He lived poor and died poor

“Jesus replied—Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20

Jesus does not say, Kings have palaces—but I have none. Nor does He say that rich men have houses and lands and mansions to entertain their followers—but I have none; but, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but I have no place to lay My head.”

Your outward condition is not worse than Christ’s was, when He was in the world. Christ’s condition was low, yes, very low and humble in this world. He was born in a stable, lived on the charity of others, and did not have enough money to pay His taxes. The great Architect of the world had no place to lay His head—but emptied Himself of all, and became poor to make us rich, not in goods—but in grace; not in worldly wealth—but in the treasures of the eternal world. He lived poor and died poor.

Are you houseless, are you penniless, are you poor, and low, and base in this world? So was Christ! Remember “the servant is not greater than his Lord!”

It is unfitting to see the Head all begored with blood and crowned with thorns—and the members to be decked with roses and jewels, and to smell of rich spices, and perfumes!

Are you in a worse condition than Christ was, in this world? Oh no, no! Why then do you murmur and complain? Why do you say there is no sorrow like your sorrow, nor any suffering compared to your suffering? O sirs! it is honor enough for the disciples of Christ to fare as Christ fared in this world. Why should the servant be in a better condition than His Lord? Did you but seriously and frequently meditate and ponder upon the poverty and low estate of Christ while He was in this world, your hearts would be more calm and quiet under all their crosses and losses!

Thomas Brooks, London’s Lamentations, 1670

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The true ideal of all Christian life

Jenny Lind (known as “the Swedish Nightingale”) once said to another, in accounting for the motive and spirit of her wonderful singing, “I sing to God!” She meant that she looked into God’s face, as it were, and consciously sang to Him. She did not sing to the vast audience that hung on her words and was held spellbound by them. She was scarcely conscious of any face before her, but God’s. She thought of no listening ear, but God’s.

We may not all be able to enter into such perfect relation with God as did this marvelous singer — but this is the only true ideal of all Christian life.

We should do each piece of work for God.
The business man should do all his business for God.
The artist should paint his picture for God.
The writer should write his book for God.
The farmer should cultivate his ground for God.
This means that we are always engaged in the Father’s business, and must do it all in a way that He will approve.

Jesus was a carpenter, for many years working at the carpenter’s bench. We are sure that He did each piece of work for His Father’s eye. He did it skillfully, conscientiously, beautifully. He did not skimp it nor hurry through it, so as to get away from the shop earlier.

– J. R. Miller, 1840-1912, The Glory of the Common Place

A Tale of Two Foxes

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

A fable relates that in the depth of a forest, there lived two foxes. One of them said to the other one day, in the politest of fox-language, “Let’s quarrel!”

“Very well,” said the other; “but how shall we go about it?”

They tried all sorts of ways—but in vain, for both would give way. At last, one fox brought two stones.

“There!” said he. “Now you say they are yours—and I’ll say they are mine—and we will quarrel and fight and scratch! Now I’ll begin.

“Those stones are mine!”

“All right!” answered the other fox, “you are welcome to them.”

“But we shall never quarrel at this rate,” replied the first.

“No, indeed, you old simpleton! Don’t you know, that it takes two to make a quarrel?”

So the foxes gave up trying to quarrel, and never played at this silly game again.

The fable has its lesson for other creatures, besides foxes. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,” Paul tells us, “we should live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).”

A wise man says, “Every man takes care that his neighbors shall not cheat him—but a day comes when he begins to care—that he does not cheat his neighbors. Then all goes well.” So long as a man sees only the quarrelsome temper of his neighbor—he is not far toward holiness. But when he has learned to watch and to try to control his own temper, and to weep over his own infirmities—he is on the way to Christ-likeness, and will soon be conqueror over his own weakness!

Life is too short to spend even one day of it in bickering and strife! Love is too sacred to be forever lacerated and torn by the ugly briers of sharp temper! Surely we ought to learn to be loving and patient with others—since God has to show every day such infinite patience toward us! Is not the very essence of true love—the spirit that is not easily provoked, that bears all things? Can we not, then, train our life to sweeter gentleness? Can we not learn to be touched even a little roughly, without resenting it? Can we not bear little injuries, and apparent injustices, without flying into a rage? Can we not have in us something of the mind of Christ, which will enable us, like him, to endure all wrong and injury and give back no word or look of bitterness? The way over which we and our friend walk together, is too short to be spent in wrangling.

– J. R. Miller,  1840-1912

To be more hidden

“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman (Mary of Bethany) came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.” – Mark 14:3

“Jesus said,…She has done a good work for Me.” Mark 14:6

“She,” said Christ, “has worked a good work for Me,” which He never said of Martha, good as Martha was. He censured, a little, the elder sister for being cumbered with much serving. But Mary’s work He commended and decreed that it should be remembered as long as the world stands. Though she does not bear the name of a worker in the vulgar judgment, yet is she the queen in the kingdom of good works! Yet, I remind you, she did not say a word. There is such a thing as spoiling what you do by making so great a fuss, before you do it. Moreover, there is such a thing as talking so much afterwards of what we have done that it spoils it all. It seems as if we must let all the world know something about ourselves — whereas the joy and bliss of it all is not to let yourself be seen, but to let the oil go streaming upon the Master till He is anointed with perfume and we, ourselves, sink back into our natural insignificance. Silent acts of love have musical voices in the ears of Jesus! Sound no trumpet before you, or Jesus will take warning and be gone!

