When Man Continues To Listen… by Cecil Rose for The Oxford Group
How do we begin the experiment?
To put it very simply, God cannot take over my life unless I am willing. Willingness is not a matter of feeling. It is not a vague desire that God should change me. It is not an impulsive resolve to obey God in future. It is a very practical thing.
If a man is bankrupt and consents to his chief creditor reorganizing and running the business, the first thing he must do is to produce the books–all of them. The difficulty with so many debtors is that they conceal some of their debts, or fail to mention some particularly foolish blunder or some doubtful transaction to which fear prompted them. A satisfactory re-organization is impossible if there is only a partial disclosure. If, then, I want God to take control of my life, the first thing I must do is to produce the books. I must be willing to look with God at everything I know about myself, and at everything He can show me when I honestly test my life by what I see of His will in Christ.
A good way to begin this examination of the books is to test my life beside the Sermon on the Mount. A convenient and pointed summary of its teaching has been made under four heads–Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, and Absolute Love.
It is very necessary to keep that word `Absolute’ in mind. It is like a clear white light searching into all sorts of hidden corners. It makes sure that I shall not overlook the places where I was content with a second best or excused myself for a compromise.
Honesty? Well, that is not too bad. I do not rob the till, or make fraudulent returns to the Inspector of Taxes. (Or do l?) But Absolute Honesty? That looks different. Do I make elaborate excuses over something that I have simply forgotten to do? Do I waste my employer’s time by lateness or slackness? Am I living in the open with my family?
Absolute Purity? What would my thought-life look like on the screen?
Absolute Unselfishness? Why do I get touchy and defensive when people criticize me? Am I only thinking of them, or is it my own feelings and reputation for which I still care? And what would my family say about my absolute unselfishness?
Absolute Love? Yes, I know that I did not begin the trouble, and as far as I know, have done nothing to keep it going, but what have I done to end it? And what about my likes and dislikes?
It may be useful at this point if I get a pencil and paper, and make some notes. This business of looking into the books is taking me further than I expected, but I must see it through.
My life is many-sided. How far am I allowing God to take control over its various interests and activities? There is my business. Is He managing director? There is my money. Does He spend it? My time. Does He dispose of it? There are my friendships, my home, my career, my leisure. How far is God in absolute control of these? Willingness for Him to take charge will mean an honest and thorough scrutiny of every area of my life. It will bring to light all sorts of things that I have not been willing for God to alterhabits, indulgences, wrong relationships, personal ambition, opinions, and sheer selfwill. Sin will take on a deeper meaning for me. Anything that I am not willing to submit to God is sin.