Tribute to William Wilberforce, #2

Here’s another tribute to Wilberforce on this historic anniversary. We should celebrate the unbounded joy that God gave him in spite of decades of defeat in Parliament:

James Stephen, recalled after Wilberforce’s death,

“Being himself amused and interested by everything, whatever he said became amusing or interesting. . . . His presence was as fatal to dullness as to immorality. His mirth was as irresistible as the first laughter of childhood” (Pollock,Wilberforce, p. 185).

Here is a great key to his perseverance and effectiveness. His presence was “fatal to dullness . . . [and] immorality.” In other words, his indomitable joy moved others to be happy and good. He remarked in his book A Practical View of Christianity , “The path of virtue is that also of real interest and of solid enjoyment” (p. 12). In other words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). He sustained himself and swayed others by his joy. If a man can rob you of your joy, he can rob you of your usefulness. Wilberforce’s joy was indomitable and therefore he was a compelling Christian and politician all his life. This was the strong root of his endurance.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.