Grow in Grace
Christ, the world’s Redeemer, has said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” The seeking of the kingdom of God and his righteousness is to be the object and aim of our lives. It is no child’s play to fulfil this injunction; but whatever self-denial it calls for, it is still for our interest in this life and the life to come, to obey this command. We are to have an eye single to the glory of God, and thus grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The more earnestly and diligently we seek for divine wisdom, the more firmly established we shall be in the truth. But I am pained to say that we have failed to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, as we should have done in view of the privileges and opportunities that have been given to us.
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We are not always to remain children in our knowledge and experience in spiritual things. We are not always to express ourselves in the language of one who has just received Christ; but our prayers and exhortations are to grow in intelligence as we advance in experience in the truth. The language of a child of six in a child of ten years of age would not be pleasing to us, and how painful would it be to hear expressions of childish intelligence in one who had arrived at years of maturity. When a person becomes of age, we expect from him a corresponding intelligence, according to his years and opportunities. We expect to see the results of education. We look to him as to one who reads, who reasons of things with intelligence, and we expect him to improve every year in knowledge and attainment.
But if we expect this manifestation of growing intelligence in the child, as he advances in years, should we not also expect to see the Christian grow in grace and experience? The youth who has had several years of experience in the Christian life, ought not to have the hesitating language of one who is a babe in Christ. There is a want of growth in professed Christians. Those who are not growing up unto the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, manifest this in the way they speak of the things of the kingdom of God. It is made manifest in their conversation, that they have not made the kingdom of God and his righteousness the aim and object of their life; but have been spending their energies in seeking earthly treasure. They have given their mind and strength and talents to earthly, temporal matters, and eternal interests have been made of secondary importance.
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The testimonies that are borne by many of the professed followers of Christ, are those of persons who have become dwarfs in the Christian life. The language of true, deep, intelligent experience is wanting. But the worst feature of this matter is that many are content to be in this condition. God has given us many advantages and opportunities, and when the last great day shall be ushered in, and we shall see what we might have attained, had we taken advantage of the helps that Heaven vouchsafed to us; when we see how we might have grown in grace, and look upon these things as God looks upon them, seeing what we have lost by failing to grow up into the full stature of men and women in Christ, we shall wish that we had been more in earnest, and more determined to attain to the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. Let every soul be honest and sincere, and never be satisfied with anything that does not rightly represent our faith. We must know more of eternal things. We must meditate upon the Scriptures, and let the heart open to receive divine enlightenment. Let the truth abide in the heart, and talk of Jesus. Conversation on heavenly things should become natural with Christians.
We are to be witnesses for Christ; and this we shall be when we grow up daily into the full stature of men and women in Christ. It is our privilege to grow more and more like him every day. Then we shall acquire the power to express our love for him in higher, purer speech, and our ideas will enlarge and deepen, and our judgment become more sound and trustworthy, while our testimony will have more of life and assurance. We are not to cultivate the language of the earthy, and be so familiar with the conversation of men, that the language of Canaan will be new and unfamiliar to us. We are to learn in the school of Christ; yet it is manifest that many are satisfied with very limited experience in spiritual things, for they reveal but little knowledge of spiritual things in their prayers and testimonies. There is less good judgment manifested in matters concerning our eternal interests, than in matters concerning our earthly, temporal affairs.
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Study, Study, Study
Christians are to be faithful students in the school of Christ, ever learning more of heaven, more of the words and will of God; more of the truth, and how to use faithfully the knowledge that they have gained, to instruct others, and to lead them to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We are to have an intelligent knowledge of the Scriptures; for how can we know God’s will and way without searching for the treasures of God’s righteousness in his holy word? We should know the truth for ourselves, and understand both the prophecies and the practical teachings of our Lord. When we know the truth, we should obey it, without questioning as regards our convenience or our selfish interest. We must ever bear in mind that Satan will use every device possible to bind our minds in ignorance and darkness and error, in order that we shall not see or follow the Light of the world. Satan will dispute every inch of progress we make. How weak are our efforts to become the children of light! May the Lord rouse us up to see what it shall profit us in this life, and in the future immortal life, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We must make this the main business of our lives.
Humility and Repentance
Let every one begin from this hour to seek the kingdom of God. If there are wrongs that should be confessed, then let the work of confession begin. The apostle has exhorted us to confess our faults one to another, and to pray one for another, that we may be healed. If there are difficulties that stand in the way of union and love one for another, let us, in the love and fear of God, for Christ’s sake, and for our souls’ sake, put them away. Let everything like prejudice and unkindness die, and come into harmony, that we may be at peace among ourselves. We cannot cherish unkindly thoughts and feelings, and still be Christlike.
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Let pride be overcome. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and clear the rubbish away from the door of your heart, and let the Saviour in. There is need of heart-work being done. All your life-actions are registered in the books of heaven; and when the books are opened, every case appears just as it is. It will then be seen whether Christians have neglected to give the honor to Jesus, who left the royal throne, and who clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world, that he might show fallen men the way to regain lost Eden, and to sit with him upon his eternal throne. Who is Christ?—He is the only begotten Son of the living God. He is to the Father as a word that expresses the thought,—as a thought made audible. Christ is the word of God. Christ said to Philip, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” His words were the echo of God’s words. Christ was the likeness of God, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person. If men would learn to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust, they must learn what the statement of Christ means, when he says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”We are to be doers of Christ’s words, and not hearers only. Having our names registered in the church books will not save us. We are to be saved as individual members of Christ’s body. We are to be individual workers with Christ in the great plan of salvation, and partakers at last with him in his glory. We are not to follow the customs and traditions of men; for they are far from the ways of God. We are ever to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.