Monday, July 12, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 8)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Now let's look at more of "If."

"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

Ever been there? Have you been so burned that your heart is broken, your nerves are shot, and your body aches? You have nothing left to give. You are spent. Yet for some reason--family, friends, honor, necessity--you feel compelled to press on.
And so you do! By force of Will, you command your heart, your nerves and body to hold on.

The apostle Paul must have felt that way when he "boasted of his sufferings."

"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches . . . ."

How could Paul continue under those conditions? He understood a key Biblical principle that helped him (and will help you and me) when he had no power left in himself. Paul was willing, most gladly, to suffer for the cause of Christ--even boasting in his weaknesses, "so that Christ's power may rest on me."  

When Paul asked for relief to take away his "thorn in the flesh," the Lord told him:
"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."

We have the same indwelling Spirit the apostle Paul had. And that Holy Spirit will give you and me the power to press on  when we are at our weakest. So, hold on! Surely, your reward will be greater than the earth and everything that's in it. Surely, your reward will be a "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

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