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Quiet Talks with World Winners


S. D. Gordon

Author of "Quiet Talks on Power," "Quiet Talks About Jesus," "Quiet Talks
on Personal Problems," Etc.


I. World-winning

1. The Master Passion
2. The Master's Plan
3. The Need
4. The Present Opportunity
5. The Pressing Emergency
6. The Past Failure
7. The Coming Victory

II. Winning Forces

1. The Church
2. Each One of Us
3. Jesus
4. The Holy Spirit
5. Prayer
6. Money
7. Sacrifice

The Master Passion

The Earliest Calvary Picture.
The Love Passion.
The Genesis Picture.
God Giving Himself.
God's Fellow.
The Genesis Water-mark.
A Human Picture of God.
On a Wooing Errand.
Jesus' World-passion.

The Master Passion

The Earliest Calvary Picture.

There's a great passion burning in the heart of God. It is tenderly warm
and tenaciously strong. Its fires never burn low, nor lose their fine
glow. That passion is to win man back home again. The whole world of man
is included in its warm, eager reach.

The old home hearth-fire of God is lonely since man went away. The family
circle is broken. God will not rest until that old home circle is complete
again, and every voice joining in the home songs.

It is an overmastering passion, the overmastering passion of God's
heart. It has guided and controlled all His thoughts and plans for man
from the first. The purpose of winning man, and the whole race, back again
is the dominant gripping passion of God's heart to-day. Everything is made
to bend to this one end.

When Eden's tragedy came so early, to darken the pages of this old Book,
and, far worse, to darken the pages of human life, there is a great
glimpse of this passion of God's heart in the guarding of those Eden
gates. The presence of the angels with their sword of flame told plainly
of a day when man would be coming back again to the old Eden home of God.
The place must be carefully guarded for him.

This is a love passion, a passion of love. And love itself is the master
passion both of the human heart and of God's heart. Nothing can grip and
fill and sway the heart either of man or God like that.

We would all easily agree that the greatest picture of God's marvellous,
overmastering passion of love is seen in the cross. All men as they have
come to know that story have stood with heads bowed and bared before the
love revealed there. They have not understood it. They have quarrelled
about its meaning. But they have acknowledged its love and power as beyond
that of any other story or picture.

However men may differ as to why Jesus died, and how His dying affects us,
they all agree that the scene of the cross is the greatest revelation of
love ever known or ever shown. All theories of the atonement seem to be
lost sight of in one thought of grateful acknowledgment of a stupendous
love, as men are drawn together by the magnetism of the hill-top of

But there is a wondrously clear foreshadowing of that tremendous cross
scene in the earliest page of this old Book. Nowhere is love, God's
passion of love, made to stand out more distinctly and vividly than in the
first chapter of Genesis. The after-scene of the cross uses intenser
coloring; the blacks are inkier in their blackness; the reds deeper and
redder; the contrasts sharper to the startling-point; yet there is nothing
in the cross chapters of the Gospels not included fully in this first leaf
of revelation. But it has taken the light of the cross to open our eyes to
see how much is plainly there. Let us look at it a bit.

The Love Passion.

What is this greatest of passions called love? There is no word harder to
get a satisfactory definition of. Because, whatever you say about it,
there comes quickly to your mind some one who loves you, or you think of
the passion that burns in your own heart for some one. And, as you think
of that, no words that anybody may use seem at all strong enough, or
tender enough, to tell what love is, as you know it in your own inner

Yet I think this much can be said - love is the tender, strong outgoing of
your whole being to another. It is a passion burning like a fire within
you, a soft-burning but intense fire within you, for some other one. Every
mention of that name stirs the flame into new burning. Every passing or
lingering thought of him or her is like fresh air making the flames leap
up more eagerly. And each personal contact is a clearing out of all the
ashes, and a turning on of all the draughts, to feed new oxygen for
stronger, fresher burning.

There are many other things that seem like love. Kindliness and
friendliness, and even intenser emotions, use love's name for themselves.
But though these have likenesses to love, they are not love. They have
caught something of its warm glow. A bit of the high coloring of its
flames plays on them. But they are not the real thing, only distant
kinsfolk. The severe tests of life quickly reveal their lack.

Love itself is really an aristocrat. It allows very, very few into its
inner circle, often only one. The real thing of love is never selfish. Now
we know very well that in the thick of life the fine gold of love gets
mixed up with the baser metals. It is very often overlaid, and shot
through with much that is mean and low. Rank selfishness, both the coarse
kind and the refined, cultured sort, seeks a hiding-place under its cloak.
But the stuff mixed in it is not love, but a defiling of it. That is a bit
of the slander it suffers for a time, from the presence in life of sin.

Weeds with their poison, and snakes and spiders with their deadly venom,
draw life from the sun. That is a bit of the bad transmuting the good,
pure sun into its own sort. The sun itself never produces poison or any
hurtful thing.

Love itself is never mean, nor bad, nor selfish. The man who truly loves
the woman whom he would have for his own lifelong, closest companion is
not selfish. He does not want her chiefly for his own sake, but for her
sake, that so he may guard and care for her, and her life be fully grown
in the sunlight of the love it must have. And, if you think that is
idealizing it out of all practical reach, please remember that true love
will steadily refuse the union that would not be best for the loved one.

What is the finest and highest love that we know? There are many different
sorts and degrees of love revealed in man's relation with his fellow:
conjugal, the love between husband and wife; paternal, the love of a
father for his child; maternal, the mother's love for her child; filial,
the love of children for father and mother; fraternal, or brotherly,
meaning really the love of children of the same parents for each other,
both brothers and sisters - the same word is used for love between friends
where there is no tie of blood; and patriotic, or love for one's country.
And under that last word may be loosely grouped the love that one may have
for any special object, to which he may devote his life, outside of
personal relationships, such as music or any profession or occupation.

This is putting them in their logical order. Though in our experience we
know the father-and mother-love for ourselves first; and then in turn the
others, so far as they come to us, until we complete the circle and reach
the climax of father-and mother-love in ourselves going out to another.


Now of these sorts and degrees which is the highest and finest? Well, your
answer to that question will depend entirely on your own experience; as
every answer and every thought we have of everything does. All children
have mothers, or have had, but thousands of children don't know a mother's

I was speaking one time in New York City about the conception, of which
the Bible is so full, that God is a mother. And the English evangelist
Gypsy Smith, who lost his mother when very young, but who had an unusually
devoted father, said with charming simplicity that he could not just see
how God could be called a mother, but he knew He was a father. And then he
went on to speak very winsomely of God as a father.

Many times love is not born in the heart at all, until there comes into
the life some one clear outside of one's own kin. Many a woman never knows
love until it is awakened in her heart by him who henceforth is to be a
part of herself.

But the common answer, that most people everywhere give to that question,
is that a mother's love is the greatest human love we know. And if you
press them to tell why they think so, this stands out oftenest and
strongest - that it is because she gives so much of herself. She gives her
very life. If need be, she sacrifices everything in life, and then
sacrifices life itself, going out into the darkness of death that her
child may come into fulness and sweetness of life. This is the mother
spirit, giving one's very self to bring life to another.

The mother gives her very life-blood that the new life may come. And, if
need be, will gladly give her life out to the death that the new life
may come into life. And yet more, she gives her life out daily and yearly,
throughout its length, that so the full strength and fragrance of life may
come in her child's life.

Yet, when all this has been said, I am strongly inclined to think that the
mother's love, though the greatest that can be found in any one heart, is
not the perfect, fully grown love. The human unit is not a man nor a
woman, but a man and a woman. Perfect love requires more than one or two
for its matured growth into full life. It cannot exist in its full
strength and fragrant sweets except where three are joined together to
draw out its full depth and meaning.

