In His Letters to the Thessalonians (continued)
A Help to Know One's Own Disposition (continued)
Do you not see that the Lord Jesus, THE PERFECT MAN, is the perfect balance of all the good qualities in all the temperaments, that in Him are none of the bad qualities of any temperament, and that the Holy Spirit can make Christ to be unto us that which we are not in ourselves? That is the great wonder, the great mystery, the great glory, of the meaning of Christ as mediated to us by the Holy Spirit. It is the wonder of His humanity: a perfect manhood without any of all this that troubles us. Look at Him under duress: He does not go down. Look at Him from any standpoint of testing and trial: He goes through. But He is a man. He is not going through on the basis of His Deity. He is going through on the basis of His perfect humanity, and that is to be mediated to us.
Spiritual growth means this, that we are becoming something other than what we are naturally. Is it not so? Naturally, we may be inclined to be rather miserable people - always taking a miserable view, always going down in the dumps. Now, when the Holy Spirit takes charge of us, the miserably inclined people become joyful, although it is not natural for them to be joyful. That is the miracle of the Christian life. We become something that we are not naturally. Naturally, we would very quickly go down under some kinds of criticism or persecution, and nurse our troubles, but when the Lord Jesus is in us, we can take it and go on. He makes us other than what we are. That is the work of grace in the life of the believer.
These Thessalonians suffered very much because of their practical temperament. They expected that that of which they had been told at the first would come about immediately. They were saying to themselves: 'The Lord will come - He may come today, any day - and that will be the end of all our troubles. But time is going on, and people are dying, and things are getting more and more difficult. It does not look very much as though the Lord is coming ...' They may have been almost at the point of breaking and scattering. And at that point a new presentation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus came in, bringing the hope of something different from what they were naturally.
What is true in the case of the practical temperament is true in all other temperaments. We may take this as a principle. If we only understood it, the Lord is dealing with every one of us like that. He is dealing with us according to what we are. It is no use trying to stereotype or standardize the dealings of God with people. God's dealings with me would perhaps not be very troublesome to you, but God's dealings with you might very well throw me right off my feet. He deals with us according to ourselves, in order that there may be that of Christ in us which is not of ourselves. I say again, that is the work of Grace. That is the mediation of Christ - that is the very meaning of being conformed to the image of Christ. It is partaking of His nature - something utterly different. But it is a terrible process. Now we have got to get through as these people got through.
(continued with # 45)