The Sermon on the Mount
[This chapter is based on Matt. 5; 6; 7.]
Christ seldom gathered His disciples alone to receive His words. He
did not choose for His audience those only who knew the way of life. It
was His work to reach the multitudes who were in ignorance and error. He
gave His lessons of truth where they could reach the darkened
understanding. He Himself was the Truth, standing with girded loins and
hands ever outstretched to bless, and in words of warning, entreaty, and
encouragement, seeking to uplift all who would come unto Him.
The Sermon on the Mount, though given especially to the disciples,
was spoken in the hearing of the multitude. After the ordination of the
apostles, Jesus went with them to the seaside. Here in the early morning
the people had begun to assemble. Besides the usual crowds from the
Galilean towns, there were people from Judea, and even from Jerusalem
itself; from Perea, from Decapolis, from Idumea, away to the south of
Judea; and from Tyre and Sidon, the Phoenician cities on the shore of
the Mediterranean. "When they had heard what great things He
did," they "came to hear Him, and to be healed of their
diseases: . . . there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all."
Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17-19.
The narrow beach did not afford even standing room within reach of
His voice for all who desired to hear Him, and Jesus led the way back to
the mountainside. Reaching a level space that offered a pleasant
gathering place for the vast assembly, He seated Himself on the grass,
and the disciples and the multitude followed His example.
The disciples' place was always next to Jesus. The people constantly
pressed upon Him, yet the disciples understood that they were not to be
crowded away from His presence. They sat close beside Him, that they
might not lose a word of His instruction. They were attentive listeners,
eager to understand the truths they were to make known to all lands and
With a feeling that something more than usual might be expected, they
now pressed about their Master. They believed that the kingdom was soon
to be established, and from the events of the morning they gathered
assurance that some announcement concerning it was about to be made. A
feeling of expectancy pervaded the multitude also, and eager faces gave
evidence of the deep interest. As the people sat upon the green
hillside, awaiting the words of the divine Teacher, their hearts were
filled with thoughts of future glory. There were scribes and Pharisees
who looked forward to the day when they should have dominion over the
hated Romans, and possess the riches and splendor of the world's great
empire. The poor peasants and fishermen hoped to hear the assurance that
their wretched hovels, the scanty food, the life of toil, and fear of
want were to be exchanged for mansions of plenty and days of ease. In
place of the one coarse garment which was their covering by day, and
their blanket at night, they hoped that Christ would give them the rich
and costly robes of their conquerors. All hearts thrilled with the proud
hope that Israel was soon to be honored before the nations as the chosen
of the Lord, and Jerusalem exalted as the head of a universal kingdom.
Christ disappointed the hope of worldly greatness. In the Sermon on
the Mount He sought to undo the work that had been wrought by false
education, and to give His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and
of His own character. Yet He did not make a direct attack on the errors
of the people. He saw the misery of the world on account of sin, yet He
did not present before them a vivid delineation of their wretchedness.
He taught them of something infinitely better than they had known.
Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the
conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own
conclusions as to its nature. The truths He taught are no less important
to us than to the multitude that followed Him. We no less than they need
to learn the foundation principles of the kingdom of God.
Christ's first words to the people on the mount were words of
blessing. Happy are they, He said, who recognize their spiritual
poverty, and feel their need of redemption. The gospel is to be preached
to the poor. Not to the spiritually proud, those who claim to be rich
and in need of nothing, is it revealed, but to those who are humble and
contrite. One fountain only has been opened for sin, a fountain for the
poor in spirit.
The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to
heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ.
The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of
his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields
himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is
waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is
withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells.
"For 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 contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the
humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isa. 57:15.
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
By these words Christ does not teach that mourning in itself has power
to remove the guilt of sin. He gives no sanction to pretense or to
voluntary humility. The mourning of which He speaks does not consist in
melancholy and lamentation. While we sorrow on account of sin, we are to
rejoice in the precious privilege of being children of God.
We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences
to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the
result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the
ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and
brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is
wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn
for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead
to the renunciation of sin.
The worldling may pronounce this sorrow a weakness; but it is the
strength which binds the penitent to the Infinite One with links that
cannot be broken. It shows that the angels of God are bringing back to
the soul the graces that were lost through hardness of heart and
transgression. The tears of the penitent are only the raindrops that
precede the sunshine of holiness. This sorrow heralds a joy which will
be a living fountain in the soul. "Only acknowledge thine iniquity,
that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God;" "and I
will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the
Lord." Jer. 3:13, 12. "Unto them that mourn in Zion," He
has appointed to give "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for
mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isa.
And for those also who mourn in trial and sorrow there is comfort.
The bitterness of grief and humiliation is better than the indulgences
of sin. Through affliction God reveals to us the plague spots in our
characters, that by His grace we may overcome our faults. Unknown
chapters in regard to ourselves are opened to us, and the test comes,
whether we will accept the reproof and the counsel of God. When brought
into trial, we are not to fret and complain. We should not rebel, or
worry ourselves out of the hand of Christ. We are to humble the soul
before God. The ways of the Lord are obscure to him who desires to see
things in a light pleasing to himself. They appear dark and joyless to
our human nature. But God's ways are ways of mercy and the end is
salvation. Elijah knew not what he was doing when in the desert he said
that he had had enough of life, and prayed that he might die. The Lord
in His mercy did not take him at his word. There was yet a great work
for Elijah to do; and when his work was done, he was not to perish in
discouragement and solitude in the wilderness. Not for him the descent
into the dust of death, but the ascent in glory, with the convoy of
celestial chariots, to the throne on high.
God's word for the sorrowing is, "I have seen his ways, and will
heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his
mourners." "I will turn their mourning into joy, and will
comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow." Isa. 57:18;
"Blessed are the meek." The difficulties we have to
encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself
in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above
the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed,
and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest
evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse
or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His
right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of
heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it
is the token of their connection with the courts above.
"Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the
lowly." Ps. 138:6. Those who reveal the meek and lowly spirit of
Christ are tenderly regarded by God. They may be looked upon with scorn
by the world, but they are of great value in His sight. Not only the
wise, the great, the beneficent, will gain a passport to the heavenly
courts; not only the busy worker, full of zeal and restless activity.
No; the poor in spirit, who crave the presence of an abiding Christ, the
humble in heart, whose highest ambition is to do God's will,--these will
gain an abundant entrance. They will be among that number who have
washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
"Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and
night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among
them." Rev. 7:15.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness." The sense of unworthiness will lead the heart to
hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be
disappointed. Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize
His love. All who long to bear the likeness of the character of God
shall be satisfied. The Holy Spirit never leaves unassisted the soul who
is looking unto Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them
unto him. If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit
ceases not until the soul is conformed to His image. The pure element of
love will expand the soul, giving it a capacity for higher attainments,
for increased knowledge of heavenly things, so that it will not rest
short of the fullness. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst
after righteousness; for they shall be filled."
The merciful shall find mercy, and the pure in heart shall see God.
Every impure thought defiles the soul, impairs the moral sense, and
tends to obliterate the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It dims the
spiritual vision, so that men cannot behold God. The Lord may and does
forgive the repenting sinner; but though forgiven, the soul is marred.
All impurity of speech or of thought must be shunned by him who would
have clear discernment of spiritual truth.
But the words of Christ cover more than freedom from sensual
impurity, more than freedom from that ceremonial defilement which the
Jews so rigorously shunned. Selfishness prevents us from beholding God.
The self-seeking spirit judges of God as altogether such a one as
itself. Until we have renounced this, we cannot understand Him who is
love. Only the unselfish heart, the humble and trustful spirit, shall
see God as "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in
goodness and truth." Ex. 34:6.
"Blessed are the peacemakers." The peace of Christ is born
of truth. It is harmony with God. The world is at enmity with the law of
God; sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a result they are at
enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, "Great peace
have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Ps.
119:165. Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification
and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace,
because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or
perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in
the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and
dissension. "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;" and life's
desert "shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose." Isa. 55:13;
The multitudes were amazed at this teaching, which was so at variance
with the precepts and example of the Pharisees. The people had come to
think that happiness consisted in the possession of the things of this
world, and that fame and the honor of men were much to be coveted. It
was very pleasing to be called "Rabbi," and to be extolled as
wise and religious, having their virtues paraded before the public. This
was regarded as the crown of happiness. But in the presence of that vast
throng, Jesus declared that earthly gain and honor were all the reward
such persons would ever receive. He spoke with certainty, and a
convincing power attended His words. The people were silenced, and a
feeling of fear crept over them. They looked at one another doubtfully.
Who of them would be saved if this Man's teachings were true? Many were
convicted that this remarkable Teacher was actuated by the Spirit of
God, and that the sentiments He uttered were divine.
After explaining what constitutes true happiness, and how it may be
obtained, Jesus more definitely pointed out the duty of His disciples,
as teachers chosen of God to lead others into the path of righteousness
and eternal life. He knew that they would often suffer from
disappointment and discouragement, that they would meet with decided
opposition, that they would be insulted, and their testimony rejected.