There must be two whose hearts are fully joined in love, each finding
answering and ever-satisfying love in the other; and so each love growing
to full ripeness in the warm sunshine of the other love. And then there
needs to be a third one, who comes as a result of that mutual love, and
who constantly draws out the love of the other two.

For love in itself is creative. It yearns to bring into being another upon
whom it may freely lavish itself. That other one must be of its own sort,
upon its own level. Nothing less ever satisfies. And so the love poured
out draws out to itself an answering love fully as full as its own. And
then, having yearned, it does more. It creates. It must create. It must
bring forth life; and life like its own in all its powers and privileges.
This is the very life of love in its full expression.

Yet to say all this is simply to spell out fully, in all its letters and
syllables, the great, the greatest of passions, mother-love, which we
agreed a moment ago was the highest. For mother-love is not restricted to
woman, though among us humans it often finds its brightest expressions in
her. It knows no restriction of sex. It is simply love at its fullest and
highest and freest and tenderest; free to do as it will, and to do it as
fully as it will. Love left to itself, free to do as its heart dictates,
will give its very self, its life, that life may come to another. This is
the great passion called love, the greatest of all passions.

The Genesis Picture.

Now, maybe you think we have swung pretty far away from that first chapter
of the Genesis revelation. No; you are mistaken there. We have been
walking, with rapid stride, by the shortest road, straight into its inner
heart. Let us look a bit at the picture of God sketched for us in this
earliest page of revelation.

There are two creations here, first of the earth, man's home; and then of
man himself who was to live in the home. Here at once in the beginning is
mother-love. Before the new life comes the mother is absorbed in getting
the home ready; the best and softest and homiest home that her mother-love
can think of, and her fingers fix. The same mother instinct in the birds
spends itself in getting the nest ready, and then patiently broods until
the new occupants come to take possession.

The Bible never calls God a mother, though the mother language, as here,
is used of Him many times. It takes more of the human to tell the divine.
You must take many words, and several of our human relationships, and put
them together, in the finest meaning of each, to get near the full meaning
of what God is. Up on the higher level, with God, the word "father" really
includes all that both father and mother mean to us.

The word "father" is even used once of God in what we think of as the
strict mother sense. In speaking of God's early care of the Hebrews Paul
says, "as a nursing-father bore he them in the wilderness."[1] That word
"nursing-father" is peculiar in coupling the distinctive function of the
mother in caring for the babe with the word father.

The word "father" applied to God includes not only our meaning of father
in all its strength as we know it at its best; but all of the meaning of
the word "mother," in all its sweet fragrance, as we have had it breathed
into our own very life.

We have come commonly to think of the word mother as a tenderer word than
father. Though I have met many, both men and women, who unconsciously
revealed that their experience has made father the tenderer, and the
tenderest word to them. Father stands commonly for the stronger, more
rugged qualities; and mother for the finer, gentler, sweeter, maybe
softer qualities, in the strong meaning of that word soft.

God Giving Himself.

Here in this Genesis story the creation of the whole sun-system to give
life to the earth, and of the earth itself, was the outward beginning of
this greatest passion of love in the heart of God. And if you would know
more of that love in this early stage of it, just look a bit at the home
itself. It has been pretty badly mussed, soiled and hurt by sin's foul
touch. Yet even so it is a wonder of a world in its beauty and
fruitfulness. What must it have been before the slime and tangle of sin
got in! But that's a whole story by itself. We must not stop there just

When the home was ready God set Himself to bringing the new life He was
planning. And He did it, even as father and mother of our human kind and
of every other kind do: - He gave some of Himself. He breathed into man His
own life-breath. He came Himself, and with the warmth and vitality of His
life brought a new life. The new life was a bit of Himself.

That phrase, "breathed into his nostrils," brings to us the conception of
the closest personal, physical contact; two together in most intimate
contact, and life passing from one to the other. The picture of Elijah
stretching his warm body upon that of the widow's son until the
life-breath came again comes instinctively to mind. And its companion
scene comes with it, of Elisha lying prone upon the child, mouth to
mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand, until the breath again softly reentered
that little, precious body.

