One of my staff members said to me one time that he wished
that he could feel as deeply as I feel. He asked me for the secret.
I made it clear that one of the main secrets is practicing the
art of meditation. In these days of busy cities, busy activities,
and busy schedules, how neglected is this spiritual grace. In
the first Psalm we are reminded that meditation is necessary
for prosperity. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8 that we are
to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely,
and of good report. In I Timothy 4:15 Paul admonishes young Timothy
to meditate on what God had done for him. When Joshua assumed
the leadership of Israel, he was reminded in Joshua 1:8 to meditate.
In Genesis 24:63 we find that Isaac was a man of meditation.
In Psalm 63:6 David reminds us that he meditated through the
I have found it wise to have a set time and set place for
meditation. It is something that should be done on purpose. Meditation
is love's nourishment. No one can properly love unless his mind
dwells on the love and on the loved.
If one is to develop the depth of soul that he should have,
he must of necessity spend time in meditation.
In order to have proper gratitude, one must meditate upon
the things that God and others have done for him.
If improvement comes in our lives, it comes only after soul-searching
meditation which leads us to realize our weaknesses, imperfections,
frailties, and need of improvement.
Meditation enables us to escape the traps that Satan sets
for us in order to capture our minds. Drive down the average
highway and look at the signs that seek your mind's attention.
Add to this the television, the radio, the thousands of people
with whom you come in contact regularly, and the million other
things in life and you will find the mind has little chance to
be alone. Hence, it is wise for a person to set a time and a
place for meditation. This has been my policy through the years.
In the following chapters you will find some of these meditations.
Some have been during the night watches; some have been while
flying 30,000 feet in the air, but all have come through meditation.
May God bless you as we together "think upon these things."
WHEN TIME IS NO
". . .that there should be time no longer." (Revelation
Perhaps one of the hardest things to define is time. I have
often thought of time as being a yardstick with which to measure
deterioration. Could that be the reason there is no time with
God, and there will be no time in eternity? Nothing will ever
deteriorate there. There will be no depreciation; hence, there
will be no need for the measuring stick - time.
The older I get the more I realize that perhaps the greatest
gift that I could give you is my time. Actually, the only gift
that I can give is my time. If I give you money, I give you the
time it took me to earn that money. If I give you a gift, I give
you the time it took me to earn the money with which I bought
the gift. Perhaps, then, it is true that time is the only thing
that I can give to you. Time is probably the greatest gift for
1. When I give you my time, I am giving you my life, for time
is life. If one takes the life of another, actually he takes
only time from him. Murder is simply taking from a person the
amount of time that he would have lived anyway. So in a real
sense, when I give to you my time, I am giving to you my life,
for time is life.
How much more could I honor you than to give you my time?
How much more could you honor me than to give me your time? My
time with you is an investment. Your time with me is an investment.
Let us care for each other's investment wisely.
2. If I spend some time with you, I am giving you a gift that
can be given only to YOU! The moment that I give to you I will
never have again. Once it is given, it can never be given to
another. Such a realization should cause us to appreciate moments
spent friends, for a moment given to me by a friend is not only
his giving to me of his life, but also something which he can
give to no other person and which can never be given again.
3. For you to give me a moment, or for me to give you a moment,
is to exchange the only moment that we actually know we have.
We are only promised the present. When we share the present with
each other, we are giving to each other the only moment that
we have for sure. There may never be another.
4. The giving of a moment to a friend is a greater gift than
Heaven can give. If I spend a moment with you in Heaven, it will
not be subtracted from time, for there is no time there. In Heaven
I will not be giving you my life, for life is eternal there.
Here is an earthly gift that I may give you that I cannot give
you in Heaven, for to spend a moment there is not a sacrifice.
May I then never take lightly the time you give to me, and may
you never take lightly the time I give to you.
5. Time is a gift God cannot give. God gives us many wonderful
gifts. This is one thing that God cannot give you. God has no
time. He does not give up any of His life to fellowship with
you. To be sure, He gave His life on the cross to save you; but
since God will never die, the time He gives to you and the moments
you share with Him do not subtract anything from His life. In
other words, He loses no life to fellowship with you. However,
when I fellowship with you, I lose my life. When you fellowship
with me, you are giving of your life. Here is a gift we can share
that even God cannot give.
6. For me to give to you a moment is an honor that God cannot
give you. When we share a moment alone, we take that moment from
everyone else and give it to each other. God, however, is omnipresent.
For Him to fellowship with you does not mean that He must forfeit
fellowship with all others. Hence, when you give me a few moments,
I must pause to realize that you are honoring me above all of
the people of the earth for that moment.
Therefore, to give you my time is the greatest gift that I
can give. Since it can be given only to you and only to one person
at a time and can never be given again, please accept the moment
that I can give as my supreme gift, and as an expression of my
love to you and my interest in you.
Recently someone asked me this question: "Why do you
make everything seem so sacred? It seems that you make the least
little event such a sacred occasion."
I have given you my reasons. Every event of life uses up a
little more of the most precious commodity that I have on earth
- my life. The event may seem trivial and the occasion may seem
small, but the price that I am paying is the greatest price that
I have to pay. Hence, I do not measure an occasion by its greatness
or bigness, but by the price I pay for it - even my life.
OF THE FRIEND RELATIONSHIP
Life is a series of human relationships. It is very important
that we develop each to its fullest. No one need magnify the
importance of the parent-child relationship, the husband- wife
relationship, the brother-sister relationship, etc. There is,
however, a need to magnify the importance of the friend relationship.
Many would never class it in importance with the aforementioned.
I think that it should be. Let us observe some advantages in
the friend relationship.
1. It is one of the few relationships that we choose. We do
not choose our mother, our father, our brother, our sister, our
son, our daughter. God chooses them for us. Because He does,
they are sacred relationships. There are a few relationships,
however, that should be akin to those mentioned above. These
are made sacred because they are chosen by us. One such relation
is that of a friend. If I am your friend, I chose to be your
friend. If you are my friend, you chose to be my friend. What
an honor we have given to each other. Of all the people in the
world we have given our friendship one to the other. How sacred
such a relationship!
2. It can be a completely unselfish relationship. The child
needs the parent. In usual cases, in later years the parent needs
the child. The husband needs the wife, and the wife needs the
husband. In each of these relationships there is, however holy,
a righteous selfishness involved. When I chose to be your friend,
however, I chose to give and not to receive .. I chose to help
and not to be helped. I chose to love and not to be loved. I
chose to care for you and not to be cared for by you. In being
your friend I ask nothing. I am willing to give everything, which
means that the object of such friendship may rest comfortably
in an unselfish relationship.
3. Friendship is one of the few relationships that never changes.
The child grows up and leaves home. The parent grows old and
passes away. Brothers and sisters move away from home. At first
the child needs the parent; later the parent needs the child.
Even in marriage the needs change with the passing of the years.
In friendship it need not be so. Many parents will admit that
about the time they learn how to be parents, the children are
grown. The same is true with many relationships in life, but
the friend relationship is one of the few, if not the only one,
where one can spend years becoming an expert and still have time
to use what he has learned, for the relationship may remain the
4. The friend relationship is one that needs not the acceptance
of another. To become a husband means that another must accept
the proposal. To become a wife means that there must be a proposal
by another. True friendship is not, however, based upon this.
I can be your friend, even if you are not my friend. In other
words, friendship need not be reciprocated. This means if I am
your friend, I have chosen you from a wide field of possibilities.
I did not choose you because you accepted, for I became your
friend before you accepted. In some cases, I am your friend even
if you never accept, but what an honor it is to have a friend!
6. One need never give up one friend for another. In some
relationships of life there can be only one. In the friendship
relationship the one relationship need not be traded if another
is acquired. This relationship is never lost to another. You
may be my friend and someone else's friend. When I become a friend
to another, I may still be your friend.
7. The friend relationship is one that can be completely spiritual.
Most of life's relationships are based upon physical needs. To
be sure, there are spiritual needs also. In any relationship
of life the spiritual should be uppermost. I can become your
friend, however, without there being one physical need for you
to supply. Our souls may be knit together, and our relationship
need not be based upon the satisfying of physical appetites.
8. A friend may be chosen at any time of life. Parents come
at birth; children come to us in young adulthood; brothers and
sisters come to us during childhood. People at a certain age
are unable to have children, but a friend may be chosen at eight
or eighty, nine or ninety, ten or one hundred, sixteen or sixty.
Friendship is a high and lofty relationship. Few ever know
its depth. Most never know a friend, and certainly, most never
are a friend.
Hence, the great relationships of life are husband-wife, mother-daughter,
father-son, brother-sister, and . . . friend. Happy is the man
who has a friend. Happier is the man who is a friend. Happiest
is the man who has a friend and is a friend. Oh how happy I am!
THE IMPORTANCE OF LITTLE THINGS
Sometime notice in your Bible the many little things that
were of great significance: the little gift of the widow, the
water pots in which Jesus performed His first miracle, Shamgar's
ox goad, Moses' rod, etc.
There is no doubt but that one of the great differences between
success and failure is the importance placed on little things.
There has to be a reason why men of equal talent do not have
equal success, and oftentimes, men of less talent have greater
success than many- talented ones.
Often a successful person will be called a perfectionist.
He will even be criticized because of his overemphasis on seemingly
"trivial matters." It might be wise, however, for less
successful people to examine the methods of those who are successful,
and in so doing, not criticize the differences but rather pattern
after them. The differences between people is composed of their
differences. Our differences cause our difference. Hence, it
might be wise for one to emulate rather than criticize a so-called
1. The only way to excel is to do the little things. Everyone
does the big things. They are the things that challenge each
of us. Consequently, the difference between us must be our attention
toward little things. I have noticed very carefully successful
people from every walk of life. The so-called trivials mean something
to them. The nonessentials seem to be essentials. Everything
seems to be big. They have found that "little drops of water
and little grains of sand make the mighty ocean and the pleasant
2. The one who cares for little things will be misunderstood
by those who care not. "He is too particular." "He
is hard to work for." Similar statements are often made
about those who care for details and to whom punctuality, neatness,
and thoroughness are important. Hence, when one comes to the
place where everything is important and there are no such things
as trivials, he is oftentimes misunderstood by his contemporaries.
3. The big is the little. We have found in our generation
that the most powerful force is the splitting of the smallest
thing. In the splitting of the atom a succession of explosions
can be set off to cause the biggest explosion the world has ever
known. This has taught us that the power is not in the big but
in the little. The spoil lies to the person who counts the little
as big. Oftentimes I have said to my staff. "If a task is
worth doing, it is worth doing right,. If it is not worth doing
well, it is not worth doing." If something needs to be done,
it is big. If we have a job to do, it is big. If it is worthy
of our attention, it is worthy of our best.
4. When one does the little thing well, he will automatically
do the big thing well. Someone has said that a preacher should
preach to the back row. If the folks on the back row can hear
him, certainly he will be understood by those on the front row.
When a person does a little job well, he will certainly do a
big job well.
Truthfully, who among us is able to discern between the big
and the little? So often we come to the conclusion of a task
only to find that it was one of the biggest tasks we had ever
attempted. None of us can be sure about the size of a task. It
should behoove us to do every task well, thereby insuring ourselves
of always doing a good job on the big tasks.
5. The little often becomes the big. Someone has said, "Be
nice to your paperboy; you may try to borrow some money from
his bank some day." Someone else has said, "Be kind
to the boy who plays in your yard. You may be on trial in his
court some day." The safest thing to do is be nice to the
little man, do well each little task, preach your best to the
little crowds, prepare well for the little jobs, and you will
certainly corral the big ones. Remember, the little often becomes
the big and the big is often the little. Who is able to judge
6. Do not measure a task by its size. Just do what there is
to do. The other day I was parked in front of a big business.
I was not surprised when I saw the owner of the business sweeping
off the sidewalk. This is the way he got to be a big man. He
was a good little man. The way he got to do the big tasks was
by doing the little tasks well. Greatness is often wrapped in
simplicity. A person who is unwilling to do the little will not
have the opportunity to do the big. The person who is not challenged
by the little will not be presented the challenge to do the big.
A person who has not done well the little is not prepared or
qualified to do the big. Do not weigh a task. If it is before
you, do it and do it well. Even if it is unworthy of you, you,
nevertheless, are setting principles by which you will live a
life. One who is not diligent in little tasks will not develop
the diligence necessary to do the big tasks. Even if the task
is not worthy of you, diligence is; and even if what you do is
not big, the way you do it can be big. Someone will see how you
do it and realize that you are qualified to do something bigger.
Then too, in doing the small task diligently one is preparing
himself with the methods necessary to succeed in a big task.
7. Always make a check list of little things. Never trust
your memory. You will remember to do the big, but you must remind
yourself to do the little. If possible, the little should be
done immediately. Fix little things when they break. Most houses
become run- down because of the neglect of repairing little things.
Many cars lose their value because the little things are not
attended to. Make a check list of things to do that are little.
This article is being dictated on a jet plane between Chicago
and Seattle, Washington. There I will board another jet for a
speaking engagement in Tokyo, Japan. Just a moment ago a little
thing was called to my attention. I made a note of it, put the
note in my pocket, and will be reminded to do the task and do
it well. 8. In doing the little things one becomes Christlike.
You must remember that Jesus never pastored a large church. He
was never a president, governor or mayor. He took time for little
children. he told simple stories. He spoke of a flower, a bird,
a gardener, a husbandman, a lost coin, and a boy who ran way
from home. His Father and our Father takes note of a bird that
falls. He clothes the lilies of the field. He is even interested
in each hair on our heads. Hence, if we would be Christlike,
we must notice the little things and do them well.
9. The degree of unhappiness you have with yourself over not
doing the little things well will determine the amount of growth
you experience. For one to improve himself he must realize his
inefficiencies and weaknesses. Usually the big things will be
accomplished. When one has accomplished the big things, he may
then think that he has arrived. The growth he experiences in
the future will be determined by how dissatisfied he is in the
present. Hence, he must find unhappiness over the failure to
do well the little things.
This is true in every field. The baseball player who is in
a hitting slump may find he is jerking his head at the wrong
time. The football player may find that he is not charging low
enough as he blocks. The track star may find that his failures
are caused by holding his arms too far from his body or standing
too erect when he starts to race. In every walk of life this
is the case. Once one has become successful in a field, his continued
improvement is dependent upon his mastering, not of the big,
but of the little. Remember nothing is unimportant. No task should
be taken lightly. Every job is a big job. Every day is a big
day. Every sermon is a big sermon.
When I was in college, I took a course called Pastoral Theology.
It was taught by the president of the college and was attended
by the preacher boys. Each Monday we were asked to give a report
of our weekend activities. On this particular Monday I was so
happy to give my report. You see, I had just accepted my first
pastorate the day before. It was one hundred miles from our college
town. Mrs. Hyles and I drove there each weekend in our old Dodge.
I was the first preacher asked to give his report on this particular
Monday morning. I stood and said, "Dr. Bruce, I would like
to report that I had a wonderful weekend. I was called as Pastor
of a little church in the country . . ."
Dr. Bruce interrupted me and said, "Sit down, Mr. Hyles."
I could not for the life of me understand why he told me to
sit down. Every other young preacher gave his report, and there
was not another single reprimand given by Dr. Bruce. Finally
when the reports were all given, I raised my hand and asked,
"Dr. Bruce, what did I say that was wrong?"
Dr. Bruce replied with an answer I shall never forget, "You
said, Mr. Hyles, that you had been called to pastor a little
. . . church . . .Mr. Hyles, there are . . .no . . .little churches!"
I then stood to my feet and said, "Dr. Bruce, I would
like to give my report. Yesterday I was called to pastor a big
church up in the country with nineteen members at a salary of
$7.50 a week."
The class roared with laughter, but I had been taught a lesson
I shall never forget. There are no little churches. There are
no little preachers. There are no little people. There are no
The Jews had many holy days, special seasons, feasts, etc.
Colossians 2:14-17 reminds us that these were nailed to the cross.
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against
us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing
it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers,
He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let
no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect
of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which
are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Colossians
Paul said in Galatians that he was afraid of the Galatian
people who had lapsed back into legalism and the observance of
days and seasons lest he had bestowed labor upon them in vain.
In his writings the apostle gives much space to the fact that
in Christ every day is a holy day and every season a holy season.
Places were also sacred to the Jews. There was the Holy of
Holies in the temple as well as other places that became known
as sacred. Jesus was talking to the woman at the well when suddenly
she interrupted him by suggesting that the Jews worshipped in
Jerusalem but the Samaritans worshipped on Mt. Gerizim. He then
reminded her, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the
true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:
for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. (John 4:23) Hence,
there are now no sacred places - only sacred relationships.
Someone would say, "Pastor, how about the place where
you were saved, the spot where you were married, the place you
became engaged, etc. - are these sacred places?"
No. The place is not sacred. It is the relationship that is
sacred. The place and date are simply made dear because of the
sacred relationship. Hence, the Christian should have no sacred
places, but many dear places; no sacred days, but many dear days.
He should however, have sacred relationships. The spot should
be only a reminder, not the object. There are several such spots
in my life, such as the place where I was saved, my father's
grave, etc. These spots, however, are not sacred spots. These
are only places held dear because of relationships and events
that are held sacred. Because of this, we should make many of
them. With the passing of the years they will be even more dear
to us. In order to make such dear places we must find how to
1. Think now how you will feel later. One of the tragic things
of this depraved human race is that we have to wait until an
experience is ended before it has been made dear to us. If the
spot will someday be a treasured one, let us make it such now.
Character enables one to appreciate the present as those who
have no character will appreciate it in the future. The chair
in which a loved one sits, the pulpit behind which a dear pastor
speaks, the organ bench on which an organist sits, the desk of
an office worker, and other places will someday become hallowed
spots. If this be true, we should appreciate and see them as
such now. The things that one is now doing will some day become
dear and hallowed things. The rearing of the children, the living
of a normal home life, and even youth itself will some day be
looked back upon with reverence. Why not look upon the enjoyment
as such while it is in progress? As the pastor walks to the pulpit,
he should realize that someday this spot will be very dear, so
it should be very dear now. When the office worker sits behind
his desk, he should realize his privilege while he sits there.
It is sad that so many of us have to wait until days are past
to really appreciate them.
2. Remember that the usual will someday become the unusual.
Everything is temporary. Because it is, the usual should be treated
as the unusual. That which will someday become the unusual should
be treated as the unusual today. A trip to the zoo, a night with
the family, the eating of hamburgers at a drive-in sandwich shop,
etc. will someday be precious memories. The person with character
will make them precious experiences now.
3. Use the same place. People who have close ties are happy
people. In order to make those close ties there must be familiarity.
Some people who love each other meet at the same spot year after
year. Others pray for each other at the same time day after day.
Others eat at the same restaurant, etc. As an experience takes
place at the same place, or at the same time, it becomes more
dear and sacred. Man is a creature of habits. Proper habits can
make, not only for treasured memories, but treasured experiences
4. Measure the relationship now. One of the sad things about
us is that we wait until the tree is fallen before we measure
it. Anybody can measure a fallen tree; character measures the
tree while it is still standing. Do not wait until you lose him
to know how much you love him. measure that love now. It isn't
death that makes something sacred; it is life. Character makes
it sacred now. If you work for a good employer, realize it now!
Do not wait until he is gone. If you have a good husband or wife,
realize it now. Do not wait until that one is taken.
5. Make gifts what they ought to be. A gift is a shrine where
the recipient meets the giver and an altar where he thanks God
for the giver. Choose what you wear carefully. A certain tie
can be worn as a reminder of the one who gave it. This chapter
is being dictated in the Atlanta, Georgia, airport. The cuff
links and "tie tac" that I wear are gifts from dear
friends. Hence, I am now thinking of them and praying for them.
A simple thing such as a cuff link has become a shrine where
I meet the giver and an altar where I thank God for the giver.
Gifts should be purposely used in order to remind us of those
whom we love.
6. A disciplined schedule makes for sacred times. The person
who does the same thing at the same time will find it a precious
time. Wise is the person who schedules his time. In so doing,
he is building up memories of things that happened at a certain
hour so as to make that hour dear and precious in the future.
One of the secrets to life is the discipline of time. This and
other things make for close ties and sentimental people. People
often say that they are just not affectionate and sentimental.
The simple truth may be that they are not disciplined. Proper
discipline of time, mind, and life will make for regular activities
that may be looked upon in the future as dear ones. With character
these can be treasured now.
7. A route can make sacred places. There are many such sacred
trails. The child who takes the same way to school each morning
is making the route a revered one. The man who drives the same
way each day to work may do the same thing. Just a few months
ago we visited a city where I pastored for seven years. How dear
to me was the route between my home and the church because I
took the same route each day. It became almost sacred to me.
Hence, how happy I was to retrace my steps once again.
8. Enter into close relationships. A few years ago as a young
man I read a book that had a very vital influence on my life.
It was called Try Giving Yourself Away. I do not recall the contents
of the book; I do recall its title. I decided then and there
to give myself away in human relationships. I decided not to
be afraid to enter into close relationships. I have never been
sorry. Hence, my friends are sacred. My relationships are sacred.
I have known intimate ties that I have treasured, do treasure,
and will treasure all my life.
No place is sacred in itself. No time is sacred in itself.
Hence, if a place or a time becomes sacred, it is so because
of relationships and disciplined lives that make it possible.
Such discipline and such relationships can make life more meaningful
and more worthwhile. They can make every gift a shrine, every
bush a burning bush, every spot of ground holy ground, every
building a temple, and every day a holy day.
JONATHAN AND DAVID
One day while conducting Staff Devotions, I was asked by one
of the staff members concerning the subject of friendship. The
devotion for that day had pertained to the relationship of friends.
The question asked was something like this: "Pastor, do
you know of any such friends in the Bible?" Immediately
my attention was directed toward Jonathan and his relationship
to David. This, of course, was one of the most beautiful relationships
in all the Bible and is worthy of careful inspection.
1. ". . .the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul
of David. . ." (I Samuel 18:1) Notice that it does not say
that he knitted himself, but that the soul was knit. True friendship
is a gift of God, and a person who has a true friend should count
him as such. We hear much about "falling in love" in
our day. I doubt if anyone can really define such a condition,
but there is such a thing in the Bible. God knit the soul of
one to the soul of another. The words "made one" could
be used in the relationship of Christ and the church as well
as in the relationship of the husband and wife. In other words,
when God gives one a friend, he knits their souls just as really
as Christ was knit to the church and as the husband and wife
are knit to each other.
It is worthy of note that Jonathan's soul was knit to David's.
David needed a friend. God gave David such a friend. Happy and
blessed is the person who knows such knitting of his soul to
that of another.
2. Notice the words in I Samuel 18:1 and 3, "as own soul."
In other words, Jonathan loved David as he loved his own soul.
This could mean "one soul in two bodies," or it could
mean "another self." When God gives such a friendship,
He gives a love for the friend that is akin to a love for self.
The friend's welfare is my welfare. In other words, we prefer
our friends to ourselves. How sacred, how wonderful is such a
3. Jonathan gave up the kingdom for David. (I Samuel 18:4)
Jonathan was the son of Saul. Saul was the king. No doubt he
was the heir apparent to the throne, but his friendship led him
to give all to his friend. David's Welfare meant more than his
own. True love and true friendship knows no bounds of sacrifice,
love, and giving. True love gives to be satisfied, but finds
dissatisfaction. Again, it gives, but again it wants to give
more. Yet again it gives, and again it is unsatisfied. Nothing
can satisfy true love but giving all. Such was the case of Jonathan.
4. This friendship was not necessarily earned. The word "Jonathan"
means "God has given" or "given by God."
Apart from salvation itself, God has no more gracious gift than
the gift of a true friend. If there is one such person in the
world to you, thank God daily for him and do your best to nurture
this relationship to its fullest.
5. The friendship was closer than blood. (I Samuel 19:2) In
Proverbs 18:24 we find that there is a friend that sticketh closer
than a brother. In John 15:13 we find that the greatest love
is one laying down his life for a friend. True friendship is
often closer than blood ties. this is the way God would have
it. No doubt many readers will think of some such relationship
that they enjoy. How sweet it is when the bonds of Jesus Christ
and the bonds of Christian friendship exceed even the ties of
6. They made a covenant between them to die for each other
and to help each other's relatives. I believe that people should
develop friendships so close for which death itself would not
be too great a gift. Jonathan proved the sincerity of his heart
when he risked his life again and again for his friend David.
Each of us would like to have such a friend. It is more important
that each of us become such a friend. Ask yourself: "Would
I die for anyone?" Make a list of people for whom you would
die. Once this list is made and you have made a covenant with
yourself to offer such friendship, then go to the person or persons
involved and tell them of your devotion. Enter into this covenant
with them. Of course, do not expect reciprocation. Happy is the
person who has love for another deep enough to die for him. It
is certainly important that such relationships be expressed one
to another when such friendships develop.
7. Jonathan was willing to be in the shadows. (I Samuel 23:17)
True friendship is willing to be second. It is willing to exalt
the other in place of self. It steps in the shadows and pushes
the friend into the limelight. It finds its satisfaction in loving
and not in being loved, in helping and not in being helped. It
rejoices in the success of a friend.
8. It seems that Jonathan expressed his friendship to David
every time he saw him. Again and again he took care to tell David
of his love, devotion, and friendship. This is very important
in a friend relationship. To be sure, there is an assurance in
perfect love. Yet, we are only people, and we need to be assured
again and again. There should be an excess of "I love you's"
rather than a scarcity of them. How sweet it is when friends
express devotion one to the other.
9. As far as we know, David was the only one to whom Jonathan
was such a friend. One must not assume such deep relationships
lightly. A friend should be as carefully chosen in the will of
Goad as husband and wife. It is not a lesser relationship. Hence,
too many such friends would cheapen the union. Also, because
friendship bears with it tremendous obligations, one should not
assume more friends than he is capable to fulfill the obligations
involved. The word "friend" means far too little in
most circles and should certainly carry with it a willingness
to give all. This, of course, would narrow considerably the number
of friends that any one person could have.
10. Jonathan gave to David his every desire. (I Samuel 20:4)
True friendship seeks for the needs of its object. As I have
said elsewhere in this book, THE DESIRE OF A FRIEND IS A ROYAL
11. Bodily absence does not mean that friends are apart. Jonathan
and David were not together as much as one would think, yet their
souls had been knit. There is a fellowship other than physical
fellowship. How beautiful it is when the souls of two people
are so knit together that they cannot be "separate"
from each other.
There are some people in this world for whom I would die.
I have them listed, and each day I pause to thank God for them
by name and to fellowship with them though miles may separate
us. Paul said in Philippians 1:7 that he had the Philippian people
in his heart. In verse 8 he expressed his longing for them. True
friends should have each other in their hearts and should have
such soul fellowship that nothing can separate them.
12. It is interesting to note what happened to David after
Jonathan died. Not long after Jonathan died, David had his terrible
affair with Bathsheba. Then he lost the baby from this unholy
union. A son raped a daughter. One son murdered another son.
The murderer son then rebelled against his father, fought to
take over the kingdom, and was soon killed in a battle against
the forces of his own father. None of this happened to David
while he had his friend. Could it be that it was Jonathan's friendship
that helped keep David right?
I have known the inspiration that is given by having a friend.
Such relationships can make my preaching better, inspire me to
write more, and even keep my life cleaner and more dedicated
to God. A true friend leads one to righteousness. A true friend
enables his friend to become a better Christian. Such was the
case with Jonathan and such should be the case with us.
13. Perhaps David never really understood the depth of Jonathan's
love. To some, the relationship seems one-sided. To be sure,
David did not have the opportunity to be a friend to Jonathan
that Jonathan had to be a friend to David. However, the statement
in II Samuel 1:26 that Jonathan's love exceeded that of women
seems to me to be a little shallow. It is doubtful that David
ever knew the depth of the friendship for Jonathan that Jonathan
knew for David. We must remember, however, that David needed
a friend more than Jonathan did. Perhaps it could be that God
gave David a stronger friend because of his need. God's promise
is that He will "supply all of our needs according to His
riches in glory." This God did for David and likewise for
Jonathan. There has always been some doubt to me, however, if
David knew the depth of friendship that Jonathan knew. This should
alert each of us to do this best to have sufficient love to reciprocate
the depth of a friend's affection.
14. David gave to Jonathan after his death. All relationships
on earth must end for a season, and so did David and Jonathan's
earthly friendship. Jonathan died, but David's friendship lingered.
In II Samuel 9:1 we see that David did a favor for Jonathan's
son in honor of Jonathan and his life. He brought Mephibosheth,
the son of Jonathan, to the king's palace (though the son was
crippled) to live as one of his own sons in honor of Jonathan.
There are those who think that David should have done something
for Jonathan earlier. Perhaps he waited too late to express his
friendship. Whether or not this is true in this story, it is
nevertheless the case in many lives. We should do now what we
plan to do later for our friends. Let us tell of our love now!
Let us show our appreciation now! Let us sacrifice now! Let us
give now. Let us share now. It is good to give to one's descendants
after his death. It is better to give to them during his life.
How sweet it is when God miraculously imparts friendship to two
people. There are many close relationships in life such as parent-child,
husband-wife, brother-sister, etc. Along beside these relationships
must go a true friendship - the kind of friendship that exists
between Jonathans and Davids, the kind of friendship which is
a gift from Heaven and which will last forever.
"Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents
and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the
king thought to set him over the whole realm." (Daniel 6:3)
In this verse we find that Daniel had an excellent spirit.
There is more to this statement than meets the eye. Perhaps it
would be better translated, "the spirit excelled in Daniel."
In other words, the spiritual was more important to Daniel than
the physical. The unseen was more important than the seen. The
intangible was more important than the tangible. The spirit excelled
When Jesus speaks of the end time, He says that one of its
characteristics will be that people will be buying and selling,
eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Now there
is nothing wrong with buying and selling. There is nothing wrong
with eating and drinking, and there is nothing wrong with marrying
and giving in marriage, except it is a picture of our day when
people excel in the flesh.
Daniel excelled in the spirit. He placed his physical appetites
secondary, and the spirit became the chief thing. Here is the
reason that Daniel could interpret dreams and obtain spiritual
insight which few others did. How tragic it is that even good
Christians spend so much time on the seen and so little on the
unseen; so much time on the physical and so little on the spiritual;
so much time on the tangible and so little on the intangible.
in Daniel, the physical did not possess a spirit, but the spiritual
possessed a body. This is why he could purpose in his heart that
he would not sin against God or defile his flesh with the king's
meat. This indicates that he gave much thought as to his purpose
in life. He found his duties, found the will of God for his life,
and built all else around it in a world of materialism and physical
Let it be said of us that the spirit excels in us as it did
in Daniel. Let us major on the spirit. Let us think of and find
our purpose in life. Then let us purpose in our hearts that we
will do nothing that will steer us from our goal and purpose
in life. The only way one could properly do this is to have the
spirit excel in him.
When I was a high school lad, a dear Sunday School teacher
named Dr. Rutherford gave me a New Testament. On the inside of
it he wrote, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou
not." (Proverbs 1:10) This became my motto for life.
Billy Sunday used to say, "Do right. Do right if the
stars fall, but do right." Such was the case with Daniel.
Let us notice several things about Daniel's doing right when
he refused to eat the King's meat or drink the King's wine.
1. It is always right to do right. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego would not bow down to wrong. Later Daniel was put
in the lion's den, but this decision was made a long time before
at the dining room table when he decided that he would always
do right. It became a part of his character. It is always a good
idea for people just to say, "I will always do right."
Let principles make decisions. A person should decide early in
life the principles by which he plans to live. These principles
can become an IBM machine letting every decision fall where it
will according to one's principles. As I look back on my life,
I can see several principles that I set as a child and as a young
person that have guided me in the making of decisions for a lifetime.
2. It is always right to do right away from home. Someone
has said that the "real you" comes out away from home.
What do you do when away at college? What do you do in the army
when temptations come? The real test will come when there is
a temptation to do wrong and Mother does not know, Father does
not know, Pastor does not know, and friends do not know. Let
it always be said that we do right away from home. Many people
go places during vacation to which they would never go at home.
Many people gamble at Las Vegas who would never gamble anywhere
else. How sad.
3. It is always right to do right regardless of the results.
Always make the decision apart from the results. If right turns
out wrong, it is still right to do right. Right needs no vindication.
Right is its own reward. Do not even consider the results when
deciding whether to do right or wrong.
4. It is not right to do wrong in order to do right. There
is a popular untruth going around: "As long as you have
a chance to do good, anything goes." This is not true! Right
should rise and fall on its own self, not upon the opportunities
it presents. The doing of right is an opportunity. The doing
of right is its own result, gives its own reward, presents its
own satisfaction, and should be done even if it causes one to
lose his job, lose his popularity, lose his friends, or lose
his all. Right will always turn out right in the end.
Do you remember what happened to Daniel? He was promoted to
the top. Nero did wrong and Paul did right. Now people name their
boys "Paul" and their dogs "Nero." Stephen
did right and died, but he looked up and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. John did right and
was exiled on the Isle of Patmos, but it turned out right because
he saw the great Revelation. The Hebrew children did right, and
it looked bad for awhile until the fourth Person came into the
fiery furnace and Jesus walked with them.
There is absolutely no thrill comparable to the thrill of
doing what is right. Do right if it is unpopular. Do right if
it looks bad. Do right if it turns out wrong. Do right when opportunity
is lost. Do right if nobody thinks you ought to do right. Do
right if nobody else does right. Preachers, do right. Businessmen,
do right. College students, do right. Children, do right. Teen-agers,
do right. Let everyone that has breath, do right!
Of course, it is not always easy to say "NO"! to
wrong, but we must remember that it is always wrong to do wrong
and always right to do right. Looking back over my youth I recall
three vital times in my life when, thank God, I said "NO!"
"No" to Drink One night I was with the wrong crowd,
I was a senior, I thought I was popular, but I wasn't really.
I found out later what it was. I was just the boy that hadn't
been with the girls yet, and I was in the wrong crowd. I had
never been out past eleven o'clock except to sit and think across
the street from our little apartment.
Six of us in a car stopped in front of the Texas Theatre at
one o'clock in the morning. The driver got out a bottle of whiskey
or wine, took a drink, and passed it to the second person, etc.
Each of them took a drink. I was behind the driver so it got
to me last. Yes, they passed it to me! That was the test. What
would I do with it?
(Now right there, young friend, when that decision comes,
the road you take will largely determine what you really are
and what you will do in life.)
I didn't want to be a stick in the mud. After all, suddenly
I was in the gang. I had never been in the gang before. The girls
were taking a second look at me, and all of a sudden (I didn't
know why) they wanted to go with me. I didn't want to lose the
popularity that I had gained. I reached out and accepted the
bottle of wine. I put it an inch from my lips. An arrow stuck
through my heart and I threw the bottle to the floor! It spilled
on everyone in the car. I shouted at the top of my voice, "TAKE
ME HOME!" I was within one inch of an awful night.
They said, "What? Take you home? Why?"
Never mind why, I am not going to drink it. I promised God
that I wouldn't and I won't."
They said, "Oh, you want to go home and knit, do you?"
I said, "Okay I will go home and knit, but take me home."
"Little Sissy wants to go home and embroider and crochet."
I said, "Okay, I will go home and embroider and crochet,
but take me home!"
They took me to 2632 Idaho and let me out, laughing at me.
By that time it was one- thirty. I walked up the sidewalk, ashamed
to walk in. We lived in a little apartment with two big trees
out in front. The screen door was shut and locked, and the main
door was open. We had a wood stove in the front room. We had
a linoleum floor with very simple, poor furnishings.
My mother was kneeling beside the stove. I stopped and listened
to her while she prayed. This was her prayer: "Dear God,
I have tried to rear Jack to be a good boy. I have had to be
a mother and a father to him. I don't know where he is tonight.
He has never been out this late. Dear God, keep him clean. Keep
him pure. Help him to remember what I have taught him."
I said, "Mama."
She jumped up, ran to the door, and embraced me.
I said, "Hi, Mama."
Mama said, "Son, you didn't do anything wrong, did you?"
I said, "No." Then I told her that shortly before
the bottle was just an inch from my lips. (By the way, thanks
be to God, a bottle has never touched these lips, nor has there
ever been a cigarette in these lips.)
My mother said, "Son, what time was it?"
I repeated, "Mother, it was one o'clock."
She said, "It was one o'clock when I knelt beside the
stove to pray."
Mothers, you can't beat the old-fashioned way of rearing kids
by saying, "No-No-No-No! Bad-Bad-Bad-Bad!" Then after
you have done all you can, stay on your knees and ask God to
help them do right. You can't beat that!
"No" to a Movie My senior year in high school was
a year of decisions. I had a pal who had been my best buddy for
quite some time. He and I were together all of the time. We took
every course in high school together but one. In 39 classes out
of forty he sat right beside me. We were about the same size,
and maybe we even looked a little alike.
When graduation time came, my pal and I planned a double date.
The four of us attended the baccalaureate on Sunday morning.
It was held in a church building. (This was back in the days
when we had some religion and decency in America.) After the
baccalaureate service we went out to eat and then attended an
Open House being held in honor of two of our classmates. However,
after we left the Open House there was nothing to do.
My pal said, "What are we going to do tonight?"
I said, "What church shall we go to?'
He said, "Church?"
I said, "Yea."
He said, "Not church! This is Senior Day."
I said, "It is also Sunday."
He said, "Now look, Jack, we have been to church all
of our lives. I go to church as much as you do, but this is not
the day to go to church." He continued, "let's go to
a night club. Let's not drink, but let's just go to a night club."
I said, "GOOD NIGHT, NO!"
He said, At least let's go to a movie." I said, "No,
I am not going to go."
My date looked at me and said, "Boy, what did I draw?"
I said, "I guess you drew a dud."
My pal said, "Okay, we will just take Jack home."
They took me home. I called my date's mother and told her that
I was no longer responsible for her daughter, and I told her
where they were going. The three of them went to a movie, and
I went to church. (That is one reason why I make a big to-do
about young people who do what is right!) My pastor was so proud
of me. My mother was so proud. She would look at her friends
as I sat beside her and pointing at me,. she would whisper, "He
I felt like I had discovered America. What I didn't know then
was that I chose to be a preacher that night. My pal and I had
never been apart before. My heart was broken. He went to the
movies, and I went to church. I became a preacher. He became
a Hollywood actor and producer. I am still in church, and he
is still in the movies.
You don't know, young people, what the decisions you make
will do to your life. When you say to some boy that is about
to put his wicked, vile, sensual paws on you, "Take me home,"
and you slap him across the face or get a shoe and knock him
in the head with it, you never know but what that may be the
thing that changes your whole life.
"No" to the Sunday Evening Ball Game Sports have
always interested me greatly. I loved to play ball. I played
softball on a city team. I was the only teen-ager on the city
league team. The other players were grown men and some were even
professional players. A firm gave me a job just so I would play
ball for them. I was their pitcher, and they did not have another.
We advanced to the championship game. This was a tremendous honor.
We always played our games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday,
or Saturday nights, but they announced the state championship
game would be played on Sunday night at seven o'clock. I had
a battle. I will never forget it. It was the biggest thing in
my life. For days I battled. What would I do?
The team said, "Why, you have to play. We do not have
any other pitcher."
The coach of our team said, "Jack, I am going to go.
What is wrong with it? This happens just once in a lifetime.
It is the state championship game!"
So I went out and sat under the tree in our yard all Sunday
afternoon. I had not made my decision during the previous week.
Someone said to me, "Jack, it won't hurt you."
To this I replied, "It won't hurt you, but it will hurt
me if I play."
I made my decision on my knees under the shade of that tree
to go on to church that night. When I got to church, the manager
had the entire team dressed in uniform and sitting across the
street from the church. They tried to talk me into going with
them. I was the only hope they had. They didn't have another
pitcher. I had pitched three or four no-hit games. Often I would
strike out ten to twenty batters a game. They didn't have another
They got out of the car, got around me, and said, "Jack,
we just have to have you. If you played short stop, it would
be different. If you played left field, or center field, or if
you were catcher, it would be different, but we do not have any
more pitchers. We will be swamped!"
As I walked into the church, two or three of the players were
cursing me. (By the way, they lost the game, 10 to 0.)
My, how I thank God that I had a mighty good mother, a mighty
good preacher, and some mighty good Sunday School teachers who
cared about me and gave me some principles by which I could live
Years passed. I became a pastor of one church, then another,
then another. I was preaching one night at the Junius Heights
Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. When I finished, a middle-age
man walked up and said, "Jack Hyles, put `er there."
I said, "How do you do, sir."
He said, "Do you know me?"
I said, "No, I don't . I am sorry, but I don't"
He said, "You are a pastor now. My, I heard you preach
a while ago, and that was great! I used to play for the professional
teams, and I was the second baseman on the team for which you
I said, "You old rascal!"
He said, "Jack, do you remember the time that we played
the championship game?"
I thought, "Oh, oh, here it comes right now."
He said, "I cursed you when you walked into the church
building, but as I drove to the game that night, I said to myself,
`I wish I had what that kid has.' Jack, I never got away from
it. I got what you had in just a few days. I was saved because
you didn't pitch that game." Then he said, "I am chairman
of the board of deacons at this church."
It always pays to do right!
Who loved Jesus the most? I guess it is impossible to be dogmatic
about this, and yet I would like to nominate Mary Magdalene.
Oh, the argument could be presented concerning John, the beloved.
Others would vote for the impetuous Peter. Perhaps votes would
be cast for James, Andrew, and others. To this author, however,
no person during the personal ministry of Christ had the devotion
and love for Him as Mary Magdalene. She seems to have been more
loyal and more faithful than the others, and our Lord seemed
to hive her privileges that others did not enjoy.
Why this great devotion? Of course, the answer must lie in
the fact that God gave it to her. How was it developed and nourished?
No one knows. There are those who think that she was a fallen
woman, yet the Scripture gives no verification of this fact.
She was possessed of seven devils, the Bible says, but what devils
are bigger than malice, envy, etc.? There is absolutely no proof
that she was a woman of the street, a prostitute, or a harlot.
Perhaps she was; perhaps she wasn't. Who knows? Yet one thing
is certain: She was really devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Let us examine her and her devotion.
1. She became more than saved. How tragic it is that so many
just get saved and that is all. We should want to have the most
devotion possible for our :Lord. Nothing but our best should
be offered to Him. Mary Magdalene could not stop at just being
saved or just being a good Christian. she wanted complete devotion
given to her Christ.
2. Her devotion happened suddenly. She spring on us in the
Bible without warning. Those who have true friendships know that
this is often the case. The kind of friend that would die for
another finds that it often happens suddenly. The soul is suddenly
knit. The tie is suddenly made. It is inexplainable, yet it is
there. This, no doubt, means that God does it. How sacred this
makes such devotion, such friendship.
3. She cared for the physical needs of Christ. Luke 8:1-3
finds her being a servant. No sacrifice is too great; no gift
is too precious; no task is too difficult when such devotion
exists. Let us follow Mary Magdalene and examine her devotion.
When Jesus died on the cross, we find she is still His servant,
administering to His needs. It was Mary Magdalene who leaned
against the sepulchre after He was buried. She came to the garden
to pay respects to her Master. For references notice Matthew
27:55 & 61; 28:1, and John 20:11.
It is also interesting to know that our Lord appeared to Mary
Magdalene first after His resurrection. why did Jesus appear
to her first? Your imagination could fancy that it was because
she would be the happiest to see Him, and happy she was. Why
was not this honor reserved for Peter, James, John, or another?
It is the opinion of this writer that Mary was His most devoted
follower. How beautiful that the supreme devotion should be given,
not by the chosen twelve or one the favorite few, but by a humble,
grateful lady who simply would not be denied and who stayed by
her Master to the end and even after the end.
4. She knew His soul. It is a very interesting thing to know
this story concerning Jesus and Mary Magdalene immediately following
the resurrection. She supposes she is talking to the gardener
as she converses with Christ. He then says one word, "Mary."
She then said, "Master." There was something about
the way he said, "Mary." There was a soul relationship
that existed. Remember that the disciples on the road to Emmaus
walked for miles and recognized Christ only when He opened their
eyes. The disciples fished for a long time and conversed with
Christ at some length before they recognized Him. Leave it to
Mary to know Him first. She did not recognize Him by His resurrection
body, but her soul had experienced too much fellowship with His
not to recognize Him by the way He said, "Mary." How
5. Her devotion did not stop at death. Her devotion was too
great for that. It continued on past His death, and we find her
leaning against the sepulchre of her buried Lord. In these days
of selfishness and coldness, it is wonderful to stumble occasionally
across a relationship that is built upon the spiritual rather
than the physical. Nothing, not even death, can stop such a relationship.
6. She was as close as His family. "Now there stood by
the cross of Jesus His mother and His mother's sister, Mary the
wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25) When
Jesus came to death, His mother and his closest friends gathered
around the cross. They were not all members of the family.
See Mary Magdalene. She is true to the end. Maybe she knew
Him better than others. Maybe she loved Him more. Who knows?
Votes for the most devoted follower of Christ would be cast for
many different New Testament characters. I vote for Mary Magdalene.
One's degree of character may be determined by what he would
do wrong, for so many are so prone to "sell out" so
soon. Politicians, preachers, and others find the temptation
to sell out to be a great one. Some sell for much and some sell
The tendency to be for sale starts in childhood. If the child
is not taught that wrong is punished, and if he gets no spankings,
wrong is not made distasteful to him. He oftentimes gets his
desires by doing wrong. If he cries long enough, he gets the
candy, and oftentimes he is even rewarded when throwing a tantrum.
He does not have to mind his parents. To say "no" to
Mama is considered cute. Then he will say "no" to the
teacher, "no" to the Sunday School worker, "no"
to the law, and "no" to God. He then dies and goes
to Hell because the parents thought it was cute for him to say
This tendency to sell out continues in youth. It is found
in the youth who does right only if it turns out right. Right
needs to be vindicated in such a life. Every action is determined
by its reward or results. According to this opinion, nothing
is right or wrong in itself, only in how it turns out. Hence,
anything can become right if it turns out right. Popularity,
gaining a new boy friend, good grades, etc. become the main end
rather than principles and character. How sad! Such people stand
only until the price is big enough. They are not taught to live
by principles. Their convictions last only until the selling
price reaches their desires.
This tendency increases in adulthood. From such young people
we have our police scandals, our crooked politicians, our compromising
preachers, our loafers, lawbreakers, and homebreakers.
Early in childhood our youth should be taught the need for
conviction and that right is its own reward and needs no vindication.
They should be taught never to sell out for convenience or fair
price, but rather to place a sign over their souls, "Not
One of the most important Scriptures in the Bible for a Christian
is found in II Peter 1:5. "And beside this, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge." Here
the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to list for us some virtues necessary
for character. Notice in verse 5 the words "add to."
These words come from the singing of an old Grecian song. The
custom was for the people to join their hands as they sang. This
means that the following virtues are to "join hands"
in the Christian's life, and they are to do so in the proper
1. Diligence. This word could be translated "hastening
to do a thing well." It is doing the job well, and it is
doing the job swiftly. There is a false teaching going around
that people who do things swiftly do not do them well, and that
people who do things slowly are of necessity thorough. This is
not true. We should be diligent; every task should be done well;
but we should do it in the least time possible so we can do more
for God. Hence, we have the first stone laid. This is the stone
2. Faith. Once the stone of diligence has been laid, faith
should be placed on top of it. Notice there is no need for faith
without diligence, for faith without works is dead. Just to have
faith in what God is going to do is not enough. We are to be
willing to do our best. God will not do what we can do, but He
will do what we cannot do after we have done what we can do.
What is faith? Faith is the belief in what God has done, what
God can do, what God will do, what God is going to do, and what
God is going to use me to do. I have said so often that a Christian
should make no provision for failure. Faith is basically "I
can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
3. Virtue. Next in line we have this trait. Now it is interesting
that so far nothing has been mentioned about kindness. That will
come later. Far more important than kindness is diligence, faith,
and virtue. Honesty is better than courtesy. It is better to
do right wrongly than to do wrong rightly. Position is more important
than disposition. Integrity is better than popularity. Being
a right fellow is more important than being a "regular"
fellow. Do not misunderstand. It is important to be kind. Courtesy
is important. The right spirit is important. Disposition is important.
Being a nice person is important. However, these should never
be placed above such traits as virtue.
Many years ago when I first began preaching I faced a big
decision in my ministry. My heart was broken. My face was against
the wall. I then made five promises to God and established five
principles that have governed my life ever since.
a. If I have friend, I will stick with him. b. I will base
my decisions on right or wrong, not on how right or wrong turn
out. c. No one will tamper with my preaching. I will ask only
God what I shall preach and where I preach. d. I will never seek
a raise or talk money. e. I will treat the rich and poor alike.
One should live by principle, not by convenience. When principles
are established early in life, fewer decisions have to be made
later. The principles make the decisions for us, and hence, frustration
is averted and avoided.
4. Wisdom. For many years my prayer list has been topped with
power, love, and wisdom. wisdom is certainly one of the great
personality priorities. Notice it comes before self control,
godliness, brotherly kindness, or love. Remember that God has
given us a divine order. The bricks are laid one at a time on
top of each other. First should be laid diligence, then faith,
then virtue, then wisdom.
Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge. It is available to
all. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that
giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall
be given him." (James 1:5)
5. Self control. This is the next brick in the wall. It precedes
godliness, kindness, and love. Self control means discipline.
It means discipline over body appetites such as eating and sex.
It includes the disciplining of one's schedule, mind, disposition,
emotions, frustrations, etc. Nothing will take its place. It
is vital to the life of the Christian.
6. Godliness, Kindness, and love. Now we are coming to the
traits that show. God starts on the inside and works out. He
starts with the foundation and works up. No one can see wisdom,
virtue, and faith; but we cannot have true godliness until these
stones have been laid. We cannot have Bible kindness until these
stones have been laid. We cannot have real love until these stones
have been laid. Love is one of the great attributes a Christian
can have. Kindness, of course, is important. Godliness is vital,
but a godliness, a kindness, or a love that is not built from
the inside will not last. It will be superficial. If one gains
diligence and adds to it faith; to faith, virtue; to virtue,
wisdom; to wisdom, self control; then godliness, kindness, and
love will of necessity come.
Let us teach our children and teach ourselves the proper order
of character and its priorities. Let us use God's order. To teach
them to be kind, and yet not make them obey is folly. To teach
them to be loving, and yet not teach them self control is foolishness.
Let us exercise care in trying to place all of these things in
our lives. Let us give the proper emphasis where God gives the
emphasis. All across our country we find a bankruptcy of character.
We are more interested in "nice guys" than "right
guys." We are more interested in being friendly than being
a friend, and in having a good disposition rather than having
the right position.
In politics, in the ministry, and in business there is a desperate
need for people who have character. Personality is important;
talent is important; but a good personality with talent will
oftentimes run from character. The motto of some seems to be,
"Why work hard? I have it made. I can talk my way out of
it." On the other hand, a child that is taught to have character
will get the necessary talent. Talent oftentimes flees character.
Character will always seek talent - that is, the talent necessary
to fulfill the task. How vital it is that we stress character
and place each of its qualities in the proper order.
10:13 - ALL THE SAME
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common
to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make
a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (I Corinthians
The other day a question was asked which often is directed
my way: "Why don't you get mad at your enemies? How is it
that you are sometimes able to avoid retaliation and revenge?"
My answer invariably is I Corinthians 10:13. Such thoughts as
these that follow are a constant source of help in overcoming
bitterness, vindication, retaliation, and revenge.
1. All people have the same attributes. Yes, I certainly think
that the Apostle Paul had the same temptations that I have .
Our temptations are common to man. If this be true, I have in
me what I don't like in you, and these same ingredients are found
in the life of every person. To be sure, different amounts of
certain sins or temptations may exist in different people, but
the fact remains, I have in me what I don't like in you. Hence,
I must be tolerant toward you.
2. Each asset has a liability, and each liability has an asset.
In other words, with the asset of purity, often comes the liability
of Phariseeism. With the asset of friendliness often comes the
liability of compromise. With the asset of leadership often comes
the liability of pride. This philosophy levels each of us with
his neighbor. It eliminates pride. A characteristic which is
good about us carries with it the temptation for something bad.
Negatively, a bad characteristic often carries a tendency toward
an asset. One who is stubborn may develop conviction. One who
is proud may have the asset of leadership. One who is guilty
of Phariseeism may carry with him the asset of purity. Seeing
such equality in the human race will avoid over-exaltation and
excessive criticism of one's fellow man.
If the above be consistently true, and perhaps it is not,
and if we love people because of what they are, we will find
ourselves loving all people, for all have in them what all others
have in them.
3. If we then love one person more than the other, the love
is given to us by God. This is a great thought. If you have a
friend who lives by this philosophy and loves you more than he
does others, it is because God have him that love. Think of the
security involved. It is not generated, by His grace, and, consequently,
will not change.
Think what such a philosophy does for one: It eliminates criticism
in this life. It encourages the impure to realize that even the
pure possess impurity. Remember that no temptations take us but
such as are common to man. This theory will also humble the pure,
for the pure will find in himself liabilities and temptations
that will make him more careful to undergird himself against
This also offers real humility and meekness. It makes one
think of himself as no better or worse than anyone else. It will
help to eliminate both inferiority and superiority complexes.
If each of us will examine his assets, he will no doubt find
the temptations that each asset carries. This will drive each
of us to more dependence upon God and His help and strength.
As one grows in this grace and in all Christian graces he
will find himself being more and more alone in society. Someone
has said there is a fine line of distinction between a genius
and a moron. This appears to be so because each is about the
same distance from society or from the masses. The truth, however,
is that the only similarity a genius and a moron have is their
distance from the average. They are really on the opposite ends
of the pole. The same thing is true concerning true love and
lust. Love and lust look alike only because the masses would
be the same distance from both. Love and lust are on the opposite
ends of the pole, but since we interpret everything according
to what we think, we associate the two together because they
are both the same distance from the masses.
The more we become like Christ, the farther we will travel
from Mr. Average. Mr. Average is the one who gives us our reputation
for being a good person. The one who grows the most in grace,
the one who loves the most, the one who sacrifices the most,
the one who gives the most will probably be looked upon by society
as being as obnoxious as the one at the other end of the line.
Hence, the one who is Christlike will not appear to be Christlike
to the world. In contrast, one who appears to be Christlike,
no doubt, has missed Christlikeness.
Let each of us realize that the weaknesses of his neighbor
are found in some degree in ourselves. Hence, because what is
found in all of us is in the rest of us, it behooves none of
us to be critical, for in the final analysis we are all depraved
creatures with common temptations and common weaknesses. In criticizing
our neighbor, we are criticizing ourselves, for we have a common
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and
whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it."
