To a man who demanded that he should compel his brother to divide with him, Jesus said: "Man, who made me judge or a divider over you? . . . Take heed, and beware of covetousness" (Luk 12:14-15).
I thought of that saying of Jesus when a man came to see me about a woman—his sister, who was a member of my congregation—and demanded that I should use my pastoral office to compel her to divide the inheritance with him. When declined to do so, on the same ground which Christ took in similar circumstances, the man said as he went out, "If there is a hell, she will go there!" But when I heard those words and saw the look on his face I thought to mysel: Wherever his sister may go in the nex world, this man already is in hell. And what put him there was the fact that he was thinking of this world only, and that to lose everything.—Clerence E. Macartney
A few years ago, a man in Detroit stepped out into his back yard, and looking up saw a speck in the sky. It grew larger and larger. Then he discovered it was something alive, a struggling, living mass of something slowly descending to earth. What he had first seen as a speck, had now revealed itself to be two large bald eagles in deadly combat. The huge birds were fighting in the sky over a fish. The fish had already dropped to the ground, but the birds had continued their struggle until they were bloody and exhausted. With a last wild scream, each made a fatal plunge at the other, and both birds came tumbling down to earth —dead, falling side by side, within a few feet of the man who had been witnessing the fierce battle of the sky. Greed had destroyed them.
So it may be with a life. Greed grows upon one. The selfish man finally destroys himself. Beginning as a speck, greed, if unchecked, will pull us down from the highest and noblest life just as it did those two birds of the sky. Unless we destroy greed it will destroy us.—W. G. M., in Youth's Comrade.
A stingy Christian was listening to a charity sermon. He was nearly deaf, and was accustomed to sit facing the congregation, right under the pulpit, with his ear-trumpet directed upward, toward the preacher. The sermon moved him considerably. At one time he said to himself, "I'll give ten dollars"; again he said, "I'll give fifteen." At the very close of the appeal, he was very much moved, and thought he would give fifty dollars.
Now the boxes were passed. As they moved along, his charity began to ooze out. He came down from fifty to twenty, to ten, to five, to zero. He concluded that he would not give anything. "Yet," said he, "this won't do—I am in a bad fix. This covetousness will be my ruin." The boxes were getting nearer and nearer. The crisis was upon him! What should he do? The box was now under his chin—all the congregation was looking. He had been holding his pocketbook in his hand during this soliloquy, which was half audible, though, in his deafness, he did not know that he was heard. In the agony of the final moment, he took his pocketbook and laid it in the box, saying to himself as he did it, "Now squirm, old natur' !"
This was victory beyond any that Alexander ever won—a victory over himself. Here is a key to the problem of covetousness. The old natur' must go under.—H. L. Hastings, in The Expositor.
A Quaker, in order to impress a lesson upon his neighbors, put up a sign on a vacant piece of ground next to his house, which read, "I will give this lot to anyone who is really satisfied." A wealthy farmer, as he rode by, read it.
Stopping, he said: "Since my Quaker friend is going to give that piece away, I may as well have it as anyone else. I am rich. I have all I need, so I am able to qualify." He went up to the door, and when the aged Friend appeared, explained why he had come. "And is thee really satisfied?" asked the owner of the lot. "I surely am," was the reply. "I have all I need, and am well satisfied." "Friend," said the other, "if thee is satisfied, what does thee want with my lot?" The question revealed the covetousness that was hidden in the heart.—Sunday School Times.
A Swedish writer tells of a farmer whose thoughts took living shape of gold and silver, coins, banks and barns, grains of wheat and corn, cows and pigs. These forms clouded his mind, hiding the beauty of the landscape. When he sat down to read, they settled like bees on the paper, allowing him to read only the market report and the price of cows. Just a fancy? Yes, but based on a subtle psychological fact. If we are to own money and not allow it to own us, we must have a rich soul, else we soon become victims of a strange poverty. The late Robert Horton said the greatest lesson he learned from life was that people who set their minds and hearts on money are equally disappointed whether they get it or whether they don't. It binds alike the poor who crave money and the rich who make it their god.—Quiet Hour.
