On Distinguished Degrees:
Preface: These thoughts sprang from reading J.I. Packer’s book “A Quest for Godliness” which examines the Puritan’s approach to life. The section I was reading was on what Puritans understood Assurance to be.
What uselessness is the most distinguished of all degrees if there is not assurance and a conviction in the heart of the love and beneficence of God? How fleeting are such things? How long will the joy last when you have obtained such an achievement? A few moments? Will you then look upon that piece of paper and then will it be the words in connection that give you a great sense of peace that you have finally arrived? Is it mere fibers and ink that gives you approval? And what then when terror and fear strikes you? Will you return to your piece of paper and look at the appellations to your name for comfort? What vanity this is.
Would you seek to increase your greatness by educating yourself beyond your peers? Observe the Cost: you must die to gain this reward, for there will always be one better than you and unless you give every moment over to striving to be the greatest then you shall fail. And you would be the greatest of fools to delight in anything less than to be the best. It is quite like a man who offers to you freely the greatest treasure of gold and jewels and you content yourself with silver coins. If greatness is your goal, die before your settle for less. But what fool you would be then, to be greater than all men, who are the vilest of creatures on the planet, whom God says are accounted as nothing in his sight, who have altogether become worthless, whom he holds over the fires of hell. A connection of letters would make you the most distinguished of worthless sinners: what a prize. And to think that this is what you would long to take assurance in. It is like the earth flinging itself in the face of the sun. It would be consumed before it even touched the face of the sun. Delighting in an insignificant among insignificants, you would then send yourself before God. He would laugh at you as though you were the speck of dust that floats across the golden floor in his chamber, blowing and tossing, while he sits solidly on his throne roaring at the folly, as a speck of dust is content with itself while heaven itself surrounds it.
Instead, give yourself over to God, who can fill the deepest voids, overflow the mines in your soul, who can satisfy the most ardent longings, who can fill your heart with the most wondrous love. No earthly achievement can bring the satisfaction of a moment of tasting the goodness that drips from the tip of the finger of God. As the Sons of Korah have rightly declared: “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness”
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God.