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Title: Money - Thoughts for God's Stewards
Author: Murray, Andrew, 1828-1917
Language: English
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                                 Money:
                      Thoughts for God's Stewards



By Rev. Andrew Murray.


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                       Fleming H. Revell Company

                                            NEW YORK: 112 Fifth Ave.
                                            CHICAGO: 63 Washington St.
                                            TORONTO: 140 & 142 Yonge St.



                                 Money:
                      Thoughts for God's Stewards


                                   BY
                           Rev. Andrew Murray

                               AUTHOR OF

                   "With Christ," "Abide in Christ,"
                         "Waiting on God," etc.

                             [Illustration]

                        New York Chicago Toronto

                       Fleming H. Revell Company

                               MDCCCXCVII


                            Copyright, 1897
                                   BY
                       FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY



CONTENTS


                                      PAGE

      I. CHRIST'S ESTIMATE OF MONEY      7

     II. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND MONEY      24

    III. THE GRACE OF GOD AND MONEY     42

     IV. THE POVERTY OF CHRIST          63



[Illustration]



I

CHRIST'S ESTIMATE OF MONEY


     "Jesus beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many
     that were rich cast in much. And a certain poor widow came, and
     cast in a farthing. Jesus called His disciples, and saith unto
     them, This poor widow hath cast more in than all: for all they did
     cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all
     that she had, even all her living."--_Mark_ xii. 41.

In all our religion and our Bible study, it is of the greatest
consequence to find out what the mind of Christ is, to think as He
thought, and to feel just as He felt. There is not a question that
concerns us, not a single matter that ever comes before us, but we find
in the words of Christ something for our guidance and help. We want
to-day to get at the mind of Christ about Money; to know exactly what He
thought, and then to think and act just as He would do. This is not an
easy thing. We are so under the influence of the world around us, that
the fear of becoming utterly unpractical if we thought and acted just
like Christ, easily comes upon us. Let us not be afraid; if we really
desire to find out what is His mind, He will guide us to what He wants
us to think and do. Only be honest in the thought: I want to have Christ
teach me how to possess and how to use my money.

Look at Him for a moment sitting here over against the treasury,
watching the people putting in their gifts. Thinking about money in the
church, looking after the collection: we often connect that with Judas,
or some hard-worked deacon, or the treasurer or collector of some
society. But see here--Jesus sits and watches the collection. And as He
does it, He weighs each gift in the balance of God, and puts its value
on it. In heaven He does this still. Not a gift for any part of God's
work, great or small, but He notices it, and puts its value on it for
the blessing, if any, that it is to bring in time or eternity. And He is
willing, even here on earth in the waiting heart, to let us know what He
thinks of our giving. Giving money is a part of our religious life, is
watched over by Christ, and must be regulated by His word. Let us try
and discover what the scriptures have to teach us.


_1. Money giving a sure test of character._

In the world money is the standard of value. It is difficult to express
all that money means. It is the symbol of labor and enterprise and
cleverness. It is often the token of God's blessing on diligent effort.
It is the equivalent of all that it can procure of the service of mind
or body, of property or comfort or luxury, of influence and power. No
wonder that the world loves it, seeks it above everything, and often
worships it. No wonder that it is the standard of value not only for
material things, but for man himself, and that a man is too often valued
according to his money.

It is, however, not only thus in the kingdom of this world, but in the
kingdom of heaven too, that a man is judged by his money, and yet on a
different principle. The world asks, _what_ does a man own? Christ,
_how_ does he use it? The world thinks more about the money getting;
Christ about the money giving. And when a man gives, the world still
asks, _what_ does he give? Christ asks, how does he give? The world
looks at the money and its amount, Christ at the man and his motive. See
this in the story of the poor widow. Many that were rich cast in _much_;
but it was _out of their abundance;_ there was no real sacrifice in it;
their life was as full and comfortable as ever, it cost them nothing.
There was no special love or devotion to God in it; part of an easy and
traditional religion. The widow cast in _a farthing_. Out of her want
she cast in all that she had, even all her living. She gave all to God
without reserve, without holding back anything, she gave all.

How different our standard and Christ's. We ask how much a man _gives_.
Christ asks, how much he _keeps_. We look at the gift. Christ asks
whether the gift was a sacrifice. The widow kept nothing over, she gave
all; the gift won His heart and approval, for it was in the spirit of
His own self-sacrifice, who, being rich, became poor for our own sakes.
They--out of their abundance--cast in much: She, out of her want--all
that she had.

But if our Lord wanted us to do as she did, why did He not leave a clear
command? How gladly then would we do it. Ah! there you have it. You want
a command to make you do it: that would just be the spirit of the world
in the church looking at _what_ we give, at our giving all. And that is
just what Christ does not wish and will not have. He wants the generous
love that does it unbidden. He wants every gift to be a gift warm and
bright with love, a true free will offering. If you want the Master's
approval as the poor widow had it, remember one thing: you must put all
at His feet, hold all at His disposal. And that, as the spontaneous
expression of a love that, like Mary's, cannot help giving, just because
it loves.

All my money giving--what a test of character! Lord Jesus! Oh give me
grace to love Thee intently, that I may know how to give.


_2. Money giving a great means of grace._

Christ called His disciples to come and listen while He talked to them
about the giving He saw there. It was to guide their giving and ours.
Our giving, if we listen to Christ with the real desire to learn, will
have more influence on our growth in grace than we know.

The spirit of the world, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye,
and the pride of life." Money is the great means the world has for
gratifying its desires. Christ has said of His people, "they are not of
the world, as I am not of the world." They are to show in their disposal
of money that they act on unworldly principle, that the spirit of heaven
teaches them how to use it. And what does that spirit suggest? Use it
for spiritual purposes, for what will last for eternity, for what is
pleasing to God. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh and
its lusts." One of the ways of manifesting and maintaining the
crucifixion of the flesh is never to use money to gratify it. And the
way to conquer every temptation to do so, is to have the heart filled
with large thoughts of the spiritual power of money. Would you learn to
keep the flesh crucified--refuse to spend a penny on its gratification.
As much as money spent on self, may nourish and strengthen and comfort
self, money sacrificed to God may help the soul in the victory that
overcometh the world and the flesh.

Our whole life of faith may be strengthened by the way we deal with
money. Many men have to be engaged continually in making money--by
nature the heart is dragged down and bound to earth in dealing with what
is the very life of the world. It is faith that can give a continual
victory over this temptation. Every thought of the danger of money,
every effort to resist it, every loving gift to God, helps our life of
faith. We look at things in the very light of God. We judge of them as
out of eternity, and the money passing through our hands and devoted to
God may be a daily education in faith and heavenly-mindedness.

Very specially may our money giving strengthen our life of love. Every
grace needs to be exercised if it is to grow; most of all is this true
of love. And--did we but know it--how our money might develop and
strengthen our love, as it called us to the careful and sympathizing
consideration of the needs of those around us. Every call for money, and
every response we give, might be the stirring of a new love, and the aid
to a fuller surrender to its blessed claims.

