Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
(Children's sermon.) Did you ever get nervous before a painted portrait? When I was a boy, there was a great oil painting hung over the fireplace of an old gentleman, with a little, sharp, cold, cruel face. But what used to frighten me most were the cold, cruel eyes. They seemed to be everywhere. If I went to the one end of the room, they followed me there; if I went to the other, they followed me. If I did anything that was wrong, they seemed to be sneering, "That is just what I expected from a boy like you!" and if I did anything right, they seemed to sneer still more, "Pah, you will very soon be doing something wrong again!" I was glad when it became too dark to see these eyes, but when the morning came, there were those eyes as unpleasant as ever! I would have been very glad to have turned that picture with its face to the wall! And would you not sometimes like to do that with this text, if it was hung up opposite you? When you are grumbling because your brother or sister got a larger piece of cake than you, or a toy bigger than yours, or when it is not your turn to be taken out, you would not like to see what God is saying to you when you are murmuring and grisling and grudging and disputing. Yet that is what God is saying to you when you are peevish and discontented. He is saying it to make you happy. There was once a little lady who was very unhappy. She lived in a fine house, and had lots of toys and a watch, yet nothing could please her. Even the weather was never just what she wanted. It was sure to rain when she wanted it to be fine, or fine when she took out her new umbrella. From morning to night she murmured and grumbled, and was very unhappy. One day she came upon two poor children playing and having such a hearty game. "These children," she said, "are very happy. I will ask them what makes them so." So she asked the eldest boy. "I don't know, miss, what you mean," said the boy; "what's happy?" "Why," she replied, "it means bright, glad, fond of things." "Oh!" said the boy, "Jim and I are always glad; ain't we, Jim?" And the eyes of the little brother danced like sunshine upon ripples as he said, "Yes, always glad." "But what makes you so glad?" "I don't know, I'm sure, miss, except that when I try to make Jim glad I get glad myself." And that was all that he knew about the matter. But as the little lady went home she thought about it, and said to herself, "What the little boy means is this — the way to be happy is by trying to make other people happy." So she thought she would try, and all that day, instead of grumbling and murmuring and finding fault, she said, "Thank you!" with a pleasant smile; and "Don't you trouble, let me do it!" in a nice spirit; and, "Well, this task is a little difficult, but I shall manage it!" And she found that everybody got pleasanter to her, and instead of always scolding her, everybody had a kind word for her, and people who used to dislike her came to love her. So she learnt the secret of happiness. And now she has grown into a great woman, people feel better for looking at her. She has such a happy, kindly face. Try to be the same; and instead of grumbling try to make people happy.
(J. R. Howat.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Do all things without murmurings and disputings: