THE BALANCE OF LIFE
This was another of Jesus’ sayings: “Pay attention to what you hear! What you get depends on what you give. What you give you will get back, only more so.”
In life there is always a balance. A man’s getting will be determined by his giving.
(i) This is true of study. The more study a man is prepared to give to any subject, the more he will get from it. The ancient nation of the Parthians would never give their young men a meal until they had broken sweat. They had to work before they ate. All subjects of study are like that. They give pleasure and satisfaction in proportion to the effort that we are prepared to spend upon them. It is specially so in regard to the study of the Bible. We may sometimes feel that there are certain parts of the Bible with which we are out of sympathy; if we study these parts they will often be the very parts which end by giving us the richest harvest. A superficial study of a subject will often leave us quite uninterested whereas a really intensive study will leave us thrilled and fascinated.
(ii) It is true of worship. The more we bring to the worship of God’s house the more we will get from it. When we come to worship in the house of God, there are three wrong ways in which we may come.
(a) We may come entirely to get. If we come in such a way the likelihood is that we will criticize the organist and the choir and find fault with the minister’s preaching. We will regard the whole service as a performance laid on for our special entertainment. We must come prepared to give; we must remember that worship is a corporate act, and that each of us can contribute something to it. If we ask, not, “What can I get out of this service?” but, “What can I contribute to this service?” we will in the end get far more out of it than if we simply came to take.
(b) We may come without expectation. Our coming may be the result of habit and routine. It may be simply part of the time-table into which we have divided the week. But, after all, we should be coming to meet God, and when we meet him anything may happen.
(c) We may come without preparation. It is so easy to leave for the worship of God’s house with no preparation of mind or heart at all because often it is a rush to get there at all. But it would make all the difference in the world, if, before we came, we were for a moment or two still and quiet and companied with God in prayer. As the Jewish Rabbis told their disciples: “They pray best together who first pray alone.”
(iii) It is true of personal relationships. One of the great facts of life is that we see our reflection in other people. If we are cross and irritable and bad-tempered, we will probably find other people equally unpleasant. If we are critical and fault-finding, the chances are that we will find other people the same. If we are suspicious and distrustful, the likelihood is that others will be so to us. If we wish others to love us, we must first love them. The man who would have friends must show himself friendly. It was because Jesus believed in men that men believed in him.
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