|D.L. Moody preaching
We think that the life of Moody offers several important spiritual lessons. Among them are these:
- God often chooses humble means to accomplish His purposes. "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Cor. 1:27-29; NKJV). To look at Moody's background and personal qualifications, one might be tempted to ask, why did God choose him? And yet the choice was obviously deliberate. It became evident that whatever success Moody had, it was not due to his personal ability. There were others much better qualified than he, but they had nowhere near the impact that he had.
- Success depends on the power of God. "'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). People who heard Moody preach were struck by a quality that seemed to transcend the man. "The work is most plainly of God, for I can see no relation between yourself and what you have done," one noted British preacher told him (Pollock, p. 161). Moody himself attributed his success to a baptism of the Holy Spirit that he received in November, 1871. "I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand" (p. 108). His ministry was transformed by the experience.
- God chooses those who are first faithful in little things. ". . . you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things" (Matt. 25:21,23). Moody did not set out for greatness when he started out in life. He began as a shoe salesman. He was active in his local church, simply trying to do what he could to help. He rounded up street urchins and brought them to Sunday school. The Sunday school grew, and so did his sphere of influence. Only gradually did he become a preacher, first addressing only his Sunday school children, and eventually soldiers in the Union camps during the Civil War. He learned what he could pick up along the way. It was only later that he addressed huge crowds.
- Christian love and unity are prerequisites for God's blessing. Jesus told His disciples, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). And how do we abide in Christ? By keeping His commandments (v. 10). And what is His commandment? ". . . that you love one another as I have loved you" (v. 12).
Moody's status as an unordained layman worked to his advantage It enabled him to transcend denominational boundaries and unite divergent groups. His campaigns in large cities were typically organized by committees drawn from a wide spectrum of churches. In this way Christians were able to join together in pursuit of a common goal. The focus was on Christ, not on denominations, and the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit were very much evident as a result.
Moody's story is an extraordinary one – an ordinary individual chosen by God to be the man of the hour. In some ways Moody's success was a sharp rebuke to the smug, self-satisfied church of the day. A man with no training or background was able to accomplish what the highly trained professional clergy were never able to do. "To God be the glory – great things He hath done!" (Fanny J. Crosby).