Living Word Christian Magazine

Free Bible Study Magazine

Divine Diminishing by Edwin and Lillian Harvey

Article from May 2014 Living Word

Article from May 2014 Living Word

This is an extract from “Royal Insignia” by Edwin & Lillian Harvey used in this month’s edition.


Image © Subbotina
Reproduced by kind permission of Harvey Publishers.

The Lord said to Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me (Judges 7:2).

SOMEONE declared, “A man may be too big for God to use but he cannot be too little.” This comes as a shock in an age of extreme bigness. Everything is bigger and more ambitious than ever before. Advocated on all fronts are mergers
and artificial swelling processes to give weight and power, or at least an appearance of them.

The Bible shows a principle of divine success that is the exact antithesis of all this. God must, in His servants, find smallness, nothingness, humility, and dependence. Where He does not detect these, He may have to reject the applicant altogether. If, however, He sees even the slightest flickering desire to be humbly used of God, the Divine Master-maker will put the candidate through a whittling process that he will never in the hour of victory say those chest-expanding, but God dishonouring
words, “I did it.” More important is the provision through the Cross whereby the old Adam can be crucified with Christ so that it is not “I” but Christ Who lives and labors from that hour.

The Old Testament is fascinating because of the Divine Diminishing. Much of its charm is the relation of tremendous accomplishments with very small instruments. A word, a rod, a lamp and pitcher, a sling and five stones, and lo, marvelous feats, out of all proportion to the size of the instrument, result. And as all human instruments are the largest available there must be a drastic reduction before God can employ them.

David had simple faith in God but no doubt there was a danger of too much success and popularity going to his head. Saul offered him his own armor with which to combat the giant but God gave him such a feeling of insecurity with all that big armory that he reduced himself to his sling and five smooth stones, plus his faith in God. Then, to the accompanying tune of the most sarcastic and taunting slurs concerning his youth and his littleness and his “light artillery,” a platform was furnished from which God could get all the glory for the victory.

And Gideon had his army numbered at 42,000 men. But what were they against the Midianites who covered the land with their multitude! It took plenty of faith, one would say, for Gideon’s army to think of defeating the enemy with a so much larger army. But God was taking no chances with the natural pride of man, so He reduced it first to ten thousand and then to a laughable little party of three hundred, plus lamps and pitchers and a God-taught, God-honoring slogan. And the victory came!

Often we hear at the end of a prayer the words, “And we shall be careful to give God the glory.” But we can never do this without God’s diminishing process. That process is co-crucifixion by faith with Jesus on the Cross. The old Adam is always big and aspiring to be bigger. When Jesus died, rose again and ascended into glory He left a pathetic little pack of failures—mainly humble fishermen, who had aspired to be “the greatest in the Kingdom.” They had coveted the places of honor beside the Master when He would come into His kingdom. The future of Christianity appeared hopeless in their hands, but after Pentecost they were so small that one fails to see them as the actors at all—they were little men with a great God. Their tools were insignificant, as their stature in the sight of the world.

Since Pentecost, God’s instruments have become nothing through Calvary. They have learned that willpower or any other human force can never make a man small enough to be able at all times to let God have all the glory. It is a precious moment when a weary soul asks earnestly and in faith, “Lord, let me be nothing; let me die with Thee.” —E. F. Harvey.

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