I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Ps. 101:3.
A mother who had lost her husband at sea was determined that none of her three boys would be sailors when they grew up. She therefore did all in her power to influence them toward a career that would keep them on land. But as they became old enough, each of them, one after the other, left home and went to sea.
One day after the youngest had gone the mother stood in the bedroom where the boys had slept, wondering sadly how it was that in spite of all she had done to influence them otherwise they had chosen to become sailors. As she gazed in lonely reminiscence around the room, suddenly she believed she understood the reason. On the wall at the foot of the boys' beds, in a position where for many years they saw it as they went to sleep and when they awoke, was a picture of a magnificent sailing ship, under full canvas, plunging through a frothing sea. This, she was convinced, was the influence that had nullified all her efforts to keep her boys from being sailors.
The Chinese have a proverb, "One picture is worth a thousand words." Educators say that pictures convey more to the mind in learning than any other medium. As a result films and TV are being used more and more as a means of teaching in our schools.
Practicing the presence of God
Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Gen. 5:24.
Nicolas Herman, of Lorraine, France, was an unlearned exsoldier and footman, a great awkward fellow who was always breaking things. One wintry day he happened to stop to consider a dry, leafless tree. As he did so God used the tree to win him to Himself. As the man looked at the dead-appearing branches the thought came to him that Cod would transform the tree into a thing of life and beauty with the returning spring. Then his mind was led to the thought that God could perform an even greater transformation in his own life. So forcefully did this idea grip him that he surrendered himself to Cod.
After his conversion, in 1666, Nicolas Herman entered a monastery and was known thereafter as Brother Lawrence. For the next more than sixty years he sought to know God as his intimate acquaintance. The account of his efforts and success in this aim may be read in a little book, The Practice of the Presence of God, a record of his conversations with God, or of his descriptions of these experiences.
First, Brother Lawrence says, he renounced everything for God and gave himself wholly to Him. Then he persevered in centering his thoughts on God, constantly bringing them back when they wandered. "By often repeating these acts," he wrote, "they become habitual, and the presence of God is rendered as it were natural to us.
Your face tells your story
A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. Eccl. 8:1.
It is said that on one occasion Abraham Lincoln rejected a certain man for an important job with the statement, "I don't like his face."
"But, Mr. President," protested the one who had made the recommendation, "he is not responsible for his face."
"Every man is responsible for his face at forty," Lincoln retorted.
When a man has that true wisdom which springs from God, he reflects the character of Christ, who Himself "reflects the glory of God" the Father (Heb. 1:3, R.S.V.). An aura of quiet confidence, gentle strength, kindliness, faith, and all the other virtues that are the fruits of the Spirit illuminate his face.
More than that, the preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us that if a man's face has been hardened by years of sin, heavenly wisdom will erase the lines carved by evil and will soften the signs of sin.
Harry Orchard, a hardened criminal and a murderer, proved the truth of this statement several times over. When Mr. Orchard was finally arrested he bore on his countenance all the marks of a life of crime. Shortly after his arrest he was converted. One year later, when he was brought to trial, so much had the Spirit of God softened his features that the presiding judge did not recognize his prisoner as the accused.
But infinitely more important than the gradualchange of countenance that comes when a man opens his mind to the true Wisdom is the sudden transformation of heart and life.
The curative viewpoint
Looking unto Jesus; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame. Heb. 12:2.
As Jesus lived His life on earth, teaching, preaching, healing, helping, encouraging, His eye was ever fastened on the future. He anticipated the time when He would gather the fruitage of His sacrifice into His kingdom and share with them the delights of the universe.
But before He ever took the step that would make this possible, He knew fully what was involved in it for Him. In The Desire of Ages, