Lord, give me a whole heart and a right spirit. Amen.
1 Kings 18, 17-21. And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
Our Lord Jesus said to his disciples: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” In like manner Elijah spoke to Israel: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him!” We are always prone to fall into this unhappy habit of being half-hearted and fickle; and that which is written concerning this matter is for the warning of us all. We are tempted not by the heathen gods, but rather by the riches and honors of the world; not by gods of wood and stone, but by pride and lust of power in worldly or in spiritual guise; not by Baal, but by the golden calf; not by the prophets of the groves, but by the company of Korah (Numbers 16). Be on your guard, brethren; walk in earnestness and fear! It is to the children of God that Jesus speaks of this matter; and the sermon of Elijah is addressed to Israel. The heart of the unregenerate belongs to the idols; but yours is to belong wholly and entirely to the Lord. If you have riches, you shall be none the less poor; and if poverty be your lot, you shall be none the less rich for all that. If God give you power and honors, you must with even more abject humility lie in the dust at his feet; and if you be servants, your royal glory shall prove itself in cheerful obedience and in praise and thanks to God. Do not let the spirit of the world, which always desires to enjoy temporal pleasures and make the heart to trust in fleeting things, obtain power over you; but believe in the Lord; hold fast the Invisible One, as though your eyes saw him. Let him be your God; that is to say, trust in him with full confidence, put all the faith of your soul in him, and never make flesh your arm. Love him with all your mind, that he may be your supreme good, your joy and delight, the king of your heart, whom you would not for any earthly consideration desert, or grieve, or offend; fear him from the bottom of your heart, and be of nothing so much afraid as of stirring him to anger. Is he not the true God? Is he not willing and able to care for his own? Is it not a glorious thing that he wants to possess our undivided heart, and that he has a jealous affection for us poor, miserable mortals? Shall not you, who have begun to know him, and feel his lite in you, keep a jealous watch against every form of idolatry which assails you with temptation? Should not you be entirely on the Lord’s side with a holy ardor surpassing even that of Elijah himself? You know that he answered by fire from heaven; and when the people saw it they said: “The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” You shall give yourself with all that is yours as an offering to the Lord; and he shall kindle in you a fire better than that which he sent down to Elijah. It shall consume your sacrifice and lick up all the water round about; that is, you shall consume your strength and all that you have in the service of charity, and nothing shall be able to j quench your love. But there are strange doings in the world: they who worship idols boast in their own hearts of their piety; while they whose God the Lord is never cease to deplore before him the idolatry which they find in their hearts. The first are their own saviors; these have Jesus as their Savior.
God, thou knowest how the flesh and the world entice and tempt us; how the spirit of the age threatens to ensnare us; so that we are easily drawn hither and thither, and halt between two opinions. Save us, faithful God; let our hearts be wholly thine. Amen.
So let our lips and lives express
The holy Gospel we profess:
So let our works and virtues shine,
To prove the doctrine all divine.
Thus shall we best proclaim abroad
The honors of our Savior God:
When his salvation reigns within,
And grace subdues the power of sin.