A few days ago in my study I was meditating on the above Scripture
when the thought came to me that the only lasting thing one can
ever get for himself comes from the leftovers when he gives to
others. The strange paradox of the Christian life is that the
way up is down; the way forward is backward; and the way to be
served is to serve.
This is especially true concerning friendship. It is infinitely
better to be a friend than to have a friend. It is better to
become something than to obtain something. When one becomes a
friend, he will, no doubt, have friends. (Of course, this should
not be his motive, or he too will fail.) No one ever found a
friend searching for a friend, but many have stumbled upon lasting
friendships while being a friend. One should forget whether or
not he has friends and concentrate on being the right kind of
The same is true concerning happiness. No one ever charted
a plan for personal happiness who found it, but millions have
found happiness in the pathway of carrying out responsibilities.
Oftentimes people come to my office and say, "Pastor, how
can I find happiness?"
I invariably say, "Forget it. Think of the happiness
of others. There are so many who have problems so much worse
than you. Forget your own happiness. Seek to make others happy,
and one day you will return to me and say, `Pastor, in my effort
to make others happy, I suddenly, to my surprise, found that
I have become happy too!'"
This same truth can be applied to peace of mind. It seems
nowadays that in order for a magazine to sell, it must have an
article about sex and another about peace of mind. No one can
tell anyone else how to have peace of mind, and no one can set
out to find peace of mind and find it. When one, however, forgets
himself and becomes obsessed with the needs of others, he suddenly
realizes he has peace.
Several years ago a lady came to my office stating that she
was fearing an imminent nervous breakdown. I suggested that each
day he do something for someone else. "Bake cookies and
take them to a friend one day," I suggested. "The next
day take some roses to the hospital and give a rose to each patient
who has no visitor during visiting hours. The next day drop by
and see a blind person. The next day take a cake to one of our
deaf friends and simply write the words, `I love you,' on a card.
continue this indefinitely," I said, "and see if it
Months passed. One day I asked the lady about her proposed
nervous breakdown. (It seems that most of the ladies I know are
either having a nervous breakdown, just getting over one, or
planning one real soon.) "How about that nervous breakdown?"
"Oh Pastor," she said, "I just got so busy
doing things for other people that I had to postpone it."
(She had found the answer.)
I think it was R. A. Torrey who came in one day after a preaching
mission and hurriedly began preparations for another trip. He
had some dirty clothes he needed to have laundered. He asked
a young friend if he could take care of this for him.
"What? Do you think I am an errand boy?" said the
Another young friend stood by who overheard the conversation.
"Let me do it," he exclaimed.
The young man did take care of the menial task for R. A. Torrey.
His name? Oh, his name was James M. Gray, who one day became
the president of Moody Bible Institute.
When we think of success or greatness, we think of giving
commands and being obeyed. When we think of greatness, we think
of having much. When Jesus thought of greatness, He thought of
giving much. When we think of greatness, we think of being served.
When Jesus thought of greatness, He thought of serving.
A poll was once conducted in the country of France to determine
the greatest Frenchman who ever lived. The experts unanimously
predicted, of course, that Napoleon would win by a landslide.
The poll was won by a landslide all right, but not by Napoleon,
but rather by none other than Louis Pasteur. Once again the servant
had won over the served. The giver had won over the receiver,
and he who lost his life had found it.
Let us remember that the only thing one can ever obtain for
himself comes from the leftovers after he gives to others.
On a recent weekday morning I was speaking in a church in
the city where I grew up. I had moved there when I was only one
year old. There I attended elementary school, junior high school,
and high school. I was faithful to my church as a child. I had
pastored in the same county for nearly seven years. I had helped
to start sixteen churches in the area, and twelve of my preacher
boys are now pastoring nearby. In spite of this, there were less
than a hundred people in the morning service, and to my knowledge
not one from the church where I grew up and only two from the
church where I pastored for seven years.
"Don't they love me?" I asked.
"Why, of course, they do," was the answer that came
to my mind. It is just the fact that they did not love me as
much as I loved them. Perhaps this is just another case of deep
love being unreturned.
What causes us to have such little depth of love? Perhaps
there are several reasons:
1. Most love is simply the satisfying of an appetite. People
normally come to hear a person speak because they want to see
him or because they want to hear him. If they have heard him
recently, why should they hear him again? We seldom think about
the satisfying of the appetites of others. we are basically concerned
about the satisfying of our own appetites. This, of course, is
not deep love. In some sense, it is lust in that it is to satisfy
2. Most love must be generated by an atmosphere. A beautiful
moon at night, soft music in the background, the faint smell
of perfume, etc. not only are helpful but oftentimes necessary
to most love. Real love loves at all times, at noonday as well
as midnight, and whether the odor is Chanel No. 5 or "Perspiration
As a boy I went with a girl whom I liked very much. One night
we were walking together looking at the moon when she said, "Doesn't
that moon make you feel romantic?"
I answered, "Yes."
She talked about the moon for thirty minutes. (I think she
was in love with the Moon.) I felt like shouting, "How about
me?" The moon is only a visual aid.
I have often said that when I love someone I love them as
much on the Dan Ryan Expressway in downtown Chicago as I do on
a lonely road with a beautiful moon.
3. Most love becomes disinterested when acquired. Here is
a tragic truth. It is the acquiring of the relationship that
many people want rather than the having of the relationship.
Many marriages fail because the acquiring of the relationship
is more important than the relationship itself. The same is true
with friendships. The acquiring of a relationship is certainly
not the ending but just the beginning. It is the commencement.
Real character is never satisfied with its depth.
4. Much love know no degree or availability of depth. One
should think of the great possibilities of the depth of love.
God is love. In Him is perfect love. The difference between the
love I have today and the love He has is the potential for the
growth and depth of my love. It is not "in love and out
of love." It is not simply love or no love. When one learns
to love, he enters into a world of possibilities, growth, and
Upon returning from the morning service mentioned in the first
paragraph is this chapter someone asked, "Doesn't that make
you sad? Isn't it heartbreaking when people do not love you as
much as you love them?"
My answer was one emphatic "no" for several reasons
as found below:
a. The line between positive and negative should be very low.
It should take very little to please us, and it should take much
to displease us. We should find our satisfaction in loving, not
being loved. Our joys should be wrapped up in the giving, not
b. It is good to take a trip; it is better to have a partner.
Notice I did not say it is good to take a trip with a partner,
but bad to go alone. It is not a matter of good or bad, but good
or better. Hence, if a friend's love for your does not increase,
it will not keep your love from deepening. Believe me, it is
better for you to love alone than not to love at all. If one
has to take the trip of depth alone, it is not as good as sharing
it with another, but it is infinitely better than not knowing
c. Sometimes a relationship comes that reciprocates. When
this happens, it turns good into better. Bear in mind that it
does not turn bad into good. To have love is good; to have love
that is reciprocated is better.
d. Such relations let us look into the mind of God. When we
love and it is not returned, we know something, of His great
heart of love. He so seldom finds reciprocation. When we do find
a relationship where love is reciprocated, we know something
of how God feels when He finds someone who loves Him with all
his heart. Bear in mind that the purpose of God's creating man
was that man might love and fellowship with God. Though God is
grieved when His love is not returned, He nevertheless does not
withdraw His love. How happy He must be, however, when one of
His creatures returns His love.
e. The more lonely we become, the less lonely He becomes.
The deeper a person grows in his love the more he is separated
from the rest of mankind. In that separation, however, he becomes
more like Christ and he finds he can offer Christ pure fellowship.
When we grow in grace and in love and find ourselves misunderstood
and lonely, we look around and find that Christ has been there
all of the time. He is happy to see us. Then, and only then,
can we offer Him the love for which He yearns. Since His love
is so unlike our love, when our love becomes like His love, our
love will become less like the love of man. As it becomes less
like the love of man, it becomes more like the love of God. As
it becomes more like the love of God, it gives us the ability
to help satisfy the travail of His soul.
f. This is the kind of love that does not stop when it cannot
be reciprocated. This love does not forget the pretty when it
becomes ugly. It does not forget the young when it becomes old.
It does not forget the rich when it becomes poor. It "never
1. I want to keep lovable. Since most people know nothing
about deep love, but rather tend to seek that which satisfies
the appetite, I would then attempt to keep in my personality
and character the things for which the appetites crave. For example,
if a person is hungry to hear a fresh message, I would want to
provide that fresh message. If a person is hungry to be with
a friendly soul, I would want to be that friendly soul. Just
because another's love is not as deep as mine should not keep
me from attempting to satisfy his wholesome and holy appetites.
In other words, I want to keep having what they need. No doubt,
hundreds of people come to hear us preachers simply because we
have what they need. They do not come because they deeply love
us; they come because they love to hear us. If this be true,
we should have what they need.
2. I can thank God that I am where I am and not where they
are. It is infinitely better to be the lover than the loved.
It is better to offer love unreciprocated than it is to fail
to reciprocate love offered you.
3. May I never be a mental or physical invalid. This is a
strange thought, but a true one. How tragic it would be to lose
the ability to love. Then how tragic it would be to retain that
ability but lose the ability to help those whom you love. Hence,
I must keep my mind healthy so I can love my friends. I must
keep my body healthy so that I can help my friends.
Perhaps the most underrated word in the English language is
"friend." He is "just a friend," we often
say. That is like saying that eternity is "just forever"
or that the ocean is "just a pond." let us pray God
to give us depth of love and depth of relationship even if that
depth is unreciprocated. There is little doubt in my mind that
in God's mercy He will, in His own time and will, give us a relationship
or relationships that do reciprocate.
How many times it has been said, "I didn't know how much
I loved her," or I wish I had done more while he was alive."
How sad are such statements. Instead of "I wish I had done
it," why not substitute something like this: "I will
not have to wish that I had done it." Look toward the future
to the day when you will lose a relationship. Picture yourself
without it; become prematurely nostalgic, and you will appreciate
the relationship more in the present. This eliminates remorse,
and remorse is the sting of nostalgia.
In Ecclesiastes 12:1 we have a man whose life had been lived
with much of it being lived foolishly. Looking back over his
life he had remorse. Let us notice how to take remorse out of
1. Do everything on purpose. Say what you mean and mean what
you say. Discipline the mind to control the emotions and the
actions. Far too often we are prone to say things we do not mean.
We do things caused by temporary emotional stimuli. We then find
ourselves sorry in the future for our behavior. Because of this,
one's mind and actions should be so disciplined that he will
do everything on purpose. Hence, he leaves no room for remorse
in the future.
2. Make relationships the most important thing in life. It
is easy to use the patients to build a hospital, to use the pupils
to build a school, and to use a family to keep a clean house.
The purpose for the school is to educate the pupil. The purpose
of the hospital is to heal the patient. The individual is all
important! Therefore, one should see to it that relationships
in life are more important than anything else. Relationships
should be nourished and cultivated. They should not be made or
perpetuated haphazardly. If human relationships have the proper
places in our lives, then we will give more diligence and care
to the treatment of our fellowman, thereby eliminating future
3. Do not "weigh" a person every day. Someone said,
"I have changed my opinion about him." Then he should
not have had an opinion. The person is what he was yesterday.
He has not changed. The opinion was in error. The simple truth
is that one does not have to have an opinion about people. If
no opinion is formed, or if a careful, accurate, and objective
opinion is formed, then the opinion will not have to be changed,
and we will not be disappointed to find that a friend is imperfect.
4. Plan every relationship carefully. Each person has a few
basic relationships in life. For example, I am a son, a husband,
a father, a brother, and a friend. I must look carefully at these
relationships and plan to be my best in each one. for example,
for many years I planned to be a father. As a child, I looked
forward to being a dad. My relationship as a dad has been one
that has been calculated and planned with much prayer.
It is unbelievable, yet true, that we spend less time preparing
for life's most important relationships. The theologian may spend
seven to ten years in preparation. The medical doctor may spend
even more than that. The school teacher spends many years in
preparation, but the sad truth is that many of us spend little
or no time preparing to be a wife, husband, brother, sister,
mother, father, or friend. Each of us should become an expert
in being what he should be in each of life's relationships. Much
study, thought, and care should be exercised in becoming the
best that one can become in each relationship of life. If such
relationships are carefully planned, and if we do our best in
becoming what we should become, then we will have no cause for
remorse in years to come. If we do not do our best to become
the best in every relationship, we may well spend many hours
filled with remorse because we did not become all that we could
have become to those who loved us.
5. Make every experience with every relationship a sacred
one. Life is so brief, and no experience can be recalled. Because
of this fact, each experience should be squeezed to its fullest.
If we make the most of every relationship of life, and if we
make the most of every experience of life's relationships, then
there will be no remorse in days to come concerning failures.
if we lackadaisically and haphazardly go through life not realizing
the importance of our relationships and the depth of our experiences,
we will wake up one day realizing the hours, days, and years
that were wasted, at least partially, because the mind did not
absorb the depth of life's experiences. Someday we will look
back upon them and find that we did not take advantage of them.
This causes remorse.
Yes, we should have premature nostalgia. We should look out
into the future and predict what things could bring us remorse.
We then should predict what causes such remorse and should set
about immediately to eliminate them in the present and avoid
the remorse in the future.
"And He looked up, and saw the rich men casting their
gifts into the treasury." (Luke 21:1)
"And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He
passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee." (Luke
Real gratitude is real humility. One cannot be humble without
gratitude, and one cannot be grateful without humility. Many
years ago someone took a poll as to the greatest sin committed
by mankind. To the surprise of many, the sin chosen as the greatest
and most oft committed was the sin of ingratitude. Let us meditate
for a while upon this grace which is so necessary to a successful
and happy Christian life.
1. There is no such thing as a self-made man. We often hear
it said of someone that he is self-made. Nothing could be farther
from the truth. Each of us is largely a product of the influences
of others. One cannot divorce himself from the contributions
that others have made to his life. Short-sighted and self-centered
is the person who does not regularly recognize the contributions
that others have made to his life, his success, and his stature.
Paul said, "For we cannot but speak the things which
we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20)
2. The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing.
One should remember that though he is debtor to all men, he should
feel that none are indebted to him. Not only is this one of the
secrets to possessing gratitude, but also it is one of the secrets
to happiness.. If one expects nothing, then anything is a bonus.
If one expects more than he receives, he is disappointed. If
he expects less than he receives, he will be pleased even though
what he receives is the same.
3. Weigh a small gift. We are so prone to judge the size of
a gift by how much it costs. This is certainly a poor basis for
measurement. Money is simply time wrapped in a paper sack. The
man who makes a dollar an hour gives as much when he hives a
dollar as does the man who makes fifty dollars an hour and gives
fifty dollars. Didn't Jesus say that the woman who gave two mites
had given more than them all?
On my last birthday I received many wonderful gifts. Which
was the greatest? I am not sure, but it may have been the gift
given me by a small lad. After I had baptized on a Sunday evening
I was met at the door by a Junior boy who had made a birthday
card and taped two quarters on the bottom of the card for me.
This was probably a week's allowance for him, and no doubt he
spent a half day drawing childlike pictures on a piece of paper
to make his preacher a birthday card. Hence, he gave me seven
and a half days of his life as far as money is concerned. Some
would have to give a hundred dollars to equal his gift because
this is what they would make in seven days. Others would have
to give a thousand dollars to equal this fifty-cent gift. As
I weighed the size of my birthday gifts, I thought perhaps this
boy had given more than them all.
Another gift I received was a birthday cake made by a lady
who has a limited amount of money but unlimited love. Now if
it took her three hours to make this cake, she gave me as much
as anyone if they had given me the amount of money it took them
three hours to earn. When one weighs a gift in this light, the
gift becomes not small at all, and gratitude can fill the heart.
4. Do not measure a large gift. Bear in mind that we are trying
to develop gratitude. A large gift is easier to appreciate, and
the weighing of such a gift oftentimes decreases gratitude. Hence,
we weigh the small gift in order to gain more gratitude, but
we do not weigh the large lest it take away from our gratitude.
5. Never lose appreciation for a gift. Gratitude acquired
should be gratitude kept. Continue to think of the gift. Continue
to thank God for the giver. Just to say, "Thank you,"
one time is not sufficient. Just to reciprocate once is not enough.
When I was a boy my sister made our living for a number of
years. My dad was unemployed and the only food we had was the
food provided by my sister. The first new bicycle that I ever
owned was bought by my sister. She bought me my first baseball
glove and fed, clothed, and housed me during some crucial years.
I must not forget this. Just to say, "Thank you," one
time or give an expression of thanks one time is not sufficient.
I must continue to express my gratitude.
6. Let nothing extinguish gratitude. There is a strange but
true fact about the human race: We are so prone to complain because
the roses have thorns rather than to rejoice because the thorns
have roses. Someone has said that it hurts more to have to have
your arm cut off than it feels good to have it on. How tragically
true this is. This is the reason that someone may do a thousand
kindnesses for another and yet lose his "friendship"
because of one seeming injustice. A soul winner can lead another
to Christ, point him to Heaven, save him from an eternity without
God or hope, but later do something to disappoint that convert
and strangely and tragically lose that "friendship."
Let us keep our balance. Don't leave a church because the Pastor
who has said thousands of things to help you says one thing to
hurt you. Do not lose gratitude because someone who has done
something for you seemingly does something against you. Let nothing
extinguish our appreciation and gratitude to those who have befriended
7. Feel gratitude in the heart and think through every gift
given to you and every gesture done for you. Think of all of
the possibilities concerning the plans and effort t put forth
in the doing of something on your behalf. Let gratitude swell
in your heart as you do.
8. Be sure to express gratitude. Our Lord tells the story
of the ten lepers who were cleansed. Only one returned to express
thanks. Jesus asked, "Where are the nine?" Now it is
entirely possible that some of the others felt gratitude, but
failed to express it. There are so many of our feeling and expressions
that go unexpressed, thereby robbing countless people of blessings.
It has been the policy around our house for many years to encourage
our children to express gratitude. A personal note of appreciation
at the end of the school year to a teacher and a verbal or a
written expression of gratitude to anyone doing a favor or kindness
to them could always bring blessing. How important it is that
we relay to people the feelings of our hearts in such matters.
9. Be grateful for the usual. It is easy to be grateful for
a bonus; it is character to be grateful for a salary. Most of
us do not appreciate the usual things of life until they are
lost. One of the finest ways to develop gratitude for the usual
is to have periods set aside to imagine what life would be like
if the usual were lost. Sometime each day think of the sorrow
of a losing a husband, or wife, or a child, or a pastor, or a
church. Such thinking will lead to gratitude in the heart and
should lead to open expressions of that gratitude.
10. Be grateful for the least. The more you appreciate the
little, the more you will enjoy the average. Most of us have
much more than we deserve, or for that matter, than anyone in
previous generations has ever had. May God give us gratitude
to Himself, gratitude to our loved ones, and gratitude to our
friends. Then may He give us character to express the feelings
of our heart to Him and to those who mean so much to us and do
so much for us.
HOW YOU LOOK
AT YOUR LIFE
The roses have thorns and the thorns have roses. Life is made
that way. All assets have liabilities, and all liabilities have
assets. Those who laugh the most will cry the most. Those who
cry the most will laugh the most. Those who love the dearest
will suffer the dearest losses, for nothing is permanent in this
life, and all must some day be given up. When a child is born,
he is born to die. Hence, the joys of the maternity ward will
some day be balanced by the tears of the mortuary. If there are
a few children, there are fewer finger marks on the walls, fewer
sleepless nights, and fewer doctor bills. Perhaps it is true
that in the end our joys and sorrows all come out even. If one
has few friends, he will lose few friends. The more friends that
one has, the more times he will have to go to the cemetery with
a broken heart. Since every asset has liabilities and every liability
has assets, could it be then that none of us has a worse time
than the rest of us? The asset of much money carries with it
the liability of shallow friends. The asset of deep love carries
with it the possibility of a deeper heartbreak. The more that
is acquired, the more that must be lost. If the above be true,
there are several lessons that can be learned.
1. Happiness depends upon whether we magnify the assets or
liabilities. If every asset has a liability and every liability
has an asset, if every bad has a good and every good has a bad,
and if life's assets and liabilities are all evened out in the
end, then each of us has the same possibilities of happiness.
Those who look at the liabilities more than the assets become
unhappy. Those who magnify the assets over the liabilities become
happy. May we rejoice over the having of the child rather than
sorrow over the fingerprints on the wall. Far too many are so
busy looking at the lost column that they forget it all evens
out in the end.
2. If the above be true, no one has it worse than the other.
Even in our defeats there are lessons we learn that the victorious
ones never know. Hence, one has no more right to complain than
3. A realization of this truth will cure envy. Why envy another
if his liabilities match his assets as do ours? He has as much
right to envy us.
4. This truth will make us choose a life that does the most
for others. If the books balance out as we are supposing, then
we will come out even regardless. Could it be then that the grasping
of this philosophy will lead us to choose the kind of life that
will do the most for others? In other words, if there is no way
at all that we can gain more assets than liabilities, we may
then center our attention on helping others to gain assets.
5. This truth will take away the desire for personal gain
and selfishness. That thing that you want will bring with it
a liability that you may not want to assume. The more things
you own, the more things you can break. The more conveniences
that one obtains the more repair bills he will have. Hence, we
are led simply to say to God, "Give us what You know is
best for us, and we will trust Your wisdom and judgment."
6. This truth will drive us to do the will of God. If all
our attainments and obtainments lead us to the same place, then
we must cast ourselves upon the Lord and His will. Nothing else
will much matter but that which He wants us to do. If there is
no asset that does not bring with it a liability, there can be
nothing that we really do want or do not want. If we obtain it,
we can rejoice because of its assets. If we do no obtain it,
we can thank God for the privilege of not having to accept the
liability. So since it is six of one and a half a dozen of another
we can turn our eyes toward Jesus and say, "Thy will be
YOU CAN DO
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO DO
Once a dear lady on my staff became a bit discouraged because
her work seemed more than she was able to do. She had recently
accepted her position with us and was somewhat frustrated with
her inability to perform all of her new duties. In an effort
to help her and the rest of the staff, I presented at staff devotions
one Monday morning the following suggestions:
1. Believe that you can do what you ought to do. God never
gives us anything to do that He does not give us the strength
to do. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:13, "I
can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
When I was a student pastor, a fellow student gave me a wonderful
truth when he said, "When God calls, He qualifies."
This He does! You can do what God has given you to do. You can
do what you ought to do. You can do what you are supposed to
do. If this be true, it may be appropriated by faith. Faith is
the key that unlocks God's cupboard. Claim for your task the
strength that you need to perform it.
2. Do not un-do in doubt what you have done if faith. When
a job has been accepted in faith, do not un-do it in doubt. When
God called me to become Pastor of the First Baptist Church in
Hammond, Indiana, He miraculously led me to accept the call.
Though I personally did not want to make a change, I was nevertheless
assured that God's will was being done. I contacted the church,
offering my acceptance. I then gave my resignation to the Miller
Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, where I had labored for
nearly seven years. I gave them a thirty-day notice. During this
thirty-day period I became doubtful that I had made the right
decision. Emotion gripped my soul as I thought of the heartache
of leaving those dear friends. Again and again since that time,
God has vindicated that decision and has shown me over and over
that it was a wise one.
Has God called you to do a task? He will then equip you for
it. Has God led you to a place? He will then qualify you for
3. Realize that success does not depend upon talent. The great
prerequisite for success is not talent but character. Character
seeks talent. Talent often runs from character. The talented
man often thinks he can make it on his own. The man of character
realizes he cannot make it on his own and must work to equip
himself for his job. Integrity, diligence, honesty, and hard
work are the main secrets to success. Average public speakers
often become more successful preachers than more gifted men.
Mediocre singers often accomplish more than ten talented ones.
I have often said that in employing secretaries and staff members,
I look for traits such as loyalty, tenacity, and integrity, rather
than typing, shorthand, and other talents. Because one is a typist
does not mean he will have loyalty and character. Because one
has character does not mean he will learn to type if his job
4. Work as hard as you can believing God will do the rest.
God will not do what you can do. Someone has said, "Man's
extremity is God's opportunity." A lazy college student
who believes God will provide his needs is not living by faith
but by folly. A shiftless pastor who believes that God will grow
his church has misunderstood the entire meaning of faith. Faith
is doing everything I can do, and then trusting God to do what
I cannot do. God can do what I cannot do, but He will not do
what I can do if I refuse to do it.
5. After the job is done, give God the glory. Tragic but true
is the fact that many of us fall prostrate before the Lord asking
His help before attempting a task, then we bow gracefully and
proudly as we hear the applause coming from men after we have
accomplished the task. In my own life I started out as a very
poor boy. When God called me to be a preacher, I was untalented
and unprepared. My first sermon ended in failure and frustration
after five minutes of searching for something to say. If successes
come, I must not forget those early days. I must remember that
I am what I am by the grace of God. I have what I have by the
grace of God, and I have done what I have done by the grace of
God. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth
no good thing." (Romans 7:18) It is His work and not mine.
It is done by His Spirit and not mine. Hence, when the victory
comes, I must step back in the shadows and say, "The Lord
gave. .. ..blessed be the Name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)
Recently while sharing with some others a happy time, I said,
"Isn't it a wonderful thing to have the capacity for enjoyment?"
Many people have never developed such. Their enjoyment is always
accompanied by a dissatisfaction because of its brevity, and
overemphasis of its liability, or one of a thousand different
complexes that immune people from having fun. There are several
things that one can do to enhance his chances for enjoyment and
to develop a capacity for the same.
1. Remember that everything is relative. What can be an enjoyment
to one can be a drudgery to another depending upon the plateau
of life in which he lives. Two people can eat the same meal.
One can enjoy it; the other cannot because one is accustomed
to a better standard of living than the other. Hence, it is vitally
important for us to compare our present experiences with our
darker days rather than our brighter ones. If there were no darkness,
there could be no light. If there were no hot, there could be
no cold. If there were no low, there could be no high. How high
something is depends upon the thing with which we compare it.
If one having a usual experience of life, he can compare it with
the best day he ever had and mourn, or he can compare it with
the worst day he ever had and rejoice. Since most everything
is relative, one should compare an experience with lesser ones
that he has had and find joy in what he is doing.
2. Learn to rejoice in sorrow. The Apostle Paul said that
he gloried in his tribulations. The Psalmist said, "They
that sow in tears shall reap in joy." So there is a way
that a person can be happy in both joy and sorrow. When we are
sharing a joyful experience, we are of necessity happy; but when
we share a sorrowful experience, we can rejoice in that a tear
today is an investment for a laugh tomorrow.
There are other compensations in sorrow. One draws closer
to the Lord in such hours. Friends who share life's dark hours
become better friends. One's happiness will not be determined
upon how happy he is his happiest day, but how happy he is his
saddest day. It is not the height of the mountains but the height
of the valleys that determines joy and happiness. Let us learn
to rejoice in our sorrows and count them as investments for rejoicing
3. One should develop a variety of enjoyments. Many people
have to be hearing jokes to be happy. To be sure, good clean
humor is a part of fun, but it is certainly far from all of it,
and it is even far from being the most important part of it.
What can beat the enjoyment of a serious conversation when
two people share ideas and when two minds meet at a common denominator?
Unfortunate is the one for whom the spectacular is necessary
Recently a group of Christians were on a bus trip together.