And if all this seems too plain and homely a way to talk about the great
God, let us remember it is the way of this blessed old Book. It is the
only way we shall come to know the marvellous intimacy and tenderness of
God's love, and of God's touch upon ourselves.

How shall we talk best about God so as to get clear, sensible ideas about
Him? Why not follow the rule of the old Bible? Can we do better? It
constantly speaks of Him in the language that we use of men. The scholars,
with their fondness for big words, say the Bible is anthropomorphic. That
simply means that it uses man's words, and man's ideas of things in
telling about God. It makes use of the common words and ideas, that man
understands fully, to tell about the God, whom he doesn't know. Could
there be a more sensible way? Indeed, how else could man understand?

Some dear, godly people have sometimes been afraid of the use of simple,
homely language in talking about God. To speak of Him in the common
language of every-day life, the common talk of home and kitchen, and shop
and street and trade, seems to them lacking in due reverence. Do they
forget that this is the language of the common people? And of our good old
Anglo-Saxon Bible? Has anybody ever yet used as blunt homely, talk as this
old Book uses? And has any other book stuck into people's memories and
hearts with such burr-like hold as it has?

That breathing by God into man's nostrils of the breath of life suggests
the intensest concentration of strength and thought and heart. The whole
heart of God went out to man in that breath that brought life.

God's Fellow.

The whole thought of God's heart was to have a man like Himself. Over
and over again, with all the peculiar emphasis of repetition, it is said
that the man was to be in the very image, or likeness, of God. God gave
Himself that the man might be a bit of Himself. Here is the love-passion,
the mother-passion, the father-mother-passion, in its highest mood, and at
its own finest work.

The man was to be the very best, that so he might have fellowship of the
most intimate sort with God. Of course, only those who are alike can have
fellowship. Only in that particular thing which any two have in common can
they have fellowship together. Let me use a common word in its old, fine,
first meaning: man was made to be God's fellow, His most intimate
associate and companion.

As you read this early story in Genesis of God's passion of love, you
know, if you stop to think into it, that if ever the need for it came, He
will climb any Calvary hill, however steep, and receive the jagging nails
of any cross, however cutting, for the sake of His darling child - man.

This love-passion never faileth. There is no emergency that can arise
that is too great for love's resources. Any danger, however great, every
need, no matter how distressing, is already provided for by love. The
emergency may sorely test and tax love to its last limit, but it can never
outdo it, nor outstrip it in the race. No matter how great the danger,
love is a bit greater. No matter how strong the enemy threatening, love is
always yet stronger. However deep down into the very vitals of life the
poison-sting may sink its fangs, love goes yet deeper, neutralizing the
deadly influence with its own fresh life-blood.

Have you ever looked into a single drop of water and seen the sun? the
whole of that brilliant ball of fire there in one tiny drop of water?
Well, there's one word on this first leaf of the Book which contains the
clear reflection, sharply outlined, of the whole creation story; ah! yes,
more than that, of the whole Gospel story.

Come here and look; you can see in its clear surface the form of a man
climbing a little, steep hill, and being hung, thorn-crowned, upon a cross
of pain and shame. It is in chapter one, verse two, the word "brooding."
The old version and the Revision, both English and American, have the word
"moved." The Revisions add "brooding" in the margin. And that is the root
meaning of the word underneath our English - "brooding," or, rendered more
fully, "was brooding tremulous with love."

The Genesis Water-mark.

That English word "brooding," as well as the old word underneath, is a
mother word. The brooding hen sits so faithfully, day after day, upon the
eggs, bringing the new lives by the vital warmth of her own body. The
mother-bird nestles softly down upon the nest in the crotch of the tree,
patiently, expectantly brooding, by the strength of her own life giving
life to the coming young. She who, in the holiest, greatest function
entrusted to her, comes nearest to God in creative power and love - the
mother of our human kind, broods for long months over her coming child,
giving her very life, until the crisis of birth comes; and then broods
still, for months and years longer, that the new life may come into
fulness of life. That is the great word used here.

