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 heavenly Father.
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 pinks."
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 and life!
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
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
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
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 refuge. 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 heart.
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 pleasures of 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." Matthew 25:34.
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.