Lord and Master. The souls who thrill the heart of Jesus are the “last drop Christians”—those who cannot adequately express their love except by pouring out their all.
The stark reason any of us ever feel reluctant to break our alabaster box is because our love is cold. We think lavishing on Christ is waste. If we have the love in our hearts that Mary had for her Lord and Master, we would do exactly as she did. And we would say, “I am no longer my own, but Thine. Put me to what Thou wilt, rank me with whom Thou wilt, put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for Thee, let me be brought low, let me be emptied, let me be nothing. I freely yield all life, all things to Thy pleasure and Thy disposal.”
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
Full of Self
If we had this love which broke the alabaster box we would not be asking how much we are going to receive but how much we can give. We would not concern ourselves about our own ease, personal gain or consolation, but we would pray, “Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God!”
The question is not altogether how much we give but how much we reserve, not how much we pour out but how much is left. Holiness is the breaking of the alabaster box. All over this country we have led people to believe that they have reached the peak of Christian perfection if they can say our denominational Shibboleth and demonstrate religious emotion. And hundreds of those people are as full of self and selfishness as they are of religious pride and bigotry. When we participate in spiritual exercises, when we go to church, we are thinking of a thrill, a comfort or a consolation. We want to hear a message that will flatter us and make us more satisfied with ourselves or our denomination.
Sacred Bread for God’s Feasts
We are thinking of ease and comfort and peace. God is thinking of war. This is the way one writer expresses it: “For even as Love crowns you, so shall He crucify you. Even as He is for your growth, so is He for your pruning. Like sheaves of corn He gathers you to Himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness; He kneads you until you are pliant; and then He assigns you to His sacred fire that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.”
When we think of the small ends for which the world sacrifices so much, can we do otherwise than blush at the small sacrifices we are willing to make for Christ? The world has made us ashamed by the way it breaks its alabaster boxes for lesser ends. Think of the millions who died for Hitler, for Hirohito and Stalin during World War II.
Where are the young men who profess to follow Christ who are willing to match the consecration of men of the world for lower ends? Listen to Marshall Foch: “Battles are won by teaching soldiers how to die, not how to avoid dying.” It is an illustration of the thought: “And all through life I see a cross, where sons of God yield up their breath: There is no gain except by loss. There is no life except by death.”
Listen to Napoleon as he addresses his men: “You have gained battles without cannon, performed forced marches without shoes, bivouacked without strong liquors and often without bread. Thanks for your perseverance. But soldiers, you have done nothing—for there remains much to do.” Why were these men willing to make such sacrifices? Because they believed in that cause, and thousands broke their alabaster boxes for Napoleon. But a greater than Napoleon is here!
Hear the patriot Garibaldi: “I am going out from Rome. I offer neither pay nor quarters nor provisions; I offer hunger and thirst, forced marches, battles, death. Let him who loves his country in his heart and not with his lips only, follow me.” And thousands broke their alabaster boxes for Garibaldi. But a greater than Garibaldi is here!
Think of the millions who have broken their alabaster boxes for a lost cause. They died for Napoleon, for Garibaldi, for Hitler or Stalin. Think of the thousands who died in World War I to make the world safe for democracy. Think of the millions of American casualties in World War II. Suppose only a fraction of these alabaster boxes of treasure and life had been broken on Christ. Do you not think the world’s history would have been different?
The cause of Christ is the only cause that can never fail. To die in that cause is gain because it is the only cause that is eternal. “He must reign until He hath put all enemies beneath His feet.” Where is Napoleon? Where is Garibaldi? Where is Hitler? All of them are in the grave. Where is Jesus Christ? Seated at the right hand of the Father— King of kings and Lord of lords!
Who then has any higher claim upon our affections and treasure than Christ?
Peak of Privilege
When you stand at the closing of day, with earth receding and eternity looming in view, you will discover what another discovered: “What I gave I have, what I kept, I lost.”
If all this is true, what a privilege it is to invest all that we have in Christ. To die for Christ, if He so requires is the very peak of privilege. It is the men and women who have broken their alabaster boxes, it is the martyrs who, after Christ, have saved the church and world from destruction.
Christ Or Antichrist?
Let me ask you, is Christ worth dying for? And let me say, if you refuse to break your alabaster box for Christ, you will probably end up by breaking it for antichrist. If you refuse to be a martyr for Christ, you stand in grave danger of being a martyr for Satan. Remember that this was the turning point in Judas’ life. From this scene, where he rejected the challenge to break his own alabaster box, he went out to covenant with the high priests to sell Christ. From that point his descent was precipitous and steep.
Fuel Flame of Jehovah
The glory of Christ is His perfect unselfishness, and for us to have no private ends to serve, to seek for nothing for self, to do all for the sake of the Redeemer—this is true spirituality.
O for a person or a group of people who have no axe to grind, who are utterly delivered from personal or selfish ends! If I can only live so that when I die, God will know I reached the point of perfect selflessness, and self in others is smitten to death by my example, I shall feel it the greatest goal of all living. If I can live so as to inspire others to greater unselfishness in the service of the Master, I shall cherish that power more than all else.