Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4.12
Columbanus (d. 615) founded four monasteries, each of which became both a deeply spiritual community and a highly effective missionary training agency. Two of his monasteries were in Gaul, one in Switzerland, and one in northern Italy. In each he was careful to train new members in the essentials of Christian life and life in community with other believers.
His primary concern was that the monks who learned and served and were sent out by his monasteries to evangelize throughout Europe would be examples of godliness. He wrote in Sermon I: “Therefore seek the supreme wisdom, not by verbal debate, but by the perfection of a good life, not with the tongue but with the faith which issues from singleness of heart, not with that which is gathered from the guess of a learned irreligion. If then you seek the unutterable by discussion, He will fly further from you than He was; if you seek by faith, wisdom shall stand in her accustomed station at the gate, and where she dwells she shall at least in part be seen.”
God’s servants must work hard at knowing Him, not merely through the study of His Word, but by the example of lives devoted to holiness. This is a work of faith and requires us to seek the Lord Who is the Wisdom of God, and Who reveals Himself in His Word and through the creation. Columbanus insisted that those who came to him for training and ministry must be men from whom the example of Christ shone brightly.
We are accustomed, increasingly, to seeing pastors fall to one or another temptation of the flesh. They hurt more than their own ministries when they do. When pastors exemplify the wisdom of Christ through lives of holiness, love, and service, the words they preach will carry much more weight, and the lives they lead will show the true way of wisdom to the saints.
Columbanus understood this, and so must we.
Resources for revival
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From the Celtic Revival
Here’s an excerpt from a recent issue of Crosfigell, our twice-weekly teaching letter featuring insights from the writers of the Celtic Revival:
I entreat Thee by all those that had intelligence in the law of nature...
I entreat Thee by all those that had intelligence in the written law...
in the prophetic law...
in the law of the New Testament...
- Anonymous, Litany of Jesus I, Irish, 15th century, from an earlier ms.
Celtic Christians understood that God revealed Himself to us both in Scripture (the “written law”, the “prophetic law”, and “the law of the New Testament”) as well as in creation (“the law of nature”). Wise shepherds devoted themselves to increasing “intelligence” (understanding) of each of these sources. They looked both to God’s Word and His world to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
Is creation really a source of revelation? It is, indeed, as I argue in my book, Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology. To order a free copy of this book, click here.
T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Plummer, Litanies, p. 33.