A Brief Meditation for the Month

December 2019

William Gurnall, one of the Puritan divines, who lived from 1617–1679, gave the following advice to believers: “Often reflect upon thyself in a day, and observe what company is with thy heart. We may know by the noise in the school that the master is not there; much of the misrule in our bosom arises from the neglect of visiting our hearts.”

The language of Gurnall may be perceived by some in this generation to be rather dated, nevertheless, his advice is most timely in our frenetic, rushing society. If we believe what the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” (Jeremiah 17:9), we must surely be convinced of our personal need to allot time in our daily routine to enquire as to where our affections are placed. We must consider with seriousness, the direction in which our hearts are moving. Are our hearts drifting from Christ, or are they pursuing him as one with whom we truly desire personal communion? Many Christians today have little more than a one-day religion in their weekly round of activities, when they manage to squeeze in some fleeting thoughts about God. Such persons presume, either that the spiritual condition of their soul is of secondary importance, or that it is in a sufficiently healthy condition requiring no further attention. However, neglect of our soul’s needs is the surest way to lose it. Jesus taught, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36–37. If we are honest with ourselves, we can discern, through close personal examination, whether our soul is spiritually healthy, or it is in danger. If the soul is eternally lost, everything is lost with it. The wise King Solomon, amidst all his material wealth, as he reflected upon the earthly lot of mortal man, had this to say, “As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand,” Ecclesiastes 5:15. The inspired Psalmist, advises regarding the materially rich man, “When he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him,” Psalm 49:17.

In our materialistic and secular age, even well-intentioned Christians are being drawn into lifestyles that demand a greater pursuit of material gain to the detriment of their spiritual lives. When their consciences occasionally prick them, they attempt to play catchup on the Lord’s Day, but often they are so physically worn out, and mentally fatigued, that they profit very little, if at all, spiritually, from God’s appointed day of rest. Some are so deeply involved in worldly business and the crave for success, that they are unable to disengage their minds from the affairs occupying them during the other days of the week. Ever so many concentrate their minds and energy upon attaining and maintaining a perceived status image, forgetful of the Saviour’s directive: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.

Perhaps as you read these few words you will feel convicted that you have become overmuch concerned with material things to the extent your immortal soul, that will exist beyond this scene of time, has been sadly neglected. Maybe you need to acknowledge a cold heart towards the Saviour: that you are in a backslidden condition. Return now in repentance unto a compassionate and pardoning Saviour. He “will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7.

G. G. Hutton.