Our Deposit With Christ
J. R. Miller, 1902
In one of his epistles, Paul tells us of a trust which he had committed to Christ. Speaking of Him with whom he had made this deposit, he says he knows Him whom he has trusted. Christ was no stranger to him, no untried friend. He could not have trusted Him with such tremendous interests, if he had not known Him. Very foolish is the young person who puts confidence in a stranger, admitting him to the place of a friend. She would be a very careless, thoughtless mother—who would commit the keeping of her child to a person concerning whose character, she had not thoroughly satisfied herself. Men who are prudent, will not invest their money in an institution which they do not reasonably believe to be safe. If you were going to cross the sea, you would want to be well assured of the staunchness and seaworthiness of the ship to which you commit your life.
Paul knew Him whom he had trusted as his Savior. Some people know a great deal about Christ—yet do not really know Him. You may read or hear much concerning a man—while you have never seen him. But one day you meet this man—and he becomes your friend. That is the way Paul knew Christ, "I know Him." It was no hearsay knowledge on which he based his confidence.
There are some people whom the better we know—the less we trust! The greater acquaintance, reveals faults and flaws in their character. We find they are not trustworthy, cannot be depended on. Their friendship is inconstant, fickle, and uncertain. When we know them well—we learn that we would better not commit ourselves to them.
We read that on one occasion, Jesus did not commit Himself to certain people, because He knew what was in men; He knew He could not trust Himself in their hands—that they would not prove true to Him. This is the outcome of greater acquaintance in too many cases—we may not safely entrust our interest to men's keeping.
Others there are whom the better we know—the more implicitly we trust. We find them faithful and true in every feeling, in every word, in every act. They never disappoint us, nor fail us, nor harm us. Every thought of their heart is loyal. They would make any sacrifice for our sake. Such a friend is Christ.
If you are traveling in a strange land, you may feel a little uncertain at first about your guide, not having tried him before; but as you go on, and he shows familiarity with the way and ability to conduct you on your journey, you learn to trust him, and at length all fear gives way to complete confidence. So it is that trust in Christ grows as we go on with Him, and find Him always faithful and wise. He never disappoints us. In all experiences of need or trial—He proves His love. Sometimes He denies us what we ask—but we always learn in the end that He was right. Thus it is that we learn to really know Christ—by trying and trusting Him.
Paul then tells us that he has placed a sacred deposit in the hands of Christ, and that he knows it is absolutely secure. "I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day." The figure is of a deposit one would make in trusted keeping—as of rare and costly jewels which the owner might put into the hands of one who would safely guard them, delivering them up in due time.
What was it, that Paul had thus deposited with Christ? For one thing, it was his soul. It was a guilty soul when the young rabbi first met Christ; he had been openly fighting against Jesus. It was a hurt soul; he had wounded himself in his resistance. That guilty, hurt soul—he had committed to the keeping of Christ, and he was sure Christ would guard it sacredly, and save it unto eternal life. Paul never worried about his own salvation after making this committal. He knew that all was safe in Christ's hands—and he then gave up his life to the service of Christ.
No one but Christ can keep our soul. There are no other hands in which we may place this sacred deposit. No gentlest, purest, wisest mother—can take charge of her own child's soul. She cannot cleanse its heart of evil dispositions and tendencies. She cannot keep it from the power of evil, and shelter it from temptation. She cannot put upon its nature, Christ's likeness. She may care for its body, and train its mind—but she cannot save and keep its soul. Only Christ can do this.
There is a wonderful verse in the little letter of Jude, which reads: "Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy" Jude 1:24. Christ alone is able to keep us from stumbling on our way through this world, and at the end present us without blemish before God!
The same confidence is in Paul's words: "He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day." This keeping is no easy task. There are a thousand things that may hurt a life. Evil lurks—in sunshine and shadow, in joy and sorrow, in pleasure and pain, in success and failure, in health and sickness, in companionship and loneliness, in prosperity and adversity.
An hour's association with a wicked person—may leave in a soul a suggestion of evil which shall work the life's utter ruin in the end. Even a happy home by its very happiness, may become the enemy of the spiritual life, drawing thought, love, and devotion away from God and from the higher things of God's service—to things lower and earthly. Business success—may lead to moral failure; or, on the other hand, failure in business may dishearten and break the spirit. A time of sickness may breed discontent and fretfulness. Invalidism may make one selfish and exacting. On the other hand, unbroken health may weaken the sense of dependence on God, or may rob the heart of patient sympathy, making one harsh and ungentle towards others in their infirmities. Too much companionship, or too great absorption in work—may interfere with the soul's communion with God. On the other hand, too much aloneness may make one's life morbid, unwholesome, self absorbed, and out of sympathy with others.
These are suggestions of the possible evils that lurk in the common experience, of even the most sheltered life. This is not an easy world to live in—and in which to keep one's self unspotted. It is not easy amid such antagonisms, to grow into Christly beauty. One who has sincerely tried to keep himself pure, loving, gentle, unselfish, rich-hearted in all sympathy and helpfulness, generous, patient, true, and sweet in all ways—even for one little day—knows that it is no easy task! But that is what Christ is able to do for us—to keep us from stumbling on our way through this world, and at the end present us without blemish before God!
In another burst of confidence, just before his martyrdom, Paul used these remarkable words: "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom." He was in Nero's hands, and would soon die; but his deposit was still safe, and would be guarded until it should be presented in eternal glory!
Our affairs are also a part of this deposit. We soon learn that we cannot be master of our own condition and circumstances. We cannot make our environment helpful to our spiritual growth. We cannot bring good out of evil, blessing out of pain, victory out of defeat.
Take the story of Joseph as an example. Wrong and cruelty seemed to be utterly destroying his young life in its early years. But the strange, tangled experiences were in the hands of God, and out of them all came in due time—great blessing for Joseph and for the world. To have broken into that story with human interference at any point, in those days of trial, would have been to spoil the outworking of a beautiful divine plan!
"Because I was impatient, would not wait,
But thrust my impious hands across Your threads,
And marred the pattern drawn out for my life–
O Lord, I do repent."
There is a special phase of the lesson, which emerges at this point. You are suffering wrong from others. They are unkind to you, unjust, treating you injuriously. What is your duty as a Christian in this case? Is it not the quiet committal of all the hurts and wrongs—into Christ's hands? You are not a judge; you have nothing whatever to do with judgment. Your whole duty—is to put the matter absolutely and forever out of your own hands—into Christ's, and to leave it there! It is not your province—to set wrong things right, to vindicate yourself from false blame, to avenge injustice or injury inflicted upon you.
In another passage of Scripture, we are told what Jesus Himself did with the wrongs He suffered: "Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not; but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously." We have also this counsel: "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God—commit their souls in well-doing, unto a faithful Creator."
How simple this teaching makes all life—if only we learn the lesson! Our soul's salvation, the keeping of our life in the midst of this world's dangers and enmities, the outworking of all experiences, the direction of our affairs, the adjustment of all wrongs and iniquities, the overruling of all evil, so as to bring us home at last to glory without blemish—all this is to be committed to Christ, left absolutely, without question, doubt, or fear—in His strong and skillful hands! Our one duty is always to do God's will—as it is made know to us, and then leave all the 'tangles' with Christ.
In Scripture, the lesson is put very clearly: "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun!" Psalm 37:5-6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
Then, Paul's words of confidence as assurance come in again with wondrous strengthening for our hearts: "I know Him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day!"