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 unresting aim.
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 go.
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
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
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
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 are lovely"?
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
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.