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- How to Live a Holy Life - 5/22 -
enjoyment if he had not wasted it in building a house on the sand. A foolish man, indeed! Who is a wise man? It is the man who hears the sayings of Jesus and does them. He is likened to a man who built his house upon a rock. From a temporal standpoint nothing else is so conducive to man's happiness as a good home. No better use can be made of money than to spend it in the building of a home, provided the house be built upon a sure foundation. A man who hears God's Word and does it is likened to such a man. To build up a Christian character in obedience to the Bible is the greatest wisdom. That is building a mansion in heaven.
A real, true Christian experience and life cost something, but they pay, because they will stand. A mere profession of Christianity may cost something also, but it does not pay, since it will not stand. A man who erects his house upon the sand can build at less cost than he who digs deep and lays his foundation upon the rock, but at the very time when the former man most needs his house--when the winds blow and the rain falls-- that is when it is destroyed. On the other hand, the man who builds upon a rock has a house to shelter him through the storms. Likewise, he who builds up a Christian experience in obedience to the Word of God will have something to serve him in a time of need.
We thus learn from Jesus' parable of the wise and the foolish house -builders that obeying the Bible is the true way of life.
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS A TEST OF LOVE.
We are commanded to love God. It is the first and greatest commandment. Love is more than an emotion; it is an act of the will. A mother loves her child constantly, though she may not always experience the emotions of love. Her care for her child is a proof of her love. We may not always experience a feeling of love toward God, but we can always love him. Our love is measured, not by our emotions, but by our obedience--our service. We labor for those we love, and the love makes the labor light. It is not an irksome thing to obey God when we love him.
It is possible to make a profession of love to God and not really love him. It may be that many are deceived at this point. One scripture says, "If any man love God, the same is known of him." Jesus says, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Love is something more than mere words. It is useless to make a profession of love to Jesus and not do what he says. A husband can not convince his wife of his love by a mere profession of love, but he can convince her by his acts. We are to love, not in word and tongue only, but also in deed and in truth. Again, Jesus says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words." Here is an unfailing test of love. If you will not obey God, he knows you do not love him, no matter how much you may profess to love him.
So again we are reminded by the Holy Bible that, in order to spend this brief life of ours as we should, we must keep the commandments of God. No other life will find acceptance with God. No other life will please him. He desires your love most certainly, but he wants such love as will prompt you to obey him. Do not measure your Christian experience by your feelings, but measure it by your obedience as proceeding from an internal principle. When you find something in your heart that causes you to obey God no matter how you feel, you have good reason to hope that you are a Christian.
In subsequent chapters I will tell you something of what God's Word teaches, but, first of all, I desire to fully convince you, and to help you to feel, that the right and true way of life is in obedience to its teaching.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF OBEYING GOD'S WORD.
Everything is said in the Scriptures that can be said to show us the need of living in harmony with the Bible. If our lives are out of harmony with one text in that blessed book, we are not yet fitted for heaven. We can never be admitted into the everlasting kingdom of God if we knowingly refuse or neglect to live to every word of God. We are therefore exhorted, beseeched, entreated, encouraged, warned, and commanded to obey every text in the Bible. We are encouraged to obedience by being told of the blessedness of keeping the commandments.
It is natural for mothers to love to have their children well spoken of. We do not fault them for this. When a young man, by his good deportment, is gaining a fair name, mothers, when together, will remark, "It is blessed to be the mother of a young man like that." There was a woman who heard of the fame of a young man. He was casting out devils, healing the sick, opening blinded eyes, and unstopping deaf ears, and consequently he was gaining a wide and favorable reputation. This woman came to the young man and with that mother in her heart said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bear thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." It was, indeed, blessed to be the mother of this young man. An angel from heaven acknowledged this. In speaking to Mary of the birth of Jesus (for he was the young man), the angel said, "Hail, thou that are highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." She was more highly favored than any other woman on earth, because she was to become the mother of the Son of God. Can it be that any one can be more blessed than this happy mother of Jesus? Let us hear his reply to the woman--"But he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it." Jesus did not deny that it was blessed to be his mother, but said that those who hear God's word and keep it are rather, or more, blessed. God favors those who obey him. "The willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land." "Hadst thou hearkened unto my commandments, then wouldst thy peace be like a river." Happiness is the result of obedience, and heaven is the final reward.
