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In connection with the two articles following, the reader should call to mind the article in the June, ’86, issue, entitled „Forsaking All.”
TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR TO-MORROW
„Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.”—Luke 12:22; Matt. 6:25-34
This should not be understood as encouragement to carelessness or sloth. The Lord does not mean that we should go to bed without having, to the extent our ability, taken thought and made preparation for the morning meal, nor that we should expect clothes to grow upon our backs as feathers do upon sparrows or adornment upon lilies. Other exhortations from the divine Word quite contradict such an interpretation. Is it not written that we should be „Not slothful in business”? and again, „Let him labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give”? and again, that we should „Provide things” (Rom. 12:11-17)? and again, that he that provideth not, denies the Christian faith (1 Tim. 5:8)? And did not our Lord reprove the idlers in the vineyard parable, and does he not call the slothful servant wicked, in the parables of the pounds and talents? and did he not hold up to scorn the thoughtless builder who began a tower without taking thought whether he could finish it? All these things, as well as the Creator’s method of having a plan and working all things towards its accomplishment, forbid that we should understand our Lord to enjoin upon his followers carelessness, thoughtlessness, improvidence, or anything akin to these.
What, then, does the Lord mean? He means that we should not be anxious in the sense of being fretted and worried about food or clothing. To be so corroded with care for these earthly things would dwarf our spiritual growth, and prevent our interest in, and labor for, the promised kingdom. He would have us absorbed in heavenly things; in obtaining, and using, and giving out to others, spiritual food—truth,—and in keeping our wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness unspotted from the world, and in daily inworking upon it the embroidery of good works and self-sacrifices. (Psa. 45:14.) And to do this,—to make this our chief work, he sees that we must be freed from distress of mind with reference to earthly things.
First, we should be free from that pride of life, that worldly spirit, which leads on so many to a love of money, fashion, costly apparel, and show, which as a great maelstrom swallows up the time, energy, and love, consecrated to the Lord and the truth. And through the apostle, he tells us that having [needful] food and clothing, we should be content (1 Tim. 6:8), and not seek to compete with the world in a race for the luxuries of the present time, but use that time and energy in the service to which we consecrated it. Secondly, should the Lord see fit to permit us to come down close, to the want of even the merest necessities—if, in spite of our diligence in business, and prudence, and economy, we should find the cellar and the purse growing empty, and the cupboard bare, we should not be as others—as the world, but should remember that our Father knoweth that we have need of the necessities, and that it is a part of his promise that bread and water shall be SURE to us. And with this confidence, we should be ready to share our last loaf or last dollar with any more needy than we. The Lord will provide! He may by this means teach us the lesson of trust, or correct us if we were being overcharged with the cares of this life, in an attempt to race with the world for present luxuries and earthly wealth. Yet without doubting his power, we should not expect the Lord to send us the wheat, or flour, or ready-baked bread, any more than we should expect him to put food into our stomachs already masticated. That we may learn to walk by faith, and not by sight and signs and wonders, our Father usually supplies our necessities as he does those of the sparrow which our Lord used as an illustration—namely, in a natural way, as a reward of industry.
Many, however, who know nothing of real, actual want of life’s necessities, are much exercised by the loss of luxuries when adversity comes. These they should never have set their hearts upon,
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and in most instances wealth and luxury are snares which entrap and consume the spirit of love and service toward the Master. As he said, „How hardly [with what difficulty, and how rarely] shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23.) We should remember that luxuries were never guaranteed to us, and if we are parted from them, our only regret should be if the means did not go to forward the truth and honor of our Lord. Our consolation and rest and trust should be in the fact, that „we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” and who are striving to make their calling and election to the Kingdom sure.—Rom. 8:28; 2 Pet. 1:10.
PROVIDING FOR OUR CHILDREN
But another phase of this subject presents itself. What thought would the Lord have his consecrated ones take for their children? To what extent should they use or appropriate his money, time, etc., to their children?
We answer, that as God’s stewards we are authorized to use our Bible-guided judgments upon this as upon other exercises of our stewardship. We are given a natural special supervision over those whom in God’s providence we have brought into existence. God would have us consider our children and deal with them as under his care; and our influence over them was part of our „all” consecrated to him. He tells us that he would have us „provide” for their necessities which thus come in as part of our own necessities. As with ourselves their clothing should be neat, comfortable and becoming „decent” but not „costly” (1 Tim. 2:9). And though youth need not always be arrayed in somber shades, we should ever remember to use economy both of time and means in this matter as in all others, lest we waste the Lord’s substance and injure our children as well. Children are often injured by overdressing and adornment, making them the subjects of flattery, and cultivating in them a spirit of pride and selfishness, and creating the unchristian class distinctions of society even in childhood. The proper and best provision for our children’s future, is a sensible education which should embrace at least the common school branches, as well as the practical lessons of life, whether trade or housekeeping or business. It is our duty to fit them to do something as well as to know something in life. And what is not learned in early life, is learned in later years, if at all, at great cost to themselves and others.
If our stewardship includes money or property, may we set aside a portion of this for the use of our children in the future by will or otherwise? This is a delicate question to answer for another. To his own Master every steward must make his report of his use of the things committed to his trust. We suggest, however, that in the case of maimed, sickly or young children or aged, infirm, indigent parents, duty and privilege would seem more clearly defined, and aside from very pressing necessities for the money in the Lord’s special spiritual work, the future, as the present of these, might be understood as being part of our responsibility in the Lord’s sight.
Yet, should our cool judgment ever dictate that our trust funds should all be spent in the present, we should not hesitate to trust our dear ones with ourselves, to our Father’s care. The writer’s observation agrees with that of the prophet who said, I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. And this must be the comfort also of those whose trusts do not include wealth. We can as fully trust our Father’s care over our helpless little ones, and his provision for them, as for ourselves. Therefore, take not anxious thought for the morrow, worry and sweat not as the world to amass wealth for the future, but give all the surplus of your time and energy over and above that spent in providing things needful, in the accumulating of the heavenly riches, in filling yourself and others with the riches of heavenly favors, that you may abound [be rich] more and more in the knowledge of the Lord, in wisdom and love and joy and peace and in every good word and work. Be careful [worried, harassed and overcharged] for nothing [on no account]: the Lord is present, and whatever may be the present, the future of the faithful is glorious, and of the world blessed.
„His providence is kind and large,
Both man and beast His bounties share;
The whole creation is His charge,
But saints are His peculiar care.”
— August, 1886 —