Living by Faith
George Everard, 1881
I well remember the tenants of a humble cottage in a village in one of the eastern counties. The old couple who dwelt there had once known better days. But they were not left altogether without provision. They had an only son, who had risen to a position of competency, and he never neglected his aged parents. Very liberally did he contribute to their support, and spared nothing that would add to their comfort.
By-and-by the old man died, and the widow was left alone. And she had one earthly comfort: she was able to rely with confidence on the kindness and affection of her son. Though she had little means of her own, she never feared that she should lack anything so long as he lived. Shortly after her husband's death, her son wrote her a letter full of filial affection. He told her how deeply he felt for her, and how grieved he was that, in consequence of the great distance, he was unable to come over and spend a few days with her. Then he promised that he would pay the rent of her cottage, and send her amply enough for the supply of her needs. If ever she had any special need or difficulty, he assured her that if she would only write and tell him, he would do all in his power to assist her.
So the old lady lived upon her son, and was without anxiety. She had no care about the future. She had received many tokens of her son's affection, and knew that he loved her. She knew also that his means were sufficient, and that she could trust his promise. So she lived happily and peacefully, relying entirely upon the care which her son had for her.
I have often thought over the life of this aged woman and the conduct of her son. It affords a beautiful example of obedience to the fifth commandment. It were well if all children were in like manner to honor their parents, and to care for them and assist them in old age. Conduct like this brings no small recompense to the child. The reflection that everything has been done to contribute to the comfort of a mother and father will be no small satisfaction when the hour of separation comes.
But the life of this aged woman seemed also to me a sort of parable of the life which a Christian should lead. It seemed to me very clearly to illustrate the words of Paul: "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
The Christian, like this woman, has no resources in himself. He has no stock of grace. He has no strength to meet temptation. He has no means of providing the supplies needful for the journey of life. He is poor and needy, frail, weak, and helpless. He has nothing to call his own but sin and misery.
But the Christian has One upon whose faithful love he can ever depend. He can say in his heart, "Christ has given a sure token of His love. He laid down His life for my sake, He gave Himself for me, and shed His precious blood to cleanse me from my guilt. He has brought me back after all my wanderings. He has taught me to love and serve Him. He has heard my prayers and helped me hitherto — and can I doubt that he will help me even to the end?"
But again, the Christian knows that in Christ there is abundance of all that he needs. This woman could rely upon her son's affection, and she knew also that he had the power as well as the will to assist her. The Christian also is persuaded that in Christ are to be found inexhaustible supplies. He has unsearchable riches of mercy, grace, and consolation.
Reader, look unto Christ, and expect from Him all you need. Look unto Him for wisdom to guide and direct you in the difficulties that beset your path.
Look unto Him for righteousness, that, in spite of all your unworthiness and many sins, you may ever have boldness and confidence before God.
Look unto Him for the continual power and grace of His blessed Spirit, the Comforter. You need to mortify sin, and grow in holiness, and this you can only do as the Spirit dwells in you. You need to have a clearer view of His love, and an increase of faith day by day; and this, too, is given you by His Spirit. And be assured there is no gift He more loves to bestow. It is the Spirit who testifies of Him, and who can perfect you in His likeness. And He has promised that the Spirit shall dwell with you and lead you into all truth.
Look unto Christ, to assist you and stand by you in the smallest and in the greatest matters. Everything in earth and in Heaven is in the hand of Christ. He can help us in matters that affect our present comfort. He can help us in the hour of death, when friends and kindred must bid us farewell.
Another point. The One in whom we trust can never die. It is quite possible that the son might have been taken away before the widow of whom I have been speaking, and then her prop and her stay would have been gone. But "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." He was dead — yet He is alive for evermore.
Though all earthly friends depart, though we be left alone without a human comforter near, yet Christ abides for evermore. If we trust in Him we can never be left desolate.
Strive thus to live by faith on Christ continually. The first step of the Christian life is to believe in Christ for salvation, to come to Him confessing your sin and trusting Him to cleanse you through His precious blood. When you have done this, your chief duty and privilege is to rely upon Him, and receive constantly out of His fullness the grace you need. Give no place to doubt and fear. Rely upon Him, confide in Him, rejoice in Him, and let your happy, trustful spirit commend to others the religion of Christ.
Look not to yourself for anything, it is all found in Christ and in Christ alone. And as you live on Christ, you will live for Christ. You will aim to please Him, and not yourself. You will work for Him, and do your utmost to win souls for His kingdom. You will lay yourself at His feet, and dedicate all you have to His service.