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Destroying the Idols

It is told Mahmoud, who conquered a great portion of India hundreds of years ago, that he destroyed all the idols in every town to which he came. He laid siege to the great city of Guzurat. Forcing for himself an entrance into the costliest shrine of the Brahmans, there rose before him the figure of a gigantic idol fifteen feet high. He instantly ordered it to be destroyed. The Brahmans of the temple prostrated themselves at his feet and said: “Great Mahmoud, spare our god, for the fortunes of this city depend on him.”

Ransom vast of gold they offer, pearls of price and jewels rare,
Purchase of their idol’s safety, this their dearest will he spare.
And there wanted not who counseled that he should his hand withhold,
Should that single image suffer, and accept the proffered gold.

But Mahmoud, after a moment’s pause, said he would rather be known as the breaker than the seller of idols, and struck the image with his battle-ax. His soldiers followed, and in an instant the idol was broken to pieces. It proved to be hollow and had been used as a receptacle for thousands of precious gems which, as the image was shattered, fell at the conqueror’s feet.

From its shattered side, revealing pearls and diamonds, showers of gold;
More than all that proffered ransom, more than all a hundredfold.

Such an idol is self, pleading eloquently to be spared and offering in return pleasures and treasures untold. But when Paul, ignoring self’s plea, learned the secret of losing his life for Christ’s sake, he found true wealth and pleasure. The Christ against whom he had directed his rage and venom now possessed and energized his whole personality in such a way that he could only describe it as Christ living in him. What is the talisman enfolded in these simple words: “To me to live is Christ”'

J. Oswald Sanders, Cultivation of Christian Character, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1965), pp. 67-69

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