If we could all do more and talk less, it might be a blessing to ourselves and, perhaps, to others. Let us labor in our service for the Lord to be more and more hidden! As much as is the proud desire to catch the eye of man, let us endeavor to avoid it.

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892

Published in: on September 11, 2016 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Work for God’s eye

 

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

No grace shines more brightly in a Christian, than humility. Wherever SELF comes in–it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work noiselessly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself–to make others know that you did some beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives–and see them blessed and made more holy–and then hide away and let Christ have the honor. Work for God’s eye–and even then, do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing–and never think of self-glory.

“Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:4

J. R. Miller, 1840-1912

Published in: on July 24, 2016 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We are in debt to everybody!

“Little children, we must not love in word or speech–but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

“Do not owe anyone anything–except to love one another.” Romans 13:8

We are in debt to everybody! Love is a debt which never can be altogether settled. You may pay it all off today–but tomorrow you will find it as heavy as ever. It is a debt which everybody owes to everybody. Nor can it be paid off with any mere sentimental love. It cost Paul a great deal, to settle his obligations and pay his debts to others.

There is a sort of philanthropic sentiment which some people have, which does not cost them very much. But to pay his debts of love, Paul gave up all he had, and then gave himself up to service, suffering, and sacrifice to the very uttermost. True love always costs! Love’s essential quality, is unselfish helpfulness, the carrying of the life with all its rich gifts and powers in such a way–that it may be a blessing to every other life which it touches.

As Christians, we owe love to everyone–and love always serves. Serving is an essential quality of love. The true standard of greatness–is service. It is not what our life is in gifts, in culture, in strength–but what we do with our life, which is the real test of character. Our Lord taught this truth when he said, “Whoever wants to become great among you–must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first–must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44. He who serves the most fully and the most unselfishly, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Love seeks to give, to minister, to be of use, to do good to others. The true Christian desires to serve others, to minister to their comfort, to be a help and a blessing to them. It is thus, that we should relate ourselves to every person who comes within our influence. Love will lead us to ask concerning everyone who passes before us, “What can I do to help this brother of mine, to add to his happiness, to relieve his trouble, to put him in the way of holiness, to comfort his sorrow?” If this were the habitual attitude of our love, paradise would soon be restored. It would put an end to all our miserable pride, to all our petty tyrannies and despotisms.

Love works most effectively–when it works unconsciously, almost instinctively, inspired from within. That is the best service, which flows out of the heart and life–as light from the sun, as fragrance from a flower. There is no other way of paying our debt of love to others, which is so Christlike as this. We are to be to others–what Jesus would be, if He were in our place!

– J. R. Miller, The Building of Character, 1894

Published in: on June 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The truly humble Christian

 

A humble Christian is one who not only considers himself to be nothing–but is willing to be thought so by others. There is a vast difference between knowing our own faults–and being willing that others should know them. It is very mortifying to be accounted nothing in the eyes of our fellow-men. Now, the really humble man is content to bear this. He has no wish to be more highly esteemed than he deserves–in fact, the flattery of his brethren is distasteful to him!

And yet how utterly contrary is this to our natural feelings! The Drunkard would not wish his neighbors to know that he drinks–he would conceal it if he could. The Dishonest man would wish to appear honest before others.

And why all this desire at concealment? It is because people are anxious to keep up a good image before their fellow creatures–although they may have lost it with Him who knows all. The truth is, they ‘love the praise of men, more than the praise of God.’

What a dangerous snare this is! To be thought well of by our brethren, and to stand high in their opinion–is too eagerly sought after by most of us. We have need not only to fight against the fear of man–but also, and still more, against the love and esteem of man. The esteem of godly men is well, as far as it goes; but it is clearly wrong to be always craving after it. We should rather feel that anything like flattering praise would be hurtful to us–and on that account we should shrink from it, and try to put it away from us.

It is hard, I know, to bring ourselves to this. To pray that we may become low in our own eyes–needs some grace. But to pray that we may be content to be lowered in the eyes of those around us–needs a large amount of grace!

Suppose you were to be informed that one, who stood high for his religious attainments, had expressed an unfavorable opinion of you–would not this be very displeasing? But I am inclined to think that a true Christian, though he would feel a little nettled at the time–would be able to thank God for anything which keeps down his pride, and sets him in his proper place!

The day is soon coming, when we shall be taken off the false heights which we often stand upon, and be brought to our true level–when all the esteem of others shall vanish and pass away like smoke–and we shall be just what God finds us to be, neither more nor less!

Ashton Oxenden, The Touchstone of Humility, 1884

Published in: on June 8, 2016 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dying to Self

Another step in the death of self is to seek in every thing to be child-like, and extremely simple in our manners, words, dress, tastes, and interior experiences. Self naturally feeds on complexity and things grand and large and loud.

Christ is the very embodiment of divine and eternal simplicity.
The deeper we sink into the Christ-life, the more we become disappointing to the people.
Our learning, or talents will not show off to such fine advantage.
We talk less.
We live more quietly and interiorly.
Our labors are less ostentatious.
We do more hard fighting with fewer dress-parades.
We bring things to pass through prayers and faith in God more than by outward showy methods.
We love to live like God, a profound hidden life,
in which people think we don’t amount to very much.
This is one of the tests of sinking out of self.

G. D. Watson, 1845-1924

Published in: on April 10, 2016 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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