SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
As Jesus watched the people of his day criss-crossing the pathways of Palestine, and possibly thinking also of all those coming in the future, he said: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with ... the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).
The business of this life is not adding business to business and land to land, or diploma to diploma, or dollar note to dollar note. The business of this life is a personal preparation for the coming of the Lord and the ensuing fellowship with him throughout eternity. The hope of eternity with Christ ought to be as real to every businessman as his balance sheet. It should be as real to every worker as his pay packet, but unfortunately, it is not so. The crumbling, material things that are seen are given more attention than the indestructible things that as yet are not seen.
Above the din of the market, the buzz of social gossip, the stamping and mirth of the pleasure spots, booms the unmistakable voice of Jesus Christ with a steadying question: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” How foolish to grasp out after possessions far and wide and in doing so pass up the most priceless treasure closest at hand - one’s own soul. Some may think this question applies only to would-be world dictators, tycoons, and top-flight entertainers. But no; it sounds into everyone’s world. The busy housewife can lose her own soul among the shopping, the baking, the washing, the social round, if she lets life slip by without seeking after God. Of what value then is all her busyness? The daughter of fashion can lose hers among the style books, the fabric counters, the dress shops, if she does not stop to pin her faith securely on the hope of a garment of righteousness obtainable only from Jesus Christ.
There is plenty in a man’s world too, to make him lose his own soul if he will not take time to search Christ out, even though such searching be done at night as was the case with Nicodemus when he had his heart to heart talk with Christ. Then what shall it profit?
This question contains many words used frequently today. “Profit,” “gain,” “loss” - these words escape from the lips of businessmen every second. The far-reaching deal, the sure contract, the safe investment, the “what’s-in-this-for-me” attitude, are like the taxes - for ever with us. “Steady, steady,” sounds the voice of Jesus. “See, that eternity with me is the most far-reaching deal, the surest contract, the safest investment. There is everything in it for you that could possibly be desired. I cannot reveal it to you in perfect detail now, but I must ask you to trust me. I have failed no one yet.” In times of anxiety his voice speaks again: “Steady now, I am with you.”
When we long to retaliate for wrongs done to us, again that calming voice penetrates our hurt and our angry frustration? “Vengeance is mine. Don’t you take the law into your own hands, for I will repay” (see Rom. 12:19). Anger is a great bungler, and it has well been said that we get at odds when we try to get even.
“Steady, steady,” says the Word of God in times of financial adversity. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine. I can supply your need. I don’t let the righteous beg for bread. David will tell you that.”
In every age God has used His faithful ministers to halt the headlong rush of His people. Haggai, the great minister of rebuke, called in loud tones to the people of his day: “Consider your ways, consider your ways. See how unprofitable all your selfish striving is. Your wages are going into bags with holes in them. Your grab-all-policy is a lose-all-policy, if only you would wake up and realize it. You are working yourself to death for nothing. There is no lasting gain for you while you let the work of God languish, and there is no satisfaction for you while you give Him no satisfaction by your conduct.”
Paul, the fearless apostle to the Gentiles, commanded the church members at Corinth to, “Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves.” Quite likely there were a number of those who heard this who felt hurt at the thought that their minister doubted them. Some would be indignant, but Paul knew what they needed, and though he did not want to upset them, he wanted to stir them to see that their nominal profession of Christianity would not save them. Their faith must be nurtured, and guarded.
May God bless all the faithful ministers who sound just such a steady warning to the people under their care. And may God give us all the grace to listen to them and to accept their counsel in the spirit in which it is given.
We must daily seek the Lord with the request that He will prepare us to be sounding boards for the “steady” warning.” Often friends look to us for advice when they feel that they are too close to a situation to sum it up properly. Other times they fail to see that they need some guidance, and this is when we need Divine tact to point it out to them. We are told that we should not give advice unless asked, but that doesn’t always hold good. “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” and “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” A young girl once said how grateful she was for the timely counsel of an older friend. She had enjoyed a long acquaintance with a young man, but now he was beginning to show trends of conduct that did not fit into acceptable Christian living. The conflict in her mind was sharp. How could she marry him, and yet how could she break it all up? She hesitated, hoping things would change. Came one morning and her friend with it. They talked things over. Finally the friend said: “Remember, while you are single we can do everything to help you, but if you marry him, we can do nothing.” Then she went away. The warning penetrated her confused thinking and settled a decision in her mind. Her friend’s wise departure at that point emphasized the on-your-own-if-you-marry-him part of her message. >From that morning on the young girl determined she would marry a Christian, a true-blue one, or no one at all.
May God help us all to be faithful and tactful friends. We need to ask the Lord to help us to speak to the point, and not to “let our train of thought be wrecked by a flood of emotion,” when we have to counsel those near and dear to us. Brief, meaningful sentences, full of logic and understanding, penetrate and motivate, whereas an emotional, verbose talk bordering on a long drawn-out speech only produces negative responses.
In home life, in social life, in business life, and most of all in decisions for eternity, let us heed the Word of God, and the words of our ministers, parents, teachers, and friends.
- John Aldersley
For related articles in Dutch: raad, wraak, berispen, eeuwigheid, leven, bedoeling, frustratie, woede, voorganger, vriend