To Be — or Seem to Be?
("Pleasant Readings for the Home" Author unknown)
Life's little day is drawing to its close — its golden moments, minutes, and hours are passing away; yet they are full of responsibility. They are given to us that, in rightly making use of them, we may mold our lives, and form our characters for a future life.
Does the precious life that God has given us, bear the impress of eternal truth? Is it a reality — or a sham? Let us answer these questions before we commence a new period of time, for God must have realities. Let the future witness to our sincerity and truthfulness.
To be — or to seem to be, is the question of the present day. To be true is not a very easy task — it is to fight a battle fierce and strong; for pride and mammon assert their sway over honor and justice.
We must either sow the seeds of deception or of truth; and that which we sow — we shall also reap.
There is a picture representing a friar clothed in his robes — view the painting at a distance, and you will think the friar to be in a praying attitude. His hands are clasped together; and the man appears to be absorbed in humble adoration.
Take a nearer view, and the deception vanishes. The book, which seemed to be before him, is discovered to be a punch-bowl, into which, he is, all the while, in reality, only squeezing a lemon.
What a lively representation is this of men and things in the present day! How many in their daily life make religion their cloak — instead of their armor! Man looks at the outward appearance — God looks at the heart. If religion is true — it must be a religion of the heart, it must be that which regulates our whole life. A man may be kept from sin — and yet not hate sin! He may, indeed, be kept from sin — yet lack that holy principle within to make him love what is good.
Love to God is the spring of a true Christian's life of obedience. He derives his joy — his strength — his light — his happiness, from God; and he can say, "The Lord is the portion of my soul." He has a principle within of vital and growing strength. If we are destitute of this vital religion — then we are destitute of the only true wealth of time and eternity.
Recently, there a good man lay on a bed from which he never expected to rise. He was rejoicing that his preparation for eternity had been made years before, when in health and strength. He was asked what message he would, from his present position, leave to his fellow men. "I would tell them," he said, "Be true at heart!" The dying man was right. Truth is the great want of the age. Lack truth at heart — and you lack everything of real value: "Behold He desires truth in the inward parts." "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."
Be True to your God — honor Him by resting on the only remedy for sin provided in the Gospel, for all other foundations are false foundations.
Remember that His Almighty eye rests upon you, and you cannot serve God and Mammon. He allows of no divided love, but expects you so to run in the way of His commandments, that you may obtain the faithful servant's reward. "Be you faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life."
Be true to your fellow-men in your daily business.
Be true to yourself in all the transactions of life, and see to it that you are born again of the Holy Spirit, and have the witness within you that you are a child of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The true Christian feels the grace which he cannot always express. The hypocrite expresses what he does not feel. Divine grace is the only antidote to all the deception of the heart. Without this there can be no true peace, no true confidence in God, no hope of Heaven — but only a dreary hopeless future.
"Nothing but truth before God's throne
With honor can appear;
The painted hypocrites are known
Through the disguise they wear."
You say, "I endeavor to attend to all the ordinances that religion commands." This is quite right, but to have an orthodox belief — a profession of religion, and yet a bad life, is only to deny Christ with a greater solemnity. Practice speaks louder than profession. One genuine Christian, is worth a thousand hypocrites.
One has said, "Christianity did not come from Heaven to be the amusement of an idle hour — to be the food of mere imagination — to be as a song of one who has a pleasant voice, and plays well upon an instrument. No, Christianity is intended to be the guide, the guardian, the companion of all our hours. It is intended to be the food of our immortal souls. It is intended to be the serious occupation of our whole existence."
You say, "I make no profession — I am not a sham!" This may be so, but you are a sinner, and one single sin indulged in, may cause your ruin — however honest and moral you have been in the eyes of men.
DEATH IS COMING! Then all shams must pass away — how hollow all deception will appear then!
THE JUDGMENT DAY draws near! Will you stand the final test? Shall it be said, "You are weighed in the balances and found wanting?" Oh, be sincere and strip off every false mask! Be assured of this, that your conscience, though slumbering, will yet be awakened; though seared, perhaps, it will yet feel with acute intensity. It will be quickened into life again at the bar of the Almighty God.
"Lord, search my heart, and try my ways,
And make my soul sincere;
Then shall I stand before Your face,
And find acceptance there."