Well He knew that in the fulfillment of their mission, the humble men
who listened so attentively to His words were to bear calumny, torture,
imprisonment, and death, and He continued:
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall
revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against
you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is
your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were
The world loves sin, and hates righteousness, and this was the cause
of its hostility to Jesus. All who refuse His infinite love will find
Christianity a disturbing element. The light of Christ sweeps away the
darkness that covers their sins, and the need of reform is made
manifest. While those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit
begin war with themselves, those who cling to sin war against the truth
and its representatives.
Thus strife is created, and Christ's followers are accused as
troublers of the people. But it is fellowship with God that brings them
the world's enmity. They are bearing the reproach of Christ. They are
treading the path that has been trodden by the noblest of the earth. Not
with sorrow, but with rejoicing, should they meet persecution. Each
fiery trial is God's agent for their refining. Each is fitting them for
their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has its place in the
great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their
final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience
will be cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided. Anxious to
fulfill their obligation to the world, fixing their desire upon the
approval of God, His servants are to fulfill every duty, irrespective of
the fear or the favor of men.
"Ye are the salt of the earth," Jesus said. Do not withdraw
yourselves from the world in order to escape persecution. You are to
abide among men, that the savor of the divine love may be as salt to
preserve the world from corruption.
Hearts that respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit are the
channels through which God's blessing flows. Were those who serve God
removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this
world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan's
dominion. Though the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of
this life to the presence, in the world, of God's people whom they
despise and oppress. But if Christians are such in name only, they are
like the salt that has lost its savor. They have no influence for good
in the world. Through their misrepresentation of God they are worse than
"Ye are the light of the world." The Jews thought to
confine the benefits of salvation to their own nation; but Christ showed
them that salvation is like the sunshine. It belongs to the whole world.
The religion of the Bible is not to be confined between the covers of a
book, nor within the walls of a church. It is not to be brought out
occasionally for our own benefit, and then to be carefully laid aside
again. It is to sanctify the daily life, to manifest itself in every
business transaction and in all our social relations.
True character is not shaped from without, and put on; it radiates
from within. If we wish to direct others in the path of righteousness,
the principles of righteousness must be enshrined in our own hearts. Our
profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our
practical piety that holds forth the word of truth. The consistent life,
the holy conversation, the unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent
spirit, the godly example,--these are the mediums through which light is
conveyed to the world.
Jesus had not dwelt on the specifications of the law, but He did not
leave His hearers to conclude that He had come to set aside its
requirements. He knew that spies stood ready to seize upon every word
that might be wrested to serve their purpose. He knew the prejudice that
existed in the minds of many of His hearers, and He said nothing to
unsettle their faith in the religion and institutions that had been
committed to them through Moses. Christ Himself had given both the moral
and the ceremonial law. He did not come to destroy confidence in His own
instruction. It was because of His great reverence for the law and the
prophets that He sought to break through the wall of traditional
requirements which hemmed in the Jews. While He set aside their false
interpretations of the law, He carefully guarded His disciples against
yielding up the vital truths committed to the Hebrews.
The Pharisees prided themselves on their obedience to the law; yet
they knew so little of its principles through everyday practice that to
them the Saviour's words sounded like heresy. As He swept away the
rubbish under which the truth had been buried, they thought He was
sweeping away the truth itself. They whispered to one another that He
was making light of the law. He read their thoughts, and answered them,
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I
am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." Here Jesus refutes the
charge of the Pharisees. His mission to the world is to vindicate the
sacred claims of that law which they charge Him with breaking. If the
law of God could have been changed or abrogated, then Christ need not
have suffered the consequences of our transgression. He came to explain
the relation of the law to man, and to illustrate its precepts by His
own life of obedience.
God has given us His holy precepts, because He loves mankind. To
shield us from the results of transgression, He reveals the principles
of righteousness. The law is an expression of the thought of God; when
received in Christ, it becomes our thought. It lifts us above the power
of natural desires and tendencies, above temptations that lead to sin.
God desires us to be happy, and He gave us the precepts of the law that
in obeying them we might have joy. When at Jesus' birth the angels
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14),
they were declaring the principles of the law which He had come to
magnify and make honorable.
When the law was proclaimed from Sinai, God made known to men the
holiness of His character, that by contrast they might see the
sinfulness of their own. The law was given to convict them of sin, and
reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were
applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In
the life of Christ the principles of the law are made plain; and as the
Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as the light of Christ reveals to
men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying righteousness,
the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be
justified by faith. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the
soul." Ps. 19:7.
"Till heaven and earth pass," said Jesus, "one jot or
one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be
fulfilled." The sun shining in the heavens, the solid earth upon
which you dwell, are God's witnesses that His law is changeless and
eternal. Though they may pass away, the divine precepts shall endure.
"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the
law to fail." Luke 16:17. The system of types that pointed to Jesus
as the Lamb of God was to be abolished at His death; but the precepts of
the Decalogue are as immutable as the throne of God.
Since "the law of the Lord is perfect," every variation
from it must be evil. Those who disobey the commandments of God, and
teach others to do so, are condemned by Christ. The Saviour's life of
obedience maintained the claims of the law; it proved that the law could
be kept in humanity, and showed the excellence of character that
obedience would develop. All who obey as He did are likewise declaring
that the law is "holy, and just, and good." Rom. 7:12. On the
other hand, all who break God's commandments are sustaining Satan's
claim that the law is unjust, and cannot be obeyed. Thus they second the
deceptions of the great adversary, and cast dishonor upon God. They are
the children of the wicked one, who was the first rebel against God's
law. To admit them into heaven would again bring in the elements of
discord and rebellion, and imperil the well-being of the universe. No
man who willfully disregards one principle of the law shall enter the
kingdom of heaven.
The rabbis counted their righteousness a passport to heaven; but
Jesus declared it to be insufficient and unworthy. External ceremonies
and a theoretical knowledge of truth constituted Pharisaical
righteousness. The rabbis claimed to be holy through their own efforts
in keeping the law; but their works had divorced righteousness from
religion. While they were punctilious in ritual observances, their lives
were immoral and debased. Their so-called righteousness could never
enter the kingdom of heaven.
The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ's day was that a
mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human
experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be
insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the
fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological
truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in
life. The darkest chapters of history are burdened with the record of
crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees claimed to be
children of Abraham, and boasted of their possession of the oracles of
God; yet these advantages did not preserve them from selfishness,
malignity, greed for gain, and the basest hypocrisy. They thought
themselves the greatest religionists of the world, but their so-called
orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of glory.
The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are
Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets.
But they have not brought the truth into practical life. They have not
believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and
grace that come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess
faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient,
forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and
through their influence it is a curse to the world.
The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life
to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as
they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then
true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the
external forms of religion accord with the Christian's internal purity.
Then the ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless
rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees.
Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth
and breadth of their requirement. Instead of removing one jot of their
force, He shows how far-reaching their principles are, and exposes the
fatal mistake of the Jews in their outward show of obedience. He
declares that by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is
transgressed. One who becomes a party to the least injustice is breaking
the law and degrading his own moral nature. Murder first exists in the
mind. He who gives hatred a place in his heart is setting his feet in
the path of the murderer, and his offerings are abhorrent to God.
The Jews cultivated a spirit of retaliation. In their hatred of the
Romans they gave utterance to hard denunciations, and pleased the wicked
one by manifesting his attributes. Thus they were training themselves to
do the terrible deeds to which he led them on. In the religious life of
the Pharisees there was nothing to recommend piety to the Gentiles.
Jesus bade them not to deceive themselves with the thought that they
could in heart rise up against their oppressors, and cherish the longing
to avenge their wrongs.
It is true there is an indignation that is justifiable, even in the
followers of Christ. When they see that God is dishonored, and His
service brought into disrepute, when they see the innocent oppressed, a
righteous indignation stirs the soul. Such anger, born of sensitive
morals, is not a sin. But those who at any supposed provocation feel at
liberty to indulge anger or resentment are opening the heart to Satan.
Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be
in harmony with heaven.
The Saviour goes farther than this. He says, "If thou bring thy
gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught
against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way;
first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy
gift." Many are zealous in religious services, while between them
and their brethren are unhappy differences which they might reconcile.
God requires them to do all in their power to restore harmony. Until
they do this, He cannot accept their services. The Christian's duty in
this matter is clearly pointed out.
God pours His blessings upon all. "He maketh His sun to rise on
the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the
unjust." He is "kind unto the unthankful and to the
evil." Luke 6:35. He bids us to be like Him. "Bless them that
curse you," said Jesus; "do good to them that hate you, . . .
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."
These are the principles of the law, and they are the wellsprings of
God's ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought
can reach. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is
in heaven is perfect." This command is a promise. The plan of
redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan.
Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy
the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit
shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning.