THE RELATIONSHIP WE HAVE WITH CHRIST THROUGH OBEDIENCE.
The reason why it is more blessed to obey the Word of God than to be the mother of Jesus is obvious. Spiritual things are higher than physical things. Spiritual relation is closer than natural relation. Brotherhood in Christ is closer than brotherhood in the flesh. A brother in the Spirit is dearer to us than a son of our own mother. Obedience to God makes us one with God. Mary was the mother of Jesus after the flesh, but God's children enjoy such a relation after the spirit. At one time somebody brought word to Jesus that his mother and his brethren stood outside desiring to see him. "But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! for whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matt. 12:48-50. Every one who desires to spend life in the highest possible degree of perfection should make a constant study of the Bible and should carefully and diligently obey all its precepts. Doing this will bring him into the closest possible relationship with God and will make life the best man can live.
OUR LIFE IS TO ADORN THE GOSPEL.
To adorn is to make attractive, to beautify. We are exhorted by the apostle Paul to adorn the doctrine of the New Testament by our every-day life. This thought should be a powerful incentive to close living with God and assiduously keeping all of his commandments. Who would not take pleasure in adorning the teachings of Jesus by a pure life? This is the joy of the Christian's heart. He cares nothing for the adornings of the world, but oh, that he may so live as to make beautiful the blessed Bible!--this is happiness enough to him.
In another of the Pauline Epistles we are commanded to "let our manner of life be as it becometh the gospel of Christ." To become is also to make attractive or to give a better appearance to. An article of dress is becoming to us when it gives us a better appearance. We speak of any one's bad conduct as not being becoming to him. We are to become the gospel of Christ by holy living. When a life is lived as God designed that life should be, that life will be an adornment to the Scriptures.
God will beautify his children with the glories of his redeeming grace; he will adorn them with a meek and quiet spirit, which in his sight is very precious, that they, in turn, may adorn his commandments. As a bride decks herself with jewels, so the heavenly Father beautifies his children with the robe of righteousness.
The life of a Christian is God's special treasure. "They shall be mine," says the Lord, "in that day when I make up my jewels," or "special treasure" as rendered by the margin (see Mal. 3:17). By reading the context we learn that it is those who fear the Lord that are his jewels. To fear God and keep his commandments is man's whole duty. It is a perfect life. Such a life is the Lord's jewel. Such a life is recorded in heaven. Oh, how animating is such knowledge! How it strengthens our hearts to live a righteous life. To live a life that is worthy to be recorded in heaven and is a special treasure to God is truly wonderful. Our souls are awed by such a thought. Oh, how it ought to move our hearts to carefulness in life! How diligent we should be to walk as worthy citizens of our heavenly state! Some day the Lord will come and gather up these holy lives and place them in his heavenly courts above, where they shall shine as the stars forever.
Oh, take this life, this life of mine (To thee, O God, 'tis freely given), And polish it, that it may shine, And ornament thy Word divine.
THE CHRISTIAN AN EPISTLE OF CHRIST.
The life we live is being read. We are not going through the world unnoticed. Some one is looking on, and some one is to some extent fashioning his life after ours. Our life each day is being written down in some one's memory. My own dear children group around me at times and talk of their mother, who has gone to heaven. Her pure and holy life written in their memory is read over and over to each other and to me. She still lives as an epistle in their hearts. They read her daily life while she was with them, and they continue to read it since she is gone. Christians are said to be the epistle of Christ (2 Cor. 3:3). To read their life is to read the life of Jesus. All the Bible that many will ever read is what they read in the lives of Christians.
Life will be read just as it is, not as it may pretend to be. It is not what we pretend to be, but what we really are, that will go down in the memory of others. Those who read our lives have a way of reading between the lines. We should strive not so much to make life holy as to be holy.
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