In Green Pastures
by J. R. Miller, 1890
"Handfuls of Grass for the Lord's Hungry Sheep"
Daily readings for every day in the year
"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He
leads me beside quiet waters." Psalm 23:1-2
Making Work With Brains
It is a good thing to think. The more thought we
put into our work—the better it will be done. Work of all kinds becomes
exalted, ennobled, refined, and produces good, lasting effects—just in
proportion as men put thought into it. All worthy, noble, useful,
beautiful living—must have its dark quarries of purposing, thinking,
planning, shaping, polishing, behind its being and doing. Look
well to the quarries, and you need not give much thought to the
rising of the building. Prepare no stained blocks in your
heart-quarries. Train yourself to think only pure thoughts—white, clean
thoughts. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever
is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Making Perfect Work
"Littles make perfection," replied the artist to
one who asked him why he spent so much time in giving the little
finishing-touches to his statue. There can be no perfection in any kind of
workmanship, unless attention is paid to the minutest details of
construction or finishing. One smallest flaw or incompleteness left in the
work, in any part of it—leaves a blemish on the finished endeavor.
Life is a mosaic, and each smallest stone must be
polished and set with greatest care—or the piece will not at last, be
perfect. One whose daily life is careless—is always weak in Christian
character. But one who habitually walks in right paths, no matter how small
and apparently trifling the things may be, grows strong and noble.
Littles make perfection. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or
whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory." 1 Corinthians 10:31
Growing Through Struggle
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for
which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14. That
Christian life which costs nothing—is worth nothing. There must be
self-restraint, discipline, severe schooling. There must be struggle, and
the agonizing effort. If you are to reach the goal and win the prize—you
must put every energy of your life into the race. There must be sacrifice of
indolence and self-will and personal ease. Too much
pampering, spoils many a promising Christian. Every noble and godly life, is
a struggle from beginning to end. Only those who toil and fight
and overcome—are successful in life. This is true in every
sphere—in business, in academics, and in spiritual life. Are we resisting
sin, overcoming temptation, living victoriously in trial? If not—we are not
living worthily. "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which
so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:29
Appreciation Too Late
We ought not to need night—to teach us the glories
of the day. We ought not to have to wait for sorrow, before we can
appreciate the sweetness of joy. Yet is it not often true that we learn the
value of our blessings—but by their loss? Many a time an empty chair
is the first full revealer of the worth and faithfulness of a precious
friend. Would it not be best, if we were to seek to appreciate our good
things—while we have them? We would then have the joy itself, and not merely
the dull pain of regret as we look back at vanished blessings.
Besides—we would do more for our friends while they are with us—if we
appreciated their worth. Too many of us never understand what we owe
to our dear ones—until there remains no further opportunity of paying
No ancient pillar ever made the way more plain to those
who watched it for guidance, than does God's providence make the path
of duty in common days, for those who truly acknowledge God and desire his
guidance. It is not because we cannot know God's way that we do not
see it—but because we want instead to take our own way. There is no
use in our looking into our Lord's face and asking, "What now, dear Master?"
if we do not sincerely intend to take the path he marks out. We must have
the spirit of obedience if we are to receive the divine direction.
"Not my will—but yours," must be the prayer of our heart, cost what it may
to surrender our own way—and take God's way.
The Divineness of Service
"For the Son of Man did not come to be served--but to
serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45. The life of
Jesus Christ was the noblest life ever lived. No king of earth ever attained
such splendid, such real royalty as did he. No human hero on battle-field
ever did deeds of such inherent greatness as those wrought by the hands of
the Carpenter of Nazareth. And what was the ruling spirit of his life?
Was it not service? "Not to be served—but to serve," was the motto of
all his beautiful years. He lived wholly for others. He never had one
thought for himself, never did the smallest act for himself. At last he
emptied out his very blood—in the greatest of all his acts of service. Shall
we not learn from our Lord's example that the truest life in this world is
one of self-forgetting love? Selfishness anywhere mars and spoils the beauty
of the rarest deed. We must get the spirit of Christ—and then our lives
shall be Christ-like.
Getting Sorrow's Blessing
To all, in some form or other, suffering will
sometime come. Only if it is borne in the true way, will it will bring rich
blessings. It will produce in us, even in this world, the fruits of
righteousness. It will make us greater blessings to others, since the things
we learn in pain—we can teach in joy and song. Are you in sorrow? Do not
fail to get the blessing from it—which it has certainly brought to you from
God. It is only when we do the right thing in our troubles, that they do us
good. Many people let their cares and worries into their hearts, and when
they do this, their lives are spoiled and harmed, and not blessed, by them.
It is only when we keep God's peace within us in sorrow—that we get the
Other People's Convenience
We ought to think of other people's convenience
more than some of us do. The home is the place where this
thoughtfulness ought to begin, and be cultivated. One who
comes late to breakfast may apologize to the others—but forgets that he has
marred the harmonious flow of the household life, and caused some confusion
and extra work. The other day an important committee of fifteen was kept
waiting for ten minutes for one tardy member, who came sauntering in at last
without even an apology for having caused fourteen men a loss of time, that
to them was very valuable, besides having put a sore strain on their
patience and good nature. Common life is full of just such thoughtlessnesses,
which cause untold personal inconvenience, and ofttimes produce irritation,
and hurt the hearts of friends. We ought to train ourselves in all our
life—to think also of other people.
Religion in the Common Days
One of the most harmful practical errors of common
Christian living—is the cutting of life into two sections—a religious
section and a secular section. We acknowledge God in the religious
part. We fence off days and little spaces of time in each day which we
profess to give to worship and devotion. But the danger is—that we confine
our acknowledging of God to these set times and seasons, while we shut him
out of our real life. That is not true religion—which prays well, and
soars away into celestial raptures and holy dreams—while it has no effect on
one's daily common life down here in the paths of toil and duty. We should
have our pious visions—but we must bring them down into our
earthly experience and make them real there.
Serving Christ in His People
When we lay our lives at Christ's feet in consecration,
and tell him that we want to serve him with our lives. He gives them back to
us again, and bids us to use them in serving his people, our fellow-men. In
the humblest and the lowliest of those who bear Christ's image—Christ
himself comes to us. We do not know when he stands before us, in a lowly one
who needs our sympathy or our help. It would be a sad thing if we turned
him away unfed from our doors some day, or neglected to visit him
in his sickness. Let us not say that we love Christ—if we are not ready to
serve those whom he sends to us to be served.
Solitariness of Life
We talk about companionships—and they certainly
are very sweet. There is immeasurable helpfulness in strong, true
friendships. Still, it is true that however many, faithful, and
sympathetic our friends may be—we must enter and pass through every life's
crises alone. Everyone of us lives really a solitary life. We do not
fight in companies and battalions and regiments—but as individuals.
Each one must live his own life. "Everyone must bear his own burden."
"We should we fear to live alone,
Since all alone—we die.
Not even the tenderest heart, next to our own,
Knows half the reasons, why we smile and sigh."
The Effects of Words
There are words spoken quietly and coldly—which break
like the lightning-flash, bearing on their blighting wings, sad
desolation which years cannot repair. On the other hand, there are simple
words which, treasured in memory, hang like bright stars of joy and cheer,
in dark nights of sorrow and trial. Keep ever speaking true words, kindly,
loving words, the words of Christ, wherever you go—and you will some day
find them again in blessings in the hearts of those who have heard them.
The Path of Glory
The path of glory for a life—does not lie far away among
the cold mountains of earthly honor, nor yet in any paths of fame where
worldly ambition climbs—but close beside us, in the lowly ways of
Christ-like ministry. He who stoops to serve the poor and the suffering, in
Christ's name, will find at length that he has served Christ himself. Jesus
lives in this world, in his people—in everyone of them, in the least of
them—the poorest, the obscurest, the most down-trodden and despised. He
calls them all "my brethren." The smallest kindness done to one of them—he
accepts as though done to himself in person!
Promises in Reserve
He who has not in the sunny days made the divine promises
his own—has no comforts to sustain him when trouble comes. But he who has
pondered the Scriptures, and laid up in memory the precious truths and
assurances—when called to pass through affliction, has light in his
dwelling. Words of promise in which he had never before seen any special
comfort, shine out now like stars when the sun has gone down. Like lamps
above his head, unnoted before, they pour their soft beams upon his soul.
This is a provision all of us should make in youth and health and happiness,
for the dark days which will surely come.
Life a Stewardship
We are not all apostles in the sense that Paul was; but
to every Christian, Christ has given a solemn and sacred trust in our own
salvation. We are to be true to him, in a world of sin and temptation. We
are to be faithful to duty wherever we stand. We each have a mission which
we must strive to fulfill. Are we keeping the faith—are we true to every
sacred trust which God has placed in our hands? Are we taking care of the
part of the vineyard assigned to us, and rendering the fruits to him who has
committed it to our care? Not to fulfill our mission is soon to be left
without a mission, dropped out, set aside, while others do our work and
receive the honor and reward which would have been ours.
What God Grows
The "crown of righteousness" is not given for much
service or for great sacrifices—but for Christ-like character.
The crown is in reality the efflorescence of the life itself, its bursting
into glory and beauty. It is not something else, however brilliant, prepared
and brought and set upon the head. The crown of righteousness, is
righteousness in character, blossoming into heavenly radiance under the
smile of God. Let us not forget that tireless activity is not enough
to win this crown; that heroic struggle is not enough. We must be
holy, sanctified in our moral nature, righteous in life and character. It is
not what we do that is crowned—but what we are!
The Wisdom Which Wins
It is not worldly wisdom which is required to win
souls—great learning, knowledge of science and philosophy. It is spiritual
wisdom which is needed—the wisdom which comes down from God, the wisdom of
faith, of love, of prayer, of humility. It is the wisdom Christ gave his
disciples before he sent them out. Soul-winning is earth's holiest work. He
who adds the least touch of beauty to a sacred life does more than he who
paints a masterpiece. He who brings a lost soul to the Savior, who seeks and
finds a wandering sheep and bears it back to the fold—does the noblest,
greatest work possible on this earth!
A Lamp for the Foot-Path
God's Word as a guiding light, is a lamp unto our
feet—not a sun flooding a hemisphere. It is not meant to shine upon
miles of road—but in the darkest night it will always show us the one next
step; then when we have taken that, carrying the lamp forward, it will show
us another step, and thus on until it brings us out into the full, clear
sunlight of coming day. It is a lamp, and it is designed to lighten only
little steps, one by one. We need to learn well the lesson of
patience—if we would have God guide us. He does not lead us rapidly.
Sometimes we must go very slowly if we wait for him. Only pace by pace
does he take us; and unless we wait—we must go in darkness. But if we
wait for him, it will always be light for each step.
The Peril of Failure
To be faithless in duty, is to lose all the blessing
which is promised to those who are loyal and true. No matter how perilous
the duty that comes to you, you cannot decline it—but at your own peril. The
only safe way in life's thronging field—is straight on in the
path of duty. No duty, however perilous or hard, should be feared half so
much as failure in the duty. Stand where Christ places you, and be simply
true—that is all. Make no effort to be great. The greatest thing
possible to you any day, is faithfulness. Only be faithful. He requires no
more of the highest angel in glory.
The Eternity of Actions
Since every impression is enduring; since every
act leaves its mark on the life itself, as well as on other lives; since
the smallest things we do become parts of our own being, while they also
touch and affect others—what tremendous destinies are folded up—in each
quiet day of ours! The things you are doing these swift hours—are for
eternity! The words you spoke yesterday for Christ in the ear of the weary
sufferer, the strong, helpful words you spoke to the discouraged one, the
tempted one, the burdened one, the thought of comfort you breathed softly
and with a prayer in the home of grief—do you know that the ministry of
these good words will never cease?
After-Views—the Truest Views
The real character of our actions is seen only when we
look at them from the side next eternity. You had a duty to perform which at
the time was a cross to you. It required courage. It involved self-denial
and personal sacrifice. It was very hard to do. You look back upon it,
however, and it appears a beautiful act, and you are not sorry you made the
sacrifice. This after-view is the true one. Sin in the form of temptation
seems fascinating—but sin committed looks horrible. Again the after-view is
the true one. The point from which we see a human life in its truest light
is its end—looking back over it from the edge of eternity. The false
colors fade out—in the light of the judgment.
Living Out God's Thoughts
Let your highest ambition be to become what God has
planned for you to be. Lay all your plans at his feet. Let God's will be
your will—and he will lead you to just that life which will be for you—the
most beautiful, the most honorable, and the most blessed. If you would have
God's thoughts to live out in your life, you must go to God for them. You
must sit down often with him in the silence. You must look reverently into
the divine Word and ponder deeply its holy sentences. You must turn your
steps habitually to the place of prayer. You will not have heavenly
visions—if you never look upward for them!
Climbing by Self-Conquest
Every low desire, every bad habit, all longings for
ignoble things, all wrong feelings which we conquer and trample down—become
ladder-rounds for our feet, on which we climb upward out of groveling
and sinfulness, into nobler, grander life. If we are not living
victoriously these little common days—we are not making any progress
in true Christian living. Only those who climb—are getting toward the
stars. Heaven at last, and the heavenly life here—are for those who
Silence Under Calumny
Many of us may sometime become the innocent victim of
calumny. Pure in our heart and life—we may have to endure suspicion of evil.
As Christians, what should we do? In some cases vindication may be possible,
and it may be our duty to seek it in the right way. But there may be
instances when we cannot free ourselves, without bringing dishonor upon
others. Then we must be silent and bear our load. We are not likely to err
in the direction of too great patience and silence under
wrong; our danger lies the other way. So let us beware lest, when others
injure us or defame us—we sin against God in trying to vindicate ourselves.
Let us rather suffer—and leave our vindication with God—committing ourselves
to him who judges righteously.
Not Claiming Our Privileges
Are not many of us conscious that we are living far below
our privileges? Do we not understand that we are not as good Christians, as
rich in character, as fruitful in life, as we might be? Do we not know that
there is a possible fullness of spiritual blessedness which we have not yet
attained? Why is it? Is there any lack in God, from whom all good gifts
come? Is not the reason in ourselves? Is it not because we cling to other
things, earthly things, which fill our hearts and leave but small room for
Christ? We have not the hunger for righteousness, for holiness, and though
there is abundance of provision close before us—yet our souls are starving.
If we would have the abundant life which Christ wants to give us—we must
empty out of our hearts the perishing trifles that fill them, and make room
for the Holy Spirit. We must pray for spiritual hunger; for only to those
who hunger—comes the promise of filling and satisfying.
Love for Christ in human hearts, shapes itself into
manifold forms of gentle, helpful ministry, according to the quality, the
circumstances, and the relation of each life. What we need to make sure
of—is that we truly have the spirit of service, "the mind that was in Christ
Jesus." It is not great deeds which God expects or requires of us,
unless he has endowed us with large gifts and has given us great things to
do. He gives us certain talents and puts us in certain relations, and then
asks us to be faithful—nothing more. The man with the plain gifts and
the small opportunities, is not expected to do the great things that are
required of the man with the brilliant talents and the large opportunities.
"She has done what she could" is the highest approving word which could be
spoken of anyone, and it may be only for a smile of love, and a
crust given in Christ's name.
The Blessedness of Death
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Philippians 1:21. The Christian life is not a voyage in the sunshine,
darkening as it progresses and growing stormy, ending in utter wreck on
death's shores. Rather, it is a voyage through earthly storm and shadow—but
at last out into the broad ocean of eternal blessedness. Death is not the
end—but the beginning. It is not loss—but gain. It is not into darkness—but
into marvelous light. It is not to silence and stillness—but into life far
more real and active. It is not away from joy and gladness and beauty—but is
out of the mere shadows and hopes of blessedness, into the full revelation
of Christ, into his very presence, where there is fullness of joy, where
there are pleasures forevermore. "I desire to depart and be with Christ,
which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23
Finishing Our Work
God first puts the good thoughts and the holy impulses
into your heart. Then when you try to obey and do what he commands and
suggests—he helps you to do it. "It is God who works in you both to will and
to work." If character is a web, and we are weavers—we cannot
ourselves prepare white, clean threads of thought and purpose and love, for
our hearts are unclean. Nor can we weave the threads into a pure, unsoiled
web—for our hands are stained. God must put into our hearts the beautiful
threads. He must give us the pattern, too, into which he would have us
fashion the fabric. Then he must cleanse our hands and guide our fingers. In
weaving this web we must not miss a thread, for if we do the loom goes on
and the web rolls by—but the place of the dropped thread remains
unfilled. Would you be able to say at your life's end, "I have finished the
work which God gave me to do"? You must be sure that each smallest duty is
done in its own time. To have at last a finished life, each day must close
with its duty all done, no tasks remaining unfinished. That is, each day's
work must be left complete, with life's duty done up to that moment, as if
we should never come again to our tasks.
Serving the Highest Life
God gives us in the darkness of this world, many glimpses
of heaven's blessed life. The Scriptures are full of windows through which
the light pours. And every disclosure of heavenly existence that is made to
us, shows us life without one trace of selfishness, earnestly devoted to the
service of others. Angel-life is very pure, holy, and blessed—and yet
these celestial beings, the angels, find their employment in serving.
It is their joy to minister, not to be ministered unto. If we would be as
the angels—we must have the same spirit. Then the Son of God came, and his
life's spirit was described in his own words, "The Son of man came not to be
ministered unto—but to minister." Serving is therefore the most exalted, the
divinest thought of life.
Obedience to Impulses
We all have our impulses to duty. We know what we
ought to do. What do we do with the calls of duty and the cries and appeals
of human distress? Do we allow them to die away unheeded? If we do, our own
souls shall be losers. We walk about at town, and we see heathenism, misery,
and squalor under the very shadows of our churches. We see on all sides, the
sobs and moanings of human distress. And we are ordained by Christ to carry
his salvation, his comfort, his grace—to our fellow-men. The news of God's
love which has come to you—is not for yourself; you get the full, rich
blessing of it—only when you tell it to another. Do we obey these divine
Training the Temper
Christian duty touches all relations of life. It does
not have to do only with communions and prayer-meetings. It includes all
other actions. It tells us the kind of citizens we ought to be, how we
should live with people, that we should not speak evil of anyone, that we
should not be contentious—but be gentle, showing meekness and patience even
toward those who seem not easy to get long with. Once we were not
Christians, and did not know the law of love—but lived in malice and
envy, hateful and hating others. But now the kindness of God and His love
have touched our lives, and we are to put away the things of our old life.
God Needs Our Faithfulness
God's providence is always good—but he needs our
faithfulness, our truest and best work always, to give full expression and
result to the good that he plans. It is possible for us to mar the good
which God intends, and to turn his work into disaster which he never
intended. God never does his work unfaithfully, and we dare not charge to
his providence, the preventable accidents of life, those which come through
men's carelessness or dishonesty or greed of gain or fault of any sort. We
must remember that even the providence of God cannot work completely or
perfectly, without our little work, each and everyone's little work—well
The Radiant Ideal
We may become like angels! What debasement, then, to let
our lives, with all their glorious possibilities, be dragged down into the
dust of shame and dishonor! Rather, let us seek continually the glory for
which we were made and redeemed. "How great is the love the Father has
lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what
we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet
been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for
we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies
himself, just as he is pure." 1 John 3:1-3
"Wonderful the whiteness of your glory!
Can we truly that perfection share?
Yes; our lives are pages of your story,
We your shape and superscription bear.
Tarnished forms—torn leaves—but you can mend them;
You very own completeness can unfold
From our imperfections; and will end them—
Dross consuming, turning dust to gold."
Amusement as a Means of Grace
Amusement must never become an end in life; it
must always be a means, a help on the way, just as sleep is,
just as rest is. An hours amusement should be to you just what a night's
sleeping is, or what a day's resting is—it should make you stronger,
clearer-headed, calmer-souled, braver, more hopeful, more earnest, more
enthusiastic, inspiring you for godly living. Anything which leaves a taint
of impurity upon the life, or starts a thought of impurity in the mind,
anything which degrades or debases the soul—is unfit and unworthy amusement
for a Christian. Christian amusements must be such, as do not harm spiritual
life; they must be means of grace. "Therefore, whether you eat or
drink, or whatever you do—do everything for God's glory!" 1 Corinthians
Silences Which are Sinful
In every life, there are times when to be silent, is to
fail in duty. We are to speak out, on all occasions when the glory of Christ
demands it. We should never fear to speak the word of warning to one in
danger. We should never hesitate to speak boldly in confession of Christ in
the presence of his enemies. To be ashamed of him is a grievous wrong to
him. Many of us sin, too, by our silence toward hearts that are hungry for
love. On our tongues lie the words that would give blessing—but we hold our
tongues—and let the sad hearts break. Many of us talk too much, no doubt—"speech
is silver and silence is golden"—but let us remember also that
"there is a time to speak."
Cost of Helping Others
It is only when you have passed through the fierceness of
temptation, wrestling with evil, sorely beset—and victorious only
through the grace of Christ—that you are ready to be a helper of others in
their temptation. It is only when you have known sorrow in some form
yourself, and when you have been comforted by divine grace and helped to
endure—that you are fitted to be a comforter of others in their sorrow. You
must learn before you can teach, and the learning costs. At no
small price can we become true helpers of others in this world. Lessons
which cost us nothing—are worth but little. Virtue went out of Jesus to heal
others; virtue must go out of us to become life and blessing to other souls.
The Heart of Prayers
Mere words do not make prayer. The repeating of
forms of petition, however beautiful they may be or however eloquently
uttered, is not praying. There must be fire—the fire of love glowing
upon the golden altar of the heart. There must be sincere worship of
soul, there must be fervency of spirit there must be warm, earnest desire.
The prayer must be kindled in the heart by the love of God shed abroad by
the Holy Spirit. Unless our very heart goes into our forms of words,
borne on faith's wings and pressing to God's feet—we do not really
The Transforming Look
Keeping the heart upon Christ--transfigures the life. The
old monks intently gazed upon the crucifix, thinking that the print of the
nails would come in their hands and feet, and the thorn-scars in their brow,
as they gazed. It was but an utter fiction—yet in the fiction there is a
spiritual truth. Gazing by faith upon Christ, the lines of his beauty indeed
print themselves on our hearts! That is the meaning of Paul's words—"We all,
with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord—are
transformed into the same image!" The gospel is the mirror. There we see
the image of Christ. If we earnestly, continuously, and lovingly behold
it--the effect will be the changing of our own lives into His likeness. The
transformation is wrought by the Holy Spirit, and we are only to behold, to
continue beholding, the blessed beauty! As we sit before Christ--His image
is imprinted on our soul.
Christian conversation should not be a mere jargon of
empty, idle words. There are many people who talk incessantly—and never say
anything worth repeating or remembering. They never give any comfort to
those who are in trouble. They never incite those who hear them to anything
noble or good. Their words if gathered up would be millions of blossoms—and
not one handful of fruit; tons of sand—and not one shining
sparkle of gold. Surely such conversation is not worthy of immortal
beings, children of God and heirs of glory, on their way home to glory! "Let
your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you
may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6
Let the Blessings Flow Out
While you are to brighten first the place nearest to
you—you are also to throw the little beams of your lamp as far as they will
reach. It will not make your own home any less bright if, on a dark night,
you open the shutters of your windows and let some of the brilliancy and the
cheer pour out upon the street. Then others, too, may be blessed by the
light that fills your home. If you have a beautiful flower garden—why should
you build a high wall around it to hide it from the eyes of passers-by?
Would it not be a more Christ-like thing—to tear down your stone wall and
let all who move along the street be blessed and cheered by the beauty?
On Looking for Slights
We must look to ourselves and take heed how we receive
the acts, the words, and the manners of others. If we
are proud, and are always on the watch for slights, and unfriendly
hints, and little hurts—we can find plenty of them. We need,
therefore, to cultivate the spirit of humility in all our interactions with
others. We need to learn patience, forbearance, longsuffering, meekness, and
forgiveness. In a word, love—love which thinks no evil. Then we shall never
be suspicious, never be exacting, never demand our "rights." We shall endure
even intended wrongs—patiently, sweetly, with true meekness.
The Winsomeness of Love
"God loves you—and I love you," says Mr. McAil to the
poor people he would lift up. There is little use in telling people the
first part of this message—if we cannot tell them also the second part, or
at least make them see it in our face, in our words and acts, in our true,
tireless interest in them. The love of Christ must throb in our own hearts,
and shine in our eyes, and speak in our words, and offer itself again on the
cross in our lives, in our efforts to save others—if we would win souls for
heaven. We must love the people we would win. We must have
some conception of the infinite value of the lives we try to save—in order
that we may love them. Without this we cannot deeply and truly care for
those whom sin has stripped of beauty. But if we understand their
real worth and the possibilities there are in their lives—it will not be
hard for us to love even the farthest away from God.
Keep the Ideal Undimmed
If we are true believers in Christ, we each have in our
soul—a vision of spiritual loveliness into which we are striving to fashion
our lives. This vision is our conception of the character of Christ. "That
is what I am going to be some day!" we say. Far away beyond our present
attainment as this vision may shine—yet we are ever striving to reach it.
This is the ideal which we carry in our heart amid all our toiling and
struggling. This ideal we must keep free from all marring or stain. We must
save it—though we lose our very life in guarding it. We should be willing to
die—rather than give it up to be destroyed. We should preserve the image of
Christ—bright, radiant, unsoiled, in our soul— until it transforms our dull,
sinful, earthly life—into its own transfigured beauty!
Do Not Worry
We have nothing to do with tomorrow—until we get to it.
