One day a preacher walked into my study and placed a quarter upon my desk. Heres your money, he said. I surely wasnt thinking straight when I chipped into that pool.
We had been fishing together some days previously, and he thought I had had part in a pool which was given to the man who caught the first fish. When he was convinced that I had no part in the gambling game, I helped him identify the men who had been in his boat. He returned their money, with apologies for participating in the caper. Perhaps these worldly men thought he was a real square, but in my book that mans stock soared.
He had proven himself equal to one of the most demanding requirements of Christianity — that of self-correction.
The betting incident was unknown to brethren who might have criticized. Among the participants he was Hale Fellow, well met! This was the popular thing to do. Correction took money he could have used, time, a fifty-mile round trip — and most of all, it required humiliating self-censure. Saving faith exists only among those who trust in Christ, not in themselves (Matt. 16:24). Obedience to commands, per se, does not make a Christian. A follower of Christ is truly submissive to Christ as Lord — self is crucified in obedience, or the effort is wasted. He is a Jew who is one inwardly (Rom. 2:28-29), who delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). The ultimate test for Christianity in man comes when that man, separated from all external inducement and coercion, motivated only by his desire to serve God, corrects himself in keeping with that which he believes to be the will of God. It aint easy, brother!!
This takes us to the core of the free will controversy. It tests our faith in God, obviously; but it also tests our faith in the very nature of the man whom God made. God said man could repent and turn— now we must demonstrate that God knew His product.
The man with the beam is not only a poor mote remover (Matt. 7:1-5); his myopic vision is so self-centered he fails to see the way to heaven.