Rejoicing in the Lord
THE children of God are called to be
representatives of Christ, showing forth the goodness and mercy of the Lord. As Jesus has
revealed to us the true character of the Father, so we are to reveal Christ to a world
that does not know His tender, pitying love. "As Thou hast sent Me into the
world," said Jesus, "even so have I also sent them into the world." "I
in them, and Thou in Me; . . . that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me." John
17: 18, 23. The apostle Paul says to the disciples of Jesus, "Ye are manifestly
declared to be the epistle of Christ," "known and read of all men." 2
Corinthians 3:3, 2. In every one of His children, Jesus sends a letter to the world. If
you are Christ's follower, He sends in you a letter to the family, the village, the
street, where you live. Jesus, dwelling in you, desires to speak to the hearts of those
who are not acquainted with Him. Perhaps they do not read the Bible, or do not hear the
voice that speaks to them in its pages; they do not see the love of God through His works.
But if you are a true representative of Jesus, it may be that through you they will be led
to understand something of His goodness and be won to love and serve Him.
Christians are set as light
bearers on the way to heaven. They are to reflect to the world the light shining upon them
from Christ. Their life and character should be such that through them others will get a
right conception of Christ and of His service.
If we do represent Christ, we
shall make His service appear attractive, as it really is. Christians who gather up gloom
and sadness to their souls, and murmur and complain, are giving to others a false
representation of God and the Christian life. They give the impression that God is not
pleased to have His children happy, and in this they bear false witness against our
Satan is exultant when he can
lead the children of God into unbelief and despondency. He delights to see us mistrusting
God, doubting His willingness and power to save us. He loves to have us feel that the Lord
will do us harm by His providences. It is the work of Satan to represent the Lord as
lacking in compassion and pity. He misstates the truth in regard to Him. He fills the
imagination with false ideas concerning God; and instead of dwelling upon the truth in
regard to our heavenly Father, we too often fix our minds upon the misrepresentations of
Satan and dishonor God by distrusting Him and murmuring against Him. Satan ever seeks to
make the religious life one of gloom. He desires it to appear toilsome and difficult; and
when the Christian presents in his own life this view of religion, he is, through his
unbelief, seconding the falsehood of Satan.
Many, walking along the path
of life, dwell upon their mistakes and failures and disappointments, and their hearts are
filled with grief and discouragement. While I was in Europe, a sister who had been doing
this, and who was in deep distress, wrote to me, asking for some word of encouragement.
The night after I had read her letter I dreamed that I was in a garden, and one who seemed
to be the owner of
the garden was conducting me through its paths. I was gathering the
flowers and enjoying their fragrance, when this sister, who had been walking by my side,
called my attention to some unsightly briers that were impeding her way. There she was
mourning and grieving. She was not walking in the pathway, following the guide, but was
walking among the briers and thorns. "Oh," she mourned, "is it not a pity
that this beautiful garden is spoiled with thorns?" Then the guide said, "Let
the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the
Have there not been some
bright spots in your experience? Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart
throbbed with joy in response to the Spirit of God? When you look back into the chapters
of your life experience do you not find some pleasant pages? Are not God's promises, like
the fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every hand? Will you not let their
beauty and sweetness fill your heart with joy?
The briers and thorns will
only wound and grieve you; and if you gather only these things, and present them to
others, are you not, besides slighting the goodness of God yourself, preventing those
around you from walking in the path of life?
It is not wise to gather
together all the unpleasant recollections of a past life,--its iniquities and
disappointments,--to talk over them and mourn over them until we are overwhelmed with
discouragement. A discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out the light of God
from his own soul and casting a shadow upon the pathway of others.
Thank God for the bright
pictures which He has presented to us. Let us group together the blessed assurances of His
love, that we may look upon them continually: The Son of God leaving His Father's throne,
clothing His divinity with humanity, that He might rescue man from the power of Satan; His
triumph in our behalf, opening heaven to men, revealing to human vision the presence
chamber where the Deity unveils His glory; the fallen race uplifted from the pit of ruin
into which sin had plunged it, and brought again into connection with the infinite God,
and having endured the divine test through faith in our Redeemer, clothed in the
righteousness of Christ, and exalted to His throne--these are the pictures which God would
have us contemplate.
When we seem to doubt God's
love and distrust His promises we dishonor Him and grieve His Holy Spirit. How would a
mother feel if her children were constantly complaining of her, just as though she did not
mean them well, when her whole life's effort had been to forward their interests and to
give them comfort? Suppose they should doubt her love; it would break her heart. How would
any parent feel to be thus treated by his children? And how can our heavenly Father regard
us when we distrust His love, which has led Him to give His only-begotten Son that we
might have life? The apostle writes, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered
Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans
8:32. And yet how many, by their actions, if not in word, are saying, "The Lord does
not mean this for me. Perhaps He loves others, but He does not love me."
All this is harming your own
soul; for every word of doubt you utter is inviting Satan's temptations; it is
strengthening in you the tendency to doubt, and it is grieving from you the ministering
angels. When Satan tempts you, breathe not a word of doubt or darkness. If you choose to
open the door to his suggestions, your mind will be filled with distrust and rebellious
questioning. If you talk out your feelings, every doubt you express not only reacts upon
yourself, but it is a seed that will germinate and bear fruit in the life of others, and
it may be impossible to counteract the influence of your words. You yourself may be able
to recover from the season of temptation and from the snare of Satan, but others who have
been swayed by your influence may not be able to escape from the unbelief you have
suggested. How important that we speak only those things that will give spiritual strength
Angels are listening to hear
what kind of report you are bearing to the world about your heavenly Master. Let your
conversation be of Him who liveth to make intercession for you before the Father. When you
take the hand of a friend, let praise to God be on your lips and in your heart. This will
attract his thoughts to Jesus.
All have trials; griefs hard
to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but
carry everything to God in prayer. Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or
discouragement. You can do much to brighten the
life of others and strengthen their
efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer.
There is many a brave soul
sorely pressed by temptation, almost ready to faint in the conflict with self and with the
powers of evil. Do not discourage such a one in his hard struggle. Cheer him with brave,
hopeful words that shall urge him on his way. Thus the light of Christ may shine from you.
"None of us liveth to himself." Romans 14:7. By our unconscious influence others
may be encouraged and strengthened, or they may be discouraged, and repelled from Christ
and the truth.
There are many who have an
erroneous idea of the life and character of Christ. They think that He was devoid of
warmth and sunniness, that He was stern, severe, and joyless. In many cases the whole
religious experience is colored by these gloomy views.
It is often said that Jesus
wept, but that He was never known to smile. Our Saviour was indeed a Man of Sorrows, and
acquainted with grief, for He opened His heart to all the woes of men. But though His life
was self-denying and shadowed with pain and care, His spirit was not crushed. His
countenance did not wear an expression of grief and repining, but ever one of peaceful
serenity. His heart was a wellspring of life, and wherever He went He carried rest and
peace, joy and gladness.
Our Saviour was deeply
serious and intensely in earnest, but never gloomy or morose. The life of those who
imitate Him will be full of earnest purpose; they will have a deep sense of personal
responsibility. Levity will be repressed; there will be no
boisterous merriment, no rude
jesting; but the religion of Jesus gives peace like a river. It does not quench the light
of joy; it does not restrain cheerfulness nor cloud the sunny, smiling face. Christ came
not to be ministered unto but to minister; and when His love reigns in the heart, we shall
follow His example.
If we keep uppermost in our
minds the unkind and unjust acts of others we shall find it impossible to love them as
Christ has loved us; but if our thoughts dwell upon the wondrous love and pity of Christ
for us, the same spirit will flow out to others. We should love and respect one another,
notwithstanding the faults and imperfections that we cannot help seeing. Humility and
self-distrust should be cultivated, and a patient tenderness with the faults of others.
This will kill out all narrowing selfishness and make us large-hearted and generous.
The psalmist says,
"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou
shalt be fed." Psalm 37:3. "Trust in the Lord." Each day has its burdens,
its cares and perplexities; and when we meet how ready we are to talk of our difficulties
and trials. So many borrowed troubles intrude, so many fears are indulged, such a weight
of anxiety is expressed, that one might suppose we had no pitying, loving Saviour ready to
hear all our requests and to be to us a present help in every time of need.
Some are always fearing, and
borrowing trouble. Every day they are surrounded with the tokens of God's love; every day
they are enjoying the bounties of His providence; but they overlook these present
blessings. Their minds are continually dwelling upon something disagreeable which they
fear may come; or some difficulty may really exist which, though small, blinds their eyes
to the many things that demand gratitude. The difficulties they encounter, instead of
driving them to God, the only source of their help, separate them from Him because they
awaken unrest and repining.
Do we well to be thus
unbelieving? Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven
is interested in our welfare. We should not allow the perplexities and worries of everyday
life to fret the mind and cloud the brow. If we do we shall always have something to vex
and annoy. We should not indulge a solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not
help us to bear trials.
You may be perplexed in
business; your prospects may grow darker and darker, and you may be threatened with loss;
but do not become discouraged; cast your care upon God, and remain calm and cheerful. Pray
for wisdom to manage your affairs with discretion, and thus prevent loss and disaster. Do
all you can on your part to bring about favorable results. Jesus has promised His aid, but
not apart from our effort. When, relying upon our Helper, you have done all you can,
accept the result cheerfully.