When the day comes with its cares—then we may meet them, and then God will
provide for them. The present duty alone, is ours—the faithful, diligent
doing of God's will day by day. The rest is God's—and anxious care
is unbelief. Our Father will surely take care of us—if we are only
faithful to him. Away, then, with anxiety. Do your work, your duty, the bit
of God's will for the day—and let God care for you. Then the peace of God
shall keep your heart and mind.
Promotion by Faithfulness
We are always on trial in this world. God's
promotions are all in the line of fidelity. When we do well with one
talent—he puts two into our hand. When we show ourselves faithful and
capable with two—he adds two more. This is true not only of ordinary
business capacities and fidelities—but also of spiritual privileges. When we
do anything well, God increases our responsibilities, puts new trusts into
our charge. But failure in any testing, brings the loss of the trusts
already in our hands. If we would grow into great usefulness—we must be ever
watchful that we fail in no duty or trial.
Looking for Blessings
Do we take the blessings that the common days
bring to us? Do we extract the honey from every flower which grows by our
path? Do not angels come to us unawares in homely or unattractive
disguise, walk with us, talk with us, and then only become known to us when
they have flown away—when their places are empty? Shall we not learn to see
the goodness and the beauty in the gifts which God sends to us? Their very
commonness veils their blessedness. Let us seek for the good in
everything. Then, though we see it not, let us never doubt that a blessing
lies hidden in every gift of God to us. Every moment brings us some
blessing—even the rough hand of trial holds in its clasp, some
treasure we love.
Be not satisfied with a mere feeble measure of spiritual
life. Strive to have the abundant life and to be full-rounded
Christians. Seek to have every power of your life developed to its utmost
possibility of beauty and usefulness. Find out whatever things
are pure, whatever things are lovely, and strive to have every mark and line
of beauty in your own life. Grow toward God in all upward, heavenward
reaching. Grow toward men in all unselfishness and loving service.
Grow in your own soul into the fullness of the stature of Christ. And
all this you will gain by becoming filled more and more with Christ himself.
It was the daily prayer of one saintly man, "O God, make me an uncommon
The path of ministry is a shining ladder, which is steep
and hard to climb—but it leads to God's feet. Whoever would be chief, let
him serve. The world is trying to scramble up another way. It thinks the
path of unselfish service leads downward. But we have Christ's word, that he
is greatest who serves most self-forgetfully. Forget yourself. Consecrate
your life to Christ. There is no other way to immortal success. Your life
will seem to sink away and be lost—but it will be like the rain-drops which
fall and disappear, only to come again in living beauty. No life of
self-sacrifice for Christ, shall fail of eternal honor.
What Makes Heaven?
What makes heaven? Not its jeweled walls, and pearl
gates, and streets of golden, and sea of glass, and river of crystal—but its
blessed obedience, its sweet holiness, its universal and unbroken accord
with the divine will, and its spirit of love. Heaven never can be entered by
any in whose hearts the spirit of heaven is not first found. Heaven
must be in us, or we can never enter its gates. We are prepared for heaven,
made fit for the inheritance of the saints; therefore, just in the measure
in which we have learned to do God's will here on earth as it is done by
angels and saints in that home of divine glory.
Misery of Borrowing Trouble
Many people are always dreading coming troubles.
They are well enough now, and well enough off—but they may get sick,
or they may become poor, or some other trouble may befall
them. A large part of human unhappiness is caused by needless forebodings—dreading
ills which never happen. It is a miserable way to live, this looking out
into the future and filling it with imaginary shapes of evil. No
doubt there are real troubles lying concealed in the future for all of
us—but let us not dread to go on in quiet faith, since over us, the rainbow
of God's eternal goodness bends!
Why Always People's faults
We are all very much alike in this world—as it regards
faults and failings. We all have plenty of them. Each one of us has at least
enough of his own faults—to make him very modest in pointing out those of
his neighbor. The trouble is, however, that most of us have eyes so
constructed or so adjusted—as to see the faults of others much more clearly
than our own. It is not hard to get almost anybody started at criticizing
others and pointing out their infirmities. What a pity it is that we have
not eyes for the beautiful things in others! What a relief it would be to
hear everybody you meet speaking in commendation of his neighbors and
praising their virtues! Would it not be worth while to try to turn the tides
of talk into this new channel for a time?
Doing Impossible Things
When God calls us to any service or task or duty
whatever, no supposed personal incapacity, incompetency, or insufficiency
may ever be urged as a reason for not obeying. God never really bids us do a
thing we cannot do—and do well, with his help. He would not mock us with an
unreasonable requirement. The achieving of impossible commands, of course,
is not our business at all. We have nothing whatever to do with the
impossible part; that belongs to God. But we have everything to do with the
obeying of the command that comes to us. It is not ours to reason, to demur,
to urge inability; it is ours promptly, unquestioningly to obey—and then as
we go forward God will divide the water or cleave the mountain or roll away
the stone. As we approach the obstacle, going in holy obedience—we shall
find the way open for our feet.
We do not know, when we are working for immortality, by
what act or word of ours we shall be remembered. It may be the obscurest
thing of our life that shall shine in the most radiant glory. Let us, then,
seek to make everything we do beautiful enough to be our epitaph. If our
hearts are always full of love—our lives will be full of gentle deeds that
will please God and bless the world. Then we shall write our names where no
floods of years, no abrasion of events, no wasting tooth of decay, no hungry
waves of time, eating away the bank whereon we stand, can ever destroy the
record. To neglect the least duty may be to spoil our own immortality. One
opportunity missed, may be the marring of our whole life.
No wonder many of us are so poor in spiritual things. To
our doors evermore come the heavenly messengers, their hands laden with rich
blessings which they wish to give to us. But we are so intent on our
petty earthly ambitions, that we do not see them nor open our doors to
them; and waiting long in vain, they at last turn sadly away, leaving us
unblessed in our poverty. If we would but train ourselves to take whatever
gift God sends to us—we should soon become rich. God's blessings are ever at
our doors. He is the giving God. The trouble with us is that we do not
always recognize the blessings when they are offered to us. Some of the
richest of them come in forms of pain or struggle or sorrow.
Let us learn to accept God's gifts, whether they shine in joy, or are veiled
Every individual life has its quarries, where are hewn
the blocks that are afterward built into character; where the
thoughts are shaped which take form in acts and heroisms and noble works.
There are two parts in every life—the heart-quarry, which the world
does not see, and the life as it takes form in the eyes of men. Men
must have a good heart-life, before they can have a good character and make
a worthy record. Men must be silent thinkers, before their words or deeds
can have either great beauty or wide influence. Much talk is of little
value. Easy thinking never leads to very high living.