A faith missionary, supported by no church board, was home from China on furlough with his wife and three children. God has wonderfully blessed their ministry and remarkably supplied their needs. A large, luxurious church was having an all-day meeting of the Ladies' Missionary Society. Hard put to find a speaker, they called on this missionary's wife, who was available. Her talk proved so interesting that the ladies prolonged her message by asking questions for over two hours. The bejewelled ladies in their business meeting learned that their budget was fully met, with a surplus which they decided to apply on next year's apportionment. To the missionary, they said that they allotted 50 cents for speaker's transportation, and since she had offered to take the four chicken pies remaining from the dinner (no one else wanting them) , worth 10 cents each, they would deduct 40 cents. Handing her 10 cents, they rolled away in their luxurious limousines. What does God think about the way we treat His missionaries?—Prophecy Monthly.
I knew a man once who rose from poverty to riches. Poor, he was a devout servant of God, "instant in season, out of season." Rich, he gave up his life to houses, farms, banks, travel. He dropped God overboard and took up the bone in his mouth. He was deaf to all appeals of every kind to his spiritual nature. Church, the Bible, the place of prayer, all faded out of his life. For years, he enjoyed his prosperity; then his business failed. He lost everything. God took the bone out of his mouth. He gave up the dog's life and came home to God. I heard his testimony. With tears he confessed backsliding, and thanked God that he found out in time his great mistake.—S. J. Reid, D.D., in The Watchman-Examiner.
There was a shipwreck on our coast some time ago. A ship struck upon a sunken rock, and the lifeboat put out to rescue the crew. The lifeboat drew near the sinking ship, and all got in safely except the captain and the first mate. "Get aboard," said the captain to the mate. "Wait a minute, Captain," and he dived down the companion ladder to fetch something from the cabin. The captain saw the folly of the act, and jumped into the lifeboat, hoping that the mate would soon follow. To stay beside the sinking ship was dangerous, and the coxswain drew off to wait for the mate to appear. Alas; before he could do so a great wave struck the vessel; she rolled over and sank, and the unfortunate man cooped up in the cabin was drowned. A few days after, divers went out to see what could be done with the vessel, and they found the corpse of the mate in the cabin. In his hand was something tightly grasped. They brought him on deck and unclasped his clenched fist. His purse fell out. They opened it. It contained—thirty-six cents! Had that man lost his life for thirty-six cents? "Ah!" you say. "What a fool!" But what are you risking your soul for? It may be either money or pleasure, but mark you, your soul is at stake.—The King's Business.
Once when Frederick the Great was about to declare war, he instructed his secretary to write the proclamation. The secretary began: "Whereas in the providence of God," etc., etc. "Stop that lying!" Frederick thundered. "Simply say, `Frederick wants more land.'"—The Earnest Worker.
When my friend, Dr. Edwin St. John Ward, was in charge of the American Hospital in Beirut, a Syrian came to him with a weird complaint. The man had been attacked by bandits; and to save the twenty-six gold pounds he carried his total wealth—he swallowed them. The money had so weighted his stomach that his whole digestive apparatus was thrown out of order. He could get no good of food, even if he could afford it. When Dr. Ward expressed skepticism as to the story, the man lay down and rattled the coins, and the physician could hear them clink! So he operated, and took the golden sovereigns from the man's stomach. The poor Syrian's plight, both tragic and ludicrous as it was, fairly pictured the condition of many persons. They have gold—or gold has them—but they are starving for the real food of life.—W. T. Ellis.
Dr. A. J. Gordon told of a rich miser who was afflicted with cataracts on both eyes. He applied to an eminent surgeon to remove them, and after examination was told that it could be done. "But what will it cost?" was the anxious question. "One hundred dollars for each eye," was the answer. The miser thought of his money and then of his blindness, and said, "I will have one eye restored; that will be enough to enable me to see to count my money, and I can save the expense of having the other operated on." "O Lord, open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law," cries the true Christian. But the half-and-half Christian wants only one eye opened. He likes to have the minister preach conversion strongly, because he has been converted himself and believes strongly in it; but he does not like to have him preach consecration, for that implies laying himself and all his wealth on God's altar, and he is not ready for that. In other words, he deliberately chooses a one-eyed religion, that which sees Christ as Saviour, but ignores Him as Sanctifier.—Sunday School Times.
When the steamship Central America went down, several hundred miners were on board, returning to their homes and friends. They had made their fortunes, and expected much happiness in enjoying them. In the first of the horror, gold lost its attraction to them. The miners took off their treasure belts and threw them aside. Carpet bags full of shining gold dust were emptied on the floor of the cabin. One of them poured out one hundred thousand dollars worth in the cabin, and bade anyone take it who would. Greed was overmastered, and the gold found no takers. Dear friends, it is well enough to have gold, but sometimes it is a bad life preserver. Sometimes it is a heavy weight that crushes us down to hell.—D. L. Moody.