30 July 2008

Three Kinds of Men (2)

I was fascinated to discover in a book left to me by my grandfather that C. S. Lewis was not the first to speak of “three kinds of men” (which I posted earlier)—the immoral, the moral, and the gospel. Those who don't want to obey, so they don't; those who don't want to obey, but they do; those who want to obey.

F. B. Meyer was a Baptist pastor in Britain a century ago. In his 1904 book The Directory of the Devout Life, I read:

There are three kinds of men. First, those who have no intention. Second, those who have a double intention. Third, those whose intention is pure and simple. (148)

Meyer goes on to explain that “those who have no intention” are the immoral, the irreligious, those who couldn’t care less about cultivating virtue in their lives. (149)

Those who “have a double intention” are those who have heard and responded to the call of Christ but whose lives are consumed with other concerns, either circumstantially or morally. They “seem to be very earnest in Christian work, but their apparent devotion arises from a masterfulness of disposition that likes to be independent and rule” (150). “The heart is so deceitful,” writes Meyer, “that it becomes us to examine ourselves with all carefulness, lest at the end of life we shall find that whilst we appeared to be doing God’s work, we were really doing our own; and that whilst our friends gave us credit for great religious devotion, we were really borne along by a vain, proud, and unworthy purpose, which robbed out noblest service of all value in the sight of eternity” (151).

The third group are the “pure and simple,” who have one aim in life, who pray and give in secret, who care not about the praise of men, who desire only to please God—and who are the only ones who have really discovered joy.

Along with Lewis and Meyer, the two men living from whom I have learned this truth—that our options are not obedience and disobedience but immoral disobedience, moral disobedience, and gospel obedience—are Tim Keller and my dad.

No comments: