Colossians 2: 18                                                                                                          “Consecration to God”

St. Paul's preaching may appear to emphasize sacrifice and self-denial. In Christianity sacrifice is not everything. One who appears to centre on his own sacrifice will attract the world towards himself and get a hold on people like the Gurus and Sadhus of India. But such sacrifice is not according to the mind of God. St. Francis, at the end of his life, confessed that some of his sacrifices like begging for food, etc were not of God. He himself had such a hold on people and authority that even the Pope was afraid of him. But he said, 'I misused the authority.'

Our sacrifices and self-denials must be according to the mind of Christ. St. Paul says that some worship angels. There is the fleshly mind which brings forth so many ideas which appear to be truly Christian. Be very careful. Now-a-days there are many strange teachings amidst Christians. There is unlimited fasting without real consecration. In Christianity sacrifice is important but consecration is more important. God doesn't want your sacrifice unless you are consecrated. Many do fasting to gain certain powers like -power of healing, etc., to become conspicuous. Why do you want authority and power unless the end is to glorify Christ? If a man goes in torn clothes or without eating, they think he is a great teacher. But has he got the Spirit of Christ? Is he converted and has he come to the Cross? As you are converted and grow, sacrifice comes not by fleshly enthusiasm but by the unction of the Spirit. Otherwise it is dangerous. There should be a divine purpose in your sacrifice.

Samson had no consecration. His life did not have true power. He didn't drink wine or eat anything that came of the vine. Perhaps he thought it was a great sacrifice. He was a Nazarite. This was a sacrifice. But there was no consecration. You must also have the vision given by God. 'Son of man, I am sending you amidst scorpions. Keep quiet until God opens your mouth.' God gave a vision to Ezekiel and Moses of the work they had to do. It is not your doing that is important but God's doing. You are only an instrument. Madame Guyon says, "He is the greatest and I am the least of the least." God is the greatest you can conceive of. And you are the least. Then your attitude towards Him will be very different. She developed spiritually and wanted her soul i.e., her intellect and understanding to die. The intellect is worthless without the Holy Spirit's understanding. It is totally inadequate without the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit takes hold of you, your soul dies and gets absorbed into God. When a drop of water falls into the sea, it gets merged with the sea. Its individual nature is no more seen. So your nature dies and God's nature comes into you. Your identity goes and you get the qualities of God who has infinite resources, power and understanding. He is unimaginably great with good plans for everyone in the universe.

Madame Guyon was once very vain. She was of noble birth. But God told her to give up that vanity. She didn't do it until smallpox attacked her. She was glad smallpox helped her to that end. What a noble soul she became! We are converted. Some of us have made sacrifices. Some of us have a vision. But are we dead? Don't we feel conscious of our intellect, education and family background? All these must go. 'I am the least of the least' must be our estimate of ourselves.

As you are growing in Christ, sacrifice increases according to the mind of Christ. Con­secration increases according to the Scriptures. If we catch a glimpse of God's holiness, how small is our holiness! When Madame Guyon got absorbed into God's life, she enjoyed her life in spite of so many difficulties. Her parents-in-law, her husband and servants were enemies to her. She learnt to suffer and keep quiet. Sometimes servants trouble us and God teaches us patience.

William Carey came to India to work for God. He didn't know the language. If there was a hero in the field of missionary work, he certainly was one. He worked and worked. When he died, he left nothing for his children. To educate his son he had to sell his books. But what tremendous work he turned out and what a wonderful vision he caught! He translated the Bible into nearly 30 languages. He was a professor of Bengali. He conceived of a Printing Press.

Vision, sacrifice and consecration must go together. Holiness or absorption into God Himself is absolutely necessary. As we study and meditate on the Scriptures, they work like a mighty tonic or acid which burns up everything which is unworthy within us and recreates the divine nature in us. One day you will see great visions in your prayer. God's purposes will be revealed. Resources may not be there but God will provide. Carey worked day and night. What losses he suffered! His wife died and one of his sons died. He fought tooth and nail against 'Sathi' and the throwing of children to the crocodiles in the Ganges. When I see these men, they are a marvel to me.

Some people with a fleshly mind conceive of some sacrifices. In India we have false sacrifices. People lie on thorns. That seems to be a great sacrifice for them. False sacrifice! We Christians are to serve Christ with real sacrifice, consecration, true vision and absorption into God. Go from step to step. Don't stop. The Lord will make you perfect. There are depths and heights you have not reached yet. You have to ascend much more but God will help you.