John G Bellett

         We are aware by how many different ways our fellow-believers try us and grieve us, and no doubt we do them.  We see, or we fancy we see, some bad quality in them, and find it hard to bear it, or to go on in further company with them.  It has occurred to me that we may observe that just in those same ways the mind and heart of Jesus were tried and grieved by His disciples in the days of His flesh, and yet He went on with them we know, as I need not add, "not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12: 21, KJV) - the evil that was in them with the good that was in Himself.  I would mention some of these wrong things in them that must have grieved Him, and the influence of which upon our own thoughts and feelings towards others we well understand and continually experience.

         Vanity in another tries us - an air of self-satisfaction, or the esteeming of ourselves and the putting of ourselves forth to admiration.  The Lord was tried by this spirit in His disciples.  The mother betrayed it, and His kinsfolk, John 7: 3.  Peter was thus self-confident when he said, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I”, Mark 14: 29.  And all of them were guilty of this when they contended who should be the greatest, and also when they forbade those who followed not with themselves.

         Ill-temper is a very fretful thing, it so interferes with us.  Martha tried the Lord with it when she complained to Him of her sister (Luke 10: 40), and so did the apostles when they urged Him to send away the multitude, just because their privacy and repast had been intruded upon, Mark 6.  Any shew of a covetous, grudging spirit is very hateful to us.  Jesus must have discerned this (and therefore had to bear with it) on such occasions as Matthew 14: 17 and 15: 33.

         Unkindness, whether towards ourselves or to others, is very irritating.  Peter's inquiry in Matthew 18: 21 covered, I believe, what the Lord must have seen to be the workings of an unkind and malevolent temper, as also we see in Matthew 15: 23.

         Indifference to others and carefulness about oneself is very vexing to us also; it is so selfish and coldhearted.  Jesus was tried enough by it in His disciples.  He asked them to watch with Him, but He found them sleeping (Mark 14: 37); He spake of His death, but they were thinking of their place and honours in the kingdom (Luke 9: 44-46); He spake of leaving them, but none of them asked, “Whither goest thou?” (John 16: 5); and in the ship it was of their own safety they thought, Luke 8: 24.  These were instances of cold indifference.

         Ignorance is very apt to try us and make us impatient.  Whoever found more of it in those He was continually teaching than the Lord?  Some of the plainest lessons they had not learned; and when He spake spiritually or mystically to them they listened to Him as in the letter - they were asking explanations of the simplest parables.

         Unspirituality of mind in fellow-disciples is a trial to us.  How much of this amongst His people was the Lord continually suffering! and He was always right in discovering it.  We often, through vanity or self-esteem, mistake mere nonconformity with ourselves for it.

         These are among the ways in which the disciples must have tried the mind of the divine Master; and these are some of the tempers and characteristics which to this hour try and fret us in our brethren.  It may be thought that the instances here adduced are but faint and minute expressions of these different wrong tempers.  That may be.  But we must remember how pure and perfect the mind of Jesus is, and then we shall know that though the instance was faint, and the occasion a small one, yet His finer sensibilities gave it more than the importance of the greatest occasion.  And comforting, let me say, it is to see the Lord going before us in such trials as these.  But if He has gone before us in the trials themselves, He has also left us an example of a series of victories over them, and in these victories He has told us to follow His steps; for not only in His ways with His adversaries, but in His ways with His disciples is He our pattern. If, in not answering reviling with reviling, nor wrongs with threatenings, He is an example to us, so also in His going on still with His disciples, in spite of naughty outbreaks and many shortcomings among them.  For we have returned to Him as "the shepherd and bishop of your souls", in all things as the One who is a pattern to us - how we should carry ourselves to all, adversaries and brethren, 1 Pet 2: 21, 25.  And He, as I said, was never overcome of evil that was in another, but ever overcame it by the good that was in Himself.

         Thus did He suffer from His disciples, and thus did He conquer.  How ready are our foolish hearts to plead our right to part company if another does not please us.  But this was not Jesus.  The pride, the indifference, the ill-tempers, and the low unspiritual mind which the disciples were continually betraying did not tempt Him to withdraw from them.  For at the end of their walk together He is nearer to them than ever, John 14: 16.  He did not part company with them because they gave Him much exercise of heart and were continually drawing upon Him.  He warned and instructed them; He rebuked and condemned them; but never gave them up.  Blessed, perfect Master!  Lover of our souls at all cost!

         O Lord, Thy heart with love o‘erflowed,

                  Love spoke in every breath,

         Unwearied love Thy life declared,

                  And triumphed in Thy death.

         And Thou hast taught Thy followers here,

                  Their faithfulness to prove,

         By yielding to Thy sweet command,

                  That they each other love.

         May we this sacred law fulfil,

                  In every act and thought,

         Each angry passion be removed,

                  Each selfish thought forgot.

        Teach us to help each other, Lord,

                 Each other’s burdens bear.

         Let each his willing aid affor

                 And feel his brother’s care.


From Goodly Words, 1932 – said then to be previously unpublished