They had had some spectacular enjoyment. They had laughed until
they cried. They had a lot of loud, wonderful, happy fun, but
as the trip was nearing its end, it was suggested that everyone
sing. They found themselves singing some of the old songs: "When
I Was Seeing Nelly Home," "Bicycle Built for Two,"
"Down by the Old Mill Stream," "Dixie," "Back
Home Again in Indiana," etc. This fun was no less real just
because it was less spectacular. It simply meant that they found
more than one way of having fun. Some remembered the old days
of finding fun in the simple things like popping popcorn, making
fudge, pulling taffy, etc.
It must be remembered that the more the variety of enjoyment
the more people we can enjoy. When we find fun in many areas,
we can enjoy many more people than if we limit ourselves to one
area in the search of fun. More important than this, however,
is the fact that more people can enjoy you if your fun is varied.
People will not have to adapt themselves to you, but you can
adapt yourself to them. You can enter into their level of fun
and enjoyment and find enjoyment as well as give it. Where is
the fun of reading a book, sharing a simple conversation, taking
a walk in the park together, or driving around as a family group?
"Ah, that is dull," you say. Yes, this is because fun
is relative and comparative. This busy, herky-jerky world can
only find fun in the fast and furious, the wrong and restless,
the big and busy, and in so doing robs itself of many areas of
enjoyment. This means that if we find fun only in an isolated
area of life, we have to be doing one particular thing to find
enjoyment and fun. If we have developed a varied appetite for
pleasure, we can find ourselves enjoying just that many different
types of experiences and events. To the person who has learned
this, whether it be the kids' ballgame on the corner lot, a quiet
evening with the family, a Sunday School picnic, a simple conversation
with a friend, or a wild time of humor at a party, life affords
many more joys, happiness, pleasures and fun than to the person
who has become a specialist find finding pleasure in only one
area of life.
4. Remember from past experiences the recipe for fun. Many
times my wife will say while in the home of another lady, "Could
I have the recipe for that cake?" The lady has it ready,
for she remembers the recipe for successful ventures. The same
things can be applied to life. When a person has a good time,
he should make a written list of the ingredients. Hence, he has
a recipe for fun and enjoyment that he may do it again and again
and again, and even share it with others. Far too many of us
have a wonderful experience or a delightful time not realizing
the ingredients that made it so. Then the next delightful time
will have to be by accident when conditions just happen to be
right. If, however, one could sit down at the close of a happy
time and list its ingredients, he could ":stir" himself
a happy time with the proper ingredients, just as he could stir
himself a cake like he had before. This is a vital part of developing
a capacity for enjoyment.
We must remember that the more we have enjoyed, the less we
can enjoy if we are careless. If, for example, life is composed
of one hundred enjoyments, then each time we have such an enjoyment
we have one less, that is, unless we learn to create enjoyments
ourselves. In this way the same pleasure can be enjoyed over
and over again. We must not let the acquiring of more mature
enjoyments and pleasures keep us from re- experiencing the old
ones. Let us not trade one pleasure for another but rather, add
one pleasure to another. Keep the ability to enjoy the last pleasure
while developing the ability to enjoy the new one or else the
cultivating of new enjoyments becomes simply another step in
a search for something that cannot be found. How much better
it would be if the cultivation of a new enjoyment could simply
be the addition of a new dimension to a happiness already found.
5. The good time of others should always be considered. As a
pastor this is very vital to me. I must always be measuring the
enjoyment level of others so as to see to it that they have fun,
joy, and satisfaction at various activities. I must not use my
humor just to demonstrate that I am the life of the party, but
rather I must be unselfish in my humor and think of the enjoyment
of another. Humor is not something to be exhibited, demonstrated,
or applauded, but rather it is another of the God-given talents
which can be used to make another happy. Used properly and unselfishly
it can be a great tool for others. Used carelessly and unwisely
it could become a weapon against others.
THE BACK ROW
When God called me to preach, all of my talents were hidden.
In fact, no one could see them! I could not make a public speech.
When I enrolled in college, I took several courses in speech
and public speaking the first year. One of the first things I
learned was the rule that one should speak to the back row and
then the rest of the audience would hear him also. If the person
in the back can hear, all the others can hear.
This little rule can become a philosophy of life. If a person
will do the smallest task well, the other tasks will take care
of themselves. If one can do the least enjoyable chore well,
all the others will be done well. If one does well that which
is hard for him to do, he will do a good job on the rest. If
one is nice to the ugliest,. he will be nice to all. If he is
kind to the unkind, then he will of necessity be kind to the
Anyone can love the lovely, but he who loves the unlovely
will automatically love the lovely. Anyone can do the easy tasks,
but he that does the hard tasks will subconsciously do the easy
tasks. Anyone can do the challenging job well, but the one who
does well the insignificant work will perform properly the significant
task. Oh, how we need to learn this simple truth: Preach to the
back row and everyone else can hear easily.
Someone has well said, "The light that shines the farthest
shines the brightest at home." What we are saying is what
we have said many times before: The secret to success is not
talent, but character; not gifts, but discipline. The successful
man must force himself to do that which he is supposed to do
though it be an undesirable task. This comes not from inspiration
from without, but from within. It comes from our doing the task
because we are supposed to do it, not because we are inspired
to do it. It comes from obedience to schedule, obedience to planning,
and obedience to discipline. Basically, it is obedience to self
- when self is disciplined. It is obedience to duty, obedience
to right and a subconscious doing of that which is supposed to
be done. This is character.
DANGERS OF SUCCESS
Someone has said that what a man is can be determined by what
it takes to stop him. In a sense this is true. The greatest test
in life, however, to this author is not how he takes the tough
places in life, but how he learns to take the successes in life.
Many people have stood the tests, trials, and heartaches that
have confronted them but could not stand prosperity or success.
Many institutions, churches, and nations have withstood the dark
hours but could not stand the prosperous ones.
In this brief article we will not attempt to list all of the
dangers of success, but we will enumerate some.
1. Self pride. It is very interesting to note that God uses
only small people, small things, and small churches. This does
not mean that the small cannot become big. One does not have
to read far in the Bible to find that the way up is down, the
way to be the greatest is to be the servant of all, and the way
to become big is to become small. It was said of Saul that God
could use him when he was little in his own eyes. Someone has
said, "Immorality has slain its thousands; pride, its tens
of thousands." Certainly this is true. Let us always realize
that whatever we are, whatever we have done, and whatever we
have is all because of the grace of God. There is nothing good
about any of us except Jesus Christ. Let us never forget it.
2. Self-confidence. When the days of testing are over and
we have thrown ourselves upon God for His strength and help,
then ofttimes come the days of success and victory. It is then
when we often feel that we have no need of God, and it is then
when we really need Him the most. Actually the tough times are
caused by opposition from without. In prosperity our opposition
comes from within, and this is the most dangerous of all. Many
a Christian has with stood the onslaught and attacks of the Devil
on all sides only to find himself defeated by self-confidence
because of his past victories. He looks about him and finds that
all of his enemies are slain. What he does not know is that inside
of him the enemy of self-confidence is lurking for the deadly
3. Self-satisfaction. The Holy Spirit led the inspired writer
to say, "Where there is no vision the people perish."
It is easy for us to arrive at a certain plateau of victory that
causes us to lose our vision for the future. It was Alexander
the Great who said, "I have no more worlds to conquer."
This was said at the tender age of 29 and led to his downfall.
The Christian should always be setting new goals, looking for
new heights, and pointing to new victories. We should never look
back and gloat; we should look forward and dream and plan. Let
us never be self-satisfied until we awake in His likeness.
4. Selfishness. Success often brings this enemy to the forefront.
Perhaps God gives us a great victory and much success. Then the
Devil tells us that we were the cause for the victory. We are
tempted to forget others who helped us and stood by us on the
road to success. No man lives unto himself or dies unto himself,
and there are no self-made men. The Apostle Paul said that he
could but speak the things which he had seen and heard. We are
certainly influenced by our environment and those with whom we
work. We should readily give the major share of the credit to
those who help us, lest the deadly enemy of selfishness creep
up from within to defeat us, not in hours of trial, but in hours
5. Self-evaluation. When we have been through the battles,
won the victories, and have found ourselves successful, then
we often begin to measure our degree of success. This is a crucial
time in our lives for this is the time we want to evaluate ourselves,
but we should not. There was not time to pause in the battle
to find our positions for the standings are decided when the
game is over. Let us not evaluate ourselves by growth, size,
building, etc., but rather let us keep pressing on realizing
the work is the important thing, not the status which we have
achieved or the plateau to which we have arrived.
6. Self-analysis. There are certain tried and tested means
by which success is gained. Often when success comes, we begin
using new methods. A businessman who works his way to the top
is tempted not to work as hard to keep successful as he did to
get successful. We should remember that the same thing that gets
us there keeps us there. The same diligence, the same humility,
the same spirit, the same character, the same integrity, the
same honesty, the same earnestness - these and other characteristics
that brought about our success are the characteristics that will
sustain our success.
How easy it is for us to win the battle of Jericho and lose
the battle of Ai. How easy it is to fight and defeat the wild
beast and be destroyed by the little foxes. Certainly, what we
are is shown in the heat of the battle, but many people who have
won the battle have lost the victory. Many a runner who won the
race stumbled at the Bema and broke a leg while receiving his
AND THE MULE
"Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no
understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle,
lest they come near unto thee."--Psalms 32:9.
Dr. Lee Roberson has said, "Everything rises and falls
on leadership." One of the great needs in our generation
is the need for leaders. Everyone to some extent is a leader.
The pastor in the church, the teacher in the class, the superintendent
in the department, the father in the home, the mother and the
children all have a sphere of leadership. The great problem of
being a leader is that of having to start the fire yourself.
Many people can serve God and become a blessing once they have
blessed by another, but someone has to begin the service. Someone
has to have a blessing before the service starts. he must find
his blessing alone so that he in turn can lead others to be blessed.
How to do this is the subject now presented for our thinking.
1. The leader must have inner motivation. I have known many
preachers who could preach a great message if it were preceded
by someone else's message. I have known many singers who could
sing a great solo if they could be inspired first. The leader,
however, must have inner motivation. His motivation must come
from character and not from inspiration. One who depends upon
external inspiration becomes unpredictable because he is giving
himself to powers outside his own control as he has no power
over external motivation. One who through character and duty
has learned to gain his inspiration from within will develop
more consistency and hence, better leadership ability.
One should learn things that inspire him. I once heard a great
preacher say, "I am always looking for things that inspire
me." This is very important. When one know what inspires
him he should write it down. In fact a list of such things should
be made in order that we may learn how to be inspired from within
rather than from without.
2. The leader must have predictability. A follower can shout
today and cry tomorrow but a leader must offer predictability
to his followers. They must learn what to expect from him. To
be sure, a leader will have high hours and low hours, but he
must learn to conceal his disappointments and heartaches and
walk predictably before his followers. This means that a leader
will have to walk on the highest level he is able to maintain.
It is better to go 60 miles an hour all of the time than 90,
then 10, then 80, then 100, and then 20. Such leadership does
not prompt mature followship.
3. The leader must be able to fill the appetite he creates
in followers. In other words, the leader's production must be
able to fill his image. He must not lead the followers to more
than he can give and he must not create appetites in the followers
that he cannot fill.
Many preachers err in this respect by announcing flashy titles
that create in the minds of their people appetites for something
that the talent, knowledge, and ability of the leader cannot
4. A leader should have a checklist. He must never trust his
memory. There is no one to remind the leader what to do. In every
obligation he should have a list before him as his reminder.
5. The leader must know where he is going. He must also sell
the follower on the fact that he knows where he is going. The
leader must look down the road and plan the trip. He should plan
on the trip several points of fulfillment and arrival. For example,
when our family takes a vacation, I draw up a schedule. I want
to arrive in this town at this time and at the next town at a
certain time, etc. On a 1000-mile trip one can have twenty goals
to reach and hence feel a sense of fulfillment twenty times.
Whereas another would simply have the 1000-mile goal as the only
goal and only feel one sense of fulfillment. The leader must
remind the people of intermediate goals as well as the ultimate
goal. Consequently, the followers (and the leader too, for that
matter) can keep a sense of achievement as they reach little
goals on the way to the big goal.
A good illustration of this is a football game. The ultimate
goal is to win the championship. There is a more immediate goal
of winning the present game. Then there is still a smaller goal
of making a touchdown; however, the most immediate appetite to
satisfy is that of making a first down. The stands cheer some
over a first down, more over a touchdown, still more over victory,
and most over the championship. One's life should be this way
and the leader should plan the activities of his followers so
as to satisfy secondary appetites as well as the primary one.
There must be first downs in life as well as touchdowns. This
is why it is often more satisfying to make a touchdown by a series
of first downs than to score on a long play. The long play may
be more immediately satisfying and exciting. This is why life's
victories are won basically on a series of first downs. People
who take the short cuts seldom win the final victory.
6. The leader should also be a good follower. Every leader
also has a sphere of life in which h follows. The corporal leads
the privates but follows the sergeant. The sergeant leads the
corporals but follows the lieutenant. The lieutenant leads the
sergeants but follows the captain. The captain leads the lieutenant
but follows the major. The major leads the captain but follows
the colonel. The colonel leads the major but follows the general,
The Sunday School teacher leads the class but follows the
superintendent. The superintendent leads the teacher but follows
the pastor. To expect followship for his leadership, the leader
must present followship to his leadership. If I expect my followers
to follow me, then I must follow those who lead me. Then whom
is the general to follow? He is to follow the Heavenly Father.
Here each of us becomes a follower. The writers have said, "Where
Ever He Leads I'll Go," "Where He Leads Me I Will Follow,"
"Have Thine Own Way, Lord, Have Thine Own Way," "All
the Way My Saviour Leads Me," and "He Leadeth Me, O
Blessed Thought, O Paths with Heavenly Comfort Wrought."
To be a successful leader, one must be a successful follower.
7. It is wise for the leader to identify himself with the
followers. When Ezekiel was going to preach to the Jews in captivity
he said, "I sat where they sat." In other words, he
went to the seat of the follower and sat there. Having learned
the heart and the feeling of the follower, he now is a more capable
leader. One of the things that I have done for years in my church
is to go through a little mental calisthenics when I walk out
on the platform. I try to look at the people and feel what they
feel. For a moment I sit in their seats. This is especially true
in a funeral service. The leader must feel the heartbeat of the
follower and must know what it is to sit where he sits.
8. A leader should list the times and means of success. There
is a reason for success. It comes as a direct result of the proper
ingredients. When a leader (or anyone for that matter succeeds,
he should immediately write down the formula that he used. This
would even apply to followers. When a follower pleases his superior,
he should write down the ingredients used so as to use them again
9. The leader must spend much time with the Saviour. I will
never forget the day in my life when I realized that I would
never have a pastor again. For nearly a quarter of a century
I have had no pastor. Hence, I have had to spend much time with
the Lord. No one can be a successful leader who does not walk
with God. Since there is followship in each of us and a need
for security in the strongest of us, the one who has few or no
earthly leaders must know intimately the One Who is the Leader
of us all.
Oftentimes young preachers ask me what advice would supersede
every other advice that I would give to a young preacher. Immediately
I answer, "Walk with God."
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which
is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,
which is in the sight of God of great price." (I Peter 3:4)
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow
after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
I Timothy 6:11)
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which
are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Galatians
"To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle,
shewing all meekness unto all men." (Titus 3:2)
The word "meekness" in the Bible comes from the
word "mecca" which means level. It does not mean, as
some would think, that one looks up to everyone else and thinks
of himself as being inferior. Meekness is not fright, neither
is it possessing an inferiority complex, but rather it is looking
to everyone from a level position. Meekness looks up to no one
and down to no one. Meekness does not look up to the rich, nor
down to the poor; up to the educated, nor down to the uneducated;
up to the higher ranks, nor down to the lower rank.
Of course, I do not know who the best Christian in the word
is, but whoever he is, he does not know it. In fact, he does
not think of himself at all. His greatness is lost in obedience
to his Saviour. I do not know who the biggest preacher in the
word is, but whoever he is, he does not know it. I do not know
who the greatest person in the word is, but whoever he is, he
has not found out about it yet. It has been my joy to meet some
of the great Christians of our generation and to fellowship with
some of the greatest servants of God living today. I have noticed
in every case that these men do not feel either inferior or superior.
This does not mean, however, that we are not to respect authority.
We certainly ought to respect the position of our superiors,
but we are not to idolize their person. Romans 13 tells us that
we are to respect the authority of rulers. Ephesians 6:1 reminds
us that we are to respect the authority of our parents. Ephesians
6:5 tells us that we are to respect the authority of our employers.
Certainly we are to respect the authority of age and the position
of the pastor. We are to give respect to those who have had more
success than we, those with more experiences than we, and those
who teach us or have taught us.
I can recall my mother teaching me about the subject of meekness
when I was a little boy. She told me never to look up to anyone
or down to anyone. She taught me to respect the position of my
superiors and of those in authority over me, but she reminded
me that though I was a poor boy, I should look everyone straight
in the eye. What a tremendous truth this is and how necessary
it is to the molding of the character of our youth.
When I was a kid about eleven years of age, I started taking
long walks and thinking about life. One of the thoughts that
occupied my mind the most was the fact that most of life's perplexities
are caused by being caught off guard. It seemed to me then, and
it seems to me now, that the right kind of person prepares himself
for life's changes and transitions.
As I look back over my life, I find that the two most perplexing
times were those for which I was unprepared. The first of these
was the death of my father. I was not prepared for it. I had
not even thought about it, and because of this, there was a great
adjustment I had to make.
The second of these perplexing times was my leaving Garland,
Texas, to move to Hammond, Indiana. I thought I was in Garland
for a lifetime. I had no desire or intention of leaving when
suddenly God called me away. It took eighteen months for me to
get over the shock of this heartbreak simply because I had not
prepared for such a move. Much of our mental illness and many
of our nervous breakdowns are caused by the fact that we take
life as it comes, never preparing for its inevitables. We find
ourselves in frustration and perplexity because of the lack of
1. Prepare for an era. Life changes. Eras of life come and
go. This is true for school, church, and individual, a home,
or any organization or institution. We must prepare ourselves
for the inevitable changes which take place during the transition
from one era to another.
For example, when we built our present auditorium, I had regular
meetings with my staff reminding them of the possible pitfalls
of entering into a new auditorium. The song leader must remember
that voices do not carry as well in a big building. People cannot
see the song leader as easily in a larger building. The numbers
must be announced more distinctly in a bigger building. These
are just a few of the many things that must be considered. Many
churches have lost their joy and spirit because they were not
prepared for such a move.
In my own ministry I have realized the changes that must come
as one era goes and another era comes. I started preaching when
I was nineteen years of age. For a long time I was a youthful
pastor. As I grow older I find I must discard some of the older
mannerisms and add some new ones. I must give constant thought
concerning my attire, my vocabulary, my manners, etc. I must
prepare myself to be a middle-aged preacher. Then someday I must
prepare myself to be an older preacher. Many preachers, because
of a lack of such preparation, find themselves frustrated in
their ministry. This same thing is true in the life of a layman.
We must always be foreseeing new eras in life and preparing for
2. Prepare for changes in relationships. Relationships in
life undergo changes. If you are a parent, you have already noticed
that the relationships with your children change. The child is
constantly changing in his behavior toward his parents. This
is God's way of preparing the child for going out on his own.
From infancy to adulthood there is a gradual withdrawing from
Mother and Father. Of course, this should not mature or ripen
too early, but proper preparation will avoid heartbreak.
I can recall as a teen-age boy how I began to realize that
I was going to have to leave my mother and go into the army.
World War II was on at that time. I can recall gradually withdrawing
myself from mother and unraveling my life from around hers in
order to avoid the heartbreak that would come if I failed to
At this writing my daughter Becky has only one more year in
high school. I have begun to prepare myself for this transition.
No father ever hated to see his daughter leave home any more
than I, but I must realize the inevitables of life and substitute
preparedness for perplexity. I must realize the happiness that
lies ahead in this phase of my life. I must magnify the benefits
and minimize the liabilities. This will enable me to enjoy the
new phase of my relationship with my daughter rather than lament
Many people live in a utopian tomorrow while others dream
of a happy yesterday. I want to live in a happy utopia today!
Hence, I must watch others and learn from them. I must foresee
the changes and transitions of life in order to prepare myself
for them and receive the fullest from them.
Much is said in this book about the friend relationship. It
never changes. There need be no preparation for transition periods.
The needs of the friend relationship are always the same, and
though the relationship may deepen, it need never enter into
a new era that will cause perplexity if there is not preparedness.
One can nestle back in a friend relationship and comfortably
relax in it, developing it to its deepest depths within the bounds
of right realizing that it is a bond that need never be broken
and a tie that need never be severed.
Each of us must choose whether our future will be described
by preparedness or perplexity. If we prepare ourselves for life's
inevitables, we will not be perplexed by life's transitions.
Nothing happens accidentally. Discipline and character always
accompany success. The same is true with physical strength and
health. One does not have a strong body accidentally. To be sure,
some are more gifted than others in this respect, but many strong
and healthy people have dissipated their bodies, whereas many
people with care and discipline have caused their bodies to outlast
their expected usefulness. Remember that one serves the Lord
with his body. When health is gone, usefulness is gone, then
we will be of no value to God or to others. Several simple rules
will help you to have a stronger body.
1. Let God have your body. "I beseech you therefore,
brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service." (Romans 12:1) I was not a big boy as
a child, I did not have an extremely healthy body. I did, however,
take my hands and say, "God, they are Yours." I took
my feet and said, "God, they are Yours." I touched
my eyes and said, "God, they are Yours." I did the
same thing with each member of my body. It is amazing what God
can do with a little bit.
2. Dedicate your body as a temple. "Flee fornication.
Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth
fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that
your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which
ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Corinthians
6:18, 19) This teaches us that the body is the temple of the
Holy Spirit. We should take the same care of the body today that
the Jews did of the temple in the Old Testament. The Bible seems
to imply that the body sins are the worst sins. Could this be
because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Our bodies
should be as dedicated to God and His service as were the furnishings
of the Old Testament temple.
3. Keep your body clean. Since the body is the temple of the
Holy Spirit, it should be kept clean both outwardly and inwardly.
Regular baths should be taken. Proper deodorant should be used.
Men should shave carefully. The hair should have regular care.
The teeth should be kept clean. Nothing was kept more immaculately
clean than the Old Testament temple. Since the body is the temple
of the New Testament, it should be likewise clean. Certainly
this should apply to morals. Adultery, necking, petting, and
promiscuous behaving between the sexes should certainly be out
as far as God's people are concerned. Keep the body clean. There
is something about a clean body that God can use.
5. Keep your body straight. It is very important that a Christian
should learn how to walk properly and sit properly. No Christian
should be slouchy. In our family altar we have taught our children
such habits. We have had our girls to practice walking across
the room. We have taught them to walk like girls and sit like
girls. We have taught our boy to walk with a manly walk and sit
with a manly posture. Keep the body straight. It is God's. let
it be a good testimony.
6. Keep your body coordinated. This is of vital importance.
A person should know how to handle his body with dexterity and
coordination. At this writing I am 41 years of age. I have played
sports all of my life. I have kept my body in fairly good condition,
and because of this, I was able to save my sister's life. She
and I were crossing a street in South Bend, Indiana, where I
was preaching in a Bible conference. A car turned left, not seeing
us. I saw the car and jumped back. My sister did not see it.
The car was about to hit her when I almost subconsciously grabber
her and pulled her from the path of the car. It barely scraped
her and knocked her to the cement, but tests for injuries proved
negative. She would probably not be alive today were it not for
My coordination also saved my own life once. In Word War II,
I joined the Paratroopers. On my fifth jump the parachute did
not open. I was one second from the ground when I quickly pulled
my reserve chute. It opened and saved my life. Certainly a man
with manly coordination can reach more men for Christ. For both
men and women coordination should be a must for the body.
7. Keep the body properly fed. Remember, food is fuel. It
is tragic that we feed our dogs better than we feed our own bodies.
We carefully choose the food for our pigs, horses, and cows,
and then gulp down most anything for self. Proper vitamins, Bible
foods, and Bible stimulants should be taken by the Christian.
The Christian, of course, should not be guilty of drinking liquor,
smoking, etc. I have found it helpful not even to use coffee
or carbonated drinks. Why not try honey or orange juice for a
It is also wise for a Christian to fast occasionally. Occasional
fasting is certainly physically helpful to the body. Sometimes
a Christian should pray and fast.
Many times I have been preaching and found myself developing
a bit of voice trouble. When such times occur, a juice fast often
is the answer. Much throat trouble is caused by the stomach.
To say the least, a Christian should put the proper fuel in his
body so that he may use it to the glory of God.
8. Keep the body rested. It is important that the body receive
the proper amount of rest. This rest should be done at regular
hours if possible. Much of what is commonly called "fellowship"
by preachers should be sacrificed for rest and work. I have found
it wise to avoid late-hour snacks as well as late, heavy thinking.
Sometimes a few exercises before going to bed are good to relax
the body and make it rest better. certainly we should not develop
the habits of sluggards. Yet we should realize that the body
is the Lord's and needs to be rested regularly. 9. Keep the body
under subjection. Appetites are good servants but not good masters.
No appetite should control the body. Let the Christian always
yield to his body to Christ and be master over his own appetites.
10. Keep the body strong. Exercise is very important to the
body. I find that I can do more work when I do regular calisthenics
and exercise. I find it is good to run some as well as to do
calisthenics. Now there are as many suggestions for this as there
are people, but I find if I run a mile or so a day and do about
fifteen minutes of heavy calisthenics, my lungs are in better
condition for preaching, and I have a healthier body to use for
the glory of God.
With proper dedication of the body, proper cleanliness, neatness,
coordination, food, rest, exercise, and control, one can live
longer to the glory of God.
AND IMPORTANT TIMES FOR STAYING IN THE WILL OF GOD
It is always important to stay in God's will. However, at
certain times of life, it becomes even more difficult than usual.
Some of these times are listed here:
1. The obeying of parents during childhood. It is important
for young people to remember that their parents represent God.
As children obey parents now they will obey God later. This is
why it is very important that parents insist that their children
obey and that proper punishment be given for disobedience. Occasionally
a parent sill say, "I love my child too much to discipline
him." The truth is simply this: If a parent loves a child,
he will spank him and discipline him. A child simply MUST be
taught to obey his parents. If he gets out of the will of God
here, he will no doubt be out of the will of God for the rest
of his life.
2. In choosing a high school. It is very interesting to find
out how many people marry their high school sweethearts. Once
while preaching along these lines, I asked those who married
someone they met for the first time in high school to raise their
hands. It was very shocking and revealing, for a large percentage
lifted their hands. Hence, if there is a choice in the choosing
of a high school, it is of vital importance that the proper choice
3. The centering of a young person's life. Of course, Christian
young people should be good students in school, and pastors and
Sunday School workers should encourage them to be so. It is usually
wise, however, for young people to be very careful about extracurricular
school activities. The use of spare time should be centered around
the church and the church activities. Because of this, the church
should provide activities for the young people. Young people
choose mates from those they know best, and most of these mates
are chosen from people met at the extracurricular activities
where the most time is spent. A Christian young person has a
far better chance to marry another Christian young person if
his spare time is spent in church activities. They are also more
likely to go to a good Christian college because they are spending
their lives with those who are going to attend Christian colleges.
It is very important that a young person center his life around
the work of Jesus Christ and the New Testament Church.
4. The choosing or accepting of a date. In a public service
I asked for the married folks to raise their hands who had no
idea on their first date that they wanted to marry the person
who later became their mate. This response was also revealing.
