“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Gal. 5:26).
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).
“The beginning of greatness is to be little;
The increase of greatness is to be less;
And the perfection of greatness is to be nothing.”
-Quoted by D. L. Moody.
Some time since I took up a little book in which various persons related their own experiences. Two of them agreed in remarking that they were never happy until they ceased striving to be great men.
This remark struck me, as you know the most simple remark will strike us when Heaven pleases. It occurred to me at once that most of my sins and sufferings were occasioned by an unwillingness to be nothing which I am, and by consequent struggling to be something. I saw that if I could but cease struggling and consent to be anything or nothing, just as God pleases, I might be happy.
You will think it strange that I mention this as a new discovery. In one sense it was not new; I had known it for years. But I now saw it in a new light. My heart saw it and consented to it. And I am comparatively happy.
My dear brother, if you can give up all desire to be great and feel heartily willing to be nothing, you will be happy, too. . . . If you can stand aside from the race which too many other ministers are running and say, from your heart, “Let those who choose to engage in such a race divide the prize; let one minister run away with the money, and another with the esteem, and a third with the applause; I have something else to do, a different race to run; be God’s approbation the only prize for which I run; let me obtain that, and it is enough”; I say if you can, from your heart, adopt this language, you will find most of your difficulties and sufferings vanish.—Edward Payson.
What anxiety and misery result from this yielding to the desire to be somebody! There is the vying among the young in the Christian Endeavor; jealousy in the Women’s Guild; a race for honors among the elders or deacons. It spreads to those about us and often upsets and sometimes even tears to pieces a whole church or community. What a blessed experience shall be ours if we apply Mr. Payson’s simple recipe for happiness!