Every true servant is sent forth from the immediate presence of the Father, with all its holiness and all its grace; and he is called to be holy and gracious—he is called to be the reflection of the grace and holiness of the divine character; and in order that he may be so, he should not only start from the Father’s presence, but abide there, in spirit, continually. The spiritual man alone can understand the meaning of the two things, “go forth and do,” and, yet never leave. In order to act for the Father outside, I should be with Him inside—ever in the secret sanctuary of my Father’s presence (Eph 2:6; Col 3:3—NC).

The Lord Jesus referred to Himself as “He that came sown from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven” (John 3:13 – the last portion of this passage is omitted in the modern inferior translations—NC). Very many fail on this point. There is the danger of getting out of the solemnity and calmness of the divine presence, amid the bustle of the world and the excitement of active service. This is to be guarded against. If we lose that hallowed tone of spirit which is expressed in “the unshod foot” (Jer 2:25), our service will soon become vapid and fruitless (but never our salvation—NC). If I allow my service to get between my heart and my Father, it will be of little worth.

We can only effectually serve the Lord Jesus as we are enjoying fellowship with Him. It is while the heart dwells upon His powerful attraction that the most acceptable service is performed in His name; nor is there anyone who can share the Lord with freshness and fruitfulness to others, if he be not feeding upon Him, in the secret of his own soul. True, he may preach a sermon, utter prayers, write a book and go through the entire routine of outward service and yet not share Him. The one who will present Him to others must be occupied with the Lord Jesus for himself.

Happy is the man who ministers thus, whatever be the outward success or reception of his ministry. For should his work fail to attract attention, to command influence, or to produce apparent results, he has his blessed retreat and his unfailing portion in the Lord Jesus, of which nothing can deprive him. Whereas the one who is merely feeding upon the fruits of his ministry, who delights in the gratification which it affords, or the attention and interest which it produces, is like a mere pipe, conveying water to others and retaining only rust for itself. This is a most deplorable condition to be in; and yet it is the actual condition of that servant who is more occupied with his work and its results, than with the Lord Jesus Christ and His glory.

This is a matter which calls for the most rigid self-judgment. The heart (old man—NC) is deceitful and the enemy is crafty (2Co 2:11); and hence there is great need to hearken to the word of exhortation, “Be sober, be vigilant” (1Pe 5:8). It is when the soul is awakened to a sense of the varied and manifold snares which beset the servant’s path that it is, in any measure, able to understand the need there is for being much alone with the Father: it is there in His presence that one is secure and happy. It is when we begin, continue and end our work in our Father’s presence that our service will be of the right kind.

“For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (1 Tim 1:16).

– C H Mackintosh (1820-1896)

The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.’” -MJS