It seems like a small thing for a girl to say "yes"
or "no" to a boy who asks for a date. However, no girl
should have a date with a boy unless she that he would make a
good Christian husband. Likewise, no boy should ask a girl for
a date unless he feels she would make a good Christian wife.
It is wise for young people not to date someone whom they feels
would not make a proper mate. One never knows when admiration
shall turn to love.
5. The choosing of a job or vocation. Here is one of the easiest
times for a person to leave the will of God. Several good rules
for choosing a job or vocation are as follows:
a. Choose one which is beneficial to mankind. I advise young
people not to choose jobs such as professional sports, acting,
etc. These activities were meant to be recreation, not vocation.
A job does not have to be a well-paying job or a glamorous job.
Some helpful jobs which could be chosen are collecting garbage,
building houses, being a plumber, being an electrician, or any
one of hundreds of vocations beneficial to one's fellow man.
b. It is usually best to choose a basic job. For example,
a young man came to me trying to decide whether to go into the
grocery business or the boat making business. I showed him that
in case of depression or recession, the grocery business would
still be in demand, whereas the boat business would be extinct.
It is always wise to consider what economic changes would do
to one's job.
c. The vocation should be honest and right. Such things as
selling liquor or entering into any other wicked vocation should
not even be considered.
d. One should not commit himself to a company. These are days
of chain stores and monopolies. It is certainly not wrong for
a person to work for a nationwide chain. It is wrong for that
person to commit himself to move wherever his company wants to
move him. This takes God's will out of it and makes it the will
of the company. Of course, this is wrong!
e. One should always consider the availability of good fundamental
churches near his place of work. It is spiritual suicide for
one's children when he carelessly takes a job in an area not
knowing if there is a good fundamental church available. There
is a man in my present pastorate whose company is moving. He
has a very responsible position with his company. Rather than
leave and take his boys out of our church, he is leaving the
company with which he has been for many years and is staying
in Hammond. We think he is making the right decision.
f. Do not move because the company transfers you. Suppose
your pastor got up in the pulpit next Sunday and said, "I
am changing churches because I have been offered more money."
You would be completely shocked and overwhelmed, but he has just
as much right to do this as you. No person has a right to take
a job because it offers more money or a promotion. The only thing
that a Christian has a right to do is the will of God.
Let each Christian pray and seek God's guidance as he seeks
his vocation for life.
5. The choosing of a church. "Attend the church of your
choice," and "Go to church in your neighborhood"
are two of many fallacious statements being made nowadays concerning
church attendance. All churches are not alike! All churches do
not preach and believe the Bible. It is very vital that a person
choose a church that believes in the verbal inspiration of the
Scriptures, the deity of Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace
through faith. It is also wise to place one's life and membership
in a church that is actively evangelistic and offers a strong
program for the entire family. When a family chooses a church,
oftentimes the mates for their children, the colleges their children
will attend, as well as scores of other things are being chosen
at the same time.
6. The purchasing of a house. God's will is also very important
when the buying of a house is being considered. Certainly care
should be taken and prayer should be offered in the making of
such a decision.
It must be remembered that the will of God is the greatest
thing one can do in life. There is no greater accomplishment
than to be in the will of God. There is no greater joy than to
be in the will of God. There is no greater safety than to be
in the will of God. Let us always stay in His will and take extra
care when life-changing decisions must be made.
Someone has well said, "I believe in luck. The harder
I work the luckier I get." The secret to any success is
hard work. Whether it is the building of a church or a hot-dog
stand, the making of a good life or good grades, work is the
great secret to success. No amount of talent can take its place.
No gifts can substitute for it. Even if per chance one could
obtain success without work, it would fail to satisfy. The Bible
has much to say about work, and we should look at a few of its
1. Work is spiritual. "The soul of the sluggard desireth,
and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made
fat." (Proverbs 13:4) One of the great mistakes of our generation
is dividing the sacred from the secular. As someone has said,
"To the Christian every day is a holy day; every bush is
a burning bush; and every place is a sacred place." Being
a good Christian is not having a good feeling, having a good
cry, or making a good speech, but it is obeying the commands
of God and doing His work. One can learn all the lingo, attend
all the meetings, ride the spiritual merry-go-rounds, give a
glowing testimony, and still not be a good Christian. The great
test of Christianity is obedience. Jesus said, "Ye are my
friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." (John 15:14)
He also said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
(John 14:15) Work is spiritual!
2. Work is succeeding. The word "work" implies to
produce or achieve. The salesman gets no commission for trying
to sell. He gets a commission for selling. This means that when
we do a job, we are to do it well and point to success.
The question then comes, "How can I succeed?" The
first Psalm will answer that question: "Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth
in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth
he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted
by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his
season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth
shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff
which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not
stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the
righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but
the way of the ungodly shall perish." Notice also Joshua
1:1-8. "Now after the death of Moses the servant of the
Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son
of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now
therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people,
unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of
Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,
that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness
and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates,
all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the
going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any
man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as
I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee,
nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this
people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I
sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and
very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to
all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not
from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper
whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart
out of they mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written
therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous. and then
thou shalt have good success." In these verses we find a
guaranteed recipe for success. This is a plan that will not fail.
From childhood one should be taught that if a job is worth
doing, it is worth doing well. Every job should be done thoroughly
and carefully. When you children are growing up and have a task
to do, let them carry the task through to completion. They will
learn character, and you will gain a helper. This is a very vital
part of rearing a child.
3. The worker should do what needs to be done. "And,
lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered
the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down."
(Proverbs 24:31). No task is too little to demand our best, and
no task is too great but what our best plus God is enough.
4. If a person does not work, he should not eat. "For
even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any
would not work, neither should he eat." (II Thessalonians
3:10) College-age students who are not studying should not be
supported by parents at home. Socialists and Communists who refuse
to work are not supposed to eat. No poverty program, whether
by church or state, should feed people who refuse to work. We
do not help a lazy fellow when we feed him. Rather we help him
when we teach him that if he does not work, he does not eat.
This is God's plan. Liberal Bible rejectors try to make their
own social standards and develop their own social programs, but
the Bible still speaks that if a man will not work, he shall
not eat. 5. One should learn to work without a boss. "Which
having no guide, overseer, or ruler." (Proverbs 6:7) Nothing
quite reveals the lack of character in a person more than for
him to refuse to work when the boss is not looking. The simple
truth is that a little ant has more character than a lot of people.
The sluggard should go to the ant bed and look down at the little
red insect, salute him, and envy him because he has more character.
A person has reached a very sad state when an ant on an ant hill
has more character than he. We should work for work's sake, for
integrity's sake, for honesty's sake, and for decency's sake.
One of the great problems of our generation is mass production
and big-city factories. It often eliminates one's pride in his
work and takes away trades, skills, etc. In spite of this, however,
one should develop such character that he will do his work simply
because he is supposed to do his work. Diligence and discipline
should compel us to do our best at every task.
In the training of a child he should be given definite duties.
These duties should be outlined carefully so that both child
and parent understand. Then the child should be taught what he
is to do and how to do it. He should be taught the willingness
to serve. He should not be paid for his duty unless his job is
done well. The parent should not do the job for the child after
he has failed, but rather, the parent should make him do it again
and make him do it well.
Work is spiritual. One cannot be a good Christian and not
work. One cannot be a good Christian and not obey. One cannot
be a good Christian and not do his best at every task.
SO YOU ARE
OUT OF GOD'S WILL
"There came then His brethren and His mother, and standing
without, sent unto Him, calling Him." (Mark 3:31)
"Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of
Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
Most Christians at one time or another find themselves at
least a bit out of the will of God. As someone has said, "It
is not a sin for a bird to land on your head, but it is a sin
for you to allow him to build a nest there." It is easy
to get out of the will of God. It is hard to get back in the
will of God. The following thoughts are given to those who have
slipped out of God's will:
1. If the door is still open, go back through it. If a pastor
has left a church and he should not have left, and if the church
is still pastorless, he may go back. If the job is still open,
the one who left may return. If one has gone to the wrong school,
he mat go to the right school. If one has entered the wrong profession,
he may rectify that by entering the right profession. If one
is engaged to the wrong girl or boy, he can break the engagement.
In other words, if one does not perform wrong by doing so, he
should re-enter the door through which he left the will of God.
2. Go back the way you came. If one left the will of God when
he quit paying his debts, he should get back in the will of God
by paying the debts. If one left the will of God by hurting people,
he should get back in the will of God by making reconciliation.
Undo what has been done if it is at all possible, and go back
to the will of God where you came out of His will.
3. Never do wrong to get back in the will of God. Suppose,
for example, the pastor leaves a church that he should not have
left. The church then calls a new pastor. In such a case, the
former pastor has forfeited the will of God and should in no
way attempt to regain the church. Suppose someone marries the
wrong person. If the one he should have married is already married,
it would be wrong to break up that home in order to get the person
that God had for him in the first place. Never do wrong in getting
back into the will of God. Two wrongs do not make a right!
4. Seek the acceptable will of God. Many people find themselves
so far out of God's perfect will that they can never get back
in it. If the wrong person has been married, for example, then
there is no way to get back rightly in the will of God concerning
one's marriage. God will allow one to live with his present mate
in His acceptable will under such conditions. This same is true
about one who has committed some sin that would cause him to
forfeit the perfect will of God. Here is a man whom God has called
to preach, but the involvements of his life have made it impossible
for him to do so. Perhaps he has complicated his life so much
that it would be unscriptural for him to be a pastor. This means
he has forever sacrificed the perfect will of God, but he can
go ahead by teaching a Sunday School class, winning souls, etc.
in the acceptable will of God and be a very fruitful Christian.
5. Get close to someone in the perfect will of God. This is
very important. If a person's life has caused him to forfeit
the perfect will of God, he may then be in the acceptable will
of God, but perhaps he could accomplish more by working with
someone in the perfect will of God and being a part of that someone's
6. Work harder. As mentioned in another chapter, work is the
secret to success. If one finds himself unable to get back into
the perfect will of God, he may find the acceptable will of God
for his life, and by working harder than those in the perfect
will of God, he may certainly do much to make amends. He may
even get as much done as the person in the perfect will of God.
If for any reason you have forfeited the perfect will of God
for your life, work that much harder to make up for the mistake
and try to accomplish as much in life as possible.
All of us know about the athlete who is not as gifted with
as many natural gifts as others, and yet accomplishes more. He
is not the natural athlete; he is a scrambler. By hustle, practice,
and hard work he oftentimes surpasses the more gifted one. This
is also true in God's service.
7. Use your testimony to warn others. If you have left the
perfect will of God, admit it to help others avoid making the
same mistakes. Especially should you be a help to children and
8. Be sure you do not blame the cause. In some cases one's
mate may be associated with his leaving the perfect will of God.
He should in no case blame his mate. This simply adds fuel to
the fire and insult to the injury.
9. Do not lament, but be thankful. Take your medicine like
a good boy and be thankful that a least something has been reclaimed
and salvaged in life.
So you are out of the will of God. I am sorry. If possible,
go about getting back into the perfect will of God immediately.
If this is impossible, get right with God, have your life reclaimed
for His service, and do His acceptable will. God can still use
you. Let Him do so.
The word "faithful" in the Bible comes from a word
which means "to be trusted" or "to be reliable."
It is a twin to the word "believe" as concerning believing
upon Christ for salvation.
Faithfulness does not mean "not being unfaithful."
Suppose a wife says that she is faithful to her husband. She
may mean that she is not guilty of negative acts against her
husband. On the other hand, she may not be doing anything positive
for him. Faithfulness is not the absence of the negative, but
the presence of the positive. For example, a person who does
not come to church is unfaithful. He cannot excuse himself by
saying he has not been to another church.
We should discipline ourselves to be faithful to many things.
Some of these are listed below:
1. Duties and tasks. One should discipline himself to do what
he is supposed to do. It is vitally important that one's task
becomes his employer. It is important that we get up at the same
time every day. This is especially true in the case of people
whose employment and duties do not consist of punching a time
clock. A salesman, a pastor, and other such people can be successful
only as they discipline themselves to be faithful to their duties
and tasks. Whatever one has to do he should do and do it well.
He should designate a time to do it and then do it at that time.
2. Punctuality. In the building of character, one must learn
to be punctual. This means he should be faithful to his appointments.
He should not develop the habit of always being late. He must
be dependable. This is one reason, at the First Baptist Church
of Hammond, we start our services on time. We do not start one
minute late, but rather, exactly on time. If 600 people wait
one minute, 600 minutes are lost, or 10 working hours. If 2,400
people wait one minute an entire work week is lost as far as
time is concerned. We have all heard it said about someone, "You
can set your clock by him." This means that he is at least
in one respect a man of character. How important this is.
3. Church. It is important that a child be taught to be faithful
to his church. There are several reasons for this. Life's principles
are being set. One of these principles should be faithfulness
to the house of God. Many years ago I decided that I would go
to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every
Wednesday night. This has been my policy through the years. There
have been a few times when I was ill, but unless I was very ill,
I have been to the house of God and have been there faithfully.
This cannot be overly stressed.
You recall what Thomas missed by being absent the first time
the apostles met with the risen Christ. You remember his doubting
spirit. There are many doubting, cantankerous Christians who
would not be so had they been faithful to God's house.
One will do later what he does now. It is a good idea now
to start the habit of faithfulness to the house of God. The sermon
you need the most may be preached the service you are not present,
and it may never be repeated.
4. Spiritual habits. I find it possible for a person to read
the Bible all the time and not be a good Christian, to pray all
the time and not be a good Christian, and even to win souls all
the time and not be a good Christian. It is wise for a person
to set a schedule for spiritual habits-a set time to pray, a
set time to study the Bible, a set time to go soul winning. One
should be faithful to these times and obedient to his schedule,
and at the same time, keep a balanced Christian life. It is a
good idea to sit down and list all the things that the Christian
is supposed to do. Then find time in the schedule for them, and
observe the schedule with all diligence and faithfulness.
5. Principles. Our loyalties should be to principles and not
to institutions. Far too many of us have pledged our faithfulness
and loyalty to denominations, churches, schools, etc. They change
so gradually that we do not notice it; therefore, we change with
them. The day comes when both institution and Christian have
changed and neither realizes it. The landmark has been moved
so gradually that, as is the case with the hands on the clock,
it was not noticed. This is the reason we should be faithful
to principles. When the institution goes outside our principles,
we should hold the principles and discard the institution unless
we can bring it back in proper focus with right principles.
For example, I have taught my boy, David, to protect his sisters.
A few years ago I saw him beating up on a little kid. I had told
him not to fight. I went over, jerked him off the kid, and said,
"What are you doing?"
He looked at me and said, "He called my sister a dirty
I said, "Then go to it. You are doing fine."
In these days of pacifism and people who fight capital punishment,
laugh at discipline, disregard law and order, and disrespect
authority, how we need a generation of people who are loyal and
faithful to principle!
AND HOLY DAYS
(Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without
blood." Hebrews 9:18.
You will notice that Christ has left for us a will. A will
cannot be opened unless there is the death of the testator. When
Christ died on the cross, His will became valid. Now what He
willed to us is ours. You recall that the vail of the temple
was rent in twain from top to bottom. This meant that the will
was being opened. Before the death of Christ only the High Priest
could enter the Holy of Holies. The High Priest represented Jesus
Christ. In His will Jesus made it possible for all men to come
to God through the veil. Because He has died, His will may be
opened. Hence, the Holy of Holies is opened so that all men may
come to God. No longer is there a Holy of Holies. Every place
is a holy place. Jesus said to the woman at the well, "God
is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit
and in truth." (John 4:24) One of the great dangers of our
day is having holy places. Bear in mind that the holy places
of the Old Testament all pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Any
time we give attention to a holy place today we take away from
the Lord Jesus Christ, for He has come and fulfilled all of the
holy days, holy places, etc.
When one day is emphasized above others, the others are de-emphasized.
When one task is emphasized above others, the others are de-emphasized.
I have often said that the most important sermon is next Sunday's
sermon. The most important Sunday is next Sunday. The most important
day is today. The most important task is the one I am doing now.
The most important place is the one I am in now. It is very important
that we pause to realize that the church building of our day
is not the temple of the Old Testament. It is simply as Charles
Spurgeon said, "a meeting house," or a meeting place
where God's people come and keep comfortable while they do God's
work and hear God's Word.
Each of us has heard some well-meaning parent or Sunday School
teacher say to some child, "Be quiet! You are in God's house.
Be reverent here in God's house." This is unwise teaching.
The reason that one should be quiet in church is that it is a
good manners, not reverence for a building. To teach one to be
quiet because one is in church means that he won't have to be
quiet when he is in the school assembly meeting. To teach one
to be quiet because he is in the house of God de-emphasizes the
importance of being quiet in other public gatherings. The reason
that a person should behave in any public meeting. It is just
decent and good manners to behave.
So many preachers point to that big sermon out yonder some
day - that "convention sermon." So many choir directors
rise and shine on that big, special occasion when guests are
there from far and near. Then this is true: They de-emphasize
the other days, the other choir specials, and the other sermons.
Let every task be a big task. Let every choir special be the
most important one ever sung. Let every sermon be the most important
sermon ever preached. Make every day be the biggest day ever
lived. It is dangerous to look forward to a big occasion and
overlook the occasions in between. Let us do our best now, for
now is the only real chance we have to serve God. I will do my
best where I am now, doing what I am doing now, on the day that
I am doing it - today!
HOW HIGH ARE
"He is always able to rise to the occasion." How
typical this is of our finite minds' estimation of success. We
judge one by the height of his peaks, when the simple truth is
that one of the tests of real character is the height of one's
depth. It is not how high the mountain top, but how high the
valley that counts. The valley of a mountain range may have higher
elevation than the top of a mountain somewhere else; consequently,
it matters not how high the peak is, but rather how high the
valley is. Raise your valleys and your peaks will care for themselves.
It is not how high one can go, but how low he can keep from
going. A person is as moral as his most immoral day. He is as
efficient as his most inefficient day. He is as deep as his most
shallow day. One can be morally clean 364 days a year and yet
be an adulterer. One can refrain from robbing banks 364 days
a year and yet be a bank robber. One can resist murder 364 days
a year and yet be a murderer. It is tremendously important that
in one's character he raise the height of his depths, the peak
of his valleys, and that he not only "rise to meet the occasion,"
but refuse to "lower to meet the occasion."
There are many preachers who on a given day, with a big enough
crowd, and enough inspiration, can preach great messages. However,
the test of a great preacher is not on Easter Sunday, but on
Labor Day weekend. The great preacher is the one who gives his
best to his people week after week and is the best preacher on
his lowest day. The best worker is the one who does his job every
day. His inspiration comes from within and is a part of the subconscious.
At this writing Cindy, my youngest child, is eight years of
age. She has been afraid of storms all her life. Oftentimes even
a cloudy day will bring tears to her eyes. A few days ago Cindy
wrote a little article concerning her fear of storms. She brought
it to me. She had written something like this: "I, Cindy
Lynn Hyles, do on this 23rd day of June, 1968, quit being afraid
of storms. I know that God will take care of me, for He promises
to do so. He took care of Daniel in the lion's den; Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; and He will take
care of me. Because of this, I will not be afraid of storms any
more . . ."
The article was much longer than that, but all of it was just
as well written and serious minded. In less than two hours the
worst storm that we had had in weeks was raging. I looked at
Cindy, and she was as sober as she could be. I grinned and said,
"Are you the little girl that wrote an article a while ago?"
With trembling lips and moist eyes she said, "Yes, sir."
I hugged her and said, "It is a lot easier to promise
than it is to fulfill the promise."
It is one thing for a person to vow to do his job well; it
is another thing for him to develop the kind of character that
subconsciously forces him to do the job well. The doing of right
must get on the inside. This means that we will subconsciously
do a job well even at our lowest point.
Let us work on the valleys and let the peaks care for themselves.
Certainly the peaks are more inspiring. Certainly it is easier
to do the job well at the peak, but the ones who will be remembered
the longest and will accomplish the most are those who do the
unspectacular jobs well when uninspired from without, but subconsciously
inspired from within with the kind of character that is more
concerned about raising the height of the valleys than raising
the height of the mountains.
Some of the most beautiful expressions of love are expressed
by silence. One may be reading a newspaper while another is putting
a crossword puzzle together on the floor, but nothing is being
said. Some of the sweetest expressions of love and devotion ever
given were given by silence.
Just what does silence say? In the first place, silence says
what the silent man is. If love exists between two people, silence
then is an expression of that love. The bitter heart stores up
bitterness in its silence. The selfish heart stores up envy in
its silence. The loving heart exudes love in its silence.
Silence between friends says that one's presence is enough.
There are millions of places that one could be, but when he chooses
from all other places one place, and from all other people one
person to share with him that place, even his silence speaks
volumes of tender expressions of love. In such silent moments
in private sanctuaries one's silence says to his friend, "Your
presence is enough." When two people choose to be alone
together, each is honored by the other above all men during the
moments spent together.
Silence between friends also speaks confidence, for there
is no need for one to impress the other. The friendship has already
been sealed under God, and there are no more worlds to conquer.
This kind of friendship does not take for granted its friend,
but rather continues to express love, affection, and gratitude.
This expression, however, is not an attempt to impress, for impressions
have already been made that will last for life.
This kind of silence says something else. It says, "Dear
Friend, I do not have to gain assurance from you of your love.
That assurance is spoken to me so often and shown to me so well.
My silence with you tells you that I am assured of your love."
True friendship need not be reconfirmed daily. It should be perennially
expressed and demonstrated. Since "perfect love casteth
out fear," often silence can say, "I am assured of
your love, and I am assured of your friendship." True friendship
does not decide every day whether it should continue or not.
It does not decide every week. It does not decide every month.
It does not decide every year. It does not decide even twice!
True friendship is God-given and is conditioned by the heart
of the lover, not by the traits of the loved. Hence, when God
places in the heart of one a true friendship for another, peace,
assurance, and security is offered even though not recognized.
Recently I said to one of my daughters, "Daddy loves
She looked up to me and said, "I know it."
Perhaps I had not told her for a few days, but I had so demonstrated
that love and expressed that love that even in the silence, I
was assuring her that I love her.
Once in a cartoon "Dennis, the Menace" sat down
in the barber's chair, looked up at the barber, and said, "What
do you say we just don't say nothing today!" As I laughed
I thought that perhaps the excessive talking by many barbers
is caused by a lack of confidence in their work. This is not
to say that a barber should not talk to his customer. It is to
say, however, that talk should not have to be forced by the one
who applies his trade well.
Though expressions of love, gratitude, and affection are always
in order and should be offered, many times the silence of a quiet
meal, the silence of the wife sewing while the husband reads
the newspaper, the silence that is broken only by the twinkle
of an eye, the touch of an arm, or the squeeze of a hand says
more than words. Thanks be to God that when people love each
other even their silence speaks of that love.
HOW TO BE
Tragic but true is the fact that many people live and die
and never have close relationships. This is especially true in
the life of many pastors. Many grope in darkness hoping to find
a close relationship with another and yet never develop the kind
of ties for which their dreams have drawn plans.
One of the surest and best way to develop close ties is to
enter into all the relationships of another's life. Though this
is perhaps exaggerated a bit, it is none the less true. Many
pastors, for example, do not laugh with their people; they only
mourn with their people. In so doing they become only a part
of the lives of their parishioners. They are only considered
or thought about when mourning comes. On the other hand, a comedian
only entertains. When one has a party, he invites him. When one
wants to laugh, he seeks his company, but in all other areas
of life, he is omitted. Hence, one should not confine himself
to one area in the life of a friend. Through many years of pastoring,
I have tried to laugh with my people, weep with my people, rejoice
with my people, and enter into every area of their lives. I want
to share with them times of humor, and I want to share with them
times of sorrow. When one can entwine himself into every area
of another's life, he can become "close" to the other
and endear himself as a friend.
The more types of experiences that people can share, the more
possibilities there are for times spent in the future. If, as
a pastor, I can be a teacher, a comforter, an encouragement,
a delight, a strength, etc., then my people can and will associate
me with each of these areas of life. The more areas of their
lives with which I can become associated, the more needed will
I be, the more intimate I can be, and the deeper is the friendship
we can develop.
It is vitally important also that we realize that we share
these experiences together while they are happening. It is important
that I, as a pastor, realize that there are people in my congregation
with whom I have shared the joys of a wedding, the sorrows of
a funeral, the anxieties of an illness, the blessings of a conversion,
the thrill of the coming of a new baby, etc. Many share such
experiences but miss the blessing and the close ties because
they fail to realize the privileges shared while the experiences
are taking place.
"And we have known and believed the love that God hath
given to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth
in God, and God in him." (I John 4:16)
While we will not attempt to exegete the above verse, we will
think a while about perfect or more mature love. One's love for
another may grow until he loves another with all of his heart.
What then may he do to offer the object more love? Are we not
to continue to have our love for each other increase? Should
we "arrive" in our love for our friends? Certainly
not! Hence, if you love one with all of your heart, to increase
that love you must have a "bigger heart." In other
words, our capacity to love must increase.
Not long ago I was out soul winning and came to a certain
house where the man of the house was very excited. "Pastor,"
he exclaimed, " I am glad that you dropped by. I want to
show you my new car."
I don't think that I have ever seen a man as excited about
a car as was this man. His description of it was such that I
thought it must be an air-conditioned Cadillac with television
in both front and back seats. "Where is the car?" I
asked. "I simply must see it."
The man's face lit up, his countenance brightened, and he
clapped his hands with joy because I wanted to see the car. "Come
on," he exclaimed. "It is in the back yard. You wait
`til you see it. I have never loved a car like I love this one."
Around to the back yard we went and was I ever in for a shock!
"Here it is," he exclaimed.
I looked, and to my surprise I saw an old junk heap. The fenders
were not the same color as the body; in fact, it looked like
a piece of junk.
"What do you think about it?" he asked.
"That IS a car," I replied.
"Isn't that about the prettiest thing you ever saw?"
I said, "Boy, that is something." (It was "something,"
and I was having a hard time figuring out what kind of "something"
it was.) I stuttered and stammered trying to keep my conversation
in the realm of honesty and truth.
He suddenly saved me from embarrassment by saying. "I
made it with my own hands, Preacher. I made it with my own hands."
Then I realized the source of his love. He had gone down to
the wrecking yard and picked up a piece here and a piece there,
an engine here and a fender there, and actually constructed his
The strange thing about it is that he had a beautiful new
car in the garage, but it was one made by Ford or General Motors
or Chrysler Corporation. This one, however, was made with his
own hands. Hence, he could love it more than the others.
How then may we love someone more? How may our capacity to
love someone be increased? We must do things for them. We must
invest our lives in them and, like the man with the old car,
we will find a love that we have never known before.
Mrs. Hyles and I have four children. We have experienced nearly
every Christmas what we had the joy of experiencing again this
past year. Our youngest daughter, Cindy, had made a Christmas
card for us. This she had made at school. We gathered around
the Christmas tree early in the morning to open the gifts. Cindy
was most excited, not about the ones she was about to receive,
but about the card that she had made for Mommy and Daddy. When
I would pick up a gift close to the card, she would jump up and
down and clap her hands thinking that perhaps I would find the
card too. Though she received a new bicycle for Christmas, she
did not exclaim as much over this or her doll or her game or
any of her other gifts as she did the card she had made for Mother
and Dad. We have all seen a child who deposited a new $15.00
doll in the toy box in preference to a homemade rag doll. Would
God that we could find the same truth. Happiness is not in receiving
but in giving and the more we actually DO in the making of others
and the helping of others, the more our love can increase for
Our friends are deserving of more love from us. If they receive
it, we have to learn to love more. May our love grow and mature
until we can offer to our friends the greatest love ever. Hence,
I must do more for others. I must invest more in the lives of
others. I must think more of others. I must give more to others.
