Take the "I" Out
(Continuing from the last post with Charles Spurgeon)
We now purpose to consider the way in which we are to obtain the power we so much desire. WE NEED TO FEEL IT WITHIN OURSELVES WHEN WE ARE RECEIVING OUR MESSAGES. In order to have power in public, we must receive power in private. I trust that no brother here would venture to address his people without getting a message fresh from his Lord. If you deliver a stale story of your own concocting, or if you speak without a fresh anointing from the Holy One, your ministry will come to nothing. Words spoken on your own account, without reference to your Lord, will fall to the ground. When the footman goes to the door to answer a caller, he asks his master what he has to say, and he repeats what his master tells him. You and I are waiting-servants in the house of God, and we are to report what our God would have us speak. The Lord gives the soul-saving message, and clothes it with power; He gives it to a certain order of people, and under certain conditions.
Among those conditions I notice, first, a simplicity of heart. The Lord pours most into those who are most empty of self. Those who have least of their own shall have the most of God's. The Lord cares little what the vessel is, whether golden or earthen, so long as it is clean, and disengaged from other uses. He sees whether there is anything in the cup; and if so, he throws it all out. Only then is the cup prepared to receive the living water. If there was something in it before, it would adulterate the pure water of life; or if what was there before was very pure, it would, at least, occupy some of the room which the Lord seeks for His own grace. The Lord therefore empties us, that we may be clear from prejudice, self-sufficiency, and foregone conclusions as to what His truth ought to be. He would have us like children, who believe what their father tells them. We must lay aside all pretence of wisdom. Some men are too self-sufficient for God to use. If God were to bless them largely, they would talk in Wolsey's style of "Ego et rex meus" (I and my king); but the Lord will have none of it. That straight-backed, upstart letter "I" must bow itself down into its lower-case shape, and just look like a little pot-hook (i) of a thing, and be nothing more. Oh, to be rid of self! Oh, to quit every pretence of wisdom!
Many preachers are very superior persons; and so, when they get God's message, they correct it, and interpolate their own ideas; they dream that the old gospel cannot be quite suitable to these enlightened days, when "everything is done by steam, and men are killed by powder." They not only interpolate, but they omit, because they judge that certain truths have become obsolete by the lapse of time. In this way, what with additions and subtractions, little is left of the pure Word of God. The apostles are generally the first to be sent adrift. Poor Paul! Poor Paul! He has come in for very hard lines just lately; as if the Spirit of God did not speak through Paul with as much authority as when He spake through the Lord Jesus. Note well how our Lord deigns to put Himself on a level with His apostles when He says," The Word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me;" and in His great intercessory prayer He prayed for those who would believe on Him through the apostles' word, as much as to say that, if they would not believe on Him through the word of the apostles, they would not believe at all.
(Excerpt from An All Round Ministry by Spurgeon; Chapter entitled "The Preacher's Power, and the Conditions of Obtaining It)