I’ve been reading a book which includes brief biographies of some very useful Christians from the past, one being a biogrpahy of David Brainerd, another of Henry Martyn and still another of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. One of the things that struck me was the fact that though all of these men died when they were around 30 years of age they left a mark for Christ that is still going on today.
While the question what made them such effective servants of Christ could be answered in many ways, I was challenged by a statement about M’Cheyne that I believe in part explains a reason why he was so mightily used of God in such a short period of time. It comes from the book They Were Pilgrims written by Marcus Loane. As I share this excerpt with you I hope you are as challenged and encouraged by it as I was and that you will join me in praying that God would make us more like M”Cheyne who so wonderfully reflected our Savior Jesus Christ.
Marcus Loane writes: “The secret of his success … was his faithfulness to the Word of God with tenderness for the souls of men. He went about his work with an air of reverence which made men feel that the majesty of God was in his heart. There were few who could exhort the guilty in more searching or tremendous terms; there were few who could address the troubled in more gentle or persuasive terms. Andrew Bonar once told him how he had chosen for a text the words with regard to the doom of those who forget God and are sent to hell (Psa. 9:17). M’Cheyne at once asked him:’Were you able to preach it with tenderness?’ He knew that there is an enormous difference between a voice that scolds and a heart that yearns…It is not by threats and thunder, but by love and pathos that hearts are made to melt; it is not by words that scorch and condemn, but by a heart that bleeds to bless that souls are won. M’Cheyne himself preached on eternal destiny as one whose heart was wrung with a sense of anguish. He did not spare his hearers a word of truth; still less did he spare his own feelings a stab of pain. … J. H. Jowett once said that his severities were terrific because they were so tender…. Both the motive and the power in all such preaching may be discerned in his sermon an a broken heart and contrite spirit. ‘It is not’, he said, ‘a look into your own heart, or the heart of hell, but into the heart of Christ, that breaks the heart. Oh, pray for this broken heart!'”
Scripture admonishes us to get rid of “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander … along with all malice and (that we instead should) be kind to one another (and) tender hearted…” (Ephesians 4:31, 32). M’Cheyne put these commands into practice in his life and ministry and, in so doing, experienced the blessing of God in his life and ministry. I am challenged to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to develop more of this tenderness in my own life and I hope you will be also.