"And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph.4:32. Let this law of kindness get into your life as its very essence. It is not enough to affect kindness; we must be kind. A tender heart is the groundwork of kindness. Out of such a soil the beautiful flowers of gentleness, kindness, and tenderness grow. These perfume the life and make it cheering to others. Can you be more kind in your daily life? Is your heart so tender that it feels the suffering of the child or the pain of the dumb animal to the extent that you find pleasure in giving relief even at the expense of self-ease?
"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Col.3:2. Guard your heart. "Keep it with all diligence." See that all of its affections are on things above. Some of the earthly things that God has given into your keeping will want some of your affection. The beautiful home, the farm, the bank-account, the domestic animals, and even some things almost worthless will want a little of your heart's love. Your own talents and personal appearance may desire some of your affection, just enough to set you approving them for your own sake. Practise daily the above text.
"In everything give thanks." 1 Thess.5:18. "Giving thanks always for all things." Eph.5:20. Thankfulness is a grace easily improved and developed if cultivated. Likewise, it will very soon degenerate if neglected. In order to keep a deep sense of thankfulness in our hearts, we must be mindful of the gracious dealings of God. It is well to take time as often as circumstances will permit to meditate in some quiet place upon the goodness of God to you. We should have such thankful hearts that ofttimes tears of gratitude will flow at the remembrance af God's goodness.
"Rejoice evermore." 1 Thess.5:16. "As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing." 2 Cor.6:10. "Rejoice alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Phil.4:4. "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." Jas.1:2. This is the power of the Christian life. We can always rejoice. We can be contented and happy, whatever our circumstances in life. God's grace will sustain us. Every day can be, and should be, a day of rejoicing. God is pleased to have us happy, but he would have our rejoicing to be in him and not in his blessings. To rejoice in the midst of trial is health to the soul.
"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thess.5:17. "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." Col.4:2. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Eph.6:18. If you value peace and prosperity of soul, you will not neglect to pray. It is prayer that keeps us up above the clouds and brings heaven down. He who does not pray at all is not a Christian, and he who does not pray much is not much of a Christian. It is not those who have plenty of time to pray that do the most praying, but they who take the time. Let there be some prayer every day.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves." Phil.2:3. This should be the experience of your heart every day. When we are lowly, we see our own faults and imperfections and our brother's virtues; therefore we look upon him as better than ourselves. It seems to us that others are more humble than we are, and have more faith and love God more than we do.
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Phil.2:4. We should be as much concerned in others' welfare as in our own. He who is looking out for himself and neglecting others has not advanced very far in the Christian life. The Christian lives for others. He will overlook his own needs and see his brother's needs.
"See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men." I Thess.5: 15. "And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Gal.6:9, 10. To go about doing good out of a heart full of love is the way to spend life. Heaven is going to reward us according to our works. The Bible tells us so. Never a day should go by without our having done some good thing purposely out of love to God and man. The Lord does not overlook small deeds when done in love. A coral is very small, but many of them make an island: a little good deed done every day will in a lifetime amount to enough to build a splendid mansion in heaven.
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Gal.6:2. To lift a load from off the shoulders of another is noble service. To remove a burden from another's heart is truly Christlike. He who goes through life bearing the burdens of others has found the easiest road; he who goes through life refusing to aid others travels a road of hardest toil.
"Abhor that which is evil." Rom.12:9. God is holy; consequently he hates that which is evil. When we admire the holiness of God, we loathe sin; if sin has no horror to our soul, holiness has no beauty. To the extent we love holiness, to that extent we hate sin. A good man of long ago said, "If I could see the shame of sin on the one hand and the pain of hell on the other, and must of necessity choose one, I would rather be thrust into hell without sin than go to heaven with sin."
Sin is a hideous monster. Draw near to God if you would see sin's awful hideousness. Unlike most other things, the farther you are away from sin the more clearly you can see it as it really is.
"Cleave to that which is good." Rom.12:9. To cleave to is to adhere tightly; to cling. We cleave to that which is good by ever doing good. When we hate sin as we should and see its awful shame, and love the good and see its wondrous beauty, we would rather go to hell doing good than to heaven committing sin.
"Draw nigh to God." Jas.4:8. The close of every day should find us a little nearer God than the evening before. We should hide a little more secretely in his pavilion. We should nestle a little more closely under his wing; his feathers should cover us a little more fully. Be the storms what they may, we can daily live very close to God, and what we can do it is our duty to do.
