By John Wesley (1703-1791)
- Watch and pray continually against pride.
You can easily slide back into pride without even realizing it, if you think you have no danger of pride, or if you think you have more knowledge of God than you really have, or if you think you are so well taught by God that you don’t need anyone else to teach you anymore. Remember always that much grace does not always mean much light. These do not always go together. As there can be much light where there is little love, so there can also be much love where there is little light. To imagine that only such people can teach you who have overcome sin themselves, is a great and dangerous mistake. Don’t give place to such a thought even for a moment, because it can lead you into a thousand other mistakes. Obey “those who are over you in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:12),and don’t imagine that you know better than them. Let all that you speak and do, show that you are small in your own eyes. Always be ready to acknowledge any fault of yours. If you have at any time spoken, or acted wrongly, don’t hesitate to acknowledge it at once.
- Beware of fanaticism.
Don’t imagine that alldreams, voices, impressions, visions and revelations are all from God. They may be from Him, or they may be from your own mind, or they may be from the Devil. “Don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are from God.” (1 John 4:1).Test everything by the written Word of God. You are in great danger of fanaticism, if you depart even a little from Scripture; or if you despise reason, knowledge and human learning – all of which are excellent gifts of God. Throw away the chaff – worldly wisdom – but keep the wheat. Don’t expect the end without the means. That means that you should not expect to have the true knowledge of God without searching the Scriptures; and don’t expect spiritual strength without constant prayer and steady watchfulness; and don’t expect God’s blessing if you are not hearing His Word at every opportunity. Some have stopped searching the Scriptures and say, “God has written His Word on my heart. So, I have no need to read it”.These are all schemes of Satan (2 Corinthians 2:11).Beware of imagining that you have the gift of prophesying about future events. Beware also of judging people to be either right or wrong by your own feelings.
- Beware of extremism.
Don’t say, “Because I am filled with love. I don’t need so much holiness. Because I pray always, I don’t need set times for private prayer”.Magnify the written Word of God. Don’t let your love be confined only to those in your own group or to those who believe as you do. Beware of self- indulgence. Beware of judging others, or calling those who oppose you by names such as “blind”, “dead”, or “enemies of the work”. Beware of “cancelling the law (or any part of it) through faith” (Romans 3:31). Even the great truth, that “Christ is the end of the law” (Romans 10:4),can be misunderstood, if we don’t recognize that Christ has taken everypoint of the moral law, and included it into the law of love.
- Lose no opportunity to do good of any kind.
Beware of sins of omission. Be zealous to do good works (Titus 2:14).Don’t ever neglect to do works of goodness and mercy. Do all the good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of men. Give no place to laziness. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl.9:10). Be slow to speak and careful in speaking. “If you speak too much in any conversation, you will not be able to avoid sin” (Proverbs 10:19).Very few can engage in profitable conversation for more than one hour. And keep far, far away from all pious gossiping.
- Beware of desiring anything but God.
See to it that every desire other than the desire for God is driven out of your heart and never enters in again. “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22).Don’t allow any desire for pleasant food, or any pleasure of sense, or any desire that is pleasing to the eyes or to the imagination by things that are grand, or new, or beautiful, or any desire for money, or for the praise and esteem of men, or finding happiness in any human being, ever enter your heart. Be an example to everyone of denying yourself, and taking up your cross daily (Luke 9:23). Let others see that you desire no pleasure that will not bring you closer to God, and that you are not afraid of any pain that will bring you closer to God; that your only aim is to please Him, whether by doing or by suffering; and that the constant language of your heart, with regard to pleasure or pain, honour or dishonour, riches or poverty, is “All are alike to me, if I can live and die in my Lord”.
- Beware of causing divisions in your church.
Inward disunity, where the members of a church stop loving one another is at the root of all contention and divisions. Beware of everything that leads to that. Beware of a divisive spirit. Don’t say, “I want to listen only to this preacher. I don’t want to listen to anyone else.” That can breed division and disunity among those whom God has joined together. Don’t imagine that anyone sins by not believing you, or by not accepting your word.Don’t imagine that some opinion of yours is essential to the work of God. Don’t be disturbed when you are contradicted. Don’t condemn those who don’t see things as you see them. All such attitudes will bring division. Beware of touchiness, of unwillingness to accept rebuke, of being offended, and of avoiding people just because they don’t accept your words. Expect contradiction and opposition, together with crosses of various kinds. It is God Who gives you opposition and reproach – all these are but tokens of His love. Such things, far from being hindrances to the work of God, are actually profitable and necessary for you. So receive them from God, gladly and with thankfulness. Receive them from men with humility, meekness and gentleness. Give no offence to anyone that can possibly be avoided. Determine that you will “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Tit.2:10). Be particularly careful in speaking about yourself. Don’t deny the work that God has done in you. But speak of it in the humblest possible manner. Avoid all proud words. Just testify to the particular work that God has wrought in you. And if you ever fall at any time, in any way, acknowledge it immediately. Don’t deny it or hide it or disguise it – for that will destroy your soul.
- Be exemplary in all things.
Be an example in outward things: In the way you dress, in the use of money, in avoiding unnecessary expenditure, in steady seriousness in your life, and in the usefulness of all your conversation. Thus you will be a light, shining in a dark place.Thus you will “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18),and “you will be given an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).