The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity

How is it that ye do not understand?

— St. Mark. 8:21

There will be this difference between the rich that loves his riches and the poor that hates his poverty—that, when they die, the heart of the one will be still crowded with things and their pleasures, while the heart of the other will be relieved of their lack; the one has had his good things, the other his evil things. But the rich man who held his things lightly, and did not let them nestle in his heart; who was a flowing stream and not a stagnant pool; who was ever and always forsaking his money—starts, in the new world, side by side with the man who accepted, not hated, his poverty. Each will say, “I am free!”

For the only air of the soul, in which it can breathe and live, is the present God and the spirits of the just; that is our heaven, our home, our all-right place. Cleansed of greed, jealousy, vanity, pride, possession, all the thousand forms of the evil self, we shall be God’s children, not one desiring to be before another, any more than to cast that other out; for ambition and hatred will then be seen to be one and the same spirit. “What thou hast, I have; what thou desirest, I will; I give to myself ten times in giving once to thee. My lack, that thou mightest have, would be rich possession.”

Commentary

by Jess Lederman

This sermon puts me in mind of another Scotsman, who much admired MacDonald, and whose words are equally convicting:

"The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else--work, clothes, food, everything on earth--go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life absolutely spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God."

"A warning which needs to be reiterated is that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things entering in, will choke all that God puts in. We are never free from the recurring tides of this encroachment. If it does not come on the line of clothes and food, it will come on the line of money or lack of money; of friends or lack of friends; or on the line of difficult circumstances. It is one steady encroachment all the time, and unless we allow the Spirit of God to raise up the standard against it, these things will come in like a flood."

--Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, from the entries for January 23rd and 27th. 

Okay, we're convicted: we do not hold things lightly enough, we are not yet cleansed of "all the thousand forms of the evil self;" how then to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Well, not least through humbling ourselves before God in prayer. MacDonald's sermon emphasizes the importance of trusting utterly in God, and this selection from the Book of Common Prayer is much to the point:

For Trustfulness
O most loving Father, who willest us to give thanks for all thing, to dread nothing but the loss of Thee, and to cast all our care on Thee, who carest for us; Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life my hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which Thou hast manifested unto us in Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.