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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 providence. 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. “O,” 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
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
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 dishonour 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 coloured by these gloomy
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 well-spring 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 largehearted 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
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 every-day 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 refuge. His prayer for his disciples was, “I pray not that thou shouldst
take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst 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 labour, for “your Heavenly Father feedeth them.” And “are ye not much better
than they?” Are not you, as intelligent, spiritual worshippers, 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.”
Luke 12:27. The beauty and simplicity of these natural flowers, far outrival the
splendour 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 to-day is, and to-morrow 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 colours, 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 illbalanced,
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 our pilgrimage.
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 splendour. 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.