Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest…
I. IF THIS IS TO BE OUR CHARACTERISTIC AND HABIT, THERE ARE CERTAIN RULES THE OBSERVANCE OF WHICH IS INDISPENSABLE. We must not undertake more work, or ambitiously grasp at more engagements, than there is a fair and reasonable likelihood of our being able to accomplish. We must endeavour, by plan and forethought, so to dispose of our time as to make the most of every hour that is given us to work in. Then there must be no indolent procrastination, or giving way before little difficulties, or sitting down or turning aside because we think we see lions in the way; but rather the putting forth of vigorous effort in order to realise our plans and to keep ourselves master of our circumstances, instead of allowing our circumstances to master us. The benefits which grow out of this ordering of our time, and doing the work of each day in the day, are various and great. It helps to secure that whatever we undertake to do shall be well done, by our having abundance of time in which to do it. It saves our consciences from the reproach and our characters from the shame of promise-breaking; for when the work of to-day is thrown over upon to-morrow, it is likely that much will fail to be done at all, according to the old Spanish proverb that "the street of By-and-By leads to the house of Never." It preserves us from that fretting of the temper which is the certain effect of hurry, and enables us to maintain more tranquillity of mind, and self-control, and self-respect.
II. NEXT LET US APPLY THE PRINCIPLE IN THESE WORDS TO SOME THINGS IN DETAIL. There is especially one direction in which it is pre-eminently applicable. Suppose a man to have the consciousness awakened in him that he has never given earnest attention to the matter of his personal salvation; that he is under the displeasure of God, with a life of unforgiven sins accusing him; and that the near and solemn eternity is all unprovided for. This ought surely to become his immediate and paramount concern. "The man should not be in rest until he hath finished the thing this day." Who would sing songs to a man that was sinking and perishing in the fearful pit and the miry clay? Get him out of the pit first. He would be a fool who should propose to paint his ship while it was toiling and straining in the storm. Bring it first into calm waters and the safe harbour. But let us assume that the supreme interest has been cared for; and there are two observations which it is natural to connect with these suggestive words of Naomi.
1. There are certain duties which regularly fall to be performed by us, and which may be described as the work of every day. There are, for example, the duties of our stated secular vocation, whether they consist in headwork or in handiwork, or in both combined. In these we are daily summoned anew to serve God; and very much of the Christian's everyday religion consists in his discharging these common services in a Christian spirit. And daily mingling with these, and shedding down hallowed influences upon them, there are the more direct exercises of religion, especially those of secret devotion, on the morning and evening of every day. And scarcely less congenial with the tastes of his new nature will be his daily perusal of some chosen portion of Holy Scripture. And must we not further claim from the Christian heads of families that domestic devotion shall form an essential part of each day's round of service, in which every day's wants shall be turned to prayer, and every day's mercies to praise; in which family affection shall be nurtured and sanctified; in which the parents shall become more venerable and the children more endeared, and home become as one of the gates of heaven?
2. There is another large class of duties of a more special kind, which are not of daily recurrence, but are rather appropriate to particular times and circumstances, and may be said to grow out of them.
(1) Observation of the weekly day of rest.
(2) Making your will.
(3) Making up quarrels.
(4) Speaking words in season.Do not withhold yourself from doing good because your sphere of beneficent action is narrow. If you cannot do a prophet's work, yet give a cup of cold water to one of Christ's little ones. If you have not the means of founding or endowing a hospital, you can take a flower, perchance, and give it to some sister or brother who is pining in one of its wards, and you can give kind words and sunny looks along with it. The world around is full of opportunities of usefulness, if we would but seize them. We can scarcely stretch forth our hand without touching some form of human misery which we could mitigate or relieve. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it."(A. Thomson, D. D.).
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.