The postmodern world in which we live is marked by its extreme denial of any authoritative truth. As believers, we must stand squarely upon the Word of God as we witness the rejection of truth, whether in the world or in the church. We must pursue the truth in our lives through a life of commitment to Jesus Christ. Throughout the centuries, believers have gained strength from the many godly examples of their historical predecessors. As we consider what a life of allegiance to Christ looks like, I want us to consider the example of the noted Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
M’Cheyne’s conversion to Jesus Christ came through personal tragedy. At age eighteen, he experienced the trauma of watching his older brother die. M’Cheyne was deeply impacted by the strong faith of his brother and the supernatural peace with which he faced death, and it led him to commit his life to Jesus Christ. His conversion launched him into a life of ministry that would last only eleven years. M’Cheyne would himself die at the early age of twenty-nine. Though brief in years, his life was rich in depth.
A sickly young man, M’Cheyne was advised by his doctors to relocate to another climate in an effort to regain his health. So he sailed from Scotland to Europe and traveled to Israel in order to avail himself of the arid climate in the Middle East. Though instructed to rest, M’Cheyne spent his time in Israel evangelizing the Jews and preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He pushed himself to the very brink of exhaustion for the cause of the gospel. He recovered to some extent, returned to Scotland, and resumed his pastorate. A short time thereafter, M’Cheyne passed away.
Before his death, this young Scottish preacher wrote in his journal, “Set not your heart on the flowers of this world, for they all have a canker in them. Prize the rose of Sharon more than all, for He changes not. Live nearer to Christ than anyone else so that when they are taken from you, you may have Him to lean on still.” M’Cheyne lived with abandon; he held nothing back, investing his entire life with supreme devotion for the kingdom of God. Though he had only eleven years to live for Christ, the effect of this one life that was wholeheartedly committed to the Savior was such as though he lived eleven lifetimes. He was a mighty instrument in the hand of God, used to bring seasons of revival in the Church of Scotland.
The example of M’Cheyne should challenge each one of us to live with full commitment to Jesus Christ. As iron sharpens iron, so this fiery Scot should motivate our souls to live with greater abandon for the sake of Christ. What do you live for? What consumes and preoccupies you? What dominates your thoughts, ambitions, dreams, and aspirations? It is better to die at age twenty-nine and be radically committed to Jesus Christ than to live to be seventy or eighty years in passive mediocrity toward Him. The reign of truth in a believer’s life is exemplified in the completely committed life of M’Cheyne. All who embrace the truth must pursue this decisive dedication as well, endeavoring to make every moment count for time and eternity.
One passage in the Bible that should inspire us to live in such a manner is Romans 12:1–2. This critically important text stands in a pivotal position in this epistle that is regarded as the most definitive doctrinal explanation of the gospel. After laying a theological foundation in the first eleven chapters of Romans, the Apostle Paul moves to its application. Here is how the gospel is to be lived on a daily basis. These two verses are the launching point for this new section on the reign of truth in our growing in grace.
In discussing the practical aspect of living the Christian life, Romans 12:1 implores, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God. . . .” The greatest motivation for living for the Lord Jesus Christ is remembering the fullness of the saving mercies of God. This is a strong word of exhortation from the Apostle Paul issued to all believers. He is not encouraging his listeners with his personal persuasion to live for Christ. The motivation for following Jesus Christ, and thus the basis of Paul’s appeal, is the mercies of God. This refers to the entirety of the saving grace of God wrought in eternal salvation that is described in the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans.
These preceding chapters in Romans make it clear that all mankind lies under the wrath of God (1:18). We have fallen short of the glory of God (3:23), we do not seek God (3:11–12), and we are entrenched in our sin (3:9). Yet consider what God has done for wretched sinners. God has justified us freely by His grace (3:24), giving us peace with Him (5:1). He “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God chose us in eternity past and predestined us for glory (8:29–30). Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (8:38–39). Once slaves of sin and ungodliness, we have been redeemed (3:24), set free, and resurrected to new life in Christ (6:4, 9). Consider what we have become: we are children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (8:17). For those who are called according to His purpose, God is taking every circumstance, every trial, and every event, both great and small, and orchestrating it for His glory and our good (8:28).
These truths of our salvation are only a brief overview of what God has done to redeem us by His mercies. This should motivate us and compel us to live with full devotion to Jesus Christ. Do you understand what God has done for you in Christ? Are you truly motivated by the mercies of God to live in complete dedication for Him? The realization of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus should overwhelm us like a spiritual tsunami, flooding our souls, overwhelming us, and producing the motivation to do what He calls us to do.