A Word to the Young Christian
You have lately been led to trust the Son of God as your Saviour, and your most earnest wish is to glorify Him in your life. Well, let me whisper in your ear the secret of doing this. It is a very simple principle, but, believe me, the not acting up to it accounts for all the sorrow and sin in the world and the Church. That seems a great thing to say, but before we part company I expect you will agree with me.
What is this important principle? you ask. Simply this: Keep in the place God has set you in. You say, with astonishment, “How is the violation of this principle responsible for all the sin and sorrow in the world?” Let me ask you in return, “If Adam and Eve had kept their place as creatures, and obeyed their Creator, would they have ever taken the forbidden fruit, and would the Fall have come in together with the sin and sorrow of the last six thousand years?” You answer, “Of course not,”
And in our individual lives it is the trying to be what we are not, the seeking to have what God has not given us, that brings so much sorrow to us and others. Those who keep in the place that God has set them in are the ones He advances. David, the shepherd lad, carefully guarded the sheep from the lion and the bear, and when the time came God chose him to slay the giant. He was faithful in private; he was honoured in public.
We all, generally speaking, want to wear bigger boots, if I may use so homely a phrase, and the attempt to wear them works havoc in our lives and in the Church. The child gets bigger boots because day by day he grows and needs them.
“Oh!” says the little boy, “What a grand thing to be a man!” Says the full-grown man, “How responsible is manhood! I wish I were back to the thoughtless, careless days of boyhood again.”
The only way to attain greater things is to be faithful in little things; to graduate for the future you must address yourself to the present.
But whilst we say this, it is not with a view to our being great in the future that we must be faithful in the present. No; our aim should be to glorify God just at the moment; for the past is irrevocable, the future is not ours, the present is our sole opportunity.
You remember the parable of the servant with one talent, who put it in a napkin and hid it in the ground. Possibly he said, “What can I do with one talent? Now, if I had five, like that other servant, or even two, I could do something with them, but what can I do with one ?” So he hid it. Why, the servant with his five could not do more than the other with his one! How is that? you ask. Be faithful in the use of it.
The first recorded parable in the Bible—Jotham's (Jud. 9:8-15) — teaches us very nicely this important lesson.
The trees desired to anoint a king. When the olive tree was asked to take that place, it replied—
“Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?”
In similar language the fig tree answered—
“Should I forsake [ leave ] my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?”
So replied the vine tree—
“Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?”
Please note in all three cases they were sensible of the place—the honoured place—God had given them, and in each case they ask, and well they might, “ Should I LEAVE ,” etc. And here comes in a very important principle, which the young Christian will do well to remember. In stepping out of the place God has set you in, you leave your power for glorifying God and blessing man, and you gain nothing but loss, and sorrow.
When the bramble was asked to reign over the trees, it blatantly called upon the trees to come and trust in its shadow; failing that, fire was to come forth to devour the lordly cedars of Lebanon. The trailing bramble bush, despite its thorns, bears some pleasant fruit, but out of its place how absurd its language appears! The olive and fig and vine trees glorified God by remaining where He had put them; and their fruit was useful to man.
Note in the one case the tree cried out, “By me they glorify God and man,” simply because it did what it was designed to do—bear fruit. In the other God and man are cheered. As we keep in our place God is glorified and cheered by our fruit, and man gets the benefit of it.
Let me apply it in a simple way. You want to be like that brother with great gifts, like the five talents, and preach the gospel in the meeting-room. You have little gifts, like the one talent, and can invite friends and neighbours in to listen, can visit them and read and talk to them with profit. You continue to do so, and you glorify God by so doing, and cheer the gifted preacher as you bring in your neighbours under the sound of the gospel. All are thankful for the way in which you act, and you fill a niche that is both glorifying and useful.
But you will preach. You insist upon taking the platform, and the consequence is you empty the room which you once helped to fill; your usefulness you have left, and are only working mischief and sorrow as you afflict your hearers and attempt to do that which God never intended you to do.
How often such cases are known, and how often has it been said to us, “How useful Brother So-and-so would be if he only knew his place! As it is he only causes sorrow and distress.”
I said the violation of this simple principle was responsible for all the evil in the Church. In illustration of this take the ease of Korah and his co-rebels. They said to Moses and Aaron, “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy... Wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?”
This was the cause of the first earthquake—you remember the story in Numbers 16. Instead of being useful in their place, they brought death upon themselves and sorrow upon the whole camp.
In conclusion, dear young Christian friend, be simple, be real, be what you are, bear fruit daily, and both God and man will be cheered. Especially in the meetings keep in your place. “God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him,” and by keeping in that place you will please Him, and that is a great matter.
The only way to get a bigger place is by growth — not by forcing things. And the way to grow is to go on steadily in the present day by day. And those who grow are not those who want to get bigger, but those who want to glorify God. May God teach you the real secret of happiness and peace, and make you a blessing in the Church and the world!
A. J. Pollock
Simple Testimony 1900