If!

One of the great 20th century missionary figures was Amy Carmichael who served in India.  Around 75 years ago she published a little book called “If”.  The contents of the book were not originally written for wide publication.  It was first printed only for members of her Donhavur Fellowship, but eventually it was made more widely available.

It’s a series of statements, each of which raises a very searching question.  As Amy Carmichael wrote these, she had in mind particularly people with spiritual responsibility: however there is no doubt a broader application.

Here are fifteen of her statements. Her own description for this was “scorching.”

  1. If I have not compassion on my fellow-servant even as my Lord had pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  2. If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ?  and what hast thou that thou hast not received?”  then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  3. If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  4. If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me, if I say, “Just what I expected,” if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  5. If I cast up a confessed, repented and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to colour my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  6. If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  7. If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practise fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  8. If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve around myself, if I am so occupied with myself that I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  9. If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  10. If I do not give a friend “the benefit of the doubt,” but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  11. If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.  (Amy Carmichael adds a footnote to this – “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.”
  12. If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  13. If I want to be known as the doer of something that has proved the right thing, or as the one who suggested that it should be done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  14. If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
  15. If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

(From the conclusion of a message on 1 Corinthians 13 on Sunday morning).

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