Heads up: this book is meant for Christians. It pertains to that particular faith in an intimate way. You have been warned.
Technically Sit, Walk, Stand is not on my working list of best books, but the author, Watchman Nee, is. I read this book because my pastor preached from it this summer and gave out free copies at a function. (I was virtual, but I managed to snag one later.) He just finished up the series this past Sunday, and I finished the book. Not that it should have taken me that long: it weighs in at a very slim 67 half-sized pages. While only three chapters, it is still a little dense, so I read it along with the sermons. Roughly.
Using the book of Ephesians, Watchman Nee—a revered and fascinating Chinese pastor from the mid-twentieth century (who died in prison for his religious beliefs)—breaks down the oft-confusing idea of both being saved by grace and being asked to lead a righteous life. In concise and straight-forward language punctuated very occasionally by a story, Nee says we are first to rest (sit) in our position in Christ, then as a natural outflowing, walk the kingdom life, and then lastly, to stand in Christ’s name against evil. Walking and standing can only flow out of sitting. One will flow into the other. All of them are powered by God and have their end in His glory.
Most of what Nee says is just a nice break-down that a majority of Christians will agree with, theologically. There are a few moments, a few points, however, when there is some question as to whether or not he is theologically correct, at least in the view of some people. I had question marks and “hmm”s in the margin only a few times. Overall, though, this is the sort of book I will be returning to to review, because it is a wonderful, little, practical book about the Christian life. It is riddled with nuggets of wisdom, with quotes and stories that I am sure I have heard from other pulpits before, and with an earnest and concerned voice. It is also, as many good religious books are, a tall order. If you want to let this book change your life, you’re going to have to make big sacrifices to gain it all, which is a big part of the Christian faith. Nee supposes that a Christian can go through their earthly life without properly sitting, walking, and standing, but what is to be gained is far too important to let that happen.
I saw a reviewer suggest this book for new Christians. I think that is a great idea since it deals directly with building a faith from the first moments, up. I also think it’s about time for any Christian to realize they’ve stood the Christian life on its head and go about turning it back around again. It might come as a shock, as a struggle, but there are some important and beautiful truths here.
I would recommend this book for Christians of all stripes. It is a quick read, one that could sit on your bedside table for a few weeks, with the potential to change your life. It’s wisdom literature, and you’d do well to tack a few of his quotes up on your bathroom mirror.
“…it is only by placing our entire emphasis there that we can hope to realize the divine purpose for us, which is that ‘we should be unto the praise of His glory’” (pix).
“…every Christian must begin his spiritual life from that place of rest” (pxi).
“Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal of the true order” (p2).
“But Christianity is a queer business! If at the outset we try to do anything,we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything” (p2).
“Our key word here is not of course, in its context, a command to ‘sit down’ but to see ourselves as ‘seated’ in Christ” (p5).
“What, then, is God’s basis for the outpouring of the Spirit? It is the exhalation of the Lord Jesus” (p6).
“Have you ever tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his fear prevents him trusting himself to you” (p11).
“…it was his sorrow that in the elder son he found no such applicant” (p13).
“If you leave all the giving and all the working to God, do you think the result will be less satisfactory than if you do some of it?” (p13).
“Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others” (p20).
“My life is to be governed by the principle of the Cross and of the perfection of the Father” (p20).
“’If we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians. We have to do something more than what is right’” (p21).
“We have nothing to stand for, nothing to ask or demand. We have only to give” (p21).
“How does my wristwatch go? By moving first, or by being moved? Of course it goes because first it is moved by a power outside itself” (p23).
“You were surely not wrong in seeking love from God? No, but you were wrong in seeking that love as something in itself, a kind of package commodity, when what God desires is to express through you the love of His Son. / God has given us Christ. There is nothing now for us to receive outside of Him” (p25).
“…things! Held by us out of relation to Christ they are dead” (p26).
“Our holiness will therefore by spelled with a capital H, our love with a capital L” (p26).
“The all important rule is not to ‘try’ but to ‘trust’” (p27).
“Nothing is so hurtful to the life of a Christian as acting; nothing so blessed as when our outward efforts cease and our attitudes become natural…” (p28).
“Praise God, His life is as mighty as ever, and in the lives of those who dare to believe…” (p28),
“God does not command what He will not perform; but we must throw ourselves back on Him for the performance” (p29).
“…it is not a question of what we will get out of it. It is a question of what the Lord must have now” (p38).
“…we fight from victory” (p43).
“If we believe the Lord, we shall not pray so much but rather we shall praise Him more” (p45).
“It is clear they do nothing of themselves. They use the Name” (p50).
“The end is the preeminence of the Son of God, and evangelism is bringing in the sons among whom He shall stand preeminent” (p54).
“God’s name can never be a ‘rubber stamp’ to authorize work that is ours in conception” (p55).
“We have to learn that if God does not move we dare not move” (p55).
“…naturally gifted though we may be, we dare not speak, except in conscious and continual dependence on Him” (p56).
“Somehow, in our history with God, we must experience that initial crippling touch of His hand to weaken our natural strength, so that we stand forth on the ground of resurrection life in Christ alone…” (p57).
“God never asks us to do anything we can do” (p58).