J.C. Ryle was named the first Bishop of Liverpool in 1880. He was a capable preacher and deeply committed to the Word of God. He lived during a time of great turmoil in the Church of England. Many pastors of his day had begun to turn away from the cardinal doctrines of the faith. Ryle addressed his fellow pastors and explained his firm commitment,
No doubt we all love unity; but we must distinctly maintain, that true unity can only be built on God’s truth. No doubt we must not withhold the right hand of fellowship from any faithful brother, because he does not think exactly like us; but we must understand who the men are to whom we extend the right hand.
Ryle’s convictions would be put to the test within his own family. His son, Herbert, also entered church ministry. But Hebert had abandoned the authority of Scripture. As the acting bishop, J.C. Ryle had to take the painful step of “firing” his own son.
Fast forward a number of years and consider the contrasting destinations of these two men. Herbert Ryle spent many years on his last book. But he could not find a publisher. His thoughts were so trendy and fleeting that they were already out of date by the time of his death in 1925. In contrast, J.C. Ryle’s messages and writings had an enduring quality because they were centered on the timeless Word of God.
The author of the Proverbs challenges us to ponder the path of our feet (Proverbs 4:26). Look at the path you are on and consider where it is taking you. We would do well to consider the allocation of our time and resources. Are we involved in things that will have lasting impact? Or are we consumed with trivial things that will quickly be forgotten?
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