Comfort

One dead fly makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.

[Eccl 10:1 NET]

It is sad to see how some holy and noble characters are marred by little–yet grievous, faults and blemishes!

One man is generous–but he desires always to have his charity praised.

Another is disposed to be kind and helpful–but by his manner, he hurts or humiliates the one he befriends.

Another is unselfish and devout–but is careless of promises and engagements. He makes appointments, and never thinks of them again. He borrows money, and does not repay it. His friends say, “He is so forgetful!” Yes; but how his forgetfulness mars his character and hurts his influence! Forgetfulness is worse than an acceptable weakness; it is a sin!

Untruthfulness is a blot in all eyes.

Whenever SELF leaks out in conduct or disposition–it is a dead fly in the perfume!

It makes little difference, that a person is not intentionally at fault in the things which so mar his life. Carelessness and thoughtlessness are themselves such serious moral blemishes–that they make impossible, any excuse for delinquencies resulting from them. We need to look to “the littles” which either make or mar godly character. No fault is too small to be worth curing, and no fragment of beauty is too small to be worth setting in the mosaic of character.

Comfort

They came, men and women alike, all who had willing hearts. They brought brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments, all kinds of gold jewelry, and everyone came who waved a wave offering of gold to the Lord.

[Exod 35:22 NET]

When the ancient Hebrews were preparing to make a tabernacle for God, they brought the richest and best things they had. They looked on their heirlooms and their most prized possessions, and brought the things which were dearest and most sacred, to God.

WE should follow the same rule when we are giving to God. When we make presents to those whom we love tenderly, we are at great pains to get the best and loveliest gifts we can find.

But do we always bring Christ the best?

Do we give Him the best of our heart’s affections?

Do we bring Him the best of our life, our time, our energy?

Do we do our best work in His service?

Are our gifts for Him–the most precious things we possess?

These Israelites brought their gold jewelry of all kinds: medallions, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They had nothing that was too good or too precious to be offered to God.

Is it thus with, us? Do we not sometimes bring to God–the very smallest gifts we can find? We keep the bright gold and the large bills for ourselves–and give Him the dimes and nickels!

Just so of our time, of our thoughts, our skills, our energies. We put Him off too often with what is left over–after we have served ourselves!

Comfort

The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation. I will no longer be with you, unless you destroy what has contaminated you.

[Josh 7:12 NET]

This is the only record in the Book of Joshua, of a lost battle. The word “therefore” tells us that it was a sin that caused this defeat, a secret sin, and the sin, too, of but one individual. How little do we know of the real causes of the failures we see about us!

All of us have our Ais, too, our defeats in battle; and very often they come just after our Jericho, our victories. It was only a little town, too, at which this disaster occurred, so small that it was thought unnecessary to send more than a handful of soldiers to take it.

Is it not often just so in our spiritual warfare? One writes, “Our greatest failures often happen in the little things of life. We miscalculate the strength of the foe; we fail to spy out the reserved forces. Indeed, we mistake, when we think it an easy matter to subdue any enemy. How often has it happened that he who has won his most signal victory in some great crisis of the church, who has rescued the truth from the teachers of false doctrine, or stormed the entrenchments of vice–has forthwith failed in some petty domestic disturbance, in some social duty, or in a trifling claim of common charity? If there is a time in life when we need more than ever to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation, it is in the hour of success.”

Comfort

The Lord spoke to Gideon again, “There are still too many men. Bring them down to the water and I will thin the ranks some more. When I say, ‘This one should go with you,’ pick him to go; when I say, ‘This one should not go with you,’ do not take him.”

[Judg 7:4 NET]

The way the men drank water from the brook, was the test of their fitness for the work of conquering the Midianites. It seemed to make the smallest difference in the world whether a soldier drank by bowing down with his face in the water, or by lapping up the water with his hand as he knelt; yet it was a difference that settled the question of fitness or unfitness for the great work before the army.

It is in just such little ways, and in such matters of everyday and commonplace action, conduct, and manner–that God is always testing us and deciding whether we are fit or unfit for the greater work for which he is seeking men. By the way a boy lives at home, by the way he treats his parents, by the way he performs his duties at school, by the spirit he shows on the play-ground, by the diligence which he displays in the store or office in which he is first employed–by the way he acts in all these relations and duties, the question is being settled to what greater responsibilities the Lord will call him in after-days. Every young girl, by the way she deports herself in her girlhood, at home, at school, at play, and in all the days of youth–is settling the place in life she shall fill in full womanhood and strength. We cannot know what future honor, may depend on the way we do the simplest, most commonplace thing today.

Comfort

that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

[1 Pet 1:4-5 NET]

It is related of a saintly man, that by his own request his only epitaph was “Kept!” All Christians are kept by the power of God unto final salvation. Only those who overcome at last get home to glory. Only Christ can help us to be conquerors. And important as was his death for us, his real work in saving us is that which he does with us, one by one, in keeping us, guiding us, giving us grace for living, lifting us up when we have fallen, bringing us back when we have wandered away. Were it not for the patient, watchful, never-wearying love of Christ–not one of us would ever get home. We are kept!

This divine keeping comes to us in many ways. We believe in angel guardianship. Then there is human guardianship. The mother is her child’s first keeper. The old rabbis used to say that God could not be everywhere present, and therefore he made mothers. All through life God gives human guardians who become helpers of our faith. Then we have ever the real divine presence in which we find perfect keeping. “The Lord is your keeper.” Psalm 121:5

Comfort

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

[Matt 25:42-43 NET]

The ‘not doing’ of things they ought to have done–here determines the doom of the unrighteous. They had not been cruel or unkind to any of Christ’s little ones–no such charge is made. They had not wronged anyone. Only neglects are mentioned. They had seen “little ones” hungry, and had not fed them; thirsty, and had not given them drink; naked, and had not clothed them; sick, and had not visited them. They had merely “passed by on the other side” when they saw human need and misery which they might have relieved. Yet their omissions and neglects, count as actual sins.

Many of us are apt to neglect opportunities of helping others, and of relieving distress, never thinking that we are sinning against Christ; that is, are leaving him unhelped and unrelieved in distress, when we might have given him comfort. The result of the teaching should be to make us more thoughtful of others, and more alert to embrace every opportunity of ministry to others in Christ’s name. It is because we do not think–that we fail so often in love’s duty.

Comfort

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

[Isa 40:1 NET]

Comfort is a very sweet word. It has music in it–for those who are in trouble. And most people have some trouble. This verse was spoken first to captives. There are a great many captives–people carried away from home into a strange land. Many people are in bondage of sorrow; it is hard to find a home without its grief. Many are in bondage of circumstances; life is too hard for them. There is a great deal of poverty in the world.

But here is God’s gospel: “Comfort my people.” Few words are more misunderstood, however, than the Bible word ‘comfort’. Many people think it means mere condolence to sit down with sufferers and weep with them, pitying them–but doing nothing to lift them up. But God’s comfort is no such weak, sentimental thing as this. He never merely sits down with us, in passive yielding to trouble. He comes to deliver us, to lead us out of our bondage, to make us victorious over trial or sorrow. There is always in Bible comfort, the thought of strength. No bondage is hopeless, under the skies of divine love. The stars shine into the deepest dungeon. There is not in any prison in this world, a captive to whom the gospel does not come with its “Speak comfortably.”