The Radiance of God's Will
There are many Christians who grieve when they cannot
serve their Lord in some form of active labor for Christ. When sickness
shuts them in, and they can go forth no longer to their accustomed work,
they mourn that they must be so useless. They forget that that is God's
will, and that the doing of God's will is always the finest thing possible
in this world for any one. We worry about not carrying out our plans—the
large plans we make for our own lives. But it really matters very little
what comes of our plans—if only we do what God marks out for
us. A successful life in the end, is one which has done that for which God
The Chastening of Love
"Whom the Lord loves he chastens." Chastening is a
mark of God's love, and also a seal of sonship, for he "scourges every son
that he receives." No true father permits a child to grow up undisciplined,
having its own way all the while, its life running unchecked into
waywardness, wilfulness, and self-indulgence. The true father chastens.
Mark, it is not punishment which God inflicts—but chastening.
It is not anger or hatred which makes him at times severe, denying the
child's requests. It is love which leads him to chasten. If we were not his
children—he would not trouble to chasten us. It is the fruitful branch which
the farmer prunes, to make it more fruitful; the unfruitful branch he cuts
off and burns. It is the Father's child that he chastens.
Remembering Past Blessings
We should remember past mercies and blessings. If we do,
our past will shine down upon us like a clear sky full of stars. Such
remembering will keep the gratitude ever fresh in our hearts, and the
incense of praise ever burning on the altar. Such a house of memory, becomes
a refuge to which we may flee in trouble. When sorrows gather thickly, when
trials come, when the sun goes down and every star is quenched, and there
seems nothing left to our hearts in all the present—then the memory of a
past full of goodness, a past in which God has never once failed us, becomes
a holy refuge for our souls—a refuge gemmed and lighted by the lamps of
other and brighter days.
Our Place in the Temple
The great Master-builder, in whose quarries we are now as
stones that are being made ready for the temple, has a plan for his
building. Every life has its own particular place in that plan. God knows
what he wants you to be—how large or how small a place he wants you to fill.
We must submit our lives to the hammer and the chisel and to
the divine measurement, that we may be prepared for the place God is
preparing for us. We must not wince under the sharp cutting of
disappointment and sorrow.
The Blessing of a Book
Books are not altogether impersonal things. Somebody
wrote them. Somebody's lifeblood is in them. Somebody lived, suffered—wept,
struggled, and toiled—to put into the book, that which pleases and helps us.
Should we not think of this as we read the sentences which delight us or
which inspire and quicken us? Do we often, indeed, give thought to the
writer whose written words bring to us their messages? Do we not forget
ofttimes that it is somebody's heart-blood which runs in the sentences we
are reading, somebody's very life, if the words are truly helpful? Do we
then owe nothing to the author? Be sure the lessons he is teaching have cost
him pain and tears. He had to live deeply to write helpfully. Some
recognition of the help we have gotten from him, we certainly owe to him.
Should we not write to him our thanks for the gift he has put into our life?
The Ministry of Waiting
Each one of us does his own little part in carrying out
God's great plan. If our part is to stand and wait, it is no less honorable
than his who comes after us and takes up what fell from our hands and
carries it on to completion. Said the blind Milton, "They also serve, who
only stand and wait." "The world comes to him who can wait," says the
proverb; and victory comes, and rest comes, and God comes, and glory
comes—to him who can wait.
Climbing to Sainthood
Men do not fly up mountains; they go up slowly,
step by step. True Christian life is always mountain-climbing. Heaven is
above us, and ever keeps above us. It never gets easy to go heavenward. It
is a slow and painful process to grow godly. No one leaps to sainthood at a
bound. Nobody gets the victory once for all over his faults and sins. It is
a struggle of years, and every day must have its victories, if we are ever
to be final and complete overcomers. Yet while we cannot expect to reach the
radiant mountain-summit at one bound—we certainly ought to be climbing at
least step by step. We ought not to sit on the same little terrace, part way
up the mountain, day after day. Higher and higher should be our
A Stone's-Cast Further
Jesus took his chosen friends with him into Gethsemane.
Likewise, those who love us most truly, must share our sorrow with us. But
it is noteworthy, also, that Jesus himself went deeper into the shadows of
the garden than he asked his friends to go. Is not this fact most
suggestive? We need not fear that in any grief of ours we shall ever be
alone, without companionship. We shall never find ourselves in shadows too
deep for the sympathy and help of the Christ. However far into
the garden of sorrow we may ever be led, if we lift up our eyes—we shall see
that Jesus is on before us, a stone's-cast further than he has asked us to
Certainty of Reward
We need give ourselves no trouble about the reward of our
life. Be it ours only to do our duty faithfully, sweetly, lovingly, all the
days; then God will see that we do not miss the reward of fidelity. Our Lord
suggests that the righteous will be surprised at the Judgment to learn of
the glory and greatness of the services of love they have rendered to
needy ones. Supposing only that they were showing kindness to the poor, they
will learn that they were serving the King himself! Thus the smallest and
obscurest ministry will flash out in splendid radiancy in the day of final
revealing. No true service done in this world in Christ's name—will fail of
blessing and reward. Even the acts which seem to have been of no avail, will
leave a blessing somewhere. If your kind word or deed blesses no other, the
doing of it will bless your own heart. Though your effort does no good to
the one you meant to help—it may touch another life. Our wayside seed-sowing
is not lost.
Honoring by Taking
We honor God most—we make the fittest requital to him for
his benefits, not by giving to him—but by receiving from him. Love wants no
return for what it gives or does. God does not show favors in order to
receive as much again. He gives because his heart is full of love, because
he yearns to bless us. The only requital he wants—is the glad acceptance of
what he offers. He wants only love in return. Consecration? Yes—but the
consecration of love, and not as recompense or repayment. The Psalmist asks
"What shall I render unto the Lord
For all his benefits toward me?"
And then he answers—
"I will take the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord."
How Unbelief Robs Us
Christ never compels anyone to take the gifts and
blessings which he has to bestow. We complain of our sparse blessedness. We
wonder why God does not manifest himself to us as he has done to others. We
wonder why we cannot have such power in prayer, as some Christians have—why
so little seems to come from our work for Christ. It is not from any lack of
power in Christ, for his strength never fails nor wastes; it is because we
will not receive what he brings. Unbelief shuts up Christ's hand that
it cannot give to us the things of his grace, or cannot work deliverances
for us. Thus our unbelief keeps us impoverished. It hides God's face, and
robs us of the deep, rich joys which faith would bring. Shall we not pray
for simple faith, that we may receive large things?
