Devotional: A. W. Tozer

Collective Writings from the Books of A.W. Tozer
  1. A word must be added also concerning those abilities we call time, talents and opportunities. These are not equal among all Christians, and a moment of sanctified thinking would lead us to conclude that God’s requirements are not the same for all. From the largest sheep the shepherd expects the most wool, and from the largest tree we expect the most fruit. The rule for individual responsibility was laid down by Peter. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides" (1 Peter 4:11). With this agree the words of Paul: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you (Romans 12:3). Some Christians die young; others linger on and, like tall candles, burn down to the socket. The first have had less of the ability called time, and for that reason their responsibility will not be so great. The size of a man's mind, the opportunities he enjoys and the talents he has received determine his responsibility to God and his fellow men. While the size and the amount of fruit a life bears will vary with the individual, the quality is expected to be equal with all. To be holy is the duty and privilege of every true Christian. Ability is something else and the two should never be confused.
  2. The principle we are discussing, while it involves responsibility for truth received, goes far beyond this. It involves also our money, our time, our talents and our opportunities. American economists and politicians these days are talking about our "unprecedented" standard of living, our high income, our push-button conveniences and our huge bank accounts. In spite of the temporary lag in employment this is all true, and to a degree known nowhere else on earth (unless it is in our friendly sister country to the north, which I understand enjoys a prosperity equal to our own). As sharers in a prosperous economy we Christians must not forget that ability involves responsibility. We have more than our fathers had, and are therefore able to do more for our fellow men than they could do. We are in danger of overlooking this. A larger income may be considered in either of two ways: (1) I earn more; therefore I can spend more and enjoy myself better. (2) I earn more; therefore I am able to do more good for more people and aid in the evangelization of more tribes and nations. To use increased income to feed the flesh and enjoy greater luxuries is perfectly natural—and that is precisely why it is wrong; it accords with fallen human nature and is of the essence of selfishness and sin. To accept a larger income as a means whereby we may lay up treasures in heaven accords with the teachings of Christ. Every Christian who has this problem to face should prayerfully consider his larger responsibility in the light of his increased ability.
  3. In an odd but highly significant passage in the Holy Scriptures, we are told that God judges men according to their light. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:30–31). If as here stated God "overlooked" the times of ignorance before Christ came, is it too much to believe that He may now "overlook" the places where it is not yet known that He came? This is not to imply that God’s overlooking men in ancient times absolved them of all responsibility. No, for always there is the light of nature as well as the light of conscience, and these are made effective by "The true light that gives light to every man . . . Coming into the world" (John 1:9). Paul cleared this up for us when he wrote, "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" (Romans 2:12, KJV). Idolatry is a grave and destructive sin no matter where it is found; but the appearance of Jesus Christ as the Light of the world took away any flimsy excuses men might have had and made them instantly responsible to turn to God from idols. The same holds true wherever the gospel is preached. The heathen are not innocent before they have heard the gospel, but their responsibility is vastly increased after they have heard it.
  4. "Ability involves responsibility," wrote the celebrated Dr. Maclaren. This statement is in complete harmony with the teaching of the Scriptures, yet in our relation to God and our fellow men we are too likely to forget it. Human beings, as far as they are understanding and just, acknowledge ability as the proper measure of responsibility. The blind man is not held responsible to see nor the deaf man to hear. Even the most oppressive government imposes upon its citizens only such taxes, as it judges him able to pay. To demand more of any man is finally to destroy such ability as he may possess. Any government that would demand more of its citizens than they were able to pay would soon dry up all tribute at its roots and bring upon itself sure destruction. In an odd but highly significant passage in the Holy Scriptures, we are told that God judges men according to their light. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:30–31).
  5. Something within the heart of the normal man revolts against motion without progress. Yet this is precisely what we are offered in the vast majority of evangelical churches. Doctrinally these churches are moving around a tight and narrow circle. Their teachers tell them that this circle encompasses all the land of Beulah and warn them of the danger of looking for anything more. The teaching that consists entirely of reiteration cannot but be dull and wearisome; so the churches try to make up for the religious lassitude they cannot help but feel by introducing extrascriptural diversions and antiscriptural entertainments to provide the stultified saints with a bit of relish for their tedium. It never seems to occur to anyone that there is true joy farther on if they would only escape from the circle and strike out for the hills of God. To bring news already known; to marshal texts to prove truth everyone believes and no one disputes; to illustrate by endless stories doctrines long familiar; to lay again and again the foundations of repentance from dead works and faith toward God—this is to labor the obvious. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection."