CHRISTÂ’S TENDERNESS TO THE WEAK (1)
When a gardener looks over his plants, there are some that need particular care and attention because of their delicate nature. They need shielding from frost, and from everything that can hinder them OR injure them. So also the Good Shepherd watches over the weak lambs of His flock, and tends and helps them. The Saviour is represented as gathering them with His arm and placing them in His bosom. In such a position, whatever destroyed the lamb, were that possible, would destroy Jesus also, and that is impossible.
We have to ask ourselves: when I want rest for my soul, on what do I rest? Is it on friends? Is it on the world? Is it on religious ceremonies? These things will more often bring a pang than give rest. The pillow will often have to be changed, and yet no such change will provide rest. There is no place like the bosom of the
Lord Jesus. There the weary will find rest. There they will be taken out of self, so far as their resting-place is concerned, and, safe in the arms of Jesus, sanctification will be carried on in the best way by the Holy Spirit, not so much by the feeble one examining himself, as by constantly leading him to look to Jesus, on whose bosom he rests. ‘For every look you take at yourself, says Robert Murray M’Cheyne, ‘take ten looks at Jesus Christ’. There you will see His beauty, and thence you will hear His voice.
The Christian believer ought to aim at strong faith, ‘giving glory to God’. Abraham’s strong faith enabled him to obey God, as to the offering up of Isaac; and although he was kept from slaying him, he must have endured all the anguish of such a tragedy. It is sad that a vital spirituality should be at such a low ebb amongst Christians. They will talk about societies, and about religious work in general, but not about Christ and His tenderness and sympathy, and all the different phases of His glorious character. The spirit of Christians today, generally seems so dry. Their conversation ought to bear fruit to God’s honour. He listens for it. ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.’ This is one kind of fruit to God, or it would not be noted down before Him. Â•Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.’ The fruit of Faith must be there, though there must be no resting on it. The Christian must live and rest on Christ alone. He will be the finisher of faith, as He was the author of it. The weakest faith needs most of His assistance and care, and is tenderly fed with food suitable for it.
Many of Christ’s flock are but lambs, unlike Abraham, of whom it was said that he was ‘strong in faith, giving glory of God.’ Why are so many weak in faith? The increase of faith must come from Him who gave it in the first place. But instead of applying to Him, the weak believer is too much occupied with self. Feelings are pondered with great complacency, and rested in more than Christ. Judgement is passed on others as a self-satisfying duty, and so pride is fed instead of spiritual life. Religious excitement also is apt to disturb the steadfast look to Christ alone. Then perhaps the rod has to be used to quicken the pace in the right direction. When the soul begins to turn afresh to Christ alone for pardon and cleansing, the wanderer is glad to remember that ‘if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ That advocacy at God’s right hand will continue to the end, and Christ’s care extends to the weakest as well as to the strongest of His flock, for they are all one in Him. God’s providential care, we are taught, extends to the sparrow and to the worm; how much more to those whom He claims as His own!
The words ‘Fear not, thou worm Jacob’ are full of comfort to the humble believer, as he accepts the title, and pleads as a poor worm-child; but still a child. What title, however humble, would not a tempest-tossed believer gladly welcome if it only implied His Saviour’s claim to Him! The weak and humble ones have to fit some small niche in the spiritual temple, and are necessary for it. The Lord Jesus knows His people’s infirmities by experience, and Satan’s temptations also. The sins which are a grief and burden to them He hates; and He pities them the more for being subject to them. ‘The Lord is pitiful, and of tender mercy.’
K. W. H. Howard