HUMAN VIRTUES FOR A DEGRADED AGE
When Paul wrote these three books, the church was degraded, and under that kind of degradation, the need was not mainly for teachings or gifts, but human virtues. I believe that the message of these three books just fits today’s situation. We are under such a degradation. What is the proper cure for this age? What is the proper dose for this generation? The answer is the proper humanity that comes from the man Jesus. The proper humanity is the only healing power for today’s generation. I have confidence that the Lord will use the church as a remedy for today’s crooked and perverse generation. The remedy for such a generation is a church with the proper humanity. I have the full assurance that if the young people in the church take the humanity of Jesus, they will be the proper remedy for this generation.
It is not just a matter of shouting, “Hallelujah, Jesus is Lord!” We need the humanity of Jesus to back up our shouting. Then there will be the manifestation of the humanity of Jesus in the schools, on the jobs, and wherever the brothers and sisters are. There will be the shining of the humanity of Jesus into the darkness of this generation.
Paul mentions something concerning the matter of humanity in these three books, and he also speaks of human virtues in Philippians 4:8. “For the rest, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is well-spoken of, if there is any virtue and if any praise, take account of these things.” It is clear that these are all human virtues. He also tells us in this book that we are the children of God as lights shining in this world among a crooked and perverted generation (2:15).
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit here refers to the Spirit of the humanity of Jesus. Paul does not speak of the fruit of the Spirit of God or the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit of Jesus, because all of the items mentioned are human virtues. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The things that are mentioned in these verses are not divinely powerful or miraculous. They are something of humanity—but not of our humanity. These things come forth only from the humanity of Jesus.
Suppose we have two brothers before us. One has a marvelous healing gift, and the other takes the humanity of Jesus to be gentle, meek, joyous, and full of self-control and longsuffering. Which of these two brothers would you prefer? I am afraid that many Christians would pay little attention to the one with the proper humanity. All would admire the one with the healing gift, and he would even be advertised in the newspaper. I have never seen an advertisement in the newspaper concerning a Christian who is exercising the proper humanity.
Paul did not say that the fruit of the Spirit is divine healing. Healing is something which is performed outwardly, but gentleness, meekness, and self-control are part of one’s being. Our being is much more important than our doing. Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, once said that God pays more attention to what we are than what we do. Many Christians pay too much attention to what people do, rather than what they are.
I do believe that today in the church life the Lord is going to recover His humanity. We not only need His power; we need His humanity. We not only need what He can do; we need what He is. I cannot believe that the miraculous gifts are the remedy for today’s generation. Rather, the proper humanity shining forth through the young brothers and sisters will be a strong testimony and remedy to this present age. And this humanity will also cause us to have the strongest church life. The fruit of the Spirit is just the expression of the humanity of Jesus.
THE SALT OF THE EARTH AND THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
The Lord Jesus told us in Matthew 5 that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The function of salt is to kill corrupting elements so that things may be preserved. There is much corruption on the earth today. Everywhere you go you can see the germs of corruption. How we need the salt! And the basic element of the salt is nothing but the humanity of Jesus. The humanity of Jesus in our daily walk is the heavenly salt. The more we live by the humanity of Jesus, the more salty we will be. With this humanity, there is the killing power for all the corrupting germs. The more we apply, experience, and live by the humanity of Jesus, the more we will be the salt to this corrupted and corrupting generation. Hence, we see what a responsibility we have. It is not just a matter of shouting, “Jesus is Lord!” but of being the salt with the salting power. We all need the real transformation that comes from the application of the humanity of Jesus in our daily walk.
Furthermore, the problem today is not only a matter of corruption, but also of darkness. How dark it is today! I simply do not dare to read the papers. The whole situation is under darkness. But, hallelujah, the church is the lampstand, and we are the light! Yet we can be the light only by taking the humanity of Jesus.
Now the importance of the meal offering in Leviticus is apparent. When we come to the last three offerings, we will see that they are based upon the first two. The burnt offering and the meal offering are the basic offerings, and all the other offerings are built upon them. But the meal offering is more weighty and even more basic than the burnt offering.
In all spiritual matters the basic structure is the humanity of Jesus. We have already seen nine or ten matters which are produced by the Lord’s humanity. If the tabernacle had not had the standing boards, it would have been in confusion. The basic structure of all spiritual things is the humanity of Jesus. This humanity is the heavenly salt and the divine light. Without this humanity, the salt loses its flavor. May the Lord be merciful to us that His humanity may be wrought into our Christian walk and daily living.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)