Money giving may be one of your choicest means of grace, a continuous
fellowship with God in the renewal of your surrender of your all to
Him, and in proof of the earnestness of your heart to walk before Him in
self-denial, and faith and love.


_3. Money giving a wonderful power for God._

What a wonderful religion Christianity is. It takes money, the very
embodiment of the power of sense of this world, with its self-interest,
its covetousness, and its pride, and it changes it into an instrument
for God's service and glory.

Think of the poor. What help and happiness is brought to tens of
thousands of helpless ones by the timely gift of a little money from the
hand of love. God has allowed the difference of rich and poor for this
very purpose--that just as in the interchange of buying and selling
mutual dependence upon each other is maintained among men--so in the
giving and receiving of charity there should be abundant scope for the
blessedness of doing and receiving good. He said, "It is more blessed to
give than to receive." What a Godlike privilege and blessedness to have
the power of relieving the needy and making glad the heart of the poor
by gold or silver! What a blessed religion that makes the money we give
away a source of greater pleasure than that which we spend on ourselves!
The latter is mostly spent on what is temporal and carnal, that spent in
the work of love has eternal value, and brings double happiness, to
ourselves and others.

Think of the church and its work in this world; of missions at home and
abroad, and the thousand agencies for winning men from sin to God and
Holiness. Is it indeed true that the coin of this world, by being cast
into God's treasury in the right spirit, can receive the stamp of the
mint of heaven, and be accepted in exchange for heavenly blessings? It
is true. The gifts of faith and love go not only into the Church's
treasury, but into God's own treasury, and are paid out again in
heavenly goods. And that not according to the earthly standard of value,
where the question always is, How much? but according to the standard of
heaven, where men's judgments of much and little, great and small, are
all unknown.

Christ has immortalized a poor widow's farthing. With His approval it
shines through the ages brighter than the brightest gold. It has been a
blessing to tens of thousands in the lesson it has taught. It tells you
that your farthing, if it be your all, that your gift, if it be honestly
given (as you all ought to give to the Lord), has His approval, His
stamp, His eternal blessing.

If we did but take more time in quiet thoughtfulness for the Holy Spirit
to show us our Lord Jesus in charge of the Heavenly Mint, stamping every
true gift, and then using it for the Kingdom, surely our money would
begin to shine with a new lustre. And we should begin to say--The less I
can spend on myself, and the more on my Lord, the richer I am. And we
shall see how, as the widow was richer in her gift and her grace than
the many rich, so he is richest who truly gives all he can.


_4. Money giving a continual help on the ladder to heaven._

You know how often our Lord Jesus spake of this in His parables. In that
of the unjust steward He said, Make friends of the Mammon of
unrighteousness, that they may receive you in the eternal habitations.
In the parable of the talents He said, "Thou oughtest to have put _my
money_." The man who had not used his talent, lost all. In the parable
of the sheep and the goats, it is they who have cared for the needy and
the wretched in His name, who shall hear the word--Come, ye blessed of
my Father.

We cannot purchase heaven--as little with money as with works. But in
your money giving, heavenly-mindedness and love to Christ, and love to
men, and devotion to God's work, are cultivated and proved. The "Come,
ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom," will take count of the
money truly spent on Christ and his work. Our money giving must prepare
us for heaven.

Oh! how many there are who if heaven and holiness could be bought for a
thousand pounds would give it. No money can buy those. But if they only
knew, money can wondrously help on the path of holiness and heaven.
Money given in the spirit of self-sacrifice, and love, and faith in Him
who has paid all, brings a rich and eternal reward. Day by day give as
God blesses and as He asks--it will help to bring heaven nearer to you,
it will help to bring _you_ nearer to heaven.

The Christ who sat over against the treasury is my Christ. He watches my
gifts. What is given in the spirit of whole-hearted devotion and love He
accepts. He teaches His disciples to judge as He judges. He will teach
me how to give--how much, how lovingly, how truthfully.

Money--this is what I want to learn from Him above all--money, the cause
of so much temptation and sin, and sorrow and eternal loss; money, as
it is received and administered and distributed at the feet of Jesus,
the Lord of the Treasury, becomes one of God's choicest channels of
grace to myself and to others. In this, too, we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.

Lord! give Thy Church, in her poverty, give us all, the spirit of the
poor widow.



[Illustration]



II

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND MONEY


When the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost to dwell in men, He assumed
the charge and control of their whole life. They were to be or do
nothing that was not under His inspiration and leading. In everything
they were to move and live and have their being "in the Spirit," to be
wholly spiritual men. Hence it followed as a necessity that their
possessions and property, that their money and its appropriations were
subjected to His rule too, and that their income and expenditure were
animated by new and hitherto unknown principles. In the opening chapters
of the Acts we find more than one proof of the all-embracing claim of
the Holy Spirit to guide and judge in the disposal of money. If I want
as a Christian to know how to give, let me learn here what the teaching
of the Holy Spirit is as regards the place money is to have in my
Christian life and in that of the Church.

First we have: _The Holy Spirit taking possession of the money_.

"All that believed were together, and had all things common; and they
sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all according as
every man had need."--Acts ii. 44, 45. And again, Acts iv. 34: "As many
as were possessors of land or houses, sold them, and brought the prices
of the things that were sold, and laid them at the Apostles' feet. And
Barnabas having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at
the Apostles' feet." Without any command or instruction, in the joy of
the Holy Spirit, the joy of the love which He had shed abroad in their
heart, the joy of the heavenly treasures that now made them rich, they
spontaneously parted with their possessions and placed them at the
disposal of the Lord and His servants.

It would have been strange had it been otherwise, and a terrible loss to
the Church. Money is the great symbol of the power of happiness of
this world; one of its chief idols, drawing men away from God; a
never-ceasing temptation to worldliness, to which the Christian is daily
exposed. It would not have been a full salvation that did not provide
complete deliverance from the power of money. The story of Pentecost
assures us that when the Holy Spirit comes in His fulness into the
heart, then earthly possessions lose their place in it, and money is
only valued as a means of proving our love and doing service to our Lord
and our fellow men. The fire from heaven that finds a man upon the altar
and consumes the sacrifice, finds his money too, and makes it all ALTAR
GOLD, holy to the Lord.

We learn here the true secret of Christian giving, the secret, in fact,
of all true Christian living--the joy of the Holy Ghost. How much of our
giving then has there been in which this element has been too much
lacking. Habit, example, human argument and motive, the thought of duty,
or the feeling of the need around us, have had more to do with our
charities than the power and love of the Spirit. It is not that what
has just been mentioned is not needful. The Holy Spirit makes use of all
these elements of our nature in stirring us to give. There is a great
need for inculcating principles and fixed habits in regard to giving.
But what we need to realize is that all this is but the human side, and
cannot suffice if we are to give in such measure and spirit as to make
every gift a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God and a blessing to our own
souls. The secret of true giving is the joy of the Holy Ghost.