The tempter's agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong
act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ
making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses
that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a
Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of
The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man
was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their
life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became
flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was
sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet
He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character
is to be ours. The Lord says of those who believe in Him, "I will
dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall
be My people." 2 Cor. 6:16.
Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth,
and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very
threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of
reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us
where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking
His nature might overcome. Made "in the likeness of sinful
flesh" (Rom. 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He
lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches
us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of
God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our "Father which is
in heaven is perfect."
Jesus had shown in what righteousness consists, and had pointed to
God as its source. Now He turned to practical duties. In almsgiving, in
prayer, in fasting, He said, let nothing be done to attract attention or
win praise to self. Give in sincerity, for the benefit of the suffering
poor. In prayer, let the soul commune with God. In fasting, go not with
the head bowed down, and heart filled with thoughts of self. The heart
of the Pharisee is a barren and profitless soil, in which no seeds of
divine life can flourish. It is he who yields himself most unreservedly
to God that will render Him the most acceptable service. For through
fellowship with God men become workers together with Him in presenting
His character in humanity.
The service rendered in sincerity of heart has great recompense.
"Thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee
openly." By the life we live through the grace of Christ the
character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to
the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and
the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and
women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are
surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of
God has begun. They have Christ's joy, the joy of being a blessing to
humanity. They have the honor of being accepted for the Master's use;
they are trusted to do His work in His name.
"No man can serve two masters." We cannot serve God with a
divided heart. Bible religion is not one influence among many others;
its influence is to be supreme, pervading and controlling every other.
It is not to be like a dash of color brushed here and there upon the
canvas, but it is to pervade the whole life, as if the canvas were
dipped into the color, until every thread of the fabric were dyed a
deep, unfading hue.
"If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full
of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of
darkness." Purity and steadfastness of purpose are the conditions
of receiving light from God. He who desires to know the truth must be
willing to accept all that it reveals. He can make no compromise with
error. To be wavering and halfhearted in allegiance to truth is to
choose the darkness of error and satanic delusion.
Worldly policy and the undeviating principles of righteousness do not
blend into each other imperceptibly, like the colors of the rainbow.
Between the two a broad, clear line is drawn by the eternal God. The
likeness of Christ stands out as distinct from that of Satan as midday
in contrast with midnight. And only those who live the life of Christ
are His co-workers. If one sin is cherished in the soul, or one wrong
practice retained in the life, the whole being is contaminated. The man
becomes an instrument of unrighteousness.
All who have chosen God's service are to rest in His care. Christ
pointed to the birds flying in the heavens, to the flowers of the field,
and bade His hearers consider these objects of God's creation. "Are
not ye of much more value than they?" He said. Matt. 6:26, R. V.
The measure of divine attention bestowed on any object is proportionate
to its rank in the scale of being. The little brown sparrow is watched
over by Providence. The flowers of the field, the grass that carpets the
earth, share the notice and care of our heavenly Father. The great
Master Artist has taken thought for the lilies, making them so beautiful
that they outshine the glory of Solomon. How much more does He care for
man, who is the image and glory of God. He longs to see His children
reveal a character after His similitude. As the sunbeam imparts to the
flowers their varied and delicate tints, so does God impart to the soul
the beauty of His own character.
All who choose Christ's kingdom of love and righteousness and peace,
making its interest paramount to all other, are linked to the world
above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the book of
God's providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That
page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the
head are numbered. God's children are never absent from His mind.
"Be not therefore anxious for the morrow." Matt. 6:34, R.
V. We are to follow Christ day by day. God does not bestow help for
tomorrow. He does not give His children all the directions for their
life journey at once, lest they should become confused. He tells them
just as much as they can remember and perform. The strength and wisdom
imparted are for the present emergency. "If any of you lack
wisdom,"--for today,--"let him ask of God, that giveth to all
men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." Do not think yourself
better than other men, and set yourself up as their judge. Since you
cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another. In
criticizing him, you are passing sentence upon yourself; for you show
that you are a participant with Satan, the accuser of the brethren. The
Lord says, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove
your own selves." This is our work. "If we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged." 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 11:31.
The good tree will produce good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable
and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit borne in the life
testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the
character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an
evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul. And
though the eternal reward is not bestowed because of our merit, yet it
will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace
Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them
to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an
illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By
obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is
but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your
house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it
will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure.
Receive Me; build on My words.
"Everyone therefore which heareth these words of Mine, and doeth
them, shall be likened unto a wise man, which built his house upon the
rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,
and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the
rock." Matt. 7:24, 25, R.V.
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