It is not the will of God
that His people should be weighed down with care. But our Lord does not deceive us. He
does not say to us, "Do not fear; there are no dangers in your path." He knows
there are trials and dangers, and He deals with us plainly. He does not propose to take
His people out of a world of sin and evil, but He points them to a never-failing
His prayer for His disciples was, "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of
the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." "In the
world," He says, "ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have
overcome the world." John 17:15, 16:33.
In His Sermon on the Mount,
Christ taught His disciples precious lessons in regard to the necessity of trusting in
God. These lessons were designed to encourage the children of God through all ages, and
they have come down to our time full of instruction and comfort. The Saviour pointed His
followers to the birds of the air as they warbled their carols of praise, unencumbered
with thoughts of care, for "they sow not, neither do they reap." And yet the
great Father provides for their needs. The Saviour asks, "Are ye not much better than
they?" Matthew 6:26. The great Provider for man and beast opens His hand and supplies
all His creatures. The birds of the air are not beneath His notice. He does not drop the
food into their bills, but He makes provision for their needs. They must gather the grains
He has scattered for them. They must prepare the material for their little nests. They
must feed their young. They go forth singing to their labor, for "your heavenly
Father feedeth them." And "are ye not much better than they?" Are not you,
as intelligent, spiritual worshipers, of more value than the birds of the air? Will not
the Author of our being, the Preserver of our life, the One who formed us in His own
divine image, provide for our necessities if we but trust in Him?
Christ pointed His disciples
to the flowers of the
field, growing in rich profusion and glowing in the simple beauty
which the heavenly Father had given them, as an expression of His love to man. He said,
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." The beauty and simplicity of
these natural flowers far outrival the splendor of Solomon. The most gorgeous attire
produced by the skill of art cannot bear comparison with the natural grace and radiant
beauty of the flowers of God's creation. Jesus asks, "If God so clothe the grass of
the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more
clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Matthew 6: 28, 30. If God, the divine Artist,
gives to the simple flowers that perish in a day their delicate and varied colors, how
much greater care will He have for those who are created in His own image? This lesson of
Christ's is a rebuke to the anxious thought, the perplexity and doubt, of the faithless
The Lord would have all His
sons and daughters happy, peaceful, and obedient. Jesus says, "My peace I give unto
you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let
it be afraid." "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in
you, and that your joy might be full." John 14:27; 15:11.
Happiness that is sought from
selfish motives, outside of the path of duty, is ill-balanced, fitful, and transitory; it
passes away, and the soul is filled with loneliness and sorrow; but there is joy and
satisfaction in the service of God; the Christian is not left to walk in uncertain paths;
he is not left to vain regrets and disappointments. If we do not have the
this life we may still be joyful in looking to the life beyond.
But even here Christians may
have the joy of communion with Christ; they may have the light of His love, the perpetual
comfort of His presence. Every step in life may bring us closer to Jesus, may give us a
deeper experience of His love, and may bring us one step nearer to the blessed home of
peace. Then let us not cast away our confidence, but have firm assurance, firmer than ever
before. "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," and He will help us to the end. 1
Samuel 7:12. Let us look to the monumental pillars, reminders of what the Lord has done to
comfort us and to save us from the hand of the destroyer. Let us keep fresh in our memory
all the tender mercies that God has shown us,--the tears He has wiped away, the pains He
has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings
bestowed,--thus strengthening ourselves for all that is before us through the remainder of
We cannot but look forward to
new perplexities in the coming conflict, but we may look on what is past as well as on
what is to come, and say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." "As thy days,
so shall thy strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25. The trial will not exceed the strength
that shall be given us to bear it. Then let us take up our work just where we find it,
believing that whatever may come, strength proportionate to the trial will be given.
And by and by the gates of
heaven will be thrown open to admit God's children, and from the lips of the King of glory
the benediction will fall on their
ears like richest music, "Come, ye blessed of My
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Then the redeemed will be
welcomed to the home that Jesus is preparing for them. There their companions will not be
the vile of earth, liars, idolaters, the impure, and unbelieving; but they will associate
with those who have overcome Satan and through divine grace have formed perfect
characters. Every sinful tendency, every imperfection, that afflicts them here has been
removed by the blood of Christ, and the excellence and brightness of His glory, far
exceeding the brightness of the sun, is imparted to them. And the moral beauty, the
perfection of His character, shines through them, in worth far exceeding this outward
splendor. They are without fault before the great white throne, sharing the dignity and
the privileges of the angels.
In view of the glorious
inheritance that may be his, "what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Matthew 16:26. He may be poor, yet he possesses in himself a wealth and dignity that the
world could never bestow. The soul redeemed and cleansed from sin, with all its noble
powers dedicated to the service of God, is of surpassing worth; and there is joy in heaven
in the presence of God and the holy angels over one soul redeemed, a joy that is expressed
in songs of holy triumph.