Daily Riches: When the Sacred Becomes Vulgar (F. W. Robertson, Thomas Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux and Brennan Manning)

“There are transfiguration moments, bridal hours of the soul; and not easily forgiven are those who would utter the secrets of its high intercourse with their Lord. There is a certain spiritual indelicacy in persons that cannot perceive that not everything which is a matter of experience and knowledge is therefore a subject for conversation. You cannot discuss such subjects without vulgarising them.” F. W. Robertson

“All speech is impertinent, it destroys the simplicity of that nothingness before God by making it seems as if it had been ‘something.’” Thomas Merton

“… they are readier to speak than to listen, eager to teach that which they do not know.” Bernard of Clairvaux

“Do the truth quietly without display.” Brennan Manning

“The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk
but of power.”
1 Corinthians 4:20

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • James insists that a man must “keep a tight reign on his tongue” (James 1:26), and that seems particularly difficult in this area where the ego cries out for attention and admiration. Do you find yourself sharing your intimate experience with the Lord as a “matter of conversation?” If so, take some time to consider your motivations.
  • After a conversation, are you sometimes convicted that you were “eager to teach that which you do not know?” If so, again, what does this say about you?
  • Merton says that talking about the “simplicity” of something wonderful between us and God “destroys” it. That’s what’s at stake here – what Robertson calls a “vulgarising.” It’s not hard to see this shortcoming in ourselves and others. That makes this a good time to remember how patient and understanding God is with us in our weaknesses.

Jesus’ family were confused by him because he acted “in secret”, and that made no sense for someone who “wants to become a public figure.” (John 7:3-8) Abba, break my ego-driven want “to become a public figure”, and teach me not to take those rare and precious moments of intimacy between us, and vulgarize them in self-promotion.


For More: Dancing in the Water of Life by Thomas Merton


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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