The complaint in the Church as to the terrible need of more money for
God's work, as to the terrible disproportion between what God's people
spend on themselves and devote to their God, is universal. The pleading
cry of many of God's servants who labor for the poor and the lost, is
often heart-piercing. Let us take to heart the solemn lesson: this is
simply a proof of the limited measure in which the power of the Holy
Spirit is known among believers. Let us for ourselves pray most
fervently, that our whole life may be so lived in the joy of the Holy
Spirit, a life so absolutely yielded to Him and His rule, that all our
giving may be a spiritual sacrifice, through Jesus Christ.

Our second Pentecostal lesson on money we find in Acts iii. 6: "Then
Peter said, silver and gold have I none, but what I have that give I
thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" Here it is: _The
Holy Spirit dispensing with money_.

Our first lesson was: The Church of Pentecost needs money for its work;
the Spirit of Pentecost provides money; money may be at once a sure
proof of the Spirit's mighty working, and a blessed means of opening the
way for His fuller action.

But there is a danger ever near. Men begin to think that money is the
great need; that abundance of money coming in is a proof of the Spirit's
presence; that money must be strength and blessing. Our second lesson
dissipates these illusions, and teaches us how the power of the Spirit
can be shown where there is no money. The Holy Spirit is the mighty
power of God, now condescending to use the money of His saints, then
again proving how divinely independent He is of it. The Church must
yield herself to be guided into this double truth; the Holy Spirit
claims all its money; the Holy Spirit's mightiest works may be wrought
without it. The Church must never beg for money as if this were the
secret of her strength.

See these Apostles, Peter and John, penniless in their earthly poverty,
and yet by virtue of their poverty, mighty to dispense heavenly
blessings. "Poor, yet making many rich." Where had they learned this?
Peter says, "Silver and gold have I none; in the name of Jesus Christ,
walk." It points us back to the poverty which Christ had enjoined upon
them, and of which He had set them the wonderful example. By his holy
poverty He would prove to men what a life of perfect trust in the
Father, is how the possession of heavenly riches makes independent of
earthly goods, how earthly poverty fits the better for holding and for
dispensing eternal treasures. The inner circle of His disciples found in
following the footsteps of His poverty the fellowship of His power. The
Apostle Paul was taught by the Holy Spirit the same lesson. To be ever
in external things, utterly loose even from earth's lawful things, is a
wonderful, he almost appears to say, an indispensable help in witnessing
to the absolute reality and sufficiency of the unseen heavenly riches.

We may be sure that as the Holy Spirit begins to work in power in His
Church, there will again be seen His mighty operation in the possession
of His people. Some will again by their giving make themselves poor, in
the living faith of the incomprehensible worth of their heavenly
heritage, and the fervent joy the Spirit gives them in it. And some who
are poor and in great straits with their work for God will learn to
cultivate more fully the joyful consciousness: "Silver and gold have I
none: what I have I give: in the name of Jesus Christ, walk." And some
who are not called to give all, will yet give with an unknown
liberality, because they begin to see the privilege of giving all, and
long to come as near as they can. And we shall have a Church, giving
willingly and abundantly, and yet not for a moment trusting in its
money, but honoring those most who have the grace and the strength to be
followers of Jesus Christ in His poverty.

Our third lesson is: _The Holy Spirit testing the money_. All the money
that is given, even in a time when the Holy Spirit is moving mightily,
is not given under His inspiration. But it is all given under His holy
supervision, and He will from time to time, to each heart that honestly
yields to Him, reveal what there may be wanting or wrong. Listen:
"Barnabas having a field, sold it, and brought the money. _But_ Ananias
sold a possession and kept back part of the price, and brought a certain
part, and laid it at the Apostles' feet." Ananias brought his gift, and
with his wife was smitten dead. What can have made the gift such a
crime? He was a deceitful giver. He kept back part of the price. He
professed to give all, and did not. He gave with half a heart and
unwillingly, and yet would have the credit of having given all. In the
Pentecostal Church the Holy Ghost was the author of the giving: his sin
was against the Holy Ghost. No wonder that it is twice written: "great
fear came upon the whole Church, and upon all who heard it." If it is so
easy to sin even in giving, if the Holy Spirit watches and judges all
our giving, we may well beware and fear.

And what was the sin? Simply this: he did not give all he professed.
This sin, not in its greatest form, but in its spirit and more subtle
manifestations, is far more common than we think. Are there not many who
say they have given their all to God, and yet prove false to it in the
use of their money? Are there not many who say all their money is their
Lord's, and that they hold it as His stewards, to dispose of it as He
directs, and yet who, in the amount they spend on God's work, as
compared with that on themselves, and in accumulating for the future,
prove that Stewardship is but another name for ownership.

Without being exactly guilty of the sin of Judas, or Caiaphas, or Pilate
in crucifying our Lord, a believer may yet partake with them in the
spirit in which he acts. Even so we may be grieving the Holy Ghost,
even while we condemn the sin of Ananias, by giving way to the spirit in
which he acted, and withholding from God what we have professed to give
Him. Nothing can save us from this danger, but the holy fear of
ourselves, the very full and honest surrender of all our opinions, and
arguments, about how much we may possess, and how much we may give, to
the testing and searching of the Holy Spirit. Our giving must be in the
light, if it is to be in the joy of the Holy Ghost.

And what was it that led Ananias to this sin? Most probably the example
of Barnabas, the wish not to be outdone by another. Alas! how much there
is of asking what men will expect from us. The thought of the judgment
of men is present to us more than the judgment of God. And we forget
that our gifts are accounted of God, only by what the heart gives: it is
the whole-hearted giver that meets Him. How much has the Church done to
foster the worldly spirit that values gifts by what they are in men's
sight, in forgetfulness of what they are to Him that searches the heart.

May the Holy Spirit teach us to make every gift part and parcel of a
life of entire consecration to God. This cannot be till we be filled
with the Spirit: this can be, for God will fill us with His Spirit.

4. There is still a lesson, no less needful, no less solemn than that of
Ananias (Acts viii. 19). _The Holy Ghost rejecting Money._

"Simon offered them money, saying, 'Give me also this power.' But Peter
said to him, 'Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought to
obtain the gift of God with money.'" The attempt to gain power or
influence in the Church of God by money brings perdition.

Here, more than with Ananias, it was simple ignorance of the spiritual
and unworldly character of the Kingdom of Christ. How little Simon
understood the men he dealt with. They needed money, they could well use
it for themselves and for others. But the Holy Spirit, with the powers
and treasures of the unseen world, had taken such possession of them,
and so filled them, that money was as nothing. Let it perish rather than
have anything to say in God's Church. Let it perish rather than for one
moment encourage the thought that the rich man can acquire a place or a
power which a poor man has not.

Has the Church been faithful to this truth in her solemn protest
against the claims of wealth? Alas! for the answer its history gives.
There have been noble instances of true Apostolic succession in the
maintenance of the superiority of the gift of God to every earthly
consideration. But too often the rich have had an honor and an influence
given them, apart from grace or godliness, which has surely grieved the
Spirit and injured the Church.

