May 2, 2009

We are all beggars!

From Frederick Leahy's epilogue in The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer:

The proud, self-sufficient, modern humanist despises the whole idea of forgiveness. Like the blustering W.E. Henley, he sees himself as master of his fate and captain of his soul. 'Forgiveness', said George Bernard Shaw, 'is a beggar's refuge. We must pay our debts.'

About the time of Luther's death, a piece of paper was found in his pocket on which he had written in Latin and German, 'Hoc est verum. Wir sind alle Bettler.' ('This is true. We are all beggars.') There is the contrast between the stony heart of unbelief and the heart of flesh that weeps for sin and looks in faith to the crucified and risen Saviour for mercy.

The forgiven, restored sinner willingly takes up his cross and follows the Lord Jesus Christ. That cross is whatever the Christian suffers for the sake of Christ and his truth. In bearing that cross there is peace and blessedness as the Christian experiences the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. Not that we can share in the redemptive suffering of Christ, but rather that we seek by God's grace to deny self, accept the anguish of the struggle against sin and bear meekly the scorn of a world that rejects Christ. 'There are some,' said Samuel Rutherford, 'who would have Christ cheap. They would have Him without the cross. But the price will not come down.'

The hand that reaches out for salvation must be empty. Everything of self must be disowned. We are debtors to mercy alone. We are all beggars.

No comments: