If holiness delivers us from worry, it increases the sense of duty and of personal responsibility. It was the holiness of His heart that led the twelve-year-old boy Jesus to say to His mother, 'Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?' To Him the world was not a playground only, but a field of labor. His Father had given Him work to do, and He must do it before the night came in which no man can work.
By this I do not understand that He was continually engaged in ceaseless, grinding toil, with no hours of recreation and rest. 'We know that in after years He went away with His disciples to rest awhile. He took time to enjoy the flowers, to consider the lilies, to watch the sparrows, to view the grass of the field. But He neglected no duty; He did not slight or shirk His work, He was no trifler; He was honest; what He did He did well, and with His might, And this spirit always accompanies true holiness of heart.
Most people divide the work of the world into what they call sacred and secular work, Preaching, praying, reading the Bible, conducting meetings, and the like, they consider to be sacred work; but washing and ironing and learning, building houses and making shoes, practicing law or medicine, working in mines and mills, in shops and stores, and on shipboard, that they call secular work.
But why make such a distinction? It is not the work, but the heart and purpose behind the work, that God looks at. The Salvation Army Officer, or minister, or missionary who works for the salary he gets, or for the social position he enjoys, or for an opportunity for study and travel and personal culture, has a secular heart, and makes his work secular; while the farmer or lawyer, washerwoman or cook, shoemaker or miner, or stenographer who has a holy heart, and who does good work as unto the Lord, makes his or her work sacred.
The time was when a man built his own house, made his own shoes, sheared his sheep, and gave the wool to his wife, who dyed it, spun and wove it, and made it into clothes for her household. He raised corn and meat, and prepared it for food, and so they lived independent of the world on the fruits of their own toil. But times have changed. Society is now a great organism in which there are a thousand different occupations, and people must needs divide the work between them. And now God wants each to be faithful and holy and happy where he is, doing his own work faithfully as Jesus would do it.
A poor German woman in Massachusetts used to say, 'I am a scrubbing-woman and a missionary by the grace of God.' She went to the homes of the rich to scrub and clean, and she testified of Jesus everywhere she went. She scrubbed to pay expenses, and preached the Gospel, and she scrubbed well that the Gospel might not be despised or blamed.
They tried to arrest Paul in Damascus after his conversion, but he was let down through a window by the wall in a basket, and so escaped. Someone has said that possibly one of the early Christians made the rope that held the basket, and that by making a good rope, he saved Paul's life; and so in his humble way, without knowing it, helped in all the mighty missionary labors and salvation warfare of Paul. But what if he had carelessly made a poor rope, that had broken with Paul!
We are God's tools. He is the Workman. I took an axe to cut down a tree; but I took a tiny gimlet to bore a hole in a piece of furniture I wished to mend. I could not cut down the tree with the gimlet, nor bore the hole with the axe, and yet both pieces of work were important. So the Lord has different kinds of work, for which He must have different kinds of workmen.
The General stirs the world and lifts it towards God. You, perhaps, teach a few ragged boys. Do not despise your work or be discouraged. You are as important to God as the gimlet was to me. Do your duty. Do it as though Jesus were in the class you teach, by the bench where you work, in your kitchen, office, store, or mill. Do it without murmuring. Do it gladly, and He may take it up, and make it a part of His great plan, long after you have laid it down, as He did the rope which saved Paul. Never mind what your work is. Moses tended sheep. Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was a tent-maker. Gideon was a farmer's man. Dorcas was a dressmaker; Martha a housekeeper; Luke a doctor; Joseph and Daniel were governors and statesmen; in every relation of life and in all duty they were faithful, or we should not have heard of them.
If you are true, you will 'adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things,' you will have the sweet approval of your own conscience, the smile of God, and however humble your work may have been, if you are steadfast unto the end, you will some day hear Him say, 'Well done. good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' Hallelujah!
True promotion which is from God, both in this world and that which is to come, is the reward of faithfulness over little things and few, as well as over great and many, and if you have the experience of holiness yon will be faithful.
You must not, however, be anxious about the reward. This is largely deferred into the next world. It is your duty and mine to be faithful, to be faithful unto death. If reward is delayed, it will be all the greater when it comes, be assured of that. God will see to it that your treasure which you lay up with Him bears compound interest. What a surprise to the man who made that rope, if he finds at the Judgment Day, that he had a share in the wealth piled up by Paul's labors!
There is one part of the reward, however, that is never delayed, that is, happiness and contentment and God's favor.
In service which Thy love appoints, There are no bonds for me:
My happy heart has learned the truth That makes Thy children free;
A life of self-renouncing love Is a life of liberty.
