A Heart Wholly Given To God
By Charles H. Spurgeon
True religion needs the soul to be always at a fervent heat. None climb the hill whereon the New Jerusalem is built except such as go on hands and knees and, laying aside every weight, give themselves wholly to the divine ascent. The pilgrim who hopes to reach the better land and makes a pleasure trip of it is under a mistake – it is hard traveling and requires ardor and perseverance. It is so in every good word and work. A lazy prayer requests a denial and shall have it. Half-hearted praise is an insult to God and everything in religion that is not done with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength – is a sin – however much it may look like a virtue! When we are most intense, we do not come up to the zeal which these important things deserve – how can we, then, imagine that we can please God with less than our best? Know you not that our Lord has said, “Because thou art lukewarm, ...I will spue thee out of My mouth”? (Rev. 3:16). No stronger expression of disgust can possibly be used, and this disgust is not for the bold and hardened rebel, but for the moderate disciple who served God without fail, but without zeal! God loves a whole heart, but half a heart is His abhorrence. Only those who run with all their might will win the race and, as the man of divided heart is lame in both his feet, he can have no hope of the prize. Lord, make my heart one that I may give it all to You, and spend and be spent in Your one service, since You, only, are the One in whom my soul delights!
If Christ is married to us, He will have us chaste unto Himself. What would we think of a man who is engaged to a woman and is found spending his love upon another as well? We say he is false and treacherous, and we utterly despise him. He ought to give his heart to her whom he has espoused and to love her with constancy, or he cannot be esteemed a pure-minded man. Even so, in our dealings with the Lord Jesus, we must be watchful lest a single desire or affection should prove false to Him. Such a glorious object of affection must fill the whole horizon of the soul, even as the sun fills all the heavens with Jesus. O brothers and sisters, shut the gates of your hearts lest any steal away by night from the Lord! The heart must be whole and wholly His. Ask for divine grace to say with the psalmist, “O God, my heart is fixed...” (Psa. 108:1). Then, indeed, will you sing and give praise.
Consistency of Walk
O you who are inconsistent in life, I must be bold to tell you that many of your friends are even more in doubt about you than you are about yourself! ’Tis a point we also long to know, for we cannot tell whether you love the Lord or no, whether you are His or not! Sometimes we see happy signs about you and our charity hopes all things. But when we see you falling, again, into evil ways, we are distressed and even our charity weeps over you! How can we be assured of your change of heart when we see so little change of life?
No person can come to any true personal assurance while his life is of double character. But if I know that I have one heart and that my heart belongs to my Lord – and that I have one way, a way of obedience to Him – then may I be assured that I am His! If I cannot make such progress as I would, yet if I follow my Lord and keep my face steadfastly set towards Jerusalem, then I know where I am, what I am, and where I am going! Holiness of life proves our faith and faith ensures our salvation – and salvation begets joy, peace, and confidence! “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).
Steadfastness of Principle
Our religion must have the Lord in the very heart of it! We must be in constant contact with God and possess in our souls the true fear of God, for as this is the beginning of wisdom, so is it the only security of perseverance!
When God has given us a true spiritual fear of Him, it will abide all tests. Outward religion depends upon the excitement which created it. But the fear of the Lord lives on when all around it is frostbitten. What happens to many converts? The revivalists have gone and they have gone, too. But if God has given us one heart to love and obey Him and His fear is in us, we do not depend upon the mental thermometer! Like salamanders, we can live in the fire – and like seals, we can live in Arctic ice. We are not dependent upon special services and warm-hearted exhortations, for we have a springing well within us! We live upon the Master and not upon the servants – the Spirit of God does not leave us because certain good men have gone elsewhere. No, God has given us to fear Him forever.
Persecution comes. Now we shall know who are God’s elect, and who are not! Persecution acts as a winnowing fan and those who are light as chaff are driven away by its blast. But those who are true corn remain and are purified. Careless of man’s esteem, the truly God-fearing man with one heart holds on his one way and fears the Lord forever!
Then, perhaps, comes a more serious test, the trial of prosperity. A man grows rich. He rises into another class of society. If he is not a real Christian, he will forsake the Lord. But if he is a true-born heir of the kingdom of God, he will fear the Lord forever and consecrate his substance to Him. A heart wholly given to God will stand the wear and tear of life in all conditions, whether in honor or in contempt.
Poverty is a severe test to many and I have known numbers of believers forsake the house of God because, as they say, their clothes were not fit to come in. That is a poor excuse! I fear their hearts were not fit to come in! The fear of God would make the godly man swallow his pride and follow Christ in rags – he will bear a famine of bread and a famine of water, but he cannot endure a famine of the Word of God! His soul must be fed, and so he must and will be found where the Lord’s Table is spread with the Bread of heaven. When God stripped Job of all his riches, it was then that his integrity was seen and proven.
With some of you old age is creeping on, but I rejoice to know that your grace is not decaying! You are becoming deaf; eyesight is failing you, and your limbs are trembling – but you can still hear the voice of the Lord, and behold the beauties of His Word, and run in the ways of His statutes! If God has given the young man one heart and one way, he will fear God forever and will not forsake the Lord when infirmities multiply upon him. He will bring forth fruit in old age, to show that the Lord is upright! If our soul is wholly Christ’s we can never go back to perdition – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...” (Rom. 8:35).
The Lord has cast such cords of love about us that He holds us fast! We can lose father and mother, yes, and our own lives also, but we cannot forsake the Lord whose blood has bought us from the lowest hell! We are bound for the kingdom – who shall keep us out of it? We have been shot like arrows from the bow of God and we must speed onward till we rest in the target of eternal bliss! Oh what a mercy it is to have within us a fear of God which is not to last for a period of years, but forever!
Tell me, who are the happiest Christians? They will be found to be wholehearted Christians! When heart and life are divided, happiness leaks through the crack. We must be steady in the pursuit of righteousness if we would abide in the enjoyment of peace. Brothers and sisters, if you want to know the sweetness of religion, you must know the depth of it! Those who are content with superficial godliness have no idea of the delights which dwell in the deep places of communion with God! Plunge into the river of life! Let body, soul and spirit be immersed into its floods, and you shall swim in unspeakable joy! Lose sight of the shores of worldliness, and you shall see God’s wonders in the deeps! In intense devotion to the Lord you will find the rare jewel – satisfaction. “...O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord...” (Deut. 33:23). Sweet content never dwells with halfheartedness.
Those who have the clearest sight of God are the pure in heart and the undivided in heart, and those who enjoy a heaven below are those whose hearts and lives are engrossed with heavenly things. The blessed life is that of fervent love and thorough consecration. Men who will not eat are starved and weak, and many a disease finds soil within them through the weakness of their constitution. But those who feed on Christ, the Bread of heaven, are nourished and strong – and are preserved from a thousand ills by that very fact. O God the Holy Spirit, I cannot talk to Christ’s servants as I wish to do, but You can move them, now, to aspire after a complete giving up of themselves to You, for this shall be for their good!
I am not afraid that anyone among you will ever censure me for having excited you into a too fervent zeal, or a too devoted life! Brothers and sisters, I am afraid for those of you who go ankle deep into religion and never venture further – I am afraid lest you should, by-and-by, return to the shore! But as for you who plunge in to the center of the stream and find waters to swim in, I have no fears! You shall be borne onward by a current ever increasing in strength till in the ocean of eternal love you lose yourselves in heaven above! I can wish you no greater blessing than that the Holy Spirit may make you wholehearted, consistent, persistent, ardent, established and persevering in the things of God!