There is a great deal of love, which lacks
affectionateness. Someone speaks of beautiful cathedrals with all their
splendid architecture as "frozen music." There is a great deal of frozen
love in this world. It is stately, strong, and beautiful—but it lacks
tender expression. It lies cold and crystal in the heart, and never flows
out in tenderness of word or act. There are hundreds of homes in our land in
which there is love which would die for its dear ones if there were need;
while yet in those very homes hearts are starving for love's daily bread.
The Blessing of Friendship
"Partners in cares" the old Romans called true friends.
True friendship implies mutual helpfulness. It is not all on one side; where
such friendship is, there are always two shoulders under every burden.
Friendship knows no limit in serving; it gives all, life itself, if need be.
Its yearning is not to receive—but to give; not to be ministered unto—but to
minister. The cynic sneers at the thought of friendship—but there are holy
human friendships whose beauty and splendor remind us, amid the world's
selfishness and hardness, that man was made in the image of God, that
fragments of that image yet exist even in fallen lives, and that it is
possible at last, through God's grace, to restore the heavenly luster.
The Mission of a Disciple
Christ no longer goes about in person among men, laying
his hands on the sick, the lame, the blind, the children. This work he has
entrusted to his disciples. He wants us to represent him. He
wants us to be to the sick, the sorrowing, the stricken, the fallen—what he
would be to them if he were here again on the earth. It is not hard for us
to know, therefore, what it is to be a true Christian. We have but to study
the story of our Lord's life, watching how he helped and blessed others, to
get the key to all Christian duty. His miracles we cannot repeat—but his
sympathy, his gentleness, his thoughtfulness, his unselfishness, are
patterns for our human imitation. If we catch his inner spirit "the mind
that was in Christ" we will become great blessings wherever we go in his
name. Then our touch will soothe, our words will comfort,
strengthen, and inspire, and our deeds of love will leave blessings
on every life.
Receiving to Give
As we receive each new lesson in life, each new piece of
knowledge, each new experience, each fresh inspiration —our attitude should
be one of reverent and humble unselfishness. We should say, "This is a gift
from God to me, and I am his servant. It is not mine to keep all to myself,
for my own enjoyment. God gave it to me to make me more a blessing. I must
not keep this light burning in the narrow chamber of my own life merely; I
must place it so that it will throw its beam upon some other life."
There are some people whose forgiveness is little better
than their malice. They never let you forget that they have forgiven you.
Indeed, you sometimes almost wish they had not forgiven you at all, so
miserable and so aggravating is their charity. Let us learn to forgive
generously, richly, making our forgiveness complete, sweeping forever
away—all grudge and bitterness.
Victory by Waiting
Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still
in forced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by?
No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is
a thousand times harder to do this—than it was in the active days to rush on
in stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not
lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work
and honors to others, to be quiet, confident, and rejoicing, while the
happy, busy multitude goes on and away. It is the grandest life "having done
all, to stand."
A Sure Harvest
While God may not give us the exact result which we hope
to realize in the things we do for him, he will give some other result which
will prove even better. No work for Christ will fail; no effort put forth
for him will be in vain. Says Charles Kingsley —
"Not all who seem to fail have failed indeed;
What though the seed be cast by the wayside,
And the birds take it? yet the birds are fed."
Even if there is no result here in this world, there will
be a result in the world to come. Many people die and see yet no harvest
from their life's sowing. But if they have been faithful, their eyes will
open, when they enter heaven, on a blessed vision of ripened harvest in
glory from their sowing on earth.
Promise and Prayer
There is really no true praying, which is not based on a
divine promise. We may never pray acceptably unless there is a promise for
the thing we want. But when God has promised anything to us—we can go to him
with boldness and ask him to do as he has said. But why ask—if he has
promised? Asking shows faith. Asking is the acceptance on our part of what
God offers. Ask—and you shall receive; ask not—and you shall not receive.
Find a promise for what you want, and then bring it boldly to God. If you
have no plain promise, ask humbly, submissively, and modestly, leaving
altogether to his wise love, the things about which you are uncertain.
Master I am Ready
"I am ready." That is what consecration means. It
is doing what Christ commands. It is going where Christ sends
you. It is not a mere devout sentiment—warmth of heart, good feeling; it is
being good and doing good. Oh, be earnest. Be faithful. Be
true. Be strong. Believe in Christ. Cleave to him. Do your work for him.
Lift up your face toward your beloved Master's face, and say to him,
"Master, I am ready. I know not what you have for me to do—to work or to
suffer, to live or to die—but I am ready. I am ready to speak for you, to
endure persecution for you, to live for you. I am ready; I am ready."
His Changeless Love
You have felt the warmth of Christ's love pouring like
sunshine upon your life. You believe that he loves you today. Yet sometimes
you fear for the future. "Will his love always last?" you ask with
trembling. "May he never weary of me?" Nay; he loves unto the end. Other
things about you will fade and die; other joys will perish out of your
heart; other loves will grow cold; but the love of Christ which throbs about
you now, will never change.
Keep the Door of My Lips
No prayer should be oftener spoken by us, than that of
David in one of his psalms: "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the
door of my lips." There is nothing in all our life to which most of us give
less heed, than to our words. We let them fly from our lips as the leaves
fly from the trees when the autumn winds blow. Many people seem to think
that words scarcely have a moral character. They watch their acts, their
conduct, and then give full license to their tongues. This is not right. A
true Christian should have a Christian tongue. Words have
terrific power for harm—if they are wrong words, and blessed, immortal power
for good—if they are holy words. We need to pray continually that God would
keep the door of our lips, and set a watch before our mouth. Only love
should be permitted to interpret itself in speech. Bitterness and all evil
should be restrained.
At the time when help, deliverance, or favor comes to
us—our hearts are very warm with grateful feeling. "We will never forget
this kindness," we say. But do we never forget it? We remember injuries
done to us. We all know how hard it is to forget a wrong that another
has inflicted upon us. Sometimes we say, with martyr-like air, "I forgive
him—but I can never forget the injury." Slights and cutting words
and unkindnesses and neglects—how well we remember these. But have we as
good memories for favors, kindnesses, blessings? Ought we not to have? Shall
we not train ourselves rather, to forget the hurts we receive as the lake
forgets the ploughing of the keel through its waters, and to remember with
faithful gratitude every smallest kindness done to us?
The Expression of Love
There are friendships which are true enough—but which are
not hallowed by those graceful attentions and tokens of thoughtfulness,
which cost so little and yet are worth so much. The kindly feeling in the
heart ought to find some way to utter itself—a way in keeping, too, with the
delicacy and beauty of the sentiment. The affection ought to exhibit itself
in amiability, in gentleness, in thoughtfulness. We ought not to be so
dilatory of our kind words.