Holiness And Humility
Those who oppose holiness often say that we who profess it are proud, and that the doctrine tends to spiritual pride. But the truth is, that holiness goes down to the root of all pride, and digs it up utterly. A holy man is one who has found himself out, and pronounced judgment against himself, and comes to Jesus to be made every whit whole. And so long as he keeps the blessing, he is deeply humble.
God said to Israel by the Prophet Ezekiel, 'Then shall ye remember your evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities, and for your abominations.'
This is a certain effect of entire sanctification. The sinful heart apologizes for itself, excuses inbred sin, favors it, argues for it. A man who still has the carnal mind says, 'I think one ought to have a little pride. I would not give a snap of my finger for a man who had not some temper. A man who will not stand up for his rights is weak.' And so he excuses, and argues in favor of, the sin in his own heart.
Not so the man who is holy. He remembers his former pride, and loathes himself for it, and longs and prays to sink deeper and deeper into the infinite ocean of his Saviour's humility, until every trace and stain of pride are for ever washed away. He remembers his hasty temper, and hates it, and cries day and night for the perfect meekness of the Lamb of God, who, like a sheep dumb before her shearers, 'opened not His mouth,' while His enemies worked their fiendish will; and, so far from smiting back, would not even talk back, but prayed, 'Father, forgive them.'
He sees the beauty of God's holiness, and loves it. He sees the full extent of his former corruption, and acknowledges and loathes it. Before, he thought man had some natural goodness, but now he knows and confesses that 'the whole head is sick. and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.' (Isaiah i. 5, 6.)
He sees his own evil ways. At one time he thought that there was not one holy man on earth, for he could see a mote in every man's eye; but now he discovers that there are many holy men, and the mote which he was sure he saw in his neighbor's eye, he now finds to have been the shadow of the beam that was in his own eye.
An earnest, sanctified man once said to me, 'There are certain sins I once thought it was morally impossible for me to commit, but the Holy Spirit has shown me the awful deceitfulness of my heart, and I now see that before He cleansed me there were in me the seeds of all iniquity, and there is no sin I might not have committed, and no depth of moral degradation to which I might not have sunk, but for the restraining grace of God.'
One who has thus seen the plague of his own heart may be cleansed in the precious Blood, and may have a holy heart, but he will never say to another, 'Stand thou there, for I am holier than thou;' but, remembering his own former condition, he will point him to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.
True humility makes a person particularly attractive to God, Listen to what Isaiah says, 'Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a humble and contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones' (Isaiah lvii. 15.)
Jesus said, 'Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted' (Matt. xxii. 12;); and James said, 'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James iv. 6.)
'Do you wish to be great?' asks St. Augustine, 'then begin by being little.'
'Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,' said Jesus, 'the same is greatest' (not shall be, but 'is greatest') 'in the kingdom of heaven.'
Here are some of the marks of a truly humble person.
1. A truly humble soul does not take offense easily, but is 'pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.' (James iii. 17.)
2. He is not jealous of his position and dignity, or quick to resent what seems to touch them. Before the disciples were sanctified, they found a man who was casting out devils in the name of Jesus, and they took offense because he did not follow them; and forbade him. Self is very sensitive. 'But Jesus said, Forbid him not.' (Mark ix. 39.)
One day the Spirit of the Lord rested on two men in the camp of Israel in the wilderness, and they prophesied. 'And there ran a young man, and told Moses..... And Joshua,..... the servant of Moses, said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses' (the meekest of men) 'said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!'
3. A truly humble person does not seek great things for himself, but agrees with Solomon when he says, 'Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.' (Prov. xvi. 19.) He rejoices in lowly service, and is more anxious to be faithful to duty and loyal to principle than to be renowned among men.
The disciples were often disputing among themselves which should be the greatest, but Jesus washed their feet as an object lesson, and commanded them to become servants of one another, if they would be great.
4. Humble people are modest in dress. They think more of 'the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit' than of the clothes they wear. They will endeavor always to be clean and neat, but never fine and showy.
5. They are also plain and simple in speech. They seek to speak the truth with clearness and accuracy and in the power of the Holy Spirit, but never with 'great swelling words' and bombast, or with forced tears and pathos that will arouse admiration for themselves. They never try to show off. To them it is painful to have people say, 'You are clever,' 'That was a fine speech.' But they are full of humble, thankful joy when they learn that through their word some sinful soul was saved, some erring one corrected, or some tempted one delivered. They speak not to please men, but their Heavenly Master; not to be applauded, but to feed hungry hearts; not to be admired of men, but to be approved of God.
And, on the other hand, their humility keeps them from criticizing and judging those who have not these marks of humility. They pray for such people, and leave all judgment to God, who in His own time will try every man's work by fire. (I Cor. iii. 13.)
'Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.' (I Peter v. 5.)
Anger and sloth, desire and pride. This moment be subdued! Be cast into the crimson tide Of my Redeemer's blood!