George Heath, 1750-1822

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
I Corinthians 9:26 & 27

There is nothing more tragic than to see a Christian negate a lifetime of worthy living and service for God through some spiritual defeat and dishonor to the Gospel. Imagine the shame of Job when Eliphaz the Temanite rebuked him with these cutting words:

Behold, thou hast instructed many,
and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
Thy words have upholden him that was falling,
and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest;
it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope,
and the uprightness of thy ways?
Job 4:3-6

The apostle Paul's fervent concern for his life, that after he had preached to others he himself might be "a castaway"--disqualified by God through careless living--seems to apply to the writer of this hymn text. George Heath was an English independent minister, who in 1770 became pastor of a church at Honiton, Devonshire. Later, proving himself unworthy of this office, he was deprived of that office "for cause". It is difficult to understand how a person could write such a stirring challenge on the subject of spiritual steadfastness and then change so drastically in later years. Yet the Scriptures are clear that the Christian life is a lifetime of perseverance, and whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back is unfit for service in God's kingdom according to Luke 9:62. We must have the enabling power of the Holy Spirit each day if we intend to be on guard.

My soul, be on thy guard;
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the skies.

O watch, and fight, and pray;
The battle neer give oer;
Renew it boldly every day,
And help divine implore.

Ne'er think the vict'ry won,
Nor lay thine armor down;
The work of faith will not be done,
Till thou obtain the crown.

Fight on, my soul, till death
Shall bring thee to thy God;
Hell take thee, at thy parting breath,
To His divine abode.

*For Today*: Matthew 26:41; I Corinthians 15:58, 16:13; Hebrews 10:23; I Peter 5:8

Be alert to the many distractions that can easily undermine your spiritual life. Resolve to keep short accounts with God. Depend on the Holy Spirit for your inner strength.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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