The One Vital Quality
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you. “Your face,Lord, do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)
Why do some persons “find” God in a way others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within his household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us.
Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well known Christians of post-biblical times. You will be struck instantly with the fact that the saints were not alike. Sometimes the unlikenesses were so great as to be positively glaring. How different for example was Moses from Isaiah, Elijah from David; how unlike were John and Paul, Saint Frances and Luther, Finley and Thomas ‘a Kempis. The differences are as wide as human life itself; differences of race, nationality, education, temperament, habit, and personal qualities. Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of spiritual living far above the common way.
Their differences must have incidental and in the eyes of God of no significance. In some vital quality they must have been alike. What was it?
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
A. W. Tozer
What makes one person achieve the gold in the Olympics and others who, for example just do a morning run? What makes one person become a player in the Major Leagues and another just to play local pick up games? What brings one person to the Grand Old Opry and another to playing or singing only at family gatherings? What makes one person become a concert pianist and another just plunking out “Twinkle, Twinkle. Little Star? Our immediate assumption would be that those who achieve great accomplishments are born with special gifts. To some degree that would be correct except that there are many with the same level gifts that never rise to the level of greatness.
What about us as Christians? Do some have a greater experience with God or have they been given something more than others? I think not. Like our human bodies that have been given the same number of muscles, so we all have been given the same measure of faith. As with our muscles, so it is with our faith. As we exercise the muscle and it grows in the same manner when we exercise our faith it grows. I think that sometimes God allows us to face impossible things so that we might exercise our faith. To grow muscle, one has to repeatedly increase the weights. Each time the muscle is stretched to its limit and then pushed beyond. Often that is accompanied with pain and exhaustion, but the Olympian pushes on for their goal is always before them. Like the Olympian, as we stretch our faith, we must always keep the goal in mind. What is that goal? It is none other than that we experience a deep relationship with God that has moved and returned to the level that Adam experienced in the Garden before the Fall. It is what we sing about; “And He walks with me, And He talks with me, And He tell me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”
We all begin at the same level with the same measure of faith.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Three things I’d like to point out. First that everyone has received “the” measure of faith and not “a” measure of faith indicating we all have received the same amount of faith. Second, God has “quickened, raised up and made us sit together” indicating that to all of us the same work of God has been wrought. Third, the gift of grace comes from God and not from any “work” we may do. Like the muscles in our bodies, what we do with our faith matters.
There may be those readers who will say, “But I just don’t seem to have much faith.” I have great news for you. You don’t need much according to Jesus and if you just acknowledge your little faith, He will help you increase it.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, “Why could we not drive it out?” He answered, “Because of your little faith [your lack of trust and confidence in the power of God]; for I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have [living] faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and [if it is God’s will] it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 [But this kind of demon does not go out except by prayer and fasting.]”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith [our ability to confidently trust in God and in His power].” And the Lord said, “If you have [confident, abiding] faith in God [even as small] as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree [which has very strong roots], ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea’; and [if the request was in agreement with the will of God] it would have obeyed you.
We may never be major league players or Opry performers, or Olympians but we can become people of great faith. If this is your desire and this is your goal, if you will focus your life around it you will surely attain it for God who gave you the measure of faith, who gave you the grace and faith to be saved will surely increase your faith as you exercise it to believe for greater revelation and spiritual power. Like those who accomplish great things in the world, you will have to sacrifice some things to accomplish this. While the others are relaxing the top athletes or musicians are practicing and training. Those days when others do nothing because they are weary or not feeling up to it the stars are pushing themselves toward their goal. If it’s your desire to pursue God at deeper levels you must decide what moves you toward this and what distracts you from reaching it and then choose which you will do.
Many are there who may wish to be the accomplished person and who obtains the prize and yet there are few who actually do so. If you remember Opey who wanted to win the race but didn’t want to practice and work toward it, we may wish to have greater faith but want it just to become ours without any effort. To become great in anything one must dedicate themselves to it and everything else becomes secondary. It is so in the spiritual life in the kingdom of God.
33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
Dr. John Thompson