I must give more to others. I must sacrifice more for others
and in so doing. I will know something of the heart of the fellow
who made the car, the child who made the doll, and the girl who
made the Christmas card. And I will have attained a point a little
closer to what the Mater meant when He spoke of "perfect
I rushed out of my Wednesday evening service and out to the
airport in time to catch a 10:00 plane for Atlanta, Georgia,
and on to Greenville, South Carolina, where I was to speak for
a few days at the Bob Jones University. I got to the airport
just in time to get the last seat on the plane. I sat down beside
a little lady whose hair was in rollers. She was obviously not
dressed for traveling. I could tell, however, that she was of
some means, for she had a beautiful diamond ring as well as a
diamond pin. Courteously I spoke to her and sat down. The next
thing I knew we were landing in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a brief
layover. I was awakened by the touch of the wheels on the runway.
As I roused, the little lady beside me shocked me by saying,
"How could you do what you did?"
Not realizing what I had done, I inquired as to what she meant.
She said, "We have been through a terrible storm. We
have been afraid and nervous, and all the time you just snored
away. How could you do that during a storm?"
I replied that I did not know the circumstances but perhaps
there were at least two reasons why I could sleep through a storm
on an airplane: The first reason was that I fly tens of thousands
of miles a year on commercial airliners. The second reason I
told her was, "My Father owns the airplane."
She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face and said,
"Do I understand you correctly? Your father owns this plane?'
"Yes," I said, "He owns the entire Delta Airlines
system." This really aroused her curiosity until I continued.
"He not only owns the Delta Airlines, but He also owns the
`Do I understand you correctly?" she asked. "You
are the heir to the Delta and the American Airlines."
"That is right," I replied. "That is not all.
He owns the Eastern Airlines, the Braniff Airlines, Ozark, United,
Continental, and others."
By this time she was completely beside herself in ecstasy.
"What an honor," she said, "to ride with such
a person whose father is so wealthy." Then she asked the
name of my father.
I replied that He was the Heavenly Father. When I said these
words, she broke out weeping so that folks all around us could
hear her. Her body shook as tears poured from her eyes.
"You must be a minister," she said.
"Yes, I am," I replied, "but I am also a Christian."
Then she told me an unusual story. She had worked her husband's
way through college, sacrificing her own college education so
that he might attain one. He had become very successful and was
the manager of a large firm. With the passing of years, he had
become ashamed of his wife because she was less educated than
he, and now he was suing her for a divorce. When she heard of
this, she attempted suicide. (This was just a few minutes before
she got on the plane.) Some friends had brought her to the airport,
and put her on the airplane to send her to Atlanta, Georgia,
where her sister lived.
She looked at me and continued talking, "Oh sir, how
unusual that a minister would sit beside me. Just a few minutes
ago I tried to kill myself." Then shoe looked at me with
a look of horror, fright, and anguish and asked, "Sir, .
. .does your . . .God . . .love . . .me?"
I will never forget how she looked as she asked me if my God
loved her. I was happy to tell her that not only did my God love
her, but that I loved her too because Jesus loved her. At twenty-eight
thousand feet in the air I told her the wonderful story of Christ
and that God did love her. As I went to my hotel room in Atlanta,
where I was to sleep for two or three hours before catching a
plane to South Carolina, I knelt and prayed, "Dear God,
let me love more. The only way people can see Thy love is to
see it in me."
In order that our love might be more like His, let us examine
a few ways to increase our love.
1. Remember it is better to love than to be loved. One can
only guarantee fulfillment by loving, not by being loved. If
one's happiness is built upon loving, then it can be controlled,
but if his happiness is built upon being loved, it is built upon
something over which he has no control. One who loves you can
withdraw that love, and there is nothing that you can do about
it. The happiest people and the people whose happiness is most
secure are those who find their joy in loving rather than being
2. Love is often unrecognized and unreturned. As one grows
in love he finds himself the possessor of something that the
flesh cannot recognize. The carnal mind is at enmity with God,
and the flesh cannot determine spiritual traits. Hence, it is
entirely possible that the people who love the least will receive
credit for loving the most and that the world's greatest lovers
will have their love unrecognized by the world. There are many
preachers who are described as prophets of love because they
never preach against sin, never rebuke their people, etc. On
the other hand there are many preachers who are described as
prophets of doom and hate who are really full of love for their
people. Remember, love is of God, and this old carnal world knows
nothing about God and His love. Because of this, the more true
love that one has, the less recognition he will get for it. He
may find himself being considered unloving by those who have
little love but receive praise for being great lovers. Hence,
when a person finds his joy and satisfaction in loving, he may
have to become accustomed to having that love unrecognized by
those about him.
3. Love gives the object its needs, not its wants. The love
that the world knows is that which fulfills only the wants of
its object. The love which God gives is that which oftentimes
forfeits its own recognition in an effort to help. Many people
who know true love find that oftentimes words of caution and
even abruptness must be used to those you love in an effort to
help them. The parent who loves his children enough to discipline
them may be called an unloving parent. The pastor who loves his
people enough to warn them may be called an unloving pastor.
Though his love may go unrecognized on earth, it is certainly
accepted and recognized as true love by Him Who is Love.
4. Love is often heartbroken. Remember that the higher one
goes the lonelier he gets, and the more one loves the more he
will feel unloved. He then compares his love for others with
that which others have for him, finding that their love for him
falls short of his love for them. The consequence is often heartbreak.
The compensation for this is great, however, for the more we
learn to love on earth, the higher will be our level of spiritual
maturity and love in Heaven, and the more love we can offer to
the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. We are not to love because of the object. "I love
her because she is so sweet." "I just love him; he
is so nice." These are immature statements that can lead
In the first place, if one's love is determined by the object,
it can be also lost when the object changes. If you love her
because she is sweet, you will quit loving her when she is sour.
If you love him because he is nice, you will quit loving him
when he is not nice. However, if you love him because God is
love and has given you of His love, his changing will not change
your love. Hence, our love should not be because of condition
of the loved but because of the condition of the lover.
Another reason why this is important is that if we love because
of the object, we will not love those who need loving the most.
Jesus loved the unlovable, the unloving, and the unloved. To
be like Him, we must do likewise.
6. Do not let the object stop your love. If one does not love
because of the object, then also he should not stop loving if
the object becomes unlovable. I have often said this to the people
whom I pastor: "I cannot make you love me, but you cannot
keep me from loving you." If one loves because the object
is lovable, his love cannot increase unless the object becomes
more lovable. In other words, he has no power to increase his
love. If, however, one loves because of the love that Christ
has placed in his heart, then he can increase his own love by
increasing the size of his heart."
7. Keep all love within its proper bounds. If disciplined
properly, every relationship can be developed to its fullest.
There is love for mother, love for father, love for brother,
love for sister, love for husband, love for wife, love for sweetheart,
love for friend, etc. Each love should be kept within its own
boundaries allowing each relationship to develop to its highest
and fullest. It is wise for a person to list his relationships
in life. Life is a series of human relationships, and one's happiness
is largely determined by the development of each relationship.
A list can be made such as the following:
I am a husband to Beverly Hyles.
I am a father to Becky Hyles, David Hyles, Linda Hyles, and
I am a son to Mrs. C. M. Hyles.
I am a brother to Mrs. Earlyne Stephens
I am a pastor to the members of my church.
Now I must develop each of these relationships to its fullest
thereby guaranteeing the happiness of each object as well as
my own happiness. One does not have to choose between being a
good husband and a good father, between a good father and a good
friend, or a good son and a good boss. The late Dr. Bob Jones,
Sr. used to say, "Duties never conflict." I can be
a good whatever I am. God will give me no relationships that
I cannot develop to the fullest.
8. The lover must make all reconciliations. When there is
a strained relationship, it is up to the lover to lead in efforts
of reconciliation. Remember the weak is usually too weak to make
amends. It is up to the stronger to do so.
9. By all means, do not work on being loved. Seeking to be
loved makes love impossible, for such actions are selfish, and
love cannot be selfish. Selfishness cannot love. Most of the
so-called love in our generation is selfish and possessive. It
is nothing more than a desire to be with someone who satisfies
one of the senses.
Several years ago I notices in the Fort Worth, Texas, newspaper
a picture of a lady bending over the dead form of her husband
whom she had just killed. As she picked his head up and put it
in her lap she said, "Oh, how I loved you." (I told
my wife that I didn't want her to love me that much.)
The average so-called love of today is nothing more than a
desire to be around someone who is pretty or someone whose personality
makes us feel good. It is basically wanting to be with someone
who likes us. It is selfish and possessive if this is all that
is involved. Hence, one should work on his loving and not on
being loved. God will take care of giving to us those who loves
us if we will take care of developing through Him and in Him
the right kind of love flowing out of our own hearts.
10. Express your love. It is a wonderful thing to be able
to express your love. This would simply mean being affectionate.
Do you love him? Tell him. Do you love her? Tell her. Has she
been a blessing to you? Let her know it. There is far too little
tenderness and affection exchanged between friends in our generation.
Words of love and affection are always in order if they are set
within the proper bounds. Notes and letters to friends we love
certainly should be written often. This is a very vital part
of friendship and love.
Married people reveal their relationship by the wearing of
the wedding band. Athletes wear letter sweaters. Soldiers wear
uniforms. Our Lord wanted to give His people something as an
insignia of their standing, something by which they could be
identified. He did not choose rings for our fingers or a certain
piece of clothing to cover our bodies. He simply choose love,
for He said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My
disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)
IF I AM
If I am your friend, I would give you all that a friend could
give. If I am your friend, I must love you all that I can love.
If I am your friend, I must do for you all that I can do. Since
it is with my mind that I love you and with my body that I help
you, hence, for your sake as well as for mine, I must keep my
mind alert and my body healthy. If I abuse my body, I not only
do an injustice to myself but also to you, my friend. Since I
am your friend, I pledge you a mind that is healthy and alert
so that you can be assured of maximum help. When my mind is gone,
I can love you no more. When my body has gone, I can serve you
no more . May God help me to keep both well so that I may love
you and serve you more and better.
Not long ago Mrs. Hyles and I were riding with some friends
when my wife yawned. After a brief chuckle by all of us I reminded
my friends that in many respects a yawn is a symbol of love and
How can a yawn be a symbol of love and affection? There are
people before whom we would never yawn. We do not know them that
well. We do not feel that much liberty in their presence. On
the other hand, there are those with whom we feel at home and
who are dear and near enough to us to take us as we are. When
around such friends as these, we do not hesitate to express ourselves,
even if that expression is a yawn.
Now this little thought is certainly not to advocate rudeness
or lack of manners. Certainly there are times when even around
my dearest friends, a yawn would be inappropriate, but on the
other hand, there are times when with those who are very dear
to us we open our mouths and have a big yawn. In so doing we
say subconsciously, "I love you and you are dear to me!"
BE A FRIEND
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:
and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his
life for his friends." (John 15:13)
"Hello, friend" were the words that I spoke recently
to a stranger walking down the sidewalk. Immediately I was rebuked.
What a careless use of a most sacred word. Add the word "friend"
to the words mother, father, son, daughter, and wife. This is
the lofty position that it should hold. Too many of us have taken
friendship far too lightly.
In the New Testament there are two main words that are translated
"friend." One of these words means "comrade, acquaintance,
fellow traveler." the other means "one dearly beloved"
or "one held precious and dear." Many people never
have even one true friend, and few people have many true friends.
Cultivating such friendships can become one of life's greatest
and most enriching experiences.
1. Be concerned in being a friend, not in having a friend.
Many would love to have a true friend, but few are interested
in being a true friend. Now it would be an unholy motive for
one to be a friend in order that he might have a friend. Nevertheless
it is true that to have friends one must be a friend. It is far
more noble, however, for one to satisfy himself with being a
friend. It is better to be a friend than to have a friend. By
being a friend one develops character and integrity. Do not spend
your life trying to cultivate one's friendship, but rather try
to cultivate your own friendship to others. I recently said to
someone, "Being loved is life's second greatest blessing;
loving is the greatest." Paraphrased it could be said that
having a friend is a great blessing, but being a friend is a
2. Remember what a friend is. A friend is one who is loved
dearly. Do not offer such friendship lightly or casually. It
is the kind of friendship which has abiding love and endearment.
Just as one should weigh his choice of a mate carefully and wisely,
even so should he weigh carefully and wisely the offering of
true friendship. This does not mean, of course, that one could
not be a friend to many in the usual meaning of friend. It simply
means that in the true meaning of friend there should be depth
and emotion. One should not assume true friendships unless he
can offer both depth and emotion.
3. Start doing sacrificial things for others. One of the best
places to start in being a friend is living for others. General
Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, sent a telegram to
a Salvation Army Convention during his last days because his
health would not permit him to attend personally. The telegram
simply said, "Others," and was signed, General Booth.
"Lord, help me live from day to day In such a self-forgetful
way, That even when I kneel to pray My prayer shall be for others.
"Others, Lord, yes, others, Let this my motto be, Help
me to live for others, That I may live like Thee.
"Help me in all the work I do To ever be sincere and
true, And know that all I'd do for You Must needs be done for
"Let `Self' be crucified and slain And buried deep; and
all in vain May efforts be to rise again Unless to live for others.
"And when my work on earth is done, And my new work in
Heaven's begun, May I forget the crown I've won, While thinking
still of others."
4. The need of a friend should be considered your need. When
a friend is in need, you should be in need. When a friend has
a need, you have a need. This is what the Bible means by compassion.
We suffer with those who suffer. We are admonished to do so in
the Scriptures: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and
weep with them that weep." (Romans 12:15) As soon as a need
is seen in a friend's life, a true friend will begin attempting
ways of filling this need.
5. Feel as if you are a member of the family. Often ties of
friendship become closer than some family ties. This is especially
true if the friendship is in the Lord. The Bible speaks of "a
friend that sticketh closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24)
One should not feel in such a relationship that he has family
privileges, but he should feel that he has family responsibilities.
It is sad for a person to live and die and never develop such
friendships. One of the great joys of my life is loving people
for whom I would die and having the love of people who would
die for me. This kind of relationship carries with it responsibilities.
These responsibilities are akin to those caused by family ties.
Once some dear friends had a need in their house. Before I knew
it, I found myself purchasing that need at a considerable expense.
As I examine the reasons behind this purchase, I found the main
one was that I subconsciously felt it was as my need for my house;
hence, I must provide it.
6. Build up your friend's friends. Circumstances and distance
often make it impossible for us to be or do for our friends as
we would like. In such cases there is still a way that we can
help provide for the needs of our friends. We may encourage,
train, and help others who are in a position to provide the needs
of our friends. It may mean some unselfish sacrifice on our part.
But if our thoughts are on others, it matters not where the credit
goes; it only matters that the friend is helped. As a pastor,
with many thousands of members, I find it impossible to do for
all of my friends what I would like to do. I can, however, teach
their other friends how to be to them what I would like to be
and cannot be. This may mean that my friend will feel a closer
friendship with the one whom I trained than with me. However,
since our goal in this chapter is to be a friend and not have
a friend, it still can be reached by using this method.
7. Enjoy the presence of your friends. Man is not omnipresent.
This means that he can be in only one place at one time, which
is quite a handicap to busy people. This means that there are
people with whom we would love to spend many hours but with whom
we are privileged to spend just a few. When these opportunities
come, they should be enjoyed to their fullest.
8. Spend some time with your friends even in their absence.
One should know who his friends are and those to whom he has
given his friendship. It has long been my policy to make a list
of people to whom I am a true friend. Many times a month I go
over this list and spend some time thinking of and praying for
those to whom I am a true friend. This is usually done late in
the evening in the hours of meditation. This article is being
dictated on a jet plane flying to Tokyo, Japan. I have spend
and will spend much time on such a trip thinking of those people
who may call me their friend and whom I call my friends. It has
long been my policy also to spend some time with and thinking
about those who were once my friends and are now in Heaven. I
try to remember their lives and thank God for the friendship
that I once enjoyed with them.
9. Do kind deeds for loved ones of departed friends. It is
impossible to do something for those friends who have passed
on except as we do it to those of their loved ones who remain.
David brought a little crippled fellow by the name of Mephibosheth
to his palace to live with him in honor of his departed friend,
Jonathan. This was the only way David could do something for
The pastor who preceded me at the First Baptist Church of
Hammond, Indiana, is a godly man. When he left Hammond, he assumed
a pastorate in California. The miles prevented our church from
regularly doing kind deeds for him. Realizing this, we purchased
a little house and gave it to his father rent-free as long as
he lived. Upon the death of his father, we then offered it to
his aunt with the same arrangement. Now to be sure we loved his
father and we love his aunt, and we do such gestures because
of that love; however, it is also a way of expressing our love
for the former pastor in that we express it now to his loved
Friendship is a very serious and sacred thing. It should be
treated as such!
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby."--(I Peter 2:2)
Recently while traveling in a distant state I read of an interview
with a coach of a champion football team. He was speaking of
the difference between just professional football players and
champion football players. He made an interesting comment concerning
the difference. He said that all professional football players
do 75% of what is expected of them. In other words, to be a professional
football player one has to make a fair grade. "Then,"
he said, "to become a champion one has to master the other
25%." Just making a passing grade is not enough. The difference
between just a "pro" and a champion is the mastering
of that which is above the calling of duty and above the expected.
The same is true with a Christian. To be just a good Christian
is not enough. We should want to become the best Christian possible.
Of course, there are necessary things that one must do in
order to grow in grace. He must live in the Word. He must walk
with God. He must witness, attend the services of the church
faithfully, etc. The following are a few of the rules of growing
in grace that have to do with the other 25%. 1. Do not compare
yourself with others. It is not enough to be a better Christian
than someone else. It is only enough to become a better Christian
than I now am, and to become the best "me" possible
to the glory of God. Suppose one became the best Christian in
his class or at work. having this as a goal he has limited his
growth in grace.
Another danger in comparing one's self with other Christians
is that normally the one that does the comparing comes out with
the "long end of the stick." We are prone to give ourselves
the benefit of the doubt, and we might come short of what we
could have been simply by wanting to satisfy ourselves as becoming
a better Christian than someone else.
2. It is important to be around those more mature than we
are. Seeing examples is a very important part of growing in grace.
Most of us do not have the ability to see intangibles such as
ideas, etc. Few people can see or define loyalty, for example.
Hence, they must see a loyal person. In order for an average
person to comprehend such things as character, integrity, honesty,
etc., he must see it incarnate or embodied. This is why it is
important for us to be near people whom we would like to emulate.
Here is the mistake of many preachers. We talk about ideas
that we can see clearly but which many of our people have a difficult
time comprehending. Jesus took great truths and clothed them
in simplicity. He spoke of great truths and likened them to getting
married, eating bread, drinking water, growing a vineyard, running
away from home, losing money, etc.
This is just another way of saying "stay in the right
crowd." Yet it does in a sense go a little deeper. It implies
staying in a crowd that can challenge your best. It implies association
with stronger Christians, at least those stronger in certain
3. Do not have as your main goal to become a better Christian.
This in itself could invite selfishness. Don't forget that one
is to lose himself, not measure himself. Someone has said that
humility is not just thinking little of yourself, but it is not
thinking of yourself at all. In the realm of Christian love,
for example, far too many of us want to love more. Now this is
not a bad motive. Much holier than this, however, is the motive
to have friends whom we want to be loved more, and if we can
somehow increase our love and our capacity to love, our friends
can have more love. Hence it is nobler not to want to be a greater
lover, but to want your friends to receive a greater love, realizing
that if our friends do receive a greater love, we must become
greater lovers. We then, to an extent, have purified our motive.
4. Do not measure or display your spiritual growth or size.
Oftentimes in failing to display Christian maturity, one demonstrates
it. A Christian, yea, especially a mature Christian, should learn
to meet his fellow Christians on their own level of conversation.
Of course, by this I do not mean base conversation, evil speaking,
etc. I simply mean that as one grows in grace he finds fewer
people who know his vocabulary. The stronger will have to use
the vocabulary of the weaker and much of the time the stronger
will have to live on the level of the weaker. This means that
the more a Christian grows in grace, the lonelier he will become.
It also means that he will hunger for someone with whom to talk
who has obtained the comparable level of spiritual maturity.
This is why oftentimes depth looks shallow and profundity looks
simple. This is why a most mature Christian is often not recognized
as such because he has attained enough maturity to meet each
Christian on his own level.
You recall that Jesus became more lonely as He approached
the top of the mountain. He left the multitude and went with
the twelve. After a while he left nine of the twelve and took
only the three. It was not long until even the three were asleep,
and He was alone with the Father. This means that the best Christian
may be the loneliest Christian in the world. It also means that
he will have to spend much time with God and that he will have
to exert understanding and strength in his relationship with
Did you ever stop and think that the burden of reconciliation
always rests with the strong and not the weak? Realizing that
the sinned against will be more spiritual, God places the burden
of reconciliation upon him and not upon the sinner. Hence, Jesus
directs His discussion of being reconciled to the brother who
is stronger, the person sinned against. When He speaks of being
reconciled, He talks to the one whose brother has aught against
him, and not primarily to the one who has aught against his brother.
If one is so deep that he cannot be understood by the shallow,
how then can he help them? To have these deep thoughts is fine,
and to discuss them with light maturity is fine, but to speak
always on the level of one's own spiritual attainment is neither
profitable nor helpful. In other words, spiritual growth is of
little use unless it can be transferred into energy and into
the service of God and others. To know a truth simply for the
purpose of knowing a truth is vanity. To seek truth just for
self edification is selfishness. To seek more truth in order
to gain strength to help others is Christlike.
5. One must remember in Christian growth that the more he
grows in grace the fewer the number that will think him to be
mature. The more one grows in grace, the lonelier he will become.
Hence, the fewer the people who will understand him and be qualified
to judge his spiritual maturity. Hence, one of the heartbreaks
of Christian growth is that it is often unrecognized by others.
Carnality cannot weigh spirituality. Hence the mature Christian
will have to find his comparison in being strong enough to help
others rather than receiving their acclaim. The greatest person
who ever lived was put to death on the cross. The more we become
like Him the fewer are those who can understand us. This is why
weaker Christians are often judged to be better Christians. Pride
cannot judge true humility. Carnality cannot judge true spirituality.
The weak cannot properly judge the strong. Hence, many of the
great Christians are seldom recognized as such.
The flesh, however, does attempt to recognize spiritual qualities.
In so doing, the flesh makes its own humility, its own love,
its own meekness, etc. When the flesh makes its own qualities,
it then tries to satisfy them and meet the requirements. Most
of us are far too concerned with being considered a lover than
about being a lover. Most of us are more concerned about meeting
the fleshly standards of humility than we are about being humble.
Hence, the great satisfaction of growing in grace will ultimately
have to be in pleasing the Saviour and becoming strong enough
to be a help to others.
CHIEFS AND NOT ENOUGH INDIANS
"Go to the top" is the cry that every young person
hears in our generation. Now the truth is that the "top"
is rarely as large as the bottom. The farther toward the top
of the pyramid one gets, the fewer stones he will find. The simple
truth is that everybody cannot go to the top. Actually, going
high is simply relative anyway. If everybody gets high, then
high is no longer high. If everyone gets educated, then no one
will be educated, for these terms are but relative ones. There
was a time when a high school graduate was highly educated and
considered more qualified than a college graduate is today. This
is not to say that one should not accumulate all of the facts
possible. Neither is it to say that one should not receive training.
However, it seems to me that most of our educational institutions
are training people to be leaders. Why shouldn't some schools
train some students to be followers? When everyone in a society
becomes a leader, anarchy is inevitable. Far too many people
who are meant to be Indians are trying to be the chief, and many
who are meant to be followers are trying to be leaders. If we
have a need today, it is for good Indians. Were there no soldiers,
there could be no generals. Were there no children, there could
be no parents. Were there no employees, there could be no employers.
Were there no citizens, there could be no President, and if there
are no Indians, there can be no chiefs. Just as God calls some
to be leaders, he calls more to be followers. We need the Aarons
and the Hurs to hold up the hands of Moses. We need some to go
with Saul to Gibeah--a band of men whose hearts God had touched.
We need the seven men full of the Holy Ghost to help the apostles
in their work. We need the deacons to hold up the hands of the
God, give us leaders, to be sure, but God, give us followers
also. We have said, "Go to the top, go to the top, go to
the top," so long that the top is heavier than the foundation,
and it is bound to crumble. Let us simply say, "Go as high
as you can," but if you can go no higher than the foundation,
you may still be used to hold up the entire building. Thank God
for the chief, but praise the Lord for faithful Indians!
The time of the year that listens to the echoes of the happiness
of summer and girds itself for the coming chill of winter is
know as autumn. Perhaps no season of the year does as much to
the emotions of men as does autumn. . ..Autumn.
Autumn is a season of leaves, when the nature dots each leaf
with a different color and blends it into a beautiful painting
that no artist can capture. It is a season of stacks and piles
of leaves and the smell of their burning. . .Autumn.
Autumn is a season of trees, when they, like Joseph of old,
put on their coats of many colors and thrill the heart of each
observer . . . Autumn.
Autumn is a season of crisp air, when God's air-conditioning
is turned on in full blast, causing a spring in the step and
a sharpness in the air such as no other season can cause. . .Autumn.
Autumn is a season of melancholy, when mothers who had dreaded
summer and the bother of the children find themselves missing
Johnny and Susie in the loneliness of a quiet living room after
school has snatched them away . .. ..Autumn.
Autumn is a time of memories-memories of a wonderful summer,
the best vacation we ever had, happy meals in roadside restaurants,
picnics, ants, flies, car trips, shower baths, and playgrounds.
Autumn is a time to reflect upon the joys of summer, when
the family was closer than at any time of the year. Now we separate
to go our several ways with our many activities and varied interests
but with memories to keep us together until we pack next year
for an ever greater vacation. . ..Autumn.
Autumn is a season of explanation, as wide-eyed children tell
teachers that this was the best summer ever. They explain with
loud voices about the trip to Grandpa's farm, the feeding of
the chipmunks in the mountains, and the catching of the biggest
fish ever (which must have weighed at least a half pound, and
whose picture weighed five pounds, and which weighs twelve pounds
in the memory of innocent childhood!). . .Autumn.
Autumn is a season of the sound of footballs and the encouragement
of cheerleaders. It is a time when every team is undefeated and
has dreams of the championship. . .Autumn.
Autumn is a time of cleaning, when lonely mothers sigh and
clean the finger-prints and cluttered closets of little ones
whose empty room is suddenly a sanctuary. . .Autumn.
Autumn is a time of tears, when mothers and fathers say good-bye
to college students who only last year were in kindergarten.
It is a time of wondering where the years have gone, a time of
bewilderment as we try to remember just a little of the brief
period between kindergarten and college. . ..Autumn.
Autumn is a time of the familiar squeak of unoiled school
bus brakes, as we see the well- scrubbed children across the
street getting aboard. . ..Autumn.
Autumn is a time of reunion, when school friends measure each
other to see the growth of the summer and when friends forgotten
for weeks seem dearer than ever before. Forgotten are the differences
of the past year. Forgotten are the arguments on the ball field.
Our friendship suddenly is dearer and sweeter than before. .
