“…her candle goeth not out by night.” Proverbs 31:18
What separates a nominal Christian from an on-fire Christian?
There is a line that God draws to separate those who make it into Heaven, and those who don’t. I have often wondered, where is that line?
I don’t believe for a moment that just because I may have repeated a prayer of Salvation once in my life, that I am forever saved and can go on about my life living the way I please. Jesus didn’t give his life so I could have an excuse to sin.
Neither do I believe that just because I believe God exists, or because I attend a church somewhere that I will meet the criteria that God requires. Jesus told those who claimed to have eaten and drank in His presence that He never knew them, even those who had prophesied in His name.
Let me go one step further and say that even perfection in doctrine would not give me entrance into that place of Grace that gives life to the soul. The Pharisees were squeaky clean in doctrine and works, but from the sound of things, they wound up in Hell.
I fully understand the importance of sound doctrine, which, as the building blocks for our house of safety, must be laid straight and true for the walls to be strong. The Apostle Paul fought fiercely to defend the churches against all sorts of heretics, including those who maintained that a return to circumcision and the works of the Old Law were necessary for salvation – a doctrine that is still alive today. And yet, while utterly important in directing our walk in God, correct doctrine can only point the way in which to walk, and works can only embellish it.
Something more is needed.
When reading about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, who is the picture of the true Church, I was struck by the passage quoted above. Who burns their candle all night long? And why would you do that?
I dare say that most of us turn the lights off when we go to bed. But not the virtuous woman. She kept her light burning throughout the entire night.
As Christians, we rejoice in our salvation and celebrate our transformation from Death, but a truly converted Christian will not stop there. He must look back into the darkness and shine a light so others can see the lighthouse of safety and come out of the world of death.
The essence of Grace is manifested in us when it transforms us from a creature of this world to someone whose heart and soul are planted in the next, and the realities of darkness become most stark when seen from that place of light. The dark seems darker and the despair seems more desperate.
We all have our testimony that we uphold, and while many are satisfied with that, others are not. Truly transformed believers are not satisfied with attending bland church services, fellowshipping with other satisfied believers in ivory halls of contentment, and warming ourselves by the coals of indifference.
Something inside us cannot rest while others are dying. While others seek the calm serenity of their chapels and cathedrals, there are those of us who want to set up a rescue station one foot away from the very Gates of Hell. Light the candle and let it burn all night long.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about us. It’s about others. Charity is what makes the difference between those who are content and those who are on fire. Charity is more than “love” – it is love in action. Above all things, even Faith and Hope, Charity stands as the essence of the entire Gospel, the main theme of the Cross, the whole reason why Jesus died, and the central reason of why we were called. Without Charity, we are but tinkling bells and a sounding cymbal – plenty of noise and pretty music, but lacking substance.
Charity is what separates the sheep from the goats.