“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart–and you will find rest for your souls!” – Matt 11:29
We have to learn to live–if ever we are to live worthily. No one becomes a fine musician, without much learning. Nor can anyone take a piece of canvas, with palette, paints, and brushes–and at once paint a masterpiece.
Learning to live beautifully–is harder than learning music or art. We must learn to live–and the lessons are hard, requiring long years of patience and practice. But we ought to learn the art of living, whatever the cost may be!
Life is a sacred trust. We are accountable for it to God, who gave it to us. We are required to make the most of our abilities, training them to their best capacity. By self-discipline, we are to get the perfect mastery of our being–and then do the things which we were made to do.
Yet many people never seriously try to learn to live! This is unworthy a being endowed with immortality, and sent forth on a divine errand. We should live in a way, which will not shame us when we come to the end.
Faith Sets the Bow
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. – Gen 9:14
Just now clouds are plentiful enough, but we are not afraid that the world will be destroyed by a deluge. We see the rainbow often enough to prevent our having any such fears. The covenant which the Lord made with Noah stands fast, and we have no doubts about it. Why, then, should we think that the clouds of trouble, which now darken our sky, will end in our destruction? Let us dismiss such groundless and dishonoring fears.
Faith always sees the bow of covenant promise whenever sense sees the cloud of affliction. God has a bow with which He might shoot out His arrows of destruction. But see, it is turned upward! It is a bow without an arrow or a string; it is a bow hung out for show, no longer used for war. It is a bow of many colors, expressing joy and delight, and not a bow blood-red with slaughter or black with anger. Let us be of good courage. Never does God so darken our sky as to leave His covenant without a witness, and even if He did, we would trust Him since He cannot change or lie or in any other way fail to keep His covenant of peace. Until the waters go over the earth again, we shall have no reason for doubting our God.
He that watereth shall be watered also himself. – Prov 11:25
If I carefully consider others, God will consider me, and in some way or other He will recompense me. Let me consider the poor, and the Lord will consider me. Let me look after little children, and the Lord will treat me as His child. Let me feed His flock, and He will feed me. Let me water His garden, and He will make a watered garden of my soul. This is the Lord’s own promise; be it mine to fulfill the condition and then to expect its fulfillment.
I may care about myself till I grow morbid; I may watch over my own feelings till I feel nothing; and I may lament my own weakness till I grow almost too weak to lament. It will be far more profitable for me to become unselfish and out of love to my Lord Jesus begin to care for the souls of those around me. My tank is getting very low; no fresh rain comes to fill it; what shall l do? I will pull up the plug and let its contents run out to water the withering plants around me. What do I see? My cistern seems to fill as it flows. A secret spring is at work. While all was stagnant, the fresh spring was sealed; but as my stock flows out to water others the Lord thinketh upon me. Hallelujah!
“So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. ’Put this money to work,’ he said, ’until I come back.’” – Luke 19:13
We are doing business in this world for Christ. Each one of us has something of His–a pound which He has entrusted to us to trade with as his agent. Our life itself, with all its powers, its endowments, its opportunities, its privileges, its blessings, its possibilities–is our pound. Our life is not our own. We are not in this world merely to have a good time for a few years. Life is a trust. We are not done with it either, when we have lived it through to its last day. We must render an account of it to him who gave it to us. Our business is to gather gains through our trading with our Lord’s money. We are required to make the most that is possible of our life!
People often speak of the solemnity of dying. It is a grave and serious matter–but it is a great deal more solemn thing to live. Dying is but giving back into God’s hand his own gift–life. If we have lived well, dying is victory, glory, the trampling of life’s fragile vanities to fragments, as our soul bursts into real and full life and blessedness.
It is living then, which is serious and solemn. Life to its last particle is our Lord’s property, entrusted to us to be used so that it shall grow. Then comes the judgment. We shall have to look up into our Lord’s face, and tell him what we have done with his pound. We shall be expected to return our trust, not , only kept safe–but enhanced in value!
Streams in the Desert
I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. – Phil 4:11
Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart’s-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heart’s-ease, I’m glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”
“Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God’s heritage
Can do it so well as you.”
They who are God’s without reserve, are in every state content; for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an hundredfold.