As the light of William Wilberforce was fading, the light of Lord Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-1885), was kindling. Wilberforce, the great enemy of the British slave trade, had struck mighty blows in legislation and won an important moral victory. From the same place of faith and fervor for the Kingdom of God, Lord Shaftesbury championed the cause of living out the social elements of the gospel.
Privately he promoted the building of model tenements (on his own estate) and “ragged schools” for waifs. For years he served as president of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He ardently supported the London City Mission, the Church Missionary Society, and the Young Men’s Christian Association. He was associated with 33 philanthropic organizations in his life. (from Christianity Today)
He was as notably tireless as he was effective in his efforts to serve the poor and the downtrodden. His son had asked him how he keeps up with all his initiatives at once, to which Lord Shaftesbury gave a magnificent response.
This response, I believe, is the obvious secret to spending and being spent for the glory of God and the building of his Kingdom. Perhaps you’re like me, perhaps not; but nearly each day I wrestle to find the internal hutzpah to go do the simple, mundane things that need doing. The inertia in simply completing the tasks of daily life without gross moral failure can be severe. Yet Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, and others boldly marched forward, clearing out enemy bunkers and taking key hills, planting flags of Christ. How do I live like that?
Lord Shaftesbury told his son that he works “by hearty prayer to Almighty God before I begin, by entering into it with faith and zeal, and by making my end to be His glory and the good of mankind.”
What a simple, biblical, and encouraging way forward! Hearty prayer — boldly and simply asking God to do what he has promised, and to give the necessary light and strength. Faith (putting something on the line, relying on God) and zeal. Zeal like Phinehas. Zeal like Jesus. And the telos of God’s glory, joining him in his good work of benefitting and blessing mankind. Is this not bolstering to you?
What is the King calling you to go out tomorrow and do with prayer, faith, and zeal for the glory of God and the good of mankind? Do it! He is a strong helper.