The personal ministry of women forms one of the brightest and most beautiful chapters in the history of the human life of our dear Lord. Her hands wrought for him, all the way along his course, the most sacred and tender offices of love. She was faithful when all others had fled. We read of certain women who stood by his cross and were early at his sepulcher, that they had followed him all the way from Galilee, ministering unto him.
In the same way, women may yet follow Christ and minister to him. He still comes to our doors for bread. He asks yet for a cup of cold water at the hands of love. Gentle fingers may yet weave garments for him to wear. Affection may still perform for him its sacred ministries. He is ever putting himself before us that we may serve him. To the consecrated heart, all of life is personal ministry to Jesus. He has identified himself in such a way with human life that everything we do, we do to him.
Woman owes much to Christianity. All that is noble, beautiful, exalted, refined, tender, and pure in her lot — she owes to Christ and his gospel. Every Christian woman has been doubly saved, and owes it to her Lord to bring the whole wealth of her love into his service.
The tree drops its fruits into the lap of him who nurtures it. The vine bestows its purple clusters upon him who trains and tends it. The fields give their ripened sheaves into the bosom of him who tills the soil and sows the seed. Even the little flower that the dew-drop blesses, gives back to the heavens again its sweet offering of praise. And shall not those who owe so much to Jesus, bring the richest gifts of their hearts and hands and pour them out upon his altar?
Many spheres of ministry are open to Christian women. One is the care, training, and teaching of little children — not only in the home as mother, but as teacher in the Sabbath-school or weekday-school, or as missionary and friend. God gives no nobler work to mortal on the earth, than that of fashioning the heart and life of a little child.
There are artists whose all-absorbing ambition is to paint a picture, which shall be hung up in some great gallery, to be admired by future ages. But Christian mothers and teachers of little children are permitted to work for a far more glorious immortality. Their work may have no praise among men. The world may never know when it looks upon the noble life which has been fashioned in the lowly home or humble school-room, what hand gave it its beauty or its impulse. But eternity will declare it, and God will take care that the honor is bestowed where it belongs.
But this is not the only sphere open to Christian women. They can enter the homes of the ungodly, everywhere, and by their superior tact, quicker sympathy, gentler love, and tenderer words — win their way, and win a way for their Lord, into hearts that have never before been opened to heavenly influences. The story of the Redeemer's love is never so sweet, so tender, so melting — as when it comes out of the depths of a woman's heart, through a woman's lips, baptized with a woman's tears. I have known hardened men, whom no sermon from the most eloquent preacher could ever have moved — softened to tenderness and penitential tears, as they listened to the burning words of love and the earnest pleadings of a Christian woman.
Then there is a great personal ministry of love-deeds which Christian women can do better than Christian men. God has given to them larger and more tender hearts than to men, a nobler wealth of affection, a sweeter tenderness, deeper sympathies, softer gentler hands, and a greater power to bless, soothe, help, and comfort. And their very qualification for deeds of mercy is the seal of their commission. It is their peculiar work to bear the blessings of charity to those who need. This work can best be performed — it seems to me that God meant it chiefly to be performed — by the tender hearts and gentle hands of Christian women.
Much of the power of the Romish church may be traced to her gentle charities, wrought by womanly hands in the homes of poverty, and at the bedsides of the sick and dying. And why should not every Christian woman be a sister of mercy in the truest sense?
Many shrink from ministering to the poor, because they have no money to give. But money alone is the poorest alms ever bestowed. There are gifts which every true Christian, however poor, has to bestow — which are infinitely better than money.
The apostles gave no money. They had no silver nor gold to bestow.
Jesus never gave any money! We never read of Him giving a mite to any who were poor or in distress. And yet no man was ever such a lavish giver of beneficence as He. What Christ gave was loving service, pity, sympathy, compassion, tears and personal help.
These are the coins that the Christian should chiefly give. They are coins that bear the stamp of Heaven. The image and superscription of Jesus, our great King, are upon them. They were minted in Heaven. They are better than gold — for money is a poor thing to give, without love. "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:3
Money will neither . . .
comfort the sad,
nor cheer the lonely,
nor lift up the fallen,
nor strengthen the faint,
nor support the tempted,
nor heal the broken-hearted,
nor soothe weariness,
nor wipe away tears.
Love-gifts are what the poor, suffering, and sorrowing most need. And these heavenly coins, the poorest Christian may scatter.
Let Christians go out into the world, and repeat everywhere the tender, beautiful, helpful ministry of Jesus — and they will do more to bless the world, than if they opened a mine of wealth and made thousands rich!
There was a little flower-plant, made to bloom in beauty, and shed sweet fragrance on the air. But it grew in the darkness. It became sickly and pale. No flower burst out on its stem. It gave forth no sweetness.
Then a gentle hand came and opened a window, and let the sunbeams in. And the little plant lifted up its head, and smiled, and was glad. The beauty came back. The greenness came into the leaves again. The frail stem grew strong. The flowers burst out in sweetness, and the air was filled with fragrance.
That is woman's work — to let the sunshine in upon darkened hearts, upon languishing spirits, upon fading hopes, upon drooping lives.
There is no work so noble as this. There is not an angel in Heaven whose heart does not thrill with joy when he is commissioned to come to this world to minister to some poor or needy one. Jesus asked nothing nobler on earth than this, and he has made these lowly ministries forever glorious and divine.