Worry is a great foe to holiness, and perfect trust puts an end to worry. 'I would as soon swear as fret,' said John Wesley. The murmuring and complaining of His children has ever been a great sin in the sight of God, and has led to untold suffering on their part.
Most people do not see this to be a sin, but it is. It dishonors God, blinds the eyes to His will, and deafens the ears to His voice. It is the ditch on one side of the pathway of trust. Lazy or heartless indifference is the ditch on the other side. Happy is the Christian who keeps out of either ditch, and walks securely on the pathway. Though it may be often narrow and difficult, it is safe. Praise the Lord!
Worrying prevents quiet thought, and earnest believing prayer, and it is, therefore, always bad. If circumstances are against us, we need quietness of mind, clearness of thought, decision of will, and strength of purpose with which to face these circumstances and overcome them. But all this is prevented or hindered by fret or worry.
First, we should not worry over things that we can help, but set to work manfully to put them right. Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest of men, labored for eight years preparing the manuscript of one of his great works when one day he came into his study, and found that his little dog, Diamond, had knocked over a candle, and burned all his papers. Without a sign of anger or impatience, the great, good man quietly remarked, 'Ah, Diamond, little do you know the labor and trouble to which you have put your master!' and without worrying sat down to do that vast work over again.
Second, we should not worry over the things we cannot help, but quietly and confidently look to the Lord for such help as He sees best to give. There is no possible evil that may befall us from which God cannot deliver us, if He sees that that is best for us, or give us grace to bear, if that is best. Holiness of heart enables us to see this. An accident befell a little child I heard of, which for twenty-four hours endangered its life. The sanctified mother did all she could, then committed her darling to the Lord, and peacefully awaited the issue. Within twenty-four hours the danger was passed, and the child was safe An old colored auntie who had witnessed the calm trust of the mother said, 'You certain is de queeres' woman I ever see! Here dis chile been in danger ob its life for twenty-four hours, and you not worried a bit!'
'Well, auntie,' said the mother, 'I couldn't trust the Lord and worry too; so I did what I could, and trusted, and you see that all is well. And I have had the peace of God in my heart for twenty-four hours.'
'Paul says, 'Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.' Again, Isaiah says: 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee.'
Our business is, then, always to pray, give thanks for such blessings as we have, and keep our minds stayed on God, and worry about nothing.
Holiness makes a man so sure of the presence and love and care of God, that, while doing with his might what his hands find to do, he refuses to worry, and sings from his heart:
I will trust Thee, I will trust Thee, All my life Thou shalt control;
The heart realization of heavenly help, of God's presence in time of trouble, of angels encamping round about them that fear Him, is the secret of a life of perfect peace, in which anxious care is not shunned, but joyously and constantly rolled on the Lord, who 'careth for us,' and who bids us cast our care on him. Are you poor, and tempted to worry about your daily bread? God sent the ravens to feed Elijah, and later made him dependent upon a poor widow woman, with only enough flour and oil to make one meal for herself and her child. But through long months of famine God suffered not that flour to waste, nor that oil to fail.
The 'God of Elijah' is the God of those who trust in Him for evermore. Now, mind, such trust is not a state of lazy indifference, but of the highest activity of heart and will, and it is both a privilege and a duty. Of course, only such a perfect trust can save from undue anxiety, but this trust is an unfailing fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in a clean heart. And we can only keep this trust by always obeying the Holy Spirit, strict attention to daily duty, watchfulness against temptation, much believing, persevering, unhurried prayer, and by nourishing our faith on God's Word daily. The promises are given us to believe, and so we may rest in God's love and care, and not worry and fret ourself with useless anxiety.
Has someone talked unkindly or falsely about you? Don't worry, but pray, and go on loving them and doing your duty, and some day God will 'bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day.' (Ps. xxxvii 6.)
Are you sick? Don't worry, but pray. The Lord can raise you up (James v. 15) or make the sickness work for good (Rom. viii. 28), as He did for a sister I knew in Chicago, who for five years was helpless in bed with rheumatism, but had five big sons converted during that time, and was so happy that she said she would not have had those five years spent in any other way.
Have your own wrong-doings brought you into trouble? Don't worry, but repent to the very bottom of your heart, trust in Jesus, walk in your present light, and the Blood will cleanse you, and God will surely help you.
Are you troubled about the future? Don't worry. Walk with God today in obedient trust, and tomorrow He will be with you. He will never fail you, nor forsake you.
If our trust were but more simple. We should take Him at His word.
And our lives would be all sunshine In the sweetness of our Lord.
Holiness And Zeal For Souls
'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,' said Jesus to Peter and Andrew; and now as then when Jesus saves a soul, that soul wants to catch men, wants to see others saved. Holiness increases this desire, and makes it burn with a quenchless flame.
The zeal of other people blazes up, burns low, and often dies out, but the zeal of a man with a clean heart, full of the Holy Ghost, increases year by year. Others run away from the prayer-meeting, but he holds on. Others do not grieve if souls are not saved, but he feels that he must see souls saved, or die. Others are zealous for 'big goes,' tea parties, ice-cream suppers, and musical festivals, but nothing pleases him so much as a prayer-meeting where souls are crying to God for pardon and cleansing, and others are shouting for joy.
And this zeal for the salvation and sanctification of men leads him to do something to reach them. He lets his light shine, He speaks to people not only from the platform and the pulpit at long range, but he buttonholes them, and speaks to them wherever he finds them. Holiness makes it easy for him to do this. He loves to do it. He finds that, as he follows the Spirit, the Lord fills his mouth with truth, and gives him something to say.
A number of years ago a young man full of the Holy Ghost stopped a few minutes at a watering trough to give his horse a drink, and at the same time a stranger rode up to water his horse. For about five minutes the young man with a heart overflowing with love told the stranger about Jesus. Then they separated to meet no more in this world; but the stranger was converted to God as a result of that five minutes of faithful, personal dealing, and became a soul-saver in Africa. He often wondered who that Heaven-sent young man was who pointed him to Jesus. One day in Africa he received a box of books from America, and on opening a small volume of memoirs, there he saw the face and the name of the man to whom he owed his soul's salvation, and whose cry to God was, 'Give me souls give me souls, O Lord, or I cannot live.'
There are two things for us to remember:
1. Most sinners hope that someone will speak to them about their soul.
'Why did you not speak to me about my soul?' asked a student of his room-mate.
'I thought you would not like it,' was the reply.
'Why, that was the reason I roomed with you,' said he.
A father prayed earnestly in the meeting for the salvation of sinners. After the meeting, he and his boy walked home a mile away. The boy hoped his father would speak to him about Jesus and salvation, for he was under deep conviction, but not a word did the father say. Then the boy said within himself, 'After all, there is nothing in religion,' and he became a reckless unbeliever, all because his father did not speak to him about his soul.
Poor sinners! They often laugh and make merry when their hearts are well-nigh breaking with sorrow or conviction, and they are only waiting for someone to point them to Jesus to be saved.
2. When God moves us to speak to people, we may be sure that He has been dealing with their hearts and preparing the way for us. When the Lord sent Philip to speak to the Ethiopian, He had the Ethiopian all ready for Philip's message.
A friend of mine in Cleveland used to meet a certain railroad conductor almost every day. The conductor was a big, splendid fellow, but a sinner. One day my friend felt he ought to speak to that conductor about his soul. He was a small man, and trembled and ran away like Jonah, and for the next three weeks he was disobedient and in great misery. Every day he would meet the conductor, and the Lord would say, 'Speak to him about his soul.' After three weeks of agony he went out of his office one day, and lo! there was that conductor again. He could stand it no longer, he braced himself, buttoned up his coat, and said, 'Lord, help me! I will speak to him, if he knocks me down.' Then he spoke, and to his surprise, and shame, and joy, the big man burst into tears, and said, 'I have really been wanting someone to speak to me about my soul for three weeks.'
God is faithful; He had been to that man before He sent my friend to him. And there are hungry souls all around us like that one.
Again, holiness not only makes us eager for the salvation of sinners, but fills us with unutterable longings for the perfecting of the saints. We want to see 'every man perfect in Christ Jesus' I have never known anyone to get the blessing without this desire following,
Oh, how God longs to have a holy people on earth! Will you give yourself to Him, my brother, my sister, to help Him to get such a people? You can be a yoke-fellow with Jesus, a worker with God. Will you? If so, begin just now to pray for the one you feel God would have you help to save or sanctify, and you will be working with Jesus, and if you continue, great shall be your reward.
Not my own! My time, my talents Freely all to Christ I bring,
Holiness Before The Flood; Or, Do You Walk With God?
'And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Gen. 23, 24).
A remarkable biography! Nowadays men write hundreds of pages about their heroes, and do not say as much as that. But there is a good reason. There is not so much as that to say.
Enoch was a mighty man, with a wonderful life, lived under very unfavorable circumstances, and I have profited much by meditating upon his life, and what I think must have been his secret.
We are prone to look upon past ages and distant places as peculiarly favorable to godliness. I remember that years ago I thought if I could go to London and listen to Chas. Spurgeon each week, I could be a Christian. In my boyhood I wished that I had lived in the days of Jesus, and heard His wondrous words, and questioned Him about the mysteries of godliness, for then I could certainly have been His true follower. Usually the further back we go, the more godly seems the age, and the more blessed seem the men.
