When a friend was comforting the Rev. Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on his deathbed with the remembrance of the good which many had received by his preaching and writings, Mr. Baxter replied, “I was but a pen in Gods hand, and what praise is due to a pen?”
In his classic work The Masters Indwelling, Andrew Murray illustrated this problem of being distracted. He wrote, “When a man is giving a lecture, he often uses a long pointer to indicate places on a map or a chart. Do people look at that pointer? No, that only helps to show them the place on the map, and they do not think of it. It might even be of fine gold, but the pointer cannot satisfy them. They want to see what the pointer points at. And the Bible is a pointer, pointing us to God.”
When Alexander Duff was home on furlough from India in 1834, he often visited missionary statesman William Carey. On his last visit before Carey died, Duff spent much of his time talking about Careys work. Finally, Carey seemed to tire of it and whispered, “Pray.” After Duff prayed, he arose to leave the room, but Carey called him to return to his side. “Mr. Duff,” he said graciously, “you have been speaking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey. When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey. Speak about Dr. Careys Savior.”
May we too call attention to Jesus, the One whom God has highly exalted. His is the name to remember.
Beethoven is Everything!
The kind of attitude we need is seen in the following story. After a performance of Beethovens Ninth Symphony, the audience gave conductor Arturo Toscanini and the Orchestra a prolonged ovation. Toscanini, filled with emotion, turned to his musicians and whispered, “I am nothing, you are nothing.” Then, in almost adoring tones, Toscanini said, “But Beethoven is everything!”
Likewise, we must recognize that Jesus is everything.
Every young student knows of Isaac Newtons famed encounter with a falling apple. Newton discovered and introduced the laws of gravity in the 1600s, which revolutionized astronomical studies.
But few know that if it werent for Edmund Halley, the world might never have learned from Newton. It was Halley who challenged Newton to think through his original notions. Halley corrected Newtons mathematical errors and prepared geometrical figures to support his discoveries. Halley coaxed the hesitant Newton to write his great work, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Halley edited and supervised the publication, and actually financed its printing even though Newton was wealthier and easily could have afforded the printing costs.
Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science. Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence; Halley received little credit.
He did use the principles to predict the orbit and return of the comet that would later bear his name, but only AFTER his death did he receive any acclaim. And because the comet only returns every seventy-six years, the notice is rather infrequent. Halley remained a devoted scientist who didnt care who received the credit as long as the cause was being advanced.
Others have played Halleys role. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” Barnabas was content to introduce others to greatness. Many pray to uphold the work of one Christian leader. Such selflessness advances the kingdom.