This book is a collection of editorials written by AW Tozer in the 1960s, but most are just as relevant today. Some remind me of Tim Keller’s way of thinking, such as the following article – the importance of self-judgment (pages 115-118) – which helps us see think through our idolatries, without mentioning the word.
“Hardly anything else reveals so well the fear and uncertainty among men as the length to which they will go to hide their true selves from each other and even from their own eyes.
Almost all men live from childhood to death behind a semi-opaque curtain, coming out briefly only when forced by some emotional shock and then retreating as quickly as possible into hiding again. The result of this lifelong dissimulation is that people rarely know then neighbours for what they really are, and worse than that, the camouflage is so successful that mostly they do not quite know themselves either.
Self-knowledge is so critically Important to us In our pursuit of God and His righteousness that we lie under heavy obligation to do immediately whatever is necessary to remove the disguise and permit our real selves to be known. It is one of the supreme tragedies in religion that so many of us think so highly of ourselves when the evidence lies all on the other side; and our self-admiration effectively blocks out any possible effort to discover a remedy for our condition. Only the man who knows he is sick will go to a physician.
Now, our true moral and spiritual state can be disclosed only by the Spirit and the Word. The final judgement of the heart is God’s. There is a sense in which we dare not judge each other (Mt 7:1-5), and in which we should not even try to judge ourselves (1 Cor 4:3). The ultimate judgement belongs to the one whose eyes are like a flame of fire and who sees quite through the deeds and thoughts of men. I for one am glad to leave the final word with Him.
There is, nevertheless, a place for self-judgement and a real need that we exercise it (1 Cor 11:31, 32). While our self-discovery is not likely to be complete and our self-judgement is almost certain to be biased and imperfect, there is yet every good reason for us to work along with the Holy Spirit in His benign effort to locate us spiritually in order that we may make such amendments as the circumstances demand. That God already knows us thoroughly is certain (Ps 139:1-6). It remains for us to know ourselves as accurately as possible. For this reason I offer some rules for self-discovery; and if the results are not all we could desire they may be at least better than none at all. We may be known by the following:
1. What we want most. We have but to get quiet, recollect our thoughts, wait for the mild excitement within us to subside, and then listen closely for the faint cry of desire. Ask your heart, What would you rather have than anything else in the world? Reject the conventional answer. Insist on the true one, and when you have heard it you will know the kind of person you are.
2. What we think about most. The necessities of life compel us to think about many things, but the true test is what we think about voluntarily. It is more than likely that our thoughts will cluster about our secret heart treasure, and whatever that is will reveal what we are. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
3. How we use our money. Again we must ignore those matters about which we are not altogether free. We must pay taxes and provide the necessities of life for ourselves and family, if any. That is routine, merely, and tells us little about ourselves. But whatever money is left to do with as we please-that will tell us a great deal indeed Better listen to. it.
4. What we do with our leisure time. A large share of our time is -already spoken for by the exigencies of civilised living, but we do have some free time. What we do with it is vital. Most people waste it staring at the television, listening to the radio, reading the cheap output of the press or engaging in idle chatter. What I do with mine reveals the kind of man I am.
5. The company we enjoy. There is a law of moral attraction that draws every man to the society most like himself. ‘Being let go, they went to their own company.’ Where we go when we are free to go where we will is a near-infallible index of character.
6. Whom and what we admire. I have long suspected that the great majority of evangelical Christians, while kept somewhat in line by the pressure of group opinion, nevertheless have a boundless, if perforce secret, admiration for the world. We can learn the true state of our minds by examining our unexpressed admirations. Israel often admired, even envied, the pagan nations around them, and so forgot the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the law and the promises and the fathers. Instead of blaming Israel let us look to ourselves.
7. What we laugh at. No. one with a due regard for the wisdom of God would argue that there is anything wrong with laughter, since humour is a legitimate component of our complex nature. Lacking a sense of humour we fall that much short of healthy humanity. But the test we are running here is not whether we laugh or not, but what we laugh at. Some things lie outside the field of pure humour. No reverent Christian, for instance, finds death funny, nor birth, nor love. No Spirit-filled man can bring himself to laugh at the Holy Scriptures, or the Church which Christ purchased with His own blood, or prayer or righteousness, or human grief or pain. And surely no. one who has been even for a brief moment in the presence of God could ever laugh at a story involving the Deity.
These are a few tests. The wise Christian will find others.