The Devoted Heart

In a day of confusion, opposition and difficulty, it is of the utmost importance to learn who will surmount the various and accumulating obstructions in the path. I believe the true answer is the devoted heart. By devotedness I mean the purpose to follow the Lord at any cost, so that the one thing before the heart is not so much the measure or extent of the surrender, but the intent of it, in every way to set forth the name and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The devoted one, like Ruth, says, “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee” (Ruth 1:16). When the devotedness is not simple and true, then there is soon a turning aside, even though with tears like Orpah, or like the rich young ruler in Mark ten. Invariably there seems to be an easier and surer way of success for the natural man than the way enjoined by the Word; and if there be not devotedness to seek and adhere to the leading of the Word, and through faith to accept and be prepared for every difficulty, there will not be faithfulness according to God; so that in every case it is the measure of devotedness which decides one’s course.

Devotedness is ready in a moment to take the field, to be in action. Abram went forth not knowing whither he went; “Get thee . . . unto a land that I will show thee” was enough for him. However devoted he is, he will have to learn the treachery of his own heart in his course. It is not that Abram never failed, but through his devotedness he at length succeeded; while the one (Lot) who, by natural shrewdness, had at first gained every advantage gradually fell from his acquired height to the lowest point. The path of faith is not easy, but the more difficult it is to enter on, the brighter will the end be. Here we find that the man succeeds when the sagacious one, who at first seizes every advantage, is eventually degraded.

How ready is one to be carried away by zeal, as Jehu said, “Come . . . and see my zeal for the Lord.” No doubt it is good to be zealously affected in a good matter (Gal 4:18); but zeal is like the life of a hunter, it lives on its own spoils; it declines as the excitement subsides. Whereas devotedness feeds the heart more intensely when there is nothing to be gained from around; as Ruth in following Naomi, or David’s mighty men in fetching water for him from the well of Bethlehem. Devotedness survives when everything else has succumbed and disappeared. “Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:17).

In the present state of things nothing—neither sagacity, nor zeal, nor intelligence, nor the best of rules—can influence morally the conscience of the people of God mixed up in the world, nothing by devotedness. Devotedness declares that the heart has got something worth losing all for in the present, and the life and ways of such a one speak attractively and convincingly to every awakened soul. The real leader is the devoted one, and the real power to lead and win is devotedness; whereas nothing has so tended to weaken and neutralize the testimony as the prominence and leadership of those who attract more by their qualities, however good, than by their devotedness.

Because of zeal many obtain a credit and place for which they have not moral power, and many are characterized by such leadership. The only true leader is the devoted one, the one who can say like Gideon, “As I do, so shall ye do,” or in some degree as Paul said, “We make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” “Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

- J B Stoney