Now, will you please notice very keenly the connection in which it occurs.
It was because the earth was "waste and void, and darkness upon the face
of the deep," that the Spirit of God was brooding. It is only fair to say
that our scholarly friends who think in Hebrew are divided as to the
meaning here. Some think that these words, "waste and void," simply
indicate a stage, or step, in the processes of creation.

But others of them are just as positive in saying that the words point
plainly to a disaster of some sort that took place. In their view the
whole story of creation is in the ten opening words of the chapter. Then
follows a bad break of some sort; then the brooding of God in verse two;
and the rest of the chapter is taken up in what is practically a reshaping
up again of the whole affair. Some of this second group of Hebrew scholars
have made this translation, - "the earth became a waste," or "a wreck," or
"a ruin," or "without inhabitant."

If we may so read it now, it gives a world of additional meaning to this
word "brooding." Here was love not merely giving life, but giving itself
to overcome a disaster. The brooding was to mend a break. Love creates. It
also redeems. It stoops down with great patience, and washes the dirt and
filth thoroughly off, in the best cleansing liquid to be found, and brings
the cleansed, redeemed man back again.

Love does indeed create. It gave man the power to choose freely, without
any restriction, whatever he would choose to choose. Redeeming love does
more. It woos him to choose the right, and only the right. It gets down by
his side after his eyesight has become twisted, and his will badly kinked
by wrong choosing, and patiently, persistently works to draw him up to the
level of choosing right. Love makes us like God in the power of choice.
But there's a greater task ahead. It makes us yet more like Him in the
desire to choose only the right, and in the power to choose it, too. All
this is in that marvellous world of a word - "brooding."

The whole story of the sacrifice of Calvary is included in this wondrous
first leaf of revelation. If we had lost the Gospels, and didn't know
their story, nor the history of man, we yet could know from this Genesis
page that, if ever the need arose, God would lavishly give out His very
life, at any cost of suffering and pain, that His man might be saved.
John, three, sixteen is in the first chapter of Genesis. Calvary is in the
creation. God gave His breath to man in creation, and His blood for man on
Calvary. He gave His blood because He had given His breath. Each was His
very life.

You know the way publishers have of putting an imprint in a book by means
of what is called a water-mark. By the skilful use of water in
manufacturing the paper, a name or trade imprint is made a part of the
very paper of which the book is made.

Have you ever noticed God's water-mark on the paper of this first leaf of
His Book? Hold your Bible up as we talk; separate this first leaf and hold
it up to the light and try to see through it. The best light to use is
that which came from Calvary. Can you see the water-mark plainly imprinted
there? Look closely and carefully, for it is there. In clear-cut outline,
every bit of it showing sharply out, is a cross. And if you look still
more closely you will find this water-mark different from those in common
use, in this - there is a distinct blood-red tinge to it.

A Human Picture of God.

Illustrations of God from our common life are never full, and must not be
taken too critically, but they are sometimes wonderfully vivid and very
helpful. Anything that makes God seem real and near helps.

A few years ago I heard a simple story of real life from the lips of a New
England clergyman. It was told of a brother clergyman of the same
denomination, and stationed in the same city with the man who told me.

This clergyman had a son, about fourteen years of age, who, of course, was
going to school. One day the boy's teacher called at the house and asked
for the father. When they met he said:

"Is your son sick?"

"No; why?"

"He was not at school to-day."

"You don't mean it!"

"Nor yesterday."


"Nor the day before."


"And I supposed he was sick."

"No, he's not sick."

"Well, I thought I should tell you."

And the father thanked him, and the teacher left. The father sat thinking
about his son, and those three days. By and by he heard a click at the
gate, and he knew the boy was coming in. So he went to the door to meet

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