Sinclair Ferguson, one of the truly great and godly theologians and pastors alive today, tells a story of William Still, who was a mentor to him, beginning in his college days at Aberdeen in Scotland. Young Ferguson had been under the older pastor’s discipleship for some time when, one day, suffering from some ailment or other, he received from the older man a bottle of medicine. ‘This is the first thing you ever gave me,’ said Ferguson playfully. ‘Put your signature on it.’ To which Mr. Still replied, unforgettably, ‘That’s not where I want to put my signature. I want to put it here’ he said, pointing at his young disciple’s heart.
What a picture! And what an aim – to write your signature on someone else’s heart; to leave an indelible stamp upon their life, for good, as they learn to follow Christ by following you, Christ’s follower (1 Corinthians 11:1)! That is a goal that every Christian ought to have – with our children, first of all; with younger believers, or believers who are younger in the faith; with neighbors and co-workers whom we hope will someday become believers. If our signatures have been shaped by our relationship with Christ, then what a gift if we can leave such signatures on the hearts of those near to us, whom we also hope to see shaped into Christ’s image!
Thank about whom that might be in your own life. Who is the person (or who are the persons) in your life, next to whom you may have been strategically placed by the hand of God, so as to leave a lasting mark for good? And are you intentional about writing your signature (and Christ’s through yours) on their hearts? And how do you go about doing that? How might your personality and theirs; your schedule and theirs; your life stage and theirs come together so that a real relationship of discipleship can take place?
The Bible must surely be at the center of such a relationship. And yet it must be a real relationship, too (not a Bible study only) – the kind in which the truths of the Bible can be fleshed out in the comings and goings of every day life. So think that out. Who has God given you, and how might you develop the kind of gospel friendship in which a more seasoned saint is regularly adding salt to one who is up and coming? Or if you are the one in need of seasoning, whom might you ask for their signature? Think it out this fall. And perhaps begin brainstorming ideas of how 2017 might be a year in which you begin, like Mr. Still, to write your signature (or ask someone to write theirs) some place where it will still be bearing fruit when you (or they) have long since left this life.