The personal application is here again the matter of chief importance.
Our nature has been so brought under the power of the spirit of this
world, our fleshly mind, with its dispositions and habits of thought and
feeling, is so subtle in its influence, that nothing can deliver us from
the mighty spell that money exacts but a very full and abiding enjoyment
of the Spirit's presence and working. To be entirely dead to all
worldly ways of thinking, the Holy Spirit alone can give us. And He can
only give it as He fills us with the very presence and power of the life
of God.

Let us pray that we may have such a faith in the transcendent glory, in
the absolute claim and sufficiency of the Holy Spirit as God's gift to
the Church to be her strength and riches, that money may be ever kept
under Christ's feet and under ours, recognizing its only worth to be for
His heavenly ministry.

Blessed Lord Jesus! teach and keep us that, like Barnabas, we may lay
our money all at Thy feet, and hold it all at Thy disposal. Teach and
keep us that like Peter, we may rejoice in the poverty that teaches us
to prove our trust in the power of Thy Spirit. Teach and keep us, lest,
like Ananias, our profession of living entirely for Thee be belied, by
our giving to Thee. Teach and keep us, lest, like Simon, we think that
the gifts of God or power over men can be obtained by money.

Most blessed Spirit! fill us with Thyself; come and fill Thy Church with
Thy living presence, and all our money shall be Thine alone.



[Illustration]



III

THE GRACE OF GOD AND MONEY


     "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was
     rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his
     poverty might be rich."--_II. Corinthians_, 8:9.

In this and the following chapters we have Paul's teaching on the
subject of Christian giving. In connection with a collection he wishes
the Corinthian Christians from among the Gentiles to make for their
Jewish brethren, he opens up the heavenly worth of our earthly gifts,
and unfolds principles which ought to animate us as we offer our money
in God's service. He does this specially as he cites the example of the
Macedonian Christians and their abounding liberality, and makes them for
all time the witnesses to what God's grace can do in making the
ingathering of money the occasion of the deepest joy, of the revelation
of the true Christlikeness, and of abounding thanksgiving and glory to
God. Let us gather up some of the principal lessons; they may help us to
find the way by which our money can become increasingly a means and a
proof of the progress of the heavenly life within us.


_1. The Grace of God always teaches us to give._--viii. 1.

"We make known to you the grace of God which hath been given to the
churches of Macedonia." In the course of the two chapters the word
grace occurs eight times. Once of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who for our sakes became poor." Once of "the grace which God is able to
make abound to us." The other six times of the special grace of giving.

We all think we know what the word means. It is not only used of the
gracious disposition in God's heart toward us, but much more of that
gracious disposition which God bestows and works in us. Grace is the
force, the power, the energy of the Christian life, as it is wrought in
us by the Holy Spirit. We all know the command to stand fast in grace,
to grow in grace, to seek for more grace. We rejoice in the words,
exceeding grace, grace abounding exceedingly, grace exceedingly
abundant. We pray continually that God would increase and magnify His
grace in us.

We know the law of the Christian life: that no grace can be truly known
or increased, except by acting it out. Let us learn here that the use of
our money for others is one of the ways in which grace can be expressed
and strengthened. The reason is clear. Grace in God is His compassion on
the unworthy. His grace is wondrously free. It is always giving, without
regard to merit. God finds His life and His delight in giving. And when
His grace enters the heart, it cannot change its nature: whether in God
or man, grace loves and rejoices to give. And grace teaches a man to
look upon this as the chief value of his money--the Godlike power of
doing good, even at the cost of enriching others by impoverishing
ourselves.

Let us learn the lessons. If we have God's grace in us it will show
itself in giving. If we want new grace, we must exercise what we have in
giving. And in all we give we ought to do it in the consciousness of the
grace of God that works it in us.


_2. The Grace of God teaches to give liberally._--v. 2.

"Their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality, for
according to their power, yea, beyond their power, they gave of their
own accord, beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace."
What a sight! And what a proof of the power of grace! These newly
converted Gentiles in Macedonia hear of the need of their Jewish
brethren in Jerusalem--men unknown and despised--and at once are ready
to share with them what they have. Of their own accord, they so give
beyond their power, that Paul refuses to accept their gifts: with much
entreaty they implore and persuade him to accept the gift. "Their deep
poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."

It is remarkable how much more liberality there is among the poor than
the rich. It is as if they do not hold so fast what they have: they more
easily part with all; the deceitfulness of riches has not hardened them;
they have learned to trust God for to-morrow. Their liberality is not
indeed what men count such; their gifts are but small. Men say it does
not cost them much to give all; they are so accustomed to have little.
And yet the very fact of their giving it more easily is what makes it
precious to God; it shows the childlike disposition that has not yet
learned to accumulate and to hold fast. God's way in His kingdom of
grace on earth is ever from below, upwards. "Not many wise and not many
noble are called. God has chosen the weak and the base things." And even
so He has chosen the poor in this world, as they give out of their deep
poverty, to teach the rich what liberality is.

"_Far beyond their power_ gave they of their own accord, beseeching us
with much entreaty that we would receive the gift." If this spirit were
to pervade our churches and men of moderate means and of large
possessions were to combine with the poor in their standard of giving,
and the Macedonian example became the law of Christian liberality, what
means would not flow in for the service of the kingdom.


_3. The Grace of God teaches to give joyfully._

"The abundance of their joy abounded unto the riches of their
liberality." (v. 2.) In the Christian life joy is the index of health
and whole-heartedness. It is not an experience for times and seasons: it
is the abiding proof of the presence and enjoyment of the Saviour's
love. No less than our spiritual exercises, it is meant to pervade our
daily duties and our times of trial: "a joy that no man taketh from
you." And so it inspires our giving, making the offering of our money a
sacrifice of joy and thanksgiving. And as we give joyfully, it becomes
itself a new fountain of joy to us, as a participation in the joy of Him
who said "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

The blessedness of giving: would that men believed how sure this way to
unceasing joy is, to be ever giving as God lives to give. Of the day
when Israel brought its gifts for the temple, it is said "then the
people rejoiced, because with a perfect heart they offered willingly to
the Lord; and David the King also rejoiced with great joy." That is a
joy we may carry with us through life and through each day, unceasingly
dispensing our gifts of money, our lives or service all around. God has
implanted the instinct of happiness deep in every creature; it cannot
help being drawn to what gives happiness. Let us get our hearts filled
with the faith of the joy of giving: that joy will make to rich and poor
our calls to give among our most precious privileges; it will be true of
us, "and the abundance of their joy abounded to the riches of their
liberality."


_4. The Grace of God makes our giving part of our surrender to our
Lord._

Paul says of their giving (v. 5), they not only did this, "but first
they gave their own selves to the Lord." In this sentence we have one of
the most beautiful expressions for what is needed to salvation, and what
it is in which full salvation consists. A man who has given himself to
the Lord: that comprises all our Lord asks of us; all the rest He will
do. The expression is nowhere else found in Scripture; we owe it to this
dealing with the matter of the collection. It tells us that giving money
will have no value, except we first give ourselves; that all our giving
must just be the renewal and carrying out of the first great act of self
surrender; that each new gift of money may be a renewal of the
blessedness of entire consecration.

