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|'Let the healing streams abound' |
(photo: Peter Sisam, ARPS, ABIPP)
'My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.' (Tennyson)
'Light and lust are deadly enemies.' (Shakespeare)
'The soul's perverse love that makes the crooked way seem straight.' (Dante)
'Even more pure as tempted more: more able to endure as more exposed to suffering and distress: thence, more alive to tenderness.' (Wordsworth)
'Guard your eyes specially. Show a great love for that virtue which sheds a lustre on all of life, the guiding star of the priesthood, purity.' (Pope John XXIII)
'Purity concentrates God in us.' (Teilhard de Chardin)
'Just as you have your own face, your own smile, your own handwriting, your own walk, you have your own temptation. It is subtle, pitiless. The greatest mistake is to underestimate its strength.' (Drummond)
'Remember Augustine's history of temptation: a thought, a picture, a fascination and a fall.' (Drummond)
'Have done with impurity and every other evil that touches the lives of others.' (St James)
'A pure mind soon becomes a deep mind.' (Buddha)
'Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Then will I teach trangressors Thy ways and they will be converted unto Thee.' (Psalm 51)
These quotes list some of the fruits of purity: energy, compassion, courage, a sense of wonder, selflessness, stamina, depth, power to help others, the revelation of God Himself.
Purity must be absolute because helping another person on the moral and spiritual road of life is the most delicate art in the world. Most people on the surface do not want to be helped on that road, but deep down they may do. But they would not say so. Drummond wrote: 'To draw souls one by one and take from them the secrets of their lives, to talk them clean out of themselves, to read them off like a page of print, to pervade them with your spiritual essence and make them transparent, this is the spiritual diagnosis which is so difficult to acquire and so hard to practise.' He was 23 when he wrote that.
The apostle Peter wrote: 'Now that you have, by obeying the truth, made your souls clean enough for a genuine love of your fellows, see that ye do love each other fervently and from the heart.' (I Peter 1: 22)
Clean enough to love.
The big question is: Is it possible to live that kind of purity all the time?
The answer is 'No' ... unless you have a motive that makes you want to do it badly enough. And it's covered in that verse of Peter. You want to do something for a friend or for the world, for the nation or for the Lord Himself. For the sake of people we love.
But I have to forget myself to do that. Moment by moment. Day by day. Always. Then I'm available for others.
Ugo Bassi from Italy wrote in the early 19th century:
Measure thy life by loss instead of gain:
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth,
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And whoso suffers the most hath most to give.
Christ told us that the truth would make us free. Sin is attractive but its gory details are not. Absolute honesty can mean that the sin that I love can become the sin that I hate. From such hatred of sin can come the power to break with it.
Shakespeare wrote: 'It is one thing to be tempted, it's another thing to fall.' (Measure For Measure)
Henry Wright, Professor of Christian Methods at Yale University in the early 20th century, wrote: 'The human mind is like a camera film. After exposure to an impure thought or suggestion it is possible either to delay and develop the plate … or instantly to flood the plate with the light of Jesus.'
At sport it's all too easy to try too hard and become tense, especially when you are going through a bad patch. Passing a rugby ball or hitting a cricket ball require good timing. More relaxation is needed rather than more effort. Furthermore, if you hold on to your bat too tightly you cannot keep it straight.
It is the same with the spiritual life, especially with the battle for purity. Charles Wesley wrote in a hymn:
Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin,
Let the healing streams abound,
Make and keep me pure within.
I remember hearing Frank Buchman say: 'Make and keep me pure within - those are the greatest words in the English language.'
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