Our Message to Souls
When you go out to seek the lost, tell them that God in
heaven loves them. Tell them that his heart yearns for them as a mother
yearns for her absent wandering child. No matter how sunken in sin, how
depraved, how completely the divine image has been blotted from the soul,
how ruined the life may be—still bend over the wreck of manhood or womanhood
and whisper the blessed message, "God loves you." Tell it so earnestly that
it cannot fail to be listened to, understood, and believed. This is the
message of life and hope.
A promise made to a child or to the lowliest, most
unworthy person should be kept, no matter how hard it may be to keep it "I
entirely forgot my promise," one says, as if forgetting it were much less a
sin than deliberately breaking it. We have no right to forget any promise we
make to another. If we cannot trust our memory—we should make note of our
promises and engagements on paper, and then keep them scrupulously, on the
very minute. To break even the slightest promise, is grievously to wrong and
hurt another life.
Not Fainting Under Trial
There are some people who give up and lose all their
courage and faith, the moment any trouble comes. They cannot endure trial.
Sorrow utterly crushes them. They think they cannot go on again. There have
been lives broken down by affliction, which have never risen again out of
the dust. There have been mothers, happy and faithful before, who have lost
one child out of their home, and have never cared for life again, letting
their home grow dreary and desolate and their other children go uncared for,
as they sat with folded hands in the abandonment of their uncomforted grief.
There have been men with bright hopes who have suffered one defeat or loss,
and have never risen again out of the dust. But God's Word teaches that we
should never faint under any trial. God chastens us, not to crush us—but for
our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. To faint, therefore,
under chastening, is disloyalty to God. We should accept the affliction with
reverence, and turn the whole energy of our life into the channels of
obedience and service.
What Shall We Be
We have in us, a life that when fully manifested, will be
altogether like Christ's. Christ's glory will shine in our faces; his beauty
will glow in our souls. No matter how imperfect, how faulty, how full of
blemishes we may be now—we are to be "like him" when the divine life in our
souls bursts out into all its richness and fullness of manifestation. With
such a hope in our hearts, should we not keep ourselves from everything
unworthy of such dignity and holiness, and strive to reach "whatever things
Make the Last Day Beautiful
The last day a friend was with us, is always sacred in
memory. The last walk we had together, the last talk, the last book we read,
the last letter, the last good-bye—we never forget. We all want to leave
sweet memories behind us in the hearts of our friends when we are gone from
earth. We want our names to be fragrant in the homes on whose thresholds, in
whose halls, our footfalls are accustomed to be heard. We can make sure of
this, only by so living always that any day would be a suitable and
beautiful last day, leaving only tender recollections. We must make no
bitterness for another life any day, because that day may be our last, and
that memory the one that will stay in the heart when we are gone.
O Christ, Forgive!
Oh, blessed ministry of true Christian speech! May God
forgive us for the abuse or misuse of the glorious gift! If a word of ours
has ever hurt a tender spirit, or tarnished a white soul, or turned any away
from the right path—O Christ, forgive us and help us to undo the wrong! Give
us grace and wisdom, that we may use the gift of speech to honor you and
bless the world.
On Christ's Birthday
It is Christ's birthday. In among all our festivities,
should come sweet thoughts of the love of God. The gifts we may receive
should make us think of the greatest gift of all—when God gave his Son. Let
us all try to make our Christmas very full of memories of Christ. Let the
blessed love of Christ make a glad Christmas in our hearts, helping us to be
like Christ himself in love, unselfishness, and forgiveness.
Echoing Christmas Songs
What Christ is to us we ought, in our human measure, to
be to others. Christmas means love. Christ came to our world to pour divine
kindness on weary, needy, perishing human lives. The Christmas spirit in our
hearts should send us out on the same errand. There is need everywhere for
love's ministry. We should learn the true Christmas lesson of
gentle, thoughtful kindness to those we love and to all we meet in
life's busy ways.
Christmas should teach us to be Christ to others
all about us, that from our very garments may flow the virtue that shall
heal and bless all who touch us. There are few people whom God calls to do
great things for him—but the best thing that we can do in this
world—is to live out a real, simple, beautiful, strong Christian life in our
allotted place. Thus in our little measure, we shall repeat the life of the
Master himself, showing men some feeble reflection of his sweet and loving
face, and doing in our imperfect way, a few of the lovely things he would do
if he were here himself in our place.
God carries many of his children into the darkened
rooms of affliction, and when they come forth again, there is more of
the beauty of Christ in their souls. We get many of the best things of our
lives out of suffering and pain. It may be the easiest—but it surely is not
the best life, and the most blessed, that is free from trial. The crown is
not given to untried lives.
Power of Faith
Shall we not try to learn the secret of power in
Christian life and Christian work? We can do a great deal more for Christ
and to bless the world, than most of us are doing. It is more faith that we
need. Faith links us to Christ, so that wherever we go in his name he goes
with us, and whatever we do for him his power rests upon us. Every Christian
life ought to be a force among men, a witness for Christ, an influence for
blessing and good. Let us get nearer to Christ, that he can use us for doing
the greater things.
Consecration of Will
The highest reach of faith is loving, intelligent
consecration of all our life, to the will of God. We are to have desires—but
they should be held in subordination to God's desires and thoughts for us.
We are to have plans—but they should be laid down at God's feet, that
he may either let us work them out for him, or show us his plan for us
instead of our own. Complete consecration of our will to God's—that is
the standard of Christian living at which we are to aim. We must
voluntarily yield ourselves to God. That is consecration.
Every hard duty which lies in your path, that you would
rather not do, that it will cost you pain or struggle or sore effort to
do—has a blessing in it. Not to do it, at whatever cost, is to miss the
blessing. Every hard piece of road on which you see the Master's
foot-prints, and along which he bids you follow him, surely leads to a
blessing, which you cannot get if you cannot go over the steep, thorny path.
Every point of battle to which you come, where you must draw your sword and
fight with the enemy, has in it a possible victory which will prove a rich
blessing to your life. Every heavy load that you are called to lift, hides
in itself some strange secret of strength.
The Blessing of Penitence
The memory of transgression will always give pain.
Penitence is not the best thing; innocence is far better. But,
having sinned, penitence is infinitely better than despair. And even out of
the sin, the shame, and the sorrow—God can bring blessing for ourselves and
for others. While we cannot undo our wrong deeds, God can keep them from
undoing us, and can even bring good out of them in some strange way, if we
commit the whole matter to him.