Devotional: ‘Prone to Wander’


Back in the 1700’s, a twenty-two year old Methodist pastor by the name of Robert Robinson wrote a hymn called, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  Perhaps some of you are familiar with it.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above.  Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.

For the most part, I never give too much thought to that hymn, except for one particular portion.  It’s actually the fourth verse.

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!  Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love…” I would like to have a conversation with Robert Robinson and ask him why he wrote those words.  Perhaps I already know and that’s why they have stuck with me.

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  (1 Thess 5:14 NIV)

‘Warn those who are idle…’ The New Living Translation says, ‘warn those who are lazy.’ The King James Version calls them ‘the unruly.’ Eugene Peterson in his translation called The Message puts it as, Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on.’ One of the study resources I often use says: {Used in Greek society of those who did not show up for work.}
Every church family has those who fail to show up for work.  Though there are some who are just plain lazy, there are others who have difficult circumstances that they need to work through.  Scripture tells us that we are to ‘warn’ them.  Actually the word seems to mean: {we need to help them straighten out their thinking.}
We see in context of the passage that Paul also teaches us how to work with such believers.  The spiritually strong are to help the spiritually weak.  They are to do so with a spirit of: encouragement, help and patience.  Again consider how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message translation,

Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out. (vs. 14-15 The Message)

In closing let me share with you something from Church History Institute concerning Robert Robinson.

Robert died on June 9, 1790. Had he left the God he loved? A widely-told, but unverifiable, story says that one day as he was riding in a stagecoach a lady asked him what he thought of the hymn she was humming. He responded, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

If that account is true, Robinson did wonder from the faith in his later years and he lived a miserable life for doing so.  “You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called “today.” If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn.” (Hebrews 3:13 Contemporary English Version)

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