The Borrowed Light of Great Men

Biographies are written about a man typically because he influenced people around him.  There was a quality or qualities that distinguished him from others.  This is true of Christian men as well.  Yet noteworthy Christian men and women are great when they are mirrors not sponges–they reflect the glory of Christ rather than absorb the glory Christ deserves. 

When a person spends time in biographies, it’s easy to feel inspired and discouraged at the same time.  I’m reading the Memoir of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar.  M’Cheyne expressed a similar sentiment of unworthiness after reading a portion of the Life of Jonathan Edwards.  Yet M’Cheyne reminds me that the light of great Christians is borrowed and we have access to the same source.  His words were a great encouragement to me.

Read part of the Life of Jonathan Edwards.  How feeble does my spark of Christianity appear beside such a sun!  But even his was a borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me (March 20, 1832 journal entry in Bonar, Memoir of the Rev. R. M. M’Cheyne, 26).  

This idea is also found in John 1:6 about John the Baptist,

He was not that light, but came to bear witness about the light.

We are all called to be mirrors reflecting the light of Christ to a sin-darkened world.  Let us been encouraged that the same source of this light is still open to enlighten us.


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