"Open thy mouth wide." Psa.81:10. We should daily live with wide-open mouth. If we will, the promise is that God will fill it. For God to be all to us, we must expect all from him. God can impart to us only what our hearts are open to receive. If we would live with God in our own soul, we must have all our soul open to receive him. Many fail to see the beauty of a life hid with God because they are looking too much earthward. Opening the mouth wide implies an abandonment of ourself to God with a readiness to receive all that God has to give, together with an expectation to receive nothing that does not come from him. Then God will fill us daily with himself. There will be a constant inflowing from God of strength and ability to perform every duty of life, and of grace and peace to make life an emblem of heaven. "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will." Acts 22:14. "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." Eph.6:6. "I delight to do thy will, O my God" Psa.40:8. It is our privilege to daily know the will of God. It is our duty to daily do it. It is a blessing to love to do it. Here is the sum of all Christian living: 1. Knowing the will of God; 2. Doing the will of God; 3. Doing the will of God in love.
"I asked the New-year for some motto sweet,
"'Will knowledge then suffice, New-year?' I cried,
"Once more I asked: 'Is there no more to tell?'
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Phil.2:14. Let thy life be free from all frettings and worryings. Let it be like the calm flowing of the river. God is a strong and high tower, a refuge, a shield. With our life hidden in him, worries and frettings can not reach us. We may be treated unjustly by a bosom friend, but we commit it to God, and instead of feeling the wound the friend gives, we feel the balm our Father gives.
"Be content with such things as ye have." Heb.13:5. "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Phil.4:11. He who has gained contentment has gained more than he who has gained the wealth of a world, if it be contentment with godliness. A discontented life is a dark spot on the page of human history. An even, contented life is as a lighthouse shedding its peaceful beams over the turbulent waters where voyagers come and go.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phil.4:13. "I am mighty enough for all things through Christ who empowers me." -- Rotherham. There is no excuse for your not living a perfectly victorious life today. You can be a conqueror. Temptations will assail you, trials will come, but you can ignore them in such a way as to show their author your contempt for both him and his temptations. I read just this morning this good suggestion: "Do not dwell upon your temptations. They are like little dogs that bark after a man that passes by; if he stops to drive them away, they bark more fiercely than before." You can do all things through Christ, but you must do them in his way. Ofttimes he would have you ignore temptations instead of fighting them. It is well ofttimes not even to ask, "Who is there," when temptations come knocking at your door.
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Col.3: 12, 13. Such a life is a heavenly life. Think these words over and make them your experience today. Have bowels of mercies -- that yearning, longing, compassionate feeling that would gladly bring every offender to Jesus for forgiveness. Be kind. Oh, the power of kindness! It can not be resisted; it conquers wherever it goes. This cold world knows no music so sweet as kindness; it charms and delights the ears of all. If you would be kind in word and act, be kind in thought. Be humble in mind. Think well of others and not so well of yourself. Life will flow on peacefully and easily if we are humble; nothing can disturb. Be meek, sweet, and mild tempered. Bear long with the failings and weaknesses of others, carefully considering your own and keeping in mind how you would like to have others bear with you.
"And above all these things put on charity; which is the bond of perfectness." Col.3:14. Throw the mantle of love over every act and thought in life. Love purely, love sincerely, love fervently. Nothing is so great as love. All the graces have their seat in love; you can not be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, or forbearing without love.
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts." Col.4: 15. Let the peace of God act as umpire, deciding every case. Let it have the ruling power in your heart and life today and every day. Whatever matters may arise, let the peace of God take it in hand and dispose of it. If it shows any resistance, then let the peace of God cast it out.
"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Col.4: 6. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Eph.4: 29. Have a pure speech, made mighty by the grace of God. Be sober without gloom, be serious with cheerfulness. Have such a conversation as is suited to lift hearts to a higher plane. Your words should be such as to make better those you talk with and make them feel that there is something higher for them.
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Eph.5:16. Time is more than money; it is life. Do not waste it. Improve its golden moments today. Be economical in its use. Many complain of not having time for devotional reading and for prayer, while if they would examine carefully, they would find that they trifle away as much time as would he needed for prayer each day.
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." Eph.5:21. This is beautiful. Submissiveness is a desirable grace and one that will strew your pathway with peace. How blessed it is to be always ready to give up our way! It is the easy way. We shall find life's way a hard road to travel if we are always wanting our way.
"Be careful for nothing." Phil.4:6. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 1 Pet.5: 7. "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on." Matt.6:25. The Christian life is one of freedom from anxiety. Jesus will bear all our burdens, and cares if we will but cast them on him. There is no need to worry nor to bear a load of care. A certain brother was much troubled about not having bread for the next meal. But while he was troubling himself and bearing his load, a man drove up and unloaded a barrel of flour at the door. All the time the brother was troubled, the barrel of flour was on the way. Take no anxiety for future things.
"Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." Psa.4:4. Each evening in some quiet place and with interior stillness talk with your heart and let your heart talk to you. Take a distinctive view of your inward life. You need to be very careful lest you outwardly appear to be a little more than you really are inwardly.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Gal.2:20. Is it true? Does Jesus live in you? If you are smitten upon the right cheek, does Jesus then live in you? If you are evil spoken of, misrepresented, misunderstood, neglected, dispised and forsaken, does Jesus live in you then? If you see your brother in need; if you have two coats and he has none, does Jesus live in you then? There are some in prison near you; there are those who are sick; there are those who are thirsty and hungry; in foreign lands there are heathen that know not God, -- are you sure Jesus lives in you?
"Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I can not perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I can not behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I can not see him." Job 23:8,9. This may be your experience some days. In fact, if you are making progress and at all approaching maturity, you will have such experiences. Some dear conscientious Christians become much troubled because they are not more conscious of God's presence. They do not feel him, and thus they conclude they must be very formal. I have always believed and taught that we should have a consciousness of God's presence with us; I still believe and teach it; but I must admit that the most spiritual ofttimes can not perceive God on either hand. They may fear that they are lifeless, because there is not a fresh and sweet spontaneous feeling in their souls. It seems to them that they merely go through the form of worshiping God instead of being in the Spirit. They pray, but their prayers seem to have no depth of heart. In consequence they may be troubled. They need not be. We are not necessarily lukewarm because we do not feel God. The most humble men are those who are least conscious of their humility. The greatest of men are those who take no note of their greatness. The Christian has life; but when we get in the habit of living, we are not so conscious of life.
Let me illustrate the point in this way: Suppose your weakness to be selfishness. You struggle hard against that selfish principle; you notice that you are becoming more unselfish; you are conscious of it because you have had to put forth such effort to attain it; but after you have gained the victory and have become habituated to living an unselfish life, you will be less conscious of your unselfishness. The musician is not so conscious of his skill after he has mastered the art as he is while learning it. Those who are the meekest and have the most intimate converse with heaven, diffusing a fragrance round about them from their holy lives and seeming to be visitants from some world where there is no sin -- these are least conscious of their high spiritual attainments.
Live a holy life, obey the commandments of God, have a will to serve God, and if sometimes you do not feel him nor perceive him, do not be troubled, but consider that he knows the way you take and that when he has tried you, you shall come forth as gold.
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love." Rom.12:10. Brotherly love is precious in the sight of angels. It is the most convincing proof of the Christian religion. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another." But in addition to brotherly love there should be kind affection. This is love felt and expressed. There are those who really love, yet whose nature is such that they do not feel much love. Kind affection, like every other grace, is capable of cultivation.
"In honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer." Rom.12:10-12. These words contain depth of experience, but only by prayer and deep meditation can we descend to their depth.
But we must close by referring you to the whole of the Bible. It is a holy book, yea, the holiest of books. A life in harmony with its precepts is the holiest life. Such a life will grace the earth and shine as a star forever in heaven. Cleave to the Bible, study its pages, appropriate its truths to your own heart by faith. By living upon the Word of God, we become more like God. Heavenly words taken into the heart form a heavenly life.
Let your soul be fed each day from the blessed Book of God. Take the time. Drink deep into its pure, crystal stream, and the beauty of the Lord will grow upon you. Watch the little things in every-day life -- the thought, the word, the act -- until you bring the whole of your life into the habit of acting godly. Be as kind as you can be today, and you can be kinder tomorrow. This is for the Christian. We do not become Christians by growth, but we must grow after we become Christians. We can be more patient tomorrow by being as patient as we can be today. We can be better men tomorrow by being our best today. We grow as we live. If we live the right way, we shall grow that way, and the longer we grow that way, the more natural and easy the way.
Therefore let your whole life flow out in a trend with the Bible, until it wears a channel in holiness and Christian character. Gather food daily for your soul from the sacred page; live in the most intimate communion with God that is possible; meditate in his law day and night; let the love of your heart grow warmer; let life be the holiest possible. Do this, and you will be one of the jewels God will gather to bedeck the temple of the skies.
A tender blue is in the sky
The song-bird's note is soft and low,
The fields are wrapped in somber shroud
A hush is on this world of ours;
Now Pleiades grow sparkling bright
Such sacred awe my soul doth fill!
The silver bars that streak the West
I've one day less to watch and wait,
Oh, may it be when sets the sun
* * * * * * *
It is a pleasant autumn eve;
* * * * * * *
Dear reader, live alone for God;