It is only this thought that can lift our giving out of the ordinary
level of Christian duty, and make it truly the manifestation and the
strengthening of the grace of God in us. We are not under the law, but
under grace. And yet so much of our giving, whether in the church plate,
or on the subscription list, or on special occasions, is done as a
matter of course, without aught of the direct relation to our Lord. A
truly consecrated life is a life moment by moment in His love; it is
this that will bring us to what appears so difficult, ever to give in
the right spirit and as an act of worship. It is this will make "the
abundance of our joy abound to the riches of our liberality."


_5. The Grace of God makes our giving part of the Christlike life._--v.
9.

"See that ye abound in this grace also, for ye know the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became
poor." Every branch and leaf and blossom of the mightiest oak derives
its life from the same strong root that bears the stem. The life in the
tiniest bud is the same as in the strongest branch. We are branches in
Christ the Living Vine; the very life that lived and worked in Him. Of
what consequence that we should know well what His life is, that we may
intelligently and willingly yield to it. Here we have one of its deepest
roots laid open; "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,
that ye through His poverty might become rich." To enrich and bless us,
He impoverished Himself. That was why the widow's mite pleased Him so;
her gift was of the same measure as His: "She cast in all she had."
This is the life and grace that seeks to work in us; there is no other
mould in which the Christ-life can be cast. "See that ye abound _in this
grace_ also; for ye know _the grace_ of our Lord Jesus, that he became
poor." How little did the Macedonian Christians know that they were, in
their deep poverty, and in the riches of their liberality, giving beyond
their power, just acting out what the Spirit and grace of Jesus was
working in them. How little we would have expected that the simple gift
of these poor people would become the text of such high and holy and
heart-searching teaching. How much we need to pray that the Holy Spirit
may so master our purses and our possessions, that the grace of our
giving shall, in some truly recognizable degree, be the reflection of
our Lord's. And how we need to bring our giving to the cross, and to
seek Christ's death to the world and its possessions as the power for
ours. So will we make others rich through our poverty, and our life be
somewhat like St. Paul's: "poor, yet making many rich."


_6. The Grace of God works in us not only the willing, but the doing._
(v. 10.)

"You were the first to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but
also to will. But now complete the doing also; that as there was the
readiness to will, so there may be the performance also." We all know
what a gulf in the Christian life there often is between the willing and
the doing. This prevails in the matter of giving, too. How many long for
a time when they may be better off and able to give more. And meantime
that wish, the fancied willingness to give more, deceives them, and is
made to do duty for present liberality. How many who have the means, and
intend doing something liberal, yet hesitate, and the large donation
during life, or the legacy in the will, is never carried out. How many
count themselves really liberal, because of what they _will_, while what
they _do_, even up to their present means, is not what God would love to
see. The message comes to all: "Now complete the doing also; that as the
readiness to will, so the completion also, out of your ability."

"It is God which worketh in us to will and to do"; let us beware, in any
sphere, of hindering Him by unbelief or disobedience, and resting in the
_to will_, without going on to the _to do_. The Christian life needs
exercise; it is by practice that godliness grows. If in anything we find
that our giving has not been up to this Scripture model, not as liberal
and joyful, not in as perfect accord with the spirit of our entire
surrender to our Lord, or of His making himself poor for us, let us at
once, in addition to the readiness to will, complete the doing also.


_7. The Grace of God makes the gift acceptable according to what a man
has._ (v. 12.)

"For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man
hath, not according as he hath not." The God who seeth the heart, judges
of each gift by the ability to give. And His blessed Spirit gives the
upright heart the blessed consciousness that the gift on earth has found
approval and acceptance in heaven. God has been careful in His Word to
teach us this in every possible way. All the world's judgments of the
value of gifts are reversed in heaven; the love that gives liberally
according to what it hath is met by the Father's love from above. Let us
seek to redeem our giving from all that is commonplace and little by
taking hold of the blessed assurance: it is acceptable. Let us refuse to
give what appears to satisfy us: let us pause, and rejoice in God's call
to give, and in His Spirit that teaches how much and how to give, and
the deepest joy of giving will come to us--the Spirit's seal that the
Father is well pleased.


_8. The Grace of God through the giving works out the true unity and
equality of all saints._ (v. 13.)

"I say not this, that others may be eased and ye distressed; but by
equality, your abundance being a supply at this present time for their
want, that their abundance may also become a supply to your want. That
there may be equality. As it is written: He that gathered much, had
nothing over: and he that gathered little had no lack." Another ray of
heavenly light on this appeal for a collection. Money will become the
bond of union that binds the Christians of Jerusalem and of Corinth into
one. They are one as much as Israel was one people. As in their
ingathering of the manna the feeble and the strong were to bring all
into one store, that all might share alike, so in the body of Christ.
God allows of riches and poverty, God bestows His gifts with apparently
unequal hand, that our love may have the high privilege of restoring the
equality. The want of some calls us to the love and the help and the
blessedness of giving to others. And at another time, or in different
spheres, the very ones who needed help may, in their turn, out of their
abundance bless their helpers. Everything has been so ordered that love
shall have room to work, and that there shall be opportunity to
cultivate and to prove the Christlike spirit.

What a call and what a field in the needs of the world for all God's
people to prove that God's plan is theirs: "that there may be equality,"
and that the spirit of selfish contentment with greater privilege has
been banished by the Cross. In philanthropy and missions what a need for
all saints doing their utmost "according to their power--yea, and beyond
their power."

In sight of the heathen world, oh! what an appeal that there be equality
and that we shall share and share alike with them what God gives us.
What new, unthought of, eternal value, money gets as one of the powers
for giving to the perishing, of the abundance we have in Christ.

There is no room left to enlarge on the further lessons of chap. 9. Let
me just mention them:

     (v. 6.) Let the giving be bountiful: it will bring a bountiful
     reward.

     (v. 7.) Let the giving not be grudging or of necessity: the
     cheerful giver receives God's love.

     (v. 8.) Let the giving be trustful: God will make all grace abound.

     (v. 11-13.) Your giving brings glory to God by the thanksgiving of
     those you bless.

     (v. 15.) Your giving reminds of God's giving, and calls to thanks
     for His unspeakable gift.

What a world of holy thought and heavenly light is opened up by the
gifts of the Macedonians and Corinthian converts! Shall we not under the
power of that thought and light review all our giving and see that it
be brought into perfect accord with the Divine pattern in these
chapters? Shall we not begin at once, and yield to Him, who became poor
for us, everything that self-interest and self-indulgence has hitherto
claimed and held? And shall we not beseech Him to show in us by His
Spirit that the one worth and blessedness of money is to spend it for
our Lord, to bless our fellowmen, to use it as an instrument and an
exercise of grace, and so to turn even it into the treasure that lasts
for eternity?



[Illustration]



IV

THE POVERTY OF CHRIST.


     "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was
     rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His
     poverty might become rich." _II. Corinthians, 8, 9._

"THROUGH HIS POVERTY": what does that mean? That He dispossessed Himself
of all heavenly and earthly possessions that the riches of earth and
heaven might be ours? That He so took our place, as in our stead to walk
in the path of earthly poverty, that we in comfort and ease might enjoy
the heavenly riches He has won for us? Or has that "THROUGH HIS
POVERTY" a deeper meaning, and does it imply that His poverty is the
very path or passage that He opened up through which all must go who
would fully enter into His riches? Does it mean that, just as He needed
in poverty of spirit and body to die to the world that He might open for
us the way to the heavenly treasures, so we need to walk in His
footsteps, and can only through His poverty working in us, through
fellowship with His poverty, come to the perfect enjoyment of the riches
He came to bring? In other words, is the poverty of Jesus something for
Him alone, or something in which His disciples are to share?

There is scarce a trait in the life and character of Christ in which we
do not look to Him as an example--what are the lessons _His Holy
Poverty_ has to teach? Is the right to possess and enjoy the riches of
earth as it is now everywhere practiced in the Church part of what
Christ has secured for us? Or, is it possible that the lack of faith in
the beauty and blessedness of the poor life of Christ Jesus is part of
the cause of our spiritual poverty; our lack of Christ's poverty the
cause of our lack of His riches? Is there not a needs-be that we not
only think of the one side, "For your sakes He became poor"; but as much
of the other, "For His sake I suffer the loss of all things?"

In seeking an answer to these questions, we must first turn and gaze
upon our blessed Lord, if maybe the Holy Spirit will unfold somewhat of
the glory of this His blessed attribute. Unless our heart be fixed upon
our Lord in patient and prayerful contemplation, and we wait for the
Holy Spirit to give us His illumination, we may indeed have our thoughts
about this Divine poverty, but we cannot really behold its glory,
or have its power and blessing enter our life. May God give us
understanding!

We must first of all see what the reason--the needs-be--was of the
earthly poverty of Christ. He might have lived on earth possessed of
riches, and dispensing them with wise and liberal hand. He might have
come in the enjoyment of a moderate competency, just enough to keep Him
from the dependence and homelessness which was His lot. In either case
He might have taught His people of all ages such precious and
much-needed lessons as to the right use of the things of this world.
What a sermon His life would have been on the far-reaching words: They
that buy _as though they possessed not_. But no, there was a Divine
necessity that His life must be one of entire poverty. In seeking for
the explanation, we shall find two classes of reasons. There are those
which have reference to us and His work for us as our Saviour. There are
others which are more closely connected with His own personal life as
man, and the work the Father wrought in Him, as He perfected Him through
suffering.

Of the reasons referring to His work, the principal ones are easily
named. Christ's poverty is part of His entire and deep humiliation, a
proof of His perfect humility--_His willingness to descend_ to the very
lowest depths of human misery, and to share to the full in all the
consequences of sin. The poor have in all ages been despised, while the
rich have been sought and honored: Christ came to be the despised and
neglected of men in this, too.

Christ's poverty has ever been counted one of the proofs of His love.
Love delights in giving, perfect love in giving all. The poverty of
Christ is one of the expressions of that self-sacrificing love which
held back nothing, and seeks to win us for itself by the most absolute
self-abnegation on our behalf. Christ's poverty is His fitness for
sympathizing and helping us in all the trials that come to us from our
relation to this world and its goods. The majority of mankind has to
struggle with poverty. The majority of God's saints have been a poor and
afflicted people. The poverty of Christ has been to tens of thousands
the assurance that He could feel for them; that, even as with Him,
earthly need was to be the occasion for heavenly help, the school for a
life of faith, and the experience of God's faithfulness the path to
heavenly riches.

Christ's poverty is the weapon and the proof of His complete victory
over the world. As our Redeemer, He proved by His poverty that His
kingdom is not of this world, that as little as He feared its threats or
its death could He be tempted to seek help from its wealth or strength.

But these reasons are more external and official; _the deeper spiritual
significance_ of Christ's poverty will be disclosed as we regard it as
part of His training as the Son of Man, and His exhibition of what the
true life of man is to be.

Christ's poverty was part of that suffering through which He learned
obedience and was perfected by God as our High Priest. To human nature
poverty must ever be a trial. We were made to be kings and possessors of
all things. To have nothing costs suffering.

Christ's human nature was not, as the Docetæ taught, a mere appearance
or show. There never was one so really, so intensely, a man as Christ
Jesus: "true man of true man." Poverty implies dependence on others; it
means contempt and shame; it often brings want and suffering; it always
lacks the means and power of earth. Our blessed Lord felt all this as
man. And it was part of that suffering through which the Father worked
out His will in His Son, and the Son proved His submission to the
Father, and His absolute trust in Him.

_Christ's poverty was part of His school of faith_, in which He Himself
first learned, and then taught men, that life is more than meat, and
that man liveth "not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth
out of the mouth of God." In His own life He had to prove that God and
the riches of heaven can more than satisfy a man who has nothing on
earth; that trust in God for the earthly life is not vain; that one only
needs as much as it pleases God to give. In His person we have witness
to the power which comes with the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven
when the Preacher Himself is the evidence of its sufficiency.

Christ's poverty was one of the marks of His entire separation from the
world, the proof that He was of another world and another spirit. As it
was with the fruit good for food and pleasant to the eye sin entered the
world, so the great power of the world over men is in the cares and
possessions and enjoyments of this life. Christ came to conquer the
world and cast out its prince, to win the world back to God. He did so
by refusing every temptation to accept its gifts or seek its aid. Of
this protest against the worldly spirit, its self-pleasing and its trust
in the visible, the poverty of Christ was one of the chief elements. He
overcame the world first in the temptations by which its prince sought
to ensnare Himself, then, and through that, in its power over us. The
poverty of Christ was thus no mere accident or external circumstance. It
was an essential element of His holy, perfect life; one great secret of
His power to conquer and to save; His path to the Glory of God.

We want to know what our share in the poverty of Christ is to be,
whether and how far we are to follow His example. Let us study what
Christ taught His disciples. When he said to them, "Follow Me," "Come
after Me, I will make you fishers of men," He called them to share with
Him in His poor and homeless life, in His state of entire dependence
upon the care of God and the kindness of men. He more than once used
strong expressions about forsaking all, renouncing all, losing all. And
that they understood His call so is manifest from their forsaking nets
and customs, and saying, through Peter, "We have forsaken all and
followed Thee."

The call of Christ to come after Him is often applied as if it were the
call to repentance and salvation. This is by no means the case. The
principles the call involves have their universal application; but, to
expound and enforce them in truth, it is of great consequence first to
understand the meaning of the call in its original intention. Christ
separated for Himself a band of men who were to live with Him in closest
fellowship, in entire conformity to His life, under his immediate
training. These three conditions were indispensable for their receiving
the Holy Spirit, for being true witnesses to Him and the life which He
had lived and would impart to men. With them, as with Him, the surrender
of all property and _the acceptance of a state of poverty_ was
manifestly a condition and a means without which the full possession of
the heavenly riches in such power as to convince men of their worth
could not come.

