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The Law of Indirectness (5 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
2 Chronicles 17:33
I have just one truth which I want to make vivid and real in this sermon, and that is this: that the best things in life are secured by not seeking them, that the noblest prizes are won by not striving for them. I know this sounds paradoxical-but all the facts of life bear me out when I say, there are certain things which we can never get by aiming at them; we only get them by aiming at something else. Pursue these things, and they elude and escape you; but think nothing about them, and go on your way doing your humble and faithful best, and they present themselves to you unsought. This is what the bishop of Ripon calls the Law of Indirectness. It is a great and immutable law of the spiritual life. The reason why so many people's lives are burdened with a sense of failure is that they have forgotten this law. They have devoted themselves to the direct pursuit of such things as pleasure, honor, life. And because they have pursued them, they have failed to lay hold upon them. For pleasure comes not to the man who seeks it, but to the man who, without thinking of pleasure, does his simple duty; and honor comes not to the man who aims at it, but to the man who, without thinking of fame or applause, cares only for the good that he can do; and life comes not to the man who conserves and saves it, but to the man who spends and loses it in the service of God and man. Happiness, honor, life, and all the other supreme blessings, they are gained not by aiming directly at them, but by aiming at something else.
I have taken as the text of my sermon a verse from the story which the chronicler tells about the death of King Ahab. There was war between Ahab and the King of Syria, and the contending armies met at Ramoth Gilead. Now, for some reason or other, the King of Syria regarded Ahab with deep and relentless hatred. It may have been because Ahab was a cunning and insidious f ...
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