I was reading the Valley of Vision, A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotionals, which is a stunning book, by the way. It’s one of the top three books on my shelf, after the Bible and barely before Pilgrim’s Progress.
In my version, there is a prayer on page 60 titled simply, “A Christian’s Prayer”. One particular line spoke to me deeply. The Christian who was praying (writing) the prayer wrote,
May I remember the dignity of my spiritual release
When I think of the spiritual battle that took place immediately prior to my release, the word ‘dignity’ does not come to mind. Anger, wrath, blood, resistance, hate, submission, exhaustion, wonder; now, those words seem to fit my final approach to and through the cross.
When I think of the Lord on the cross, the word dignity does not come to mind there, either. Humiliation, nakedness, wrath, blood, sorrow, mocking; now, those words seem to fit the circumstances of the Lord on the cross and His work to release the captives. As a matter of fact, those are the words we read in the Bible that exactly describe Jesus on the cross.
And yet, the word dignity in the context of our spiritual release also seems to fit perfectly, too, doesn’t it?
The dictionary defines the word dignity as
–the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.
–a composed or serious manner or style.
Jesus’ life on earth during His incarnation was one of dignity. While He was ministering, even when He was angry, He was composed. He wove a whip of cords (John 2:15) before He used the whip to drive out the merchants. Weaving the whip took time and purpose. Jesus did nothing in blind anger. Rather, even in anger, He was composed.
We all know people who behave in a dignified manner. External dignity or dignified behavior is not what the Puritan who wrote the prayer had in mind. It’s our spiritual release that is the dignity.
We all were the prodigal son, slopping pigs in loneliness and despair. We all were in such spiritual need that we began to look with longing on the very food the pigs ate. (Luke 15:11-16). We were a leprous, filthy, horror and a blot to the our eyes of Jesus. Except, He did look upon us. Even more, He came down.
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
What a great and splendid Savior we have!
Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18).
The dignity of our spiritual release. Ponder it.
|Robe of Righteousness, by Lars Justinen|