Beware, not merely of falling, but of stumbling. 'Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise'; like men in an enemy's country, or like travelers climbing a hill, slippery with ice, and terrible with precipices, where every step may be a fall, and every fall a plunge into a chasm. Beware of little slips, slight inconsistencies, as they are called; they are the beginning of all backsliding, and they are in themselves evil, as well as hateful to God. Keep your garments undefiled (Rev 3:4); beware of small spots as well as larger stains or rents; and the moment you discover any speck, however small, go wash in the fountain, that your 'garments may be always white,' and so pleasing in the eyes of Him, whose you are, and whom you serve. 'Crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts' (Gal 5:24). 'Mortify your members which are upon the earth'
Be you a Christian in little things as well as great. Dread little sins, little
errors, little omissions of duty. Remember the Master's words about denying
self- every part of self; be not a servant of self, or a worshiper of self, or a
'lover of self' (2 Tim 3:1,2) in any form. Take up your cross, and follow your
Lord (Matt 16:24); as it is written, 'Even Christ pleased not Himself' (Rom
God's aim in all His doings of grace is to 'hide pride from man'; to hinder
boasting; to keep the sinner humble. All 'confidence in the flesh' (Phil
3:1,3), all trust in self, all reliance on the creature, are set aside by that
great work of the Divine Substitute, who did all for us, and left us nothing to
do, out of which it would be possible to extract a boast (2 Cor 12:9; Gal 6:14;
Isa 41:16; 45:25). Let us fling away self-esteem and high-mindedness, for it is
the very essence of unbelief. Be meek, be poor in spirit, be humble; be
teachable, be gentle, and easy to be entreated; putting away all high thoughts
and lofty imaginations, either about what we are or what we can do; content to
take the obscurest corner and the lowest seat; and this, not to indulge in a
false lowliness, or in 'the pride that apes humility,' feeding our vanity with
the thought that we are martyrs, and puffing up our fleshly mind with the idea
of our wonderful condescension, or by brooding over our supposed wrongs and
trials. Let us be truly humble, as was the Son of God: content to live unknown,
and to do our work unnoticed, as a work not for the eye of man, but of God.
Self in all its forms is a hindrance to our spiritual growth (Rom 14:7).
Self-will, self-sufficiency, self-indulgence, self-importance, self-glory,
self-seeking, self-brooding, -all these mar fruitfulness. Denying self is the
beginning, the middle, and the end of our course here, as followers of Christ.
Selfishness takes the form of covetousness, or love of money; of luxury, or love
of foods and drinks, and the good things of this life. How can a man grow when
he is pampering self instead of crucifying the flesh; when he is indulging and
fondling the old man instead of nailing him to the cross; when he is enjoying
all softness and ease and worldly comfort, instead of enduring hardness, and
taking up his cross and mortifying his members which are upon the earth (Rom
8:13; Gal 5:24; Col 3:5) - Horatius Bonar