But really this is not so, and especially is it not so of Enoch's age and place. The age was most ungodly, and men had very little religious light. The world was fast hastening to that dreadfulness of sin and unbelief which would cause God to sweep away its people by the deluge and leave but eight persons in it. They had no Bible. They had no law. Men had not yet had a Divine revelation from Heaven, telling them they must worship God, must keep the Sabbath day, must honor their parents, must not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet. Try to imagine an age and place with no such teaching as that! Every man a law unto himself, his evil passions and lusts and tempers having no restraint put upon them, and he plunging continually deeper and deeper into sin and corruption.
Then they had no Gospel, with Jesus revealed as a loving Savior; they had only one promise of hope and mercy, and that rather vague -- the one given to the woman after that awful fall in Eden, the promise of the Seed that sometime would come to bruise the Serpent's head. It was a black night, with only one lone dim star shining in the darkness. But Enoch held on to that promise, and in its light and hope he walked with God for three hundred years.
We have a whole Bible, a finished revelation. We have the holy, just, good law of God, showing us what we ought to do and what we ought not to do. We have the Gospel, with its full noonday light, showing us how to keep the law, how to get life and power to fulfill the will of God on earth as the angels do it in Heaven. We have Jesus, crucified before our eyes for our sins, dead, buried and raised to glorious life again for our justification, and ascended on high to the right hand of God, far above all created things and all opposing powers of evil, to intercede for us, to pour out the Holy Ghost upon us in rich measure, to live in us through the Spirit. We have commandments, precepts and thousands of promises. Instead of a midnight, with one lone, dim star shining fitfully in the darkness, we have a midday, with all the splendor of the sun in his strength, together with ten thousand reflected lights, shining upon us; and yet we, in our trembling, pitiful, shameful unbelief, wonder however Enoch could walk with God!
I. I imagine that Enoch made up his mind that it was possible to walk with God; that is, to be agreed with God, to be of the same mind and heart and purpose as God. Of course, there were stupendous difficulties in the way. There were no churches or Salvation Army or Sunday-schools; there were no holiness conventions; no days with God and nights of prayer; no Bible, no War Cry, no religious papers and libraries. In fact, instead of these helps to walk with God, he found the whole community against him -- yea, the whole world, for in Jude we read that Enoch had to prophesy against the ungodliness he found around him.
Then, not only did Enoch have these extraordinary difficulties to face, but he had all the ordinary difficulties as well. He got married and had a large family of boys and girls to care for; he had all the anxiety of a father to provide for his family and to protect them from the influences all about them. Then, I cannot imagine that he did not have the ordinary infirmities and the sinful nature of other men. No doubt he might have said, as you and I have said, that his temperament was peculiar, and that while others with a happier temperament might be able to walk with God, yet, with his peculiarly crooked and difficult make-up, it was quite out of the question for him to hope to be holy and walk with God. Then, of course, he had the devil to fight.
II. I think that Enoch not only believed in the possibility of walking with God, but he made up his mind that he would walk with God. He put his will into this matter.
III. Not only did Enoch believe in the possibility of walking with God, and determine that as for him he would walk with God, but he took such steps as were necessary to do so. He separated himself in spirit from the ungodly people about him, and he raised his voice against their evil ways, and became not only a negatively righteous man, but a positively holy man.
Enoch had his reward. It paid him to walk with God. He loved God and God loved him, and their affection became so intense that one day God's love overcame the power of death, and drew Enoch from earth to Heaven.
Now, I suppose that most people, in reading the story, think that Enoch's reward consisted in getting to Heaven without dying. Well, this was certainly a most unusual and blessed experience, and one I suppose that men have wished for all through the ages. There is something about death that is awful, and from which men shrink, and yet, since Jesus has died and gone down into the grave and risen again, the terror is lost, to the Christian. Still, it is probable that if allowed to choose, most Christians and all sinners would say, 'Let us go to Heaven like Enoch did.' But I cannot consider this Enoch's chief reward.
For three hundred years God was his Friend, his Counselor, his Comforter, his Constant Companion. Oh, what fellowship was that! What an opportunity to gain wisdom, to build up and round out and ennoble a man's Character! How easy to be good and do good! How life must have almost burst with fullness of gladness! Walking with God! Talking with God! Communing with God! Having mutual sympathy with God entering into a union with God as intimate as the union of the bay with the sea; and all this by faith, by simple trust, by childlike confidence. This was Enoch's reward and it may be yours, my brother, my sister, if you will meet the conditions as Enoch did.