Autumn is a season when Mom has time to realize what it means
to be a mother. She has been so busy being a mother that she
has forgotten what being a mother really is. When the chorus
of voices has faded toward the school grounds and the shuffling
of little feet has left the carpet for the concrete, Mom sits
down with emotion and realizes what it is to be a mother. She
bows her head in thanksgiving that she has been called to be
a woman that "excellest them all." . . .Autumn.
Autumn is a time of weeping. Mother and Dad have wondered
for days if little Susie would weep when she went off to school
for her first day. Mother has girded little Susie for this occasion
and has reminded her to be a good girl and not to cry. Susie,
however, forgot to prepare Mother; and as Susie goes off to school
skipping and laughing, it is mother who wits down and cries,
as Dad is bothered with a recurring sinus condition. . ..Autumn.
Autumn is a time when Dad bundles up all the bills to see
how much month is left at the end of the money. He shakes his
head and listens more carefully to the commercials concerning
"Friendly Bob Adams and the Household Finance Corporation"
and ponders his "plight to the poorhouse" as he prays
for God's wisdom and help to provide for his family. . .Autumn.
But in it all, autumn should be a time of dedication. The
turning of the grass, the dropping of the flower seed, the dying
of the leaves, the fading of the summer all remind us of the
"Corn of Wheat" that fell in the ground two thousand
years ago at Calvary. It reminds us that One had to die that
we might live.
As sure as autumn reminds us of His death, the hope of spring
reminds us of His resurrection; for these same trees shall bloom
again, the same grass shall grow again, these dying flowers shall
blossom again, and our Saviour rose again!
Autumn, finally, is a time to die. It is a time for us, with
the flowers, trees, grass, and nature to die. We should die to
self, die to our own pleasures, and live unto Christ.
We look back in retrospect at the summer and brace ourselves
for the chilling winds of winter. Let us enjoy the most beautiful
season of them all--the season, death--for in death nature is
at its prettiest, Jesus reached His glory, and we become our
best for Him.
A GOOD NAME
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
and loving favour rather than silver and gold." (Proverbs
"A good name is better than precious ointment; and the
day of death than the day of one's birth." (Ecclesiastes
"Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of
the righteous; spoil not his resting place." (Proverbs 24:15)
There used to be an old saying, "His word is as good
as his signature." The phrase "good name" in Proverbs
22:1 implies more than a name that folks like. It implies a good
risk, a good credit name, a good business reputation, integrity,
character, honesty, etc. Certainly this is rather to be chosen
than great riches. Money cannot give a person a good name, but
a good name can get him money. Hence, if one does not have both,
it is better to have a good name. It is important to start early
in the life of a child teaching him to have such a name.
In the first place, children should be taught to be discreet
about indebtedness. Exercise care in going into debt and assuming
obligations that cannot easily be met. He should be taught that
a debt should be paid on or before the day it is due. He should
be taught that anything less than this is dishonesty.
In spite of the fact that care should be exercised in the
making of financial obligations, it is, nevertheless, a definite
asset for a person to have good credit. I advise young couples
to establish good credit immediately upon marriage. Time and
again I have encouraged young couples to go to the bank and borrow
a hundred dollars, pay it back in a few days; then borrow a hundred
and fifty and pay it back in a few days; then borrow two hundred
and pay it back in a few days; then borrow two hundred and pay
it back in a few days; then borrow two hundred fifty, etc. until
they have extended their maximum borrowing power. This is a good
idea for a church as well as an individual. One never know when
such a credit standing will come in handy. All of the time he
is developing his credit rating.
It is also a good idea for a person to buy a few things on
credit from companies other than banks. Again, this can be used
to help one to establish credit.
If a child is to have a good name, he should be taught to
take pride in his family name. Again and again a child should
be reminded of his name. A family spirit should be born. This
is akin to school spirit. When I was a Paratrooper in World War
II I was taught to take pride in the fact that I wore the wings
and boots of the United States Paratrooper. I was taught that
when I did something wrong I brought reflection against my branch
of service. A child should feel the same way about his family
name. He should be taught to protect it and guard it with his
Another thing that is important concerning the obtaining of
a good name is avoiding the appearance of evil. Many names are
ruined by people who do no wrong but fail to avoid the appearance
of evil. Someone has said, "Your character is what you are;
your reputation is what man thinks you are." How sad it
is when one's reputation does not measure up to his character.
His public relations department has fallen behind the production
department. He has the goods but cannot deliver them because
of a bad reputation.
A child should also be taught to be dependable and punctual.
He should be taught to be on time and meet his obligations and
appointments. This is simply another way of saying, "His
word should be as good as bond." Promises should not be
made lightly, carelessly, or indifferently, but rather soberly
Many people leave their children with nothing but money and
not enough character to keep from squandering it. One of the
great things that a child can inherit from his mother and father
is a good name. If one is so fortunate to inherit this, he should
guard it carefully so his children can share it with him.
The only things that you can keep for yourself are those which
you give to others.
There is no life so "empty" as the "self-centered"
life: there is no life so "centered" as the "self-emptied"
life. Miserable is that man who thinks of himself. Happy is that
man who thinks of others. Someone has well said, "Happiness
is stumbled upon in the pathway of duty."
How may I help others?
1. I must ask myself, "What can I do to help in every
need I see?" I must not think, "What can another do
to help?" but rather, "What can I do to help?"
I must associate myself with the needs of others. Pity is not
enough. Sympathy is not enough. Even compassion is not enough.
I must always ask, "What can I do to help?"
2. Another's need must be by challenge. Two men had passed
by the wounded one before the good Samaritan stopped to help.
He did not ask, "Should I help?" but rather said, "I
must help!" To see another in need was his challenge. This
is true not only for the needs of a fellow that is half dead
beside the road, but it is true even for the small needs of a
friend. I must identify myself with him so that not only will
his needs be a challenge to me, but an opportunity. His needs
must be as my needs.
Perhaps being a pastor for so many years makes one feel more
identified with others than he would normally feel. I find myself
feeling as a part of every family of my church so that when a
particular family has a decision to make, I feel that it is "our"
decision. When a family has a problem, I feel that it is "our"
problem. One will never know the true secret of helping others
until he is challenged by their needs.
3. I must listen for the wants of others. If that want will
not do harm to my friend, I must attempt to satisfy it. Recently
I was preaching in a distant state and noticed a beautiful "tie
tac" worn by a fellow pastor. I commented to him about the
beauty of the "tie tac." The next evening he handed
me a little envelope. As I drove off from the service I opened
the envelop and found the "tie tac" that I had admired
before. (The next night I bragged on his suit, but to no avail.)
4. I must determine the answer to another's needs even if
I am not asked. Of course, I will not offer the answer unless
I am asked to do so. I must not appear to be a know-it- all,
yet I must always attempt to find the answers to the needs of
A few years ago I was leaving for a trip to the Middle East
when a friend of mine said with a smile on his face, "Jack,
I would suggest that you not go to Milan, Italy."
I inquired as to the reason for this suggestion, and then
he said, "That is the location of the `Leaning Tower' and
knowing you as I do, you would try to straighten it up while
This is my point: I must remind myself, however, to be very
careful not to volunteer my solutions, but at the same time,
I must always have tried to think of a solution in order to be
able to help when asked.
5. I must not consider what others have done for me. I am
debtor to all men. Whether or not someone would do it for me
has nothing to do with my decision to help him. The Apostle Paul
said that he was debtor to all men, to the Jew, to the Greek,
to the Barbarian, yea, to every man. I, too, am such a man. I
am a debtor to those who love me just because they love me. I
am a debtor to those who hate me because they need me. Our Lord
reminds us that it is no longer an eye for an eye or a tooth
for a tooth, but we are to bless those who curse us, pray for
those who despitefully use us, and love those who hate us. This
is the law of Grace and the law of Love. I must not help others
because they help me; I must help others because they need help.
My motivation should not be caused by external stimuli but internal
love and compassion. The unkind may need more than the kind,
the ugly more than the pretty, the bad more than the good, the
weak more than the strong, so I must remember never to let what
others do for me motivate my deeds for them.
6. I must be careful that what I do is best for others and
not what others think I should do for them. My satisfaction should
not come from satisfying others but from helping others. My goal
should not be to be loved and admired by others but to help others.
Hence, I must not always do for another what he thinks should
be done for him. This means that oftentimes those whom I love
most will understand me the least. It means sometimes the ones
for whom I do the most will think I do them harm. It may not
be until we are in Heaven that my brother will understand that
I have helped him, but help him I must, and help him I will!
My goal is not to please him but to help him. To be sure, to
please him is a welcome bonus; to help him is the great reward.
7. I must wait for vindication when misunderstood. The One
Who helped others the most was crucified, misunderstood, hated,
and rejected of men. Could it be that the more I become like
Him the more I, too, will be misunderstood, rejected, and hated
of men? When, and if, I am so honored to be counted worthy to
suffer with Him, may it be because I, with Him, have tried to
help others. And may I leave to Him the vindication and the retaliation.
I know a preacher who was hated by another. He sought no retaliation,
but instead did anonymous favors for his enemy. In due time he
was completely vindicated, and his enemy fell into sin and reproach.
"Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
I must help those who need help the most. The one who does
me evil is in the most need of my help.
8. I must not be happy about my vindication. It has been a
wonderful thing through the years to watch the hand of God upon
my ministry. Miraculous things have happened as God has vindicated
His Word and soul winning through the years. Unfortunate things
have happened to people who have lifted up their hands against
God's anointed. Though I rejoice in God's protecting hand, I
must not rejoice when misfortune falls to others as God vindicates
me. I must remember to let God care for the vengeance, and I
must comfort my enemies even while they suffer such vengeance.
I must be happy about God's protection of me, but I must not
be happy when another suffers.
9. I must claim wisdom to help others. I do not always know
the needs of another. Since his wants may not be his needs, and
since I, too, am limited by human frailties, I must seek divine
help and wisdom to determine his needs. I have this promise from
the Holy Spirit: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask
of God, That giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) I must claim this
promise. Without it, I could misinterpret the needs of others
and do them harm instead of good.
How then may I get wisdom? I may get it by reading diligently
the book of Proverbs, which is the book of wisdom. I may get
it by fellowship with those who are wise. In fact, there is a
bit of wisdom that I can get from every man. Every man knows
something that I do not know; I must probe until I find it; hence,
all men are my teachers.
"Lord, help me live from day to day In such a self-forgetful
way, That even when I kneel to pray My prayer shall be for others.
"Others, Lord, yes, others, Let this my motto be, Help
me to live for others, That I may live like Thee.
"Help me in all the work I do To ever be sincere and
true, And know that all I'd do for You Must needs be done for
"Let `Self' be crucified and slain And buried deep; and
all in vain May efforts be to rise again Unless to live for others.
In Galatians 5:22 we find mentioned the fruit of the Spirit.
Notice very carefully that this does not say the "fruits"
of the Spirit. Each of these graces or qualities is a portion
of one "fruit." Oftentimes people erroneously teach
that soul winning is only one of the fruits and try to prove
their point with Galatians 5:22. You will notice, however, that
soul winning is not a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Neither
is it a part of the gifts of the Spirit. Every Christian is to
be a soul winner.
Let's use the simple illustration of a fire department. Every
fireman is to put out fires, but there is a certain way that
firemen should behave. They should have clean uniforms and clean
fire trucks. They should know the streets of the city. They should
be courteous. They should be physically strong, etc. No one,
however, would say that a fireman should spend all of his time
doing calisthenics just to be physically strong. Neither would
one say that having a clean uniform would substitute for putting
out fires. It is understood that every fireman is to put out
fires, but there are some things that firemen should do as they
put out fires and as firemen.
The Great Commission, "Go ye into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature," is given to every
Christian. Soul winning is not one of the gifts; it is every
Christian's job. However, as we win folks to Christ, there is
a fruit that we are to have, and that fruit is the fruit of the
Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5. As we go soul winning we
are to have love. As we go soul winning we are to have meekness.
As we go soul winning we are to have joy, etc.
One part of this fruit is gentleness. Gentleness is not a
substitute for soul winning, but is a supplement for soul winning.
In other words, we are to be gentle as we serve God.
If a person refuses to obey Christ in carrying out the Great
Commission, he will have to find a synthetic fruit. One who works
mainly at having love will have a synthetic kind of love. One
who works mainly at having any part of the fruit of the Spirit
will find it something that is tacked on and not built-in. When
one gets the fulness of the Holy Spirit for soul winning, he
will then have an inbred fruit of the Spirit. This kind will
not fail him in a crisis. It is a part of him. Such is the case
1. There are several words in the Greek which are translated
"gentleness." One is a word which comes from two words
which mean "into" and "fitting." Putting
them together we come up with "fitting into" or better
still, "appropriate." We must learn to be appropriate.
This would include manners, ethics, etc. Christian people should
know how to dress to fit the occasion. They should know the proper
eating manners and social graces. They should learn to be appropriate.
Much care should be taken that in teaching such things we
do not rear children to become "snobs." The having
of manners should not be an end in itself but rather a means
to an end. We must remember that manners are only customs. The
Japanese sits on the floor while he eats. When eating in a Japanese
home one should do likewise. To set a strict, rigid rule for
manners is unwise. All such things are relative and one should
be more interested in being appropriate than in adhering to a
rigid set of rules that make him offensive. However, one should
know what is considered proper and be able and willing to be
appropriate as long as being appropriate does not mean the giving
up of conviction.
I was in a certain home recently as a guest at a meal. It
was a poor home and one inhabited by godly people, yet people
who did not know what normally would be considered good manners.
The head of the house grabbed the fork in one hand, the knife
in the other, put his elbows on the table, lowered his mouth
three or four inches from the plate and began to "shovel
it in." Now I was not equipped with the talent necessary
to copy him. I did, however, ask if he would give me permission
to divide my biscuit and sop the gravy. (Now in most circles
this would not be proper.) Not only did he give me permission,
but he said, "You are a regular fellow. I like you! You
are not like most preachers!"
The story is told that Abraham Lincoln was once eating at
a formal banquet when a fellow next to him poured his coffee
into his saucer and drank from the saucer. The elite audience
was shocked at such a gesture. Abraham Lincoln realized the man's
embarrassment and likewise poured his coffee into his saucer
and began to drink from it. Perhaps the greatness of Abraham
Lincoln is manifested in such acts as this as well as in his
statesmanship and leadership.
I have often thought that perhaps real education is knowing
enough to fit into any situation that is moral and not feel uncomfortable
or cause others to feel uncomfortable. If one's education allows
him only to behave with the educated, he is yet lacking. On the
other hand, for one to be unwilling because of prejudice to know
how to fit in gracefully with the educated also shows a sign
of character deficiency. We must remember, however, that the
purpose of all of this is not that we be good appropriate people.
This in itself would be an unholy motive. We must remember the
purpose is that all classes of people need help, and by learning
the true meaning of the word "gentleness" we may not
only be able to reach all but also to help all.
The rich man needs help as well as the poor. The elite one
needs help as much as the uncouth. The up-and-outers need help
as well as the down-and-outers.
I tell my boy that I want him to be at home on the ball field,
when company comes, at church, at a symphony concert, or at the
fishing hole. Appropriate manners, appropriate dress, appropriate
conversation, etc. should be a vital part of every child's education.
One would not want to wear a tuxedo on a fishing trip. Neither
would he want to wear a leather jacket to a wedding.
This is the first use of gentleness in the Bible. this particular
word is found in Titus 3:2, To speak evil of no man, to be no
brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men."
2. There is another word translated "gentleness"
in the Bible. This could be called "firm care." This
is found in II Timothy 2:24, "And the servant of the Lord
must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient."
Gentleness is not weakness. It is not even what the average person
calls meekness. It is not softness. Gentleness is firmness. Gentleness
is strength. It is love wrapped in character. It is as the nurse
with the child. She does not yield to the child's whims but loves
the child enough to be firm to do things for the healing of the
child. Gentleness is the teacher handling the slow student. It
is not the overlooking of the student's weaknesses, but the firm
leadership of the student that he may do better. Gentleness is
the parent handling the trying child. It is disciplining with
a tear for the good of the child. This is the reason that a child
needs a mother and dad. The softness of a mother with the firmness
of a father are chosen by God to be used as a beautiful blend
in the rearing of children.
3. Still another word used in the New Testament for gentleness
could be translated "evenness." We have learned as
we have discussed the subject of meekness that meekness is not
looking down upon or up to anyone, not thinking ourselves better
or worse than anyone, not thinking of ourselves at all, but looking
at everyone equally. Now gentleness could be called "the
acting out of meekness." Meekness is the feeling that we
have to all men; gentleness is the acting out of that feeling.
It is the laboratory of the theory of meekness. In other words,
there should be an evenness about our handling of people. We
should be as nice to the poor as to the rich. We should be as
courteous to those who need our help as to those who help us.
How can we do this and live Bible gentleness? First, we can
learn to know all types of people. For a person to become a well-rounded,
gentle Christian, he must learn to walk with the illiterate and
also with the scholar without feeling uneasy or causing uneasiness.
To do this one must plan to rub shoulders with all classes in
order that he may know their needs, their heartbreaks, their
sorrows, their joys, their victories, and their defeats. For
one to limit his contacts to any certain class of people is to
limit his opportunity to help people.
Then one must learn to do many things. The pianist could well
afford to learn to play sports. The sportsman could wisely learn
something about music. One's interest must be varied if he is
to help people in all walks of life.
We should also read a variety of things. For many years now
I have read such magazines as the Nation's Business, National
Geographic, Reader's Digest, and even Better Homes and Gardens.
(Yes, you read it right.) I have read sports magazines and other
educational publications. All of this is simply to reach people
and help people in all walks of life. Since I have tried to help
so many ladies, I should know something of their interests. Since
I want to help businessmen, I must know something of the business
and economic condition of our nation.
There are many other things that would lead a person to be
able to help people in all walks of life and all classes. It
is important, for example, that every child be influenced by
a mother and father. It is important that we learn to keep our
hobbies as hobbies and not get the cart before the horse. And
of course, it is important that we walk daily with Him. He could
talk to a ruler one day and a fallen woman at the well another.
He could speak intelligently about bread to the baker, about
the stars to the astrologer, about water to the woman, about
a vine to the husbandman, about truth to the philosopher, about
sheep to the shepherd, about plowing to the farmer, about mediation
to lawyer, about fishing to the fisherman, and about marriage
to the lover. He is our example of gentleness.
The wise man said, ". . .in the multitude of counsellors
there is safety." Even the President of the United States
realizes this and chooses for himself a group of men whom he
calls his cabinet. These men are experts in different fields
in which the President has to make decisions. He meets with them
for counsel and advice.
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said, "You can borrow brains, but
you cannot borrow character." Perhaps it could be said that
one who does not need to borrow character will inevitably borrow
Each person should have several people on his cabinet. "For
by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of
counsellors there is safety." (Proverbs 24:6) "Without
counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors
they are established." (Proverbs 15:22) "Where no counsel
is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there
is safety." (Proverbs 11:14)
Pity the know-it-all. Pity the person who has come to the
place where he thinks he does not need advice and counsel. Of
course, one should be very careful that he chooses only Christian
counselors. "Blessed is the man that walketh no in the counsel
of the ungodly. . ." (Psalm 1:1) It is dangerous and unwise
for a high school student to seek the counsel of so-called senior
counselors if they are not Christians. To be sure, the students
should not be rude to them, and they should listen to them but
not consider the things that they have to say.
Now who should be on one's cabinet?
1. The Pastor. Before making any serious decision certainly
one would want to counsel with his pastor. This could be done
oftentimes in a private conference. Other times simply a telephone
conversation will do, but the wise person will seek the counsel
of his pastor before making life's great decisions. This is the
reason that parents should build the pastor up in the minds of
their children. The day may come when a young person will have
to have the help of a counselor. It well might be that the pastor
is the only one that can help. At that time the parent will be
glad that he has taught his children to respect the pastor. The
parents who criticize the pastor at home are teaching them not
to go to the pastor when they need his counsel and advice, and
in the long run, they do irreparable harm to the child. When
the child needs the counsel of his pastor, he will not seek his
advice nor follow it. Many lives could have been saved had parents
been more careful in their conversation about the pastor around
their family circle.
The godly pastor longs to help his people. He will be glad
to counsel with you. Seek his advice. He should be on your cabinet.
2. Choose someone with the gift of wisdom. The Apostle Paul
speaks in his first letter to the Corinthian church about the
gifts of the Spirit. One of these gifts is the gift of wisdom.
God graciously gives to some a double portion of discernment
and wisdom. Each person should seek out such people and have
one or more on his cabinet. One should not be afraid to seek
their advice. Such a person is inevitably interested in the lives
of others as this trait is inseparable with this gift.
3. A sincere friend. "Ointment and perfume rejoice the
heart; so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel."
(Proverbs 27:9) This should not be someone given to extravagant
flattery, but who is friend enough to be honest, sincere, and
frank. This counselor should be one who knows you well, loves
you dearly in spite of your faults, and would counsel you for
your own good and not for his own personal benefit of standing
4. Someone who is successful in your field or in the field
you plan to enter. If, for example, a young person is going to
be a school teacher, he should also have a cabinet member who
is successful in the teaching profession. To be sure this person
should be a Christian. Every person should have such a cabinet
5. Parents (if Christians). Each child should feel that he
is able to go talk to his mother and father. Oftentimes parents
say such things as, "You don't know how hard it is for kids
to talk to their parents," or "The hardest person to
talk to is someone in your own family." This should not
be so, and it need not be so. There are several things parents
can do to avoid such a catastrophe, and it is definitely a catastrophe!
(1) Start early in the child's life having regular talks with
the child. this will help develop an at-homeness between the
parent and the child. One of the problems concerning the line
of communication between parents and child is the fact that we
wait so long to start developing such habits that we find it
awkward to do so. Because of this, regular talks should begin
early in the life of the child.
(2) Nothing should appear to be funny to the parent. Appear
to be interested. Their problems may seem trivial to you, but
they are dead serious to your children. If they feel that you
think the problems are humorous, they will not return to you
with their problems the next time. Be interested, listen carefully,
and never make light of their conversation no matter how trivial
it may seem.
(3) Treat them as adults. Never talk about their love as being
puppy love, and never let the child feel that you look down at
him as he shares with you his problems.
(4) Listen carefully to everything they say. Let them present
their case. Do not interrupt with premature advice. Be sure the
entire case has been presented before the jury gives its verdict.
Many times this s the main thing that a child wants--just someone
to listen to him.
(5) Always have time for private conversation with the child.
If the parent does not take time for the child when the child
is young, the child will not take time for the parent when he
is old. Do not make the child feel that you are rushed. Give
him ample time and let him know that he is tremendously important
(6) Be on the lookout for times when the child might want
to talk to his parent. Sometimes the young person might be a
bit timid to talk to Mom and Dad. Oftentimes a wise mother or
father will suggest that they talk as he sees the need arising
in the life of a child. Be on the lookout for such times and
give ample opportunity for them to discuss their problems with
(7) Always be confidential. When the child talks to the parent
in confidence, it should be kept in strict confidence. Once the
parent has betrayed this the child will be reluctant to share
his problems with the parent again or to return to the parent
(8) Build up the child's confidence in the parent. There should
be a definite understanding that Mom and Dad are big and important
people. A child should be trained to believe that Dad's advice
is as good as the school teacher's and that Mom's is as good
as any special counselor's. Do not make such statements as, "Dad
is not an expert here." Lead the child to believe that Mother
and Dad are loving experts who can give advice worthy of being
We have been discussing the Christian's cabinet. On that cabinet
should be the Pastor, the parents, someone with the gift of wisdom,
sincere friends, and people successful in your chosen field.
Take a moment now and list your cabinet. Write their names on
a piece of paper. Keep the list accessible. When there is a decision
to make, go to your cabinet members and ask their counsel and
advice. Of course, the decision is yours, but it should no be
made without consulting the cabinet.
"Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom:
and with all thy getting get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)
"To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge
and discretion." (Proverbs 1:4)
"My son, attend unto my wisdom , and bow thine ear to
my understanding." (Proverbs 5:1)
"How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to
get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!" (Proverbs
"He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that
keepeth understanding shall find good." (Proverbs 19:8)
Education is the acquiring of knowledge and the wisdom with
which to use it properly. Few things have been as perverted in
our generation as the concept of what education really is.
1. Formal education is just one form of education. To be sure,
it is a very vital one, but it is not the only one. There are
those among us, sad to say, who feel that the only way to acquire
an education is through formal training. Some have even made
a god of formal education and have fallen into the pit of judging
every person by how many schools and what schools he has attended.
Someone has said, "There is no fool like an educated fool."
Perhaps an educated fool is one of those persons who feels that
one's social standing should be determined by the number of hours
he has spent in formal training. The truth is that some of the
most educated people that I have ever met had very little formal
training. This is not to discount the importance of formal training;
it is simply to attempt to keep others from discounting the importance
of the acquiring of knowledge and wisdom from every source and
not just one. How tragic it is to find someone so self-centered
and so perverted that he feels the only way to acquire knowledge
is in the use of the particular methods he used. Someone has
said, "The only difference between college graduates and
those who have never been to college is that they are uneducated
in different subjects."
2. Education is more than knowledge. How tragic it is when
one comes to a time in life when n he feels that becoming an
educated person is simply to become a dictionary with a fleshly
binding. A truly educated person has more than an accumulation
of facts. He has the wisdom with which to use those facts. When
this wisdom is obtained one also becomes tolerant to those with
fewer facts. Someone has said, "The most dangerous thing
in the word is a man with a brain that is well educated but who
does not have enough character to know how to use it.
3. All people are educated to a degree. Of course, some are
educated more than others, and the truth is that most of the
most educated people whom I have ever known were very limited
in formal training. For example, some of the most successful
preachers in history have been men with little formal training.
In some cases, the pastors of the world's largest churches are
men whom some would consider unqualified to pastor and whom smaller
churches would not even consider. This is not to minimize the
importance of formal training, for certainly, the usual case
should allow for such training. We are simply pleading for the
case of allowing some possibility that a person without the formal
training could be very educated. The average pulpit committee
would not consider a man with the formal training of a Dwight
Moody or Billy Sunday. How sad!
4. Successful people without the formal training are the exception
rather than the rule. It is usually best for young people to
pursue the normal preparation required for a certain field. I
recommend to my young men who are called to preach that they
go to college, and if possible, seminary.
A young man once went to a seminary professor on his first
day in school and said, "I want to preach."
The seminary president asked, "Do you have any sermons?"
"No," replied the young preacher, "but God
will put the words in my heart."
The president then very wisely said, "All right, go down
to a certain street and a certain place and I will have an appointment
for you to preach there on the street corner Saturday afternoon."
The young man looked at the seminary president with a puzzled
expression and said, "Why sir, that is in the Mexican area
of town. Those people speak Spanish."
"Well," replied the president, "Since God is
going to put the words in your heart, He may as well put Spanish
Someone once said to a famous preacher, "God doesn't
need your education."
The preacher wisely replied, "God doesn't need your ignorance
Hence, it is the usual and safest course for young people
to pursue the formal education generally required for success
in their chosen fields. There must be, however, room allowed
for the success of those who have climbed the ladder without
this particular form of training.
5. Taste is not a sign of education. One of the most disgusting
things in the world to sane people is to find someone who thinks
he is more educated than another because he likes a certain kind
of music, a certain kind of art, etc. These things are relative.
