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Lesser and Greater Devotedness

I am devoted to the Lord Jesus as I learn, first, how He meets my need, and secondly, how superior He is to everything and everyone. The heart likes to be devoted to the one who commands (i.e. attracts—NC) its affections. Thus there are two kinds of devotedness, both true, but the one greatly in advance of the other.

The first, which for distinction I call the lesser devotedness, is produced by the conviction that in myself I am lost, as to my standing and state, but that the Lord Jesus is my Savior. This is known in measure by every happy saint. The second, or the greater devotedness, is produced when, in addition to the knowledge that He is my Savior, I find that everything I need or could value is in Him, that He is superior to everything in myself, and that He imparts to me of Himself. As I seek Him because of this, my devotedness is of the highest order.

It is not only that I delight to make little of myself in order to make much of Him, which is true where there is any real devotedness; but I suffer in order to be with Him, losing myself for Him; my heart, glad of the exchange, enduring all things, counting all things but loss, that He may be my gain. It is mercy or the greatest favor—that of a Savior to a lost sinner—which produces the lesser devotedness; but it is the knowledge of the Savior Himself, in all His personal attractiveness, which produces the greater. “That I may know Him . . .”

Knowledge of the greatest service which could be rendered to me produces the first devotedness; knowledge of the heart and ways of the greatest Person, the one who has rendered the service, produces the greater. There is nothing really satisfying to the heart but the personal knowledge of a heart full of the deepest and truest interest, while perfect and holy in all its tenderness and care – and this we find only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As my heart becomes acquainted with Him, as I see the perfection of His life, the depth of His interests and love in the holy manner of all His ways and the supreme beauty of His movements in everything, my heart turns with delight to Him. It boasts in Him as the One perfect Man before God, hastens to refuse and repudiate everything of man and the scene here where He was refused, and knows no joy, values no possessions but Himself. All else is but dross.

In the lesser devotedness it is one’s own possessions which are surrendered as the expression of devotion; but in the greater, the one thought is to possess Him, and for this everything is surrendered. In the one case I have received the greatest and I return my greatest. In the other I abandon everything. I leave myself and the earth (consciously per Eph 2:6 – knowing its certainty is as if presently there through Christ via connection with His Spirit in us—NC), to possess Him who in Himself captivates and commands the affection of my heart. “Set your affection on things above, not on the things of the earth.”

The greater devotion cannot be without knowing what He is. Nothing but association and intimacy with Him personally where He is can lead to this. He comes to my side and walks with me in my sorrow, as He did with Mary; and until He does this, whatever one may hear of Him or read of Him, one can never know the tenderness or the nature of His heart. Unless one has been in the depths of sorrow and death-darkness, one cannot know the touching expression of His love, or what He is at a moment when no one else can even come near me. To know Him there—His step, His tears, His sympathy (Heb 4:15), the greatest company of the weakest, His heart told out in my sorrow—binds my heart to Him in a way that acquaintance with Him in joy never could.

— J B Stoney

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