With Paul the case appears to have been very little different. Without
any express command we know of, the Spirit of his Master so possessed
him, and made the eternal world so real and glorious to him, that its
expulsive power made every thought of property or position disappear. He
learned to give utterance, as no one else ever could do, to what must
have been our Blessed Lord's inmost life in the words he uses of
himself: "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet
possessing all things." And in his wonderful life, as in his writings,
he proves what weight it gives to the testimony concerning eternal
things when the witness can appeal to his own experience of the infinite
satisfaction which the unseen riches can give. In Paul, as in Christ,
poverty was the natural consequence of an all-consuming passion, and
made him a channel through whom the Invisible Power could flow full and
free.

The history of the church tells us a sad story of the increase of
wealth and worldly power, and the proportionate loss of the heavenly
gift with which she had been entrusted, and which could alone bless the
nations. The contrast to the Apostolic state is set in the clearest
light by a story that is told of one of the Popes. When Thomas Aquinas
first visited Rome, and expressed his amazement at all the wealth he
saw, the Pope said, "We can no longer say, 'Silver and gold have I
none.'" "No, indeed;" was the answer, "nor can we say, 'What I have that
give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.'"
The earthly poverty and the heavenly power had been closely allied, with
the one the other had gone. Through successive ages the conviction ever
came that it was only by a return to poverty that the bonds of earth
beneath would be broken and the blessing from above brought back. And
many a vain attempt was made to secure to poverty a place in the
preaching and practice of the church such as it had been in Pentecostal
days. At times, the earnest efforts of holy men met with temporary
success, soon to give way again to the terrible power of the great
enemy--the world.

There were various reasons for this failure. One was that men understood
not that in Christianity it is not an external act or state that can
profit, but only the spirit that animates. The words of Christ were
forgotten: "The Kingdom of God is within you;" and men _expected from
poverty_ what only the Spirit of Christ, revealing itself in poverty,
could accomplish. Men sought to make a law of it, to bind under its
rules and gather into its brotherhoods, souls that had no inner calling
or capacity for such imitation of Christ. The church sought to invest
poverty with the mantle of a peculiar holiness, and by its doctrine of
Counsels of Perfection to offer a reward for this higher perfection. She
taught that, while what was commanded in the Gospel was the duty of all,
there were certain acts or modes of living which were left to the choice
of the disciple. They were not of binding obligation; to follow these
counsels was more than simple obedience, a work of supererogation which
therefore had special merit. Out of this grew the doctrine of the power
the church has to dispense this surplus merit of the Saints to those who
were lacking. And, in some cases, poverty became only a new source of
self-righteousness, entering into covenant with wealth, and casting its
dark and deadly shadow over those it promised to save.

At the time of the Reformation, poverty had become so desecrated as a
part of the great system of evil it had to combat, that, in casting out
those errors, it cast out a part of the truth with them. Since that time
it is as if _our Protestant theology has never ventured to enquire_ what
the place and the meaning and the power is which Christ and the Apostle
really gave poverty in their teaching and practice. And even in our
days, when God is still raising up not a few witnesses to the
blessedness of giving up all to trust in Him, and of possessing nothing
that one may possess Him the more fully, the church can hardly be said
to have found the right expression for its faith in the spirit of
Christ's poverty, as a power that is still to be counted as one of the
gifts He bestows on some of its members. It will be found that there is
no small difficulty in trying to formulate the teaching of Scripture so
as to meet the views of Evangelical believers.

I have spoken above of the errors connected with the teaching of the
Counsels of Perfection. And yet there was a measure of truth in that
teaching, too. The error was to say that the highest conformity to
Christ was not a matter of duty, but of option. Scripture says, "To him
that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Wherever
God's will is known, it _must_ be obeyed. The mistake would have been
avoided if attention had been paid to the difference of knowledge or
spiritual insight by which our apprehensions of duty are affected. There
is a diversity of gift and capacity, of spiritual receptivity and
growth, of calling and grace, which makes a difference, not in the
obligation of each to seek the most complete inner conformity to Christ,
but in the possibility of externally manifesting that conformity in such
ways as were seen in Christ.

During the three years of His public career, Christ gave Himself and His
whole time to direct work for God. He did not labor for His livelihood.
He chose for Himself disciples who would follow Him in this, forsaking
all for direct work in the service of the Kingdom.

For admission to this inner circle of His chosen ones, Christ demanded
what He did not from those who only came seeking salvation. They were to
share with Him in the work and the glory of the new Kingdom; they must
share with Him in the poverty that owns nothing for this world.

From what has been said above it is clear that no law can be laid down.
_It is not a question of law, but of liberty._ But we must understand
that word "liberty" aright. Too often Christian liberty is spoken of as
our freedom from too great restraint in sacrificing our own will, or the
enjoyment of the world. Its real meaning is the very opposite. True love
asks to be as free as possible from self and the world to bring its all
to God. Instead of the question, How far am I, as a Christian, free
still to do this or the other? the truly free spirit asks, How far am I
free to follow Christ to the uttermost? Does the freedom with which
Christ hath made us free really give us the liberty, in a love which
longs for the closest possible likeness and union with Him--still to
forsake all and follow Him? Among the gifts and calling he still
dispenses to His church, will there not be some whom by His spirit He
still draws in this particular, too, to bear and show forth His image?
Do we not need as much as when He and His apostles were upon earth, men
and women to give concrete and practical evidence that the man who
literally gives up all of earthly possession because he sets his heart
upon the treasure in heaven, can count upon God to provide for the
things of earth?

Is not this, amid the universal confession of worldliness in the church
and the Christian life, just the protest that is needed against the so
subtle but mighty claim that the world makes upon us? In connection with
every church and mission and work of philanthropy the question is asked,
"_How is it_ that in Christian countries hundreds of millions are spent
on luxuries, with scarce single millions for God's work?" Calculations
are made as to what could be done if all Christians were only to be
moderately liberal. I fear all such argument avails little. Help must
come from a different direction. It was of the innermost circle that He
had gathered around Himself that Christ asked a poverty as absolute as
His own. It is in the innermost circle of God's children, among those
who make the highest profession of insight into the riches of grace and
their entire surrender to it, that we must find the witnesses that His
Spirit can still inspire and strengthen to bear His poverty. He has done
it, and is doing it. In many a missionary and Salvation Army officer, in
many a humble unknown worker, _His Spirit is working out this trait_ of
His blessed likeness. In the days we are looking for of deeper revival
among God's children He will do it still more abundantly.

Blessed are all they who wait for Him, to receive His teaching, to know
His mind, and show forth His holy likeness. It is as the first, the
inner, circle proves the power of His presence, that the second and the
third will feel the influence. Men of moderate means, who may feel no
calling to the poor life, will come under the constraining power of the
example and feel compelled to sacrifice far more of comfort and
enjoyment in Christ's service than they ever did before. And the rich
will have their attention attracted to the danger signals God has set
along their path (Luke xviii. 25, Matt. vi. 19, 21, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10,
16), and will, by these examples, if they may not themselves share in
Christ's poverty, at least be helped to set their hearts more intensely
upon the treasure in heaven--the being rich in faith, rich in good
works, rich toward God--and to know themselves heirs of God, heirs of
the riches of grace, and the riches of glory.

"That ye through His poverty might become rich." HIS POVERTY, not only
as an object of our faith, but as a matter of experience and fellowship
is the passage through which the fullest entrance is gained into his
riches. Let us present together some of the aspects we have already
pointed out of the blessedness Christ's poverty and its voluntary
fellowship brings.

What an aid to the spiritual life! It helps to throw the soul on God and
the unseen; to realize the absoluteness of His presence and care in the
least things of daily life; and is to make trust in God the actual
moving spring of every temporal as well as spiritual interest. And
because it is not possible to claim God's interposition for every day's
food if a man is not consciously walking in tender and full obedience,
it links the soul to God's will and way by the closest of ties. The
hourly needs of the body, which are so often our greatest hindrance,
become wonderful helps in lifting our entire life into communion with
God, and in bringing God down into everything. It elevates the spirit
above the temporal, and teaches us in every state always to be content,
always to rejoice and to praise.

What a protest against the spirit of this world. There is nothing the
Christian life suffers more from than _the subtle and indescribable
worldliness_ that comes from the cares or the possessions of this life.
Through it the God of this world exercises his hidden but terrible
power. This is the Delilah in whose lap the God-separated Nazarite
becomes impotent and sleeps. To waken and shake out of this sleep more
than preaching is needed, more than the ordinary Christian liberality,
which quite comports with the full enjoyment of all that abundance can
supply: there is needed the demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that God enables men, and makes it to them an indescribable blessedness,
like their Lord, to give up everything of the earth that they may more
fully possess, and prove, and proclaim, the sufficiency of the heavenly
riches and the satisfaction they give. The protest against the spirit of
this world will become the mightiest proclamation of the kingdom of
heaven, the self-evidencing revelation of how heaven can even now take
possession.

What entrance it will give into the image and likeness of Jesus. We
adore our Lord in the form of a servant, and worship Him in it as the
most perfect possible manifestation of a Godlike Humility and Love. His
poverty was _an integral and essential part_ of that form of a servant
in which He dwelt. In all ages the love of some has given them no rest
in the desire to attain the closest possible conformity to the blessed
Lord. In Him the outer and inner were in such living harmony that the
connection was not accidental; the one was the only perfect and fit
expression of the other. In the body of Christ there are great
diversities of gifts; the whole body is not eye, or ear, or tongue. So
there are some who have the calling and gift to manifest this trait of
His image, and for the sake of their brethren and the world, keep alive
the memory of this too much neglected part of the ever blessed
Incarnation. Blessed they whom His Holy Spirit makes the representatives
of this His wondrous grace that, though He was rich, He became poor.

What a power then this poverty of Christ becomes to make others rich. It
is through His poverty we become rich. _His poverty in His people brings
the same blessing._ In the church, many who do not feel the calling, or
who in God's providence are not allowed to follow their desire for it,
will be stirred and strengthened by the sight. When some witness
testifies to the blessedness of entire conformity, others who are not
called to this path will feel urged, in the midst of the property they
possess and retain, to seek for as near an approach in spirit as is
allowed them. Christian giving will not only be more liberal in amount,
but more liberal in spirit, in the readiness and cheerfulness in the
forethought and the actual self-sacrifice by which it will be animated.
Through their poverty, too, through Christ's poverty in them, many shall
be made rich. Just as a specialist devotes himself to some limited
branch of (say) medical science, and all profit by the exclusiveness of
his researches, so through these, too, who love and live in and make
manifest the poverty of our Lord, the church becomes all the richer.
Through them the poverty of Christ gets a place in many hearts where it
was not known, and it is seen how this was part of His overcoming the
world, and how it may be a part of our victory that overcometh the
world, even our faith.

I have said that all have not the same calling. How are we to know what
our calling is? We may so easily allow ignorance or prejudice,
self-indulgence or worldliness, human wisdom or unbelief to sway us, to
keep us from the simplicity of the perfect heart, and to blind us to the
full light of God's perfect will. Let us see where the position is in
which perfect safety will be found, and where we may confidently count
upon the Divine guidance and approval.

Not long ago I stood by the bedside of a dying servant of God, Rev. Geo.
Ferguson, the principal of our Mission Institute. He told me how he had
been meditating on a text that had come in the course of his preparation
for his Mission class: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be
as white as snow." As he thought, it was as if one said to him, "_White
as snow_, do you know what that is?" His answer was, "No, Lord, Thou
only knowest, I do not." And then the question came, "_White as snow_,
can you attain that?--can you make yourself that?" "No, Lord, I cannot;
but Thou canst." And, again, he was asked, "Are you willing that I
should do it?" "Yes, Lord, by Thy grace I am willing Thou shouldest do
all Thou canst."

The three questions just suggest what our duty is. The heavenly poverty
of Jesus Christ--do you know what it is? What it is in Him, in His
disciples and in Paul, in His saints in later days? What it would be in
you? Let the answer be, "No, Lord, Thou knowest." This is what we need
first and most of all. If God were to open our eyes to see the
spiritual glory of our Lord in His poverty, in _His entire renunciation_
of every thing of worldly comfort or self-pleasing; if we saw the Divine
glory of which it is the expression; if we knew how infinitely beautiful
it was to all the holy angels, how infinitely well-pleasing to the
Father, we should then only in some little degree be able to say whether
it was something we ought to desire and imitate. If we saw the
heavenliness and the measure of the likeness to our Lord it would bring
into our life, we should say, "I have spoken of what I knew not--Oh,
that God would show me His glory in this too: '_for your sakes He became
poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich_'!" Before you judge of
it, pray by the Holy Spirit to know it.

Then comes the second question. "Can you attain it? Can you, in the
likeness of Jesus, give up everything in the world for God and your
fellowmen, and find your joy in the heavenly riches and the blessedness
of dependence upon God alone?" "No, Lord, I cannot; but Thou canst
work." Come and gaze upon the Son of God and worship as you think. It
was God that made Him what He was, and that God can, by His mighty
power, work in me His Divine likeness. Ask God to reveal by His Spirit,
what the poverty of Jesus is, and then to work in you as much of it as
you can bear. Be sure of this, _the deeper your entrance into His
poverty_, the richer you are.

And if the last question comes to search the heart--"Are you willing for
it?"--then, surely, your answer will be ready: "By Thy grace, I am!" You
may see no way out of all the complications of your life. You may dread
bringing upon yourself sacrifices and trials you could not bear. Be not
afraid: you surely cannot fear giving yourself up to God's perfect love
to work out His perfect will. For all He really means you to do He will
most surely give light and strength. The Throne of Riches and Honor and
Glory to which the Lamb has been exalted is surely proof enough that
there is no surer way for us to riches and honor than through His
poverty. The soul that in simplicity yields to the leading of the Lord
will find that the fellowship of His suffering brings even here the
fellowship of His glory: "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He
became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich."





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