There is no such thing as better music or better art. It so happens
that I like what is commonly called better music and better art,
but who is to say which is better of the things that are purely
relative. In our day a fellow can throw a tomato on a canvas,
squirt some mustard all over it, pour on a little black pepper,
stir it beyond recognition and call it modern art. One can get
an old rim of a tire, beat it with a hammer, cover it with canvas
and unveil it as sculpture. Many people develop superiority complexes
and even an excess of pride because they have the idea that education
is in developing the certain tastes and appreciations that they
have been brainwashed to believe are the criterion of being an
educated person. Folly!
The question then comes, "How can we become educated
persons?" One way is to know the Bible. The Bible is the
basis of truth. Nothing is true which is contrary to the Word
of God. Not only will the knowing of the Bible make a person
more educated, but the reading of the Bible will improve his
English, literature appreciation, and refinement.
Another way to become an educated person is to watch and observe
great people. Some great people are teaching in schools. Many
are not. Regardless of where greatness is found, one should avail
himself of the opportunity of observing it.
someone told me this when I was a kid preacher. I subsequently
invited every great man I could to preach in my churches. What
a tremendous contribution this has made to my life. What a privilege
it has been for me to observe greatness and watch great people.
I trust that some of it has "rubbed off."
Another way to obtain an education is by reading. Many have
said that formal education is simply teaching a person how to
read. To say the least, one's education can be extended by constant
use of books and good literature. It is wise for one not only
to become well educated in his field, but somewhat educated in
almost every field. For the person who has little or no opportunity
for formal training, reading affords him all of the opportunities
necessary for success.
Then there is the necessary thing of studying hard in school.
The wise youth will make the most of his days in school. He will
study hard and prepare himself for life. One of the main reasons
for this is that life's habits are formed so early. One's character
is molded at such at early age. One who works hard in school
will probably work hard after graduation. One who just barely
gets by in school will barely get by after he graduates. During
school days habits are made and character is molded that will
determine the success or failure of a life. Hence, every person
in school should do his best and accumulate every possible bit
of knowledge so that he might be used to his fullest in life.
One of the finest ways to become educated is through travel.
As often as possible a person should avail himself of travel
opportunities. When such opportunities arise, care should be
taken in the planning of activities so as to make the trip educational
as well as a pleasure.
One of the most important things in the securing of an education
is the wise choice of the proper college. A college should be
chosen that builds character as well as minds. It should be remembered
that the type of training to be received is far more important
than the prestige that comes with the diploma. Nothing is as
highly exaggerated as the accreditation, etc. It is too bad that
many parents are more concerned about their children getting
talent than character. When a person develops character, he will
develop the talent necessary to succeed in his chosen field.
Oftentimes a talented person thinks he can make it without hard
work, and consequently, runs from character. Character without
talent will acquire the talent necessary. Talent without character
is usually lazy and flabby. A college should be chosen on the
basis of what it will do for the young person, not what opportunities
it will give him after he graduates. The right kind off character
will make the opportunities and seize upon them. Education is
not the acquiring of a chance, or the acquiring of an opportunity;
it is the acquiring of character and knowledge. These should
be the things considered in choosing a college.
In these days when communism and almost every kind of "ism"
in the world can be found on college campuses, it is also vitally
important that great consideration be given to Christian colleges
and universities, and much counsel and advice should be received
from successful spiritual people concerning the choice of a college.
Thousands and thousands of godly parents have worked, saved,
and even sacrificed in order that their child might get what
"they were not privileged to get"--an education. Through
blood, sweat, and tears they provided an education for their
child, only to have his faith shaken in the Word of God and the
principles he had learned at the feet of his mother and father.
This is nothing more than robbery and deceit on the part of colleges
and universities. Especially is this true when an institution
carries the name of Christian and yet breaks down the Christian
faith. In the opinion of this author it is better for a young
person to go to an out-and-out secular college, where he will
have his guard up and not be deceived, than to be led to believe
that the school is Christian, but where he walks away with a
diploma that he did not have and without faith in the Word of
God which he did have.
It is a good idea for parents to find the names of colleges
that not only are places of culture, refinement, and education
but places where the Word of God is honored, believed and taught.
Parents should start early in the life of a child by helping
create in his mind a desire to go to that college or university.
Some of the most highly educated people that I have ever known
have many degrees. On the other hand, some of the most highly
educated people that I have ever known have no degrees. May God
give us His leadership and wisdom with which to utilize every
opportunity of life in receiving an education. Then may He give
us enough sense to realize that one may achieve success and become
educated without following the particular route that we followed.
As a boy I often spent time throwing a ball up and catching
it in the front yard. When my dad would walk out of the house,
I would ask him to play catch with me, but he was always too
busy, I can recall as a little boy saying to myself, "I
will be glad when I grow up to be a daddy. I will take time to
play catch with my boy."
Now for nearly seventeen years I have been a daddy. I trust
I have been the kind pleasing to God and helpful to my children.
When my first daughter, Becky, was born, I stood at the window
of the maternity ward with a big, loose-leaf Scofield Reference
Bible in my hand. I showed it to Becky through the window, and
explained to her that this was the Bible and that the Bible was
the Word of God. I did this to the delight and amusement of onlookers.
The first night that Becky was home from the hospital I talked
to her about the plan of salvation. I took her from the Garden
of Eden to the New Jerusalem, and though she seemed unimpressed,
I continued doing so until she was old enough to be saved.
Oh, for America to return to the kind of homes that rear children
with character and integrity!
1. The rules should be clearly defined at an early age. When
our children were yet infants, learning how to walk, we took
them on a guided tour of the house. We pointed to the things
they were not to touch and said, "No, no, no, no, no."
We taught them to say, "No, no, no, no, no." Then when
one of the off-limits things was touched, the child was spanked.
I am talking about a one-year old. Hence, we never had to move
any vases off our tables. Our children didn't rearrange our furniture
or our schedule. They were taught very clearly what the rules
were, and they have abided by those rules through the years.
2. Expect rigid adherence to the rules. For example, at our
house eleven o'clock is curfew time. Unless special permission
is granted, this is always the time for the youngsters to be
at home. One minute after eleven o'clock is too late and causes
disciplinary measures to be taken.
3. Strict punishment should be given when the rules are broken.
The punishment should be worse than the reward is good. A child
should always be taught that doing wrong is a bad bargain. If
a youngster can stay out an hour late and get nothing but a spank
on the wrist, he will decide that another hour with his girl
friend is worth a spank on the wrist. However, if being an hour
late keeps him from going out with his girl friend for a week,
he will be on time from then on.
One Saturday afternoon before Christmas, my boy David went
Christmas shopping. He was to be home by three o'clock. He came
in eleven minutes late. I took him to his room and then explained
why I was going to spank him. I bent him over my knee and gave
him a good thrashing. I sat him beside me and asked him, "Now,
little man, just what were you doing that was so important that
you could not be on time?"
With quivering lips and tear-dripping eyes, he murmured, "I
was getting your Christmas present gift wrapped."
To be sure, I felt like a heel, and yet, I would spank him
again. A rule is a rule and it should be kept. In the long run
we will make better children and law-abiding adults if we will
impress upon them the importance of obeying the rules.
4. Just what is a spanking? I have never felt that a child
should be spanked immediately or in public. It should not be
the parent giving vent to his anger or release to his emotions.
It should be a time of reminding the child that wrong does not
turn out right and that he must pay for the doing of it.
With our children I have followed this procedure: When the
child does something deserving a spanking, I say sternly but
quietly, "Go to your room." I then follow him to his
room, sit down across from him, look him straight in the eye,
and explain to him what he has done that is wrong. I then ask
him to explain to me the wrong that has been committed. When
he knows what he did and I am convinced that he knows, I then
say to him, "Bend over Daddy's knee." This he does
under his own power. In the case of the girls, they are asked
to pull up their skirts. I then proceed to spank and spank hard.
How long do I spank? I spank until the will of the child is broken.
When the child is crying and is obviously broken hearted, I cease
When the spanking is finished, I ask the child to sit across
from me again and explain to me again why I spanked him. After
a brief word of prayer asking God's forgiveness, I then leave
him in the room by himself to think about what he has done. This
period of meditation usually lasts ten or fifteen minutes. Hence,
from the time that the act is committed until the time the procedure
is over is about thirty minutes. This makes a spanking an ordeal.
A few spankings of this kind will take the place of many of the
little temper tantrums that parents usually have and refer to
By the time our children got eight or ten years old, spankings
were very infrequent. They knew what they were. They knew what
to expect, and they knew they would get what they expected if
they did wrong. Wrong had become very distasteful by this time.
People often ask with lamentation what is wrong with our generation.
"Why the anarchy?" It does not take the thoughtful
person long to decide where the trouble lies. It was only about
twenty years ago that a new theory came out that we should not
spank children. Now we have raised that generation. They have
become anarchists, hippies, hoods, and lawbreakers. They have
been taught as infants that wrong is not punished. They have
been reared by this philosophy. Now we realize what we find in
God's Word will work.
5. Keep the communication line open between parent and child.
It should always be understood that the child can talk to the
parent. Questions about life should be directed to the parent.
The child should feel that Mom and Dad are always interested
in his problems and always willing to talk about them.
The following is a letter received in 1968 from my thirteen-year-old
son, David, showing the importance of the father-son relationship!
I am the luckiest boy in the world to have parents like you
and Mom. I think you are the greatest man in the world, and I
wouldn't trade you for any other father in the world.
In my eyes, Dad, you are the greatest preacher in the world.
A lot of times at school I hear kids talking about their old
man. I couldn't picture a kid of yours doing that because you
take us places, buy our clothes and food and other things, and
take care of us.
In my opinion you are the greatest Christian and soul winner
and preacher in the world. And I'm always proud to tell my teachers
and friends at school about you. You spend time with me. Not
many fathers do that and I appreciate it.
I want to thank you for the things you got me in Japan and
for taking me to Washington. I really enjoyed it. I also want
to thank you for all you do for me.
If I can be half as great a man as you, I'll be glad. I love
you and thank God for having a dad like you. And I'm proud you're
my dad and love you as much as I possibly could.
I love you.
P.S. I pray that you will always preach like you do and be
as good a Christian as you are.
Enjoy this statement because I'll probably never say it again.
I'm proud to have a good- looking dad.
Now you will read a copy of the answer from Dad to son:
Mr. David Hyles
I have read and re-read your recent letter to me. There are
several things that came to my mind as I read it.
1. I am honored to have a son who shows gratitude. One of
the most important things in life is to be grateful. As a preacher's
son, and later as a preacher, many things will be given to you,
and much attention will be showered upon you. It will be easy
to take things for granted and to think the world owes you something.
All the world owes any of us is a chance to succeed, and this
you will have. I am glad that you take time to write thank-you
notes and that you are grateful.
2. Naturally I am glad that you have confidence in me. I have
prayed for you from the day that I heard that you were coming
to our home. I have prayed for God to make me the right kind
of example. I pray He will help me to continue to be the kind
of example of which you can be proud.
3. You do not know how much I enjoy being with you. All these
years we have spent many hundreds of hours together. We have
played ball, gone to ball games, gone fishing, taken trips, and
in general, been real buddies. Now as you grow older, I dread
the day when you will not be with me; but I am grateful that
we have four more years, at least, together. To be with you is
always a joy and always fun. I cut up with you a lot, of course,
but that is because you are my buddy, my pal, my son.
4. I am proud of you because you are willing to express your
love. A lot of boys your age would think it "sissy"
to be loving, but that is not true. I love you, and as you said,
you love me; and we should let each other know about it. I am
glad that you take time to let me know that you love me.
5. I have a lot of dreams wrapped up in you, son. I would
not tell you to be a preacher. I would not tell you what to be.
I would simply tell you to be clean, to be honest, and to stay
in the will of God. If you do those three things, I will be the
proudest dad in the world.
If I had my choice to pick any boy in the world as my son,
I would pick you again. You are all that I have dreamed my boy
would be. May God help you to always be that.
Now in closing, may I say this: You will have many decisions
to make in the next few years. There are many questions, perhaps,
that you would like to ask concerning life, etc., and I want
you to feel free to come to me and say, "Hey, Dad, can I
talk with you?" We will make an appointment, and you may
talk about anything in the world. I want it to always be that
way, just as it has been in the past.
God bless you, son. I always wanted to be a dad, and I always
wanted to have a boy. I am proud of you.
It is tragic how many children feel that they cannot talk
to their parents. How vital it is to keep the line of communication
6. The parents should certainly share the high hours with
the child. Things that do not seem to big to us are very big
to young people and children. One need only to think back to
his youth and remember for a while. Then he will understand the
bigness of the decisions and the events of youth. The following
is a letter that I wrote to my daughter Becky as she entered
high school. It was a very important letter as far as the father-
daughter relationship was concerned.
September 8, 1966
Miss Becky Hyles
As you enter high school, I want you to know a few things
and remember others. First, I want you to know what a wonderful
day it was in the lives of your mother and me when we heard you
were coming. You brought a new dimension to our lives. You are
our oldest and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
We began praying for you nearly seven months before you were
born. Thousands of days have passed since then, but we have not
stopped praying for you daily. Naturally I am proud that you
are in high school; but I am prouder that you are a fine, Christian
girl. To be sure, there have been times we have had to scold
you and even discipline you, but all of these experiences have
been used to make better people out of all of us. I trust God
will use them to bring about His will in your life.
Now you are going to high school, Becky. You carry with you
many hopes and dreams from your mother and me. We hope you have
a wonderful life in high school, and we know that you will come
out of high school and go into college the same fine, clean,
dedicated Christian that you are now. In order to make his possible,
let me make a few suggestions:
1. Always be courteous to the teachers, but remember that
no person is perfect. Do not talk back to the teachers nor express
your views when they are in opposition unless the teachers ask
for your views. Even then, do it in a kind, sweet, Christian
way. Remember, your father has taken the courses they have taken.
I have been to college, I have been to seminary, I have my doctor's
degree, I have been president of a college, and I have preached
in many colleges and seminaries across America. You will not
have a teacher who knows more about general education than your
father. I am simply saying, if you have any question concerning
any subject, please ask me. If they bring up something that is
contrary to the Bible that you want explained, please ask me.
Also remember this: Most of the great universities in the world
(even though they do not believe the Bible now) were founded
by Bible-believing people. This is true in the case of Harvard,
Yale, Princeton, etc.
2. Even though you are in high school every day, be sure that
your best friends are Christian friends at First Baptist. This
is one thing that I am proud of you for. In junior high and elementary
school you kept your best friends your church friends. This is
so wise. Do not even consider a date with an unsaved boy or a
boy who is not dedicated. I pray that God will always let you
go with boys from our own church or churches of like faith.
3. I trust that you will always trust your dad and mom and
our advice and counsel. We want what is best for you and never
try to advise you selfishly or for our own good. There may be
times when you think our judgment is not best. If you will trust
us, later on you will understand.
4. As I have said before, Becky, I think you have been privileged
to have been placed in a preacher's home. To be sure, there are
many inconveniences, but I think the advantages far outweigh
the disadvantages. Our rules may be a little stricter than even
those of your Christian friends at church, but remember that
the rules by which your mother and I live are also stricter that
the rules by which the other parents live. There are many things
that we, as pastor and wife, cannot enjoy, but it is worth it.
I hope you will look at it this way as a pastor's daughter. You
have been very sweet in accepting the rules thus far. One day
we will all look back upon them and rejoice because of them.
Becky, you were a real delight during our vacation. I enjoyed
being with you. Your mother enjoyed it tremendously and told
me that she never saw you any more cheerful or any more the life
of the party. I hope that you will always be that way. Remember,
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." God has
endowed you with a wonderful personality, and I am grateful for
I have prayed for you a great deal during the time you and
Kenny were breaking up and the days following, and I know a little
bit how heavy your heart has been. I think you have been a real
trooper through it all, and I am proud of you. I am praying for
you that God will have His way concerning the boys you should
go with and other important decisions and phases of your life.
I just wanted to write this little note since you are going
to high school and remind you again as you go to high school
that you carry with you fifteen years of your parent's love,
dreams, hopes, work, and in some small way, maybe even sacrifice.
I would rather die than for you not to be all that God wants
you to be. We will do our part to see to it that you become what
He would have you to be, and I know you will do yours.
You have only four years with us here at home. Let's make
them the best. I love you.
7. The parents should always realize the bigness of the decisions
that the children have to make. My boy David is a good athlete.
He wanted to go out for basketball in school. Now, I did not
care if he played basketball, but I had some preference that
he not. He is going to be a preacher, and I wanted him to center
his life around his church and not his school. The decision was
a big one for him, and consequently, a big one for me. Below
is the letter that was written to Dave concerning this decision.
November 3, 1966
I know it is a big thing in your life to have the opportunity
to go out for basketball. It is also a big thing in my life for
you to make the right decision. When I was your age, I dreamed
of having a son, which means that I have looked forward to having
you for twenty-eight years or more. I always dreamed of what
my son would be like. You have been that and more. At least five
times in the last week people have approached me telling what
a fine boy you are and what a gentleman you are. Of course, this
makes me proud.
I could not have asked for a finer son. My only request is
that you continue to be what you have been. People all across
America know you and have confidence in you. Many of my preacher
brethren have told me they hoped their sons turn out to be what
you are. The other day while in Wichita, Kansas, Brother Bill
Harvey told me that you were one of the finest boys he has ever
Now I am sure you understand that any advice I give you would
be because I love you and because I want your reputation to always
be the same as it is now, so let me repeat what I told you briefly
this morning: I would prefer that you not play on the school
ball teams, but I will leave the decision up to you.
I naturally want you to run with the best of boys. These,
of course, are to be found at church. However, I do not doubt
for a minute that if you would play ball at school, you would
still be a fine boy. I trust you completely. However, I would
prefer that your companions always be the very best.
Do you remember last night when I was teaching you and the
other boys in front of the teachers and officers? I mentioned
there are some good things that are wrong to do. This does not
mean that you will be sinning if you play basketball. It does
mean that you will be sinning if you do anything that is not
in God's will.
You make the decision, Dave, and I know it is a big one. Mother
and the girls could not understand how big it is, but I know.
If you decide to play basketball, I will be proud of you, and
I will lead the cheering section. If you decide not to play,
I will be equally as proud of you and will lead the cheering
section. You will not be disobeying me if you choose to play;
but again, I say, I have some preference that you don't play.
If you decide not to play, I will find a hundred ways to make
it up to you. Now you pray about it and do what you think the
Lord wants you to do. You are a good Christian and the Lord will
lead you, I am sure.
He gladly and happily made his decision not to play basketball.
As I dictate this chapter, he and I are at the Bill Rice Ranch
in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, together. He flew down with me yesterday.
We have been real buddies in every way, and I think he is glad
for his decision. This is not to say that it is wrong for a boy
to play basketball. It is to say that it is right for parents
to be vitally concerned about decisions their children have to
8. Boys should be led to become masculine, and girls should
be led to become feminine. Dads should see to it that boys become
real boys, and moms should see to it that girls become real girls.
When David was five years of age, I got a baseball glove, a bat,
and a baseball. I hit him some grounders nearly too hard for
him to catch. I told him that I would give him a nickel for each
one he caught. The ball hit him in the chin, on the arm, on the
thumb, and most every place except the glove. He didn't make
any money but he was becoming a man. He was beginning to take
the knocks of life. I then got some boxing gloves and had a kid
a little older than David come over and box with him. The boy
was just enough better at boxing than Dave to beat him a little
bit. He knew what it was to get hit in the nose and to be whipped.
He was still becoming a man! I have worked hard to teach him
proper coordination of his body and to lead him to become a man.
It has been worth it a thousand times. Dads, see to it your boys
do not become sissies. Moms, see to it that your girls become
ladies with all of the charm, poise, and grace that accompanies
This chapter is in no way an attempt to teach child rearing.
It is simply a few of the meditations of a father who lies on
his back at the Bill Rice Ranch late on a summer evening and
who is proud of his son.
The Christmas season is now over. The holidays from school
have ended. We are sitting around the table for breakfast on
the day the children are returning to school. I look over and
see tears swelling in the eyes of my youngest daughter.
"What is wrong, sweetheart?" I asked.
"I don't want to go back to school." She replies.
Then I remember how I felt on the same day of the year. I
felt the same way at bedtime on Christmas night and in the closing
moments of my birthday.
What causes such a feeling in the life of a child, or for
that matter, in the life of an adult? Who among us has not felt
the loneliness and melancholy of hating to see a delightful experience
end? End they must, as all delightful experiences must in this
Because of this it is best that we understand our emotions
at such occasions. Why this sad feeling? Something has died.
Death is an absence of life, and with the passing of each day
another day has died. It will never come again. The thrill of
going to be d Christmas Eve night, the beauty of the tree Christmas
morning, the opening of the presents, the playing with the toys,
the delicious and beautiful Christmas dinner have now joined
all of the other days and experiences of the past. These particular
ones will never come again.
Of course, the sadness comes from looking back, Yesterday
is always dead; tomorrow is alive. Looking backward may bring
sadness, but looking forward will bring gladness. One of the
secrets of the Christian life is looking forward to tomorrow.
Remember that on the day before yesterday, yesterday was tomorrow,
and yesterday, today was tomorrow. As long as there is a tomorrow
with its hopes, there can be a happy today.
How can my child (and her father) overcome such a feeling
1. Learn the art of enjoying today. It is wonderful to look
forward to tomorrow; it is more wonderful to enjoy tomorrow on
the morrow. One must work hard in filling yesterday's expectations
for today. In so doing, not only does it enhance the joy of today
and increase the joy of yesterday, but it brightens the prospects
for joy tomorrow. Far too many of us have never know to enjoy
today up to yesterday's predictions. In other words, let us be
happy while having happiness. It is not enough to look forward
to the happiness we are going to have tomorrow nor to look backward
to the happiness we had yesterday. We must recognize the happiness
we are having today. Most of us look forward to having friends
before we get them, weep because of their loss after we have
had them, but fail to enjoy their friendship while we have them.
How many ladies look forward twenty years to becoming a mother
and look backward for forty years or more to having been active
in fulfilling the duties of a mother and yet complained during
the twenty years in which they were that for which they had looked
forward and now to which they look backward. Let us be careful
to let the day fulfill the expectations of yesterday, and our
enjoyment of today will be as much today as it will be in tomorrow's
2. Plan joy in giving and not receiving. If one's Christmas
is receiving, he can only have Christmas when someone decides
to give to him. If one's Christmas is in giving, then every day
can be a Christmas for him. Our wills cannot determine how much
we receive nor how often we can receive. They can, however, determine
how often we can give. If Christmas to us is unwrapping, then
it can only come periodically. If it is wrapping, it can come
daily. Let us look forward to being the giver and not the receiver.
Then on the evening of Christmas we an still look forward to
Christmas tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
3. Raise the floor of our lives and not the roof. One's happiness
depends not on the height of his heights but the height of his
depths. How high are you on your lowest day? How high you are
on your lowest day determines your happiness, not how high you
are on your highest day. How happy are you on March 24? July
18? October 3? When you lowest days become happier days, then
the steps down from Christmas will not be such a big one. Hence,
let us not stress so much the raising of the roof as the raising
of the floor.
OF YOUR ABSENCE
Your presence yesterday was sweet, and the hope of seeing
you tomorrow is blessed; yet today I have stumbled across a rare
jewel that I named, THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE. I had not planned
for it, and I died when you left yesterday and had not planned
a resurrection until I see you tomorrow. Yet rise I did in the
energy of THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE.
In your absence I have measured you. This I could not do properly
yesterday, for I was with you. Now, in THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE,
I measure you without the persuasion of your beauty and find
you are today exactly what I thought you were yesterday and what
I dream you will be tomorrow.
In THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE I can see you with the soul and
not be hampered by our "glass darkly's."
In THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE my love is proven to you in a
new way, for now it is only your soul that makes captive my attention.
It is during the GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE when I pledge to never
again take for granted your presence. Only then can I properly
savor the times of your presence yesterday and prepare for your
presence tomorrow, that I may learn to adequately appreciate
So THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE is really THE GLORY OF YOUR PRESENCE,
for in a mysterious way we are knitted. Hence, absence is impossible,
for we are always present, for to be absent from the body is
to be present with the soul.
Oh, I still prefer the blessing of your presence and will
leap at your footsteps tomorrow, but today our souls shall walk
together in THE GLORY OF YOUR ABSENCE.
"It is not easy to lose, but often more is won in loss
than in victory."
"Great victories in the future are often won by graceful
losses in the past."
"A request from a friend is a royal command."
"A tear today is an investment in a laugh tomorrow."
"Gentleness is love wrapped in character."
"Silence says what the silent man is."
"To please a friend is a welcome bonus; to help him is
the great reward."
"Greatness is always wrapped in simplicity."
"Even a task is not worthy of you, diligence is!"
"Being loved is life's second greatest blessing; loving
is the greatest."
"Even if the task you do is not big, the way you do it
can be big."
"Faith is doing everything I can do and trusting God
to do what I cannot do. God can do what I cannot do, but He will
not do what I can do if I refuse to do it!"
"Our difference is caused by the sum total of our differences."
"It is easy to be grateful for a bonus; it is character
to be grateful for a salary."
"The more you appreciate the little the more you will
enjoy the average."
"If I live for self, I can live only for one; if I live
for others, I can live for 3,000,000,000."
"If you take away the God of the morals, you no longer
have the morals of God."
"There is no life as `empty' as the `self-centered' life;
there is no life as `centered' as the `self-emptied' life."
"If you have won the right to know how if feels to lose,
your entire ministry will be wrapped up in making winners out
"Make no provision for failure."
"Life is like a game. To lose the first down does not
mean loss of the game. To be behind at the end of the first quarter
does not mean the game will be lost."
"Character is the subconscious doing of right."
"Personality will grow old, but character does not."
"The existence of love is because of character; the degree
of the love is because of the object of this love."
"It is better to be too blunt than two-faced!"
"Personality without wisdom is `a character.'"
"Don't ever tell all you know on any subject; someone
may ask you a question when you're through."
"A person who will not take care of little things will
not take care of big things, for big things are but an accumulation
of little things."
"Use your work to build your people, not your people
to build your work."
"If you'll work at doing the things you ought to do,
the Lord will help you NOT do the things you ought not do."
"You are not dependent upon people thinking you are humble
as long as God knows you are."
"I'd rather be a free man in slavery than to be enslaved
to a group which will offer me freedom."
"Every man knows something I do not know. I must probe
until I find it; hence, all men are my teachers."
"I'd rather be a good Christian than a good preacher."
"I'd rather do right wrongly than wrong rightly."
"The time spent between the opportunity to do right and
the doing of right is time spent justifying the doing of wrong."
"Once you've tasted the heavenly manna of forgiveness
you'll never want to eat from the Devil's garbage can of vindicativeness
"I'd rather conserve two (converts) out of 100 than one
out of one."
"It's good to obtain knowledge through the study; it
is better to obtain both knowledge and character through study
"The only lasting thing you can ever get for yourself
comes from the leftover when you give to others."
"Forced gentleness is weakness."
"Love is hate turned inside out."
"Contrast is essential for a quality to exist."
"There's no way to have any virtue unless you have the
potential for its opposite."
"He who knows no tempest knows no calm."
"Goodness that comes without temptation is not true goodness,
for it is based on necessity, not conviction."
"Forced humility is inferiority."
"Without a potential for temper, gentleness is mere cowardice."
"You're not a good Christian because you reach heights,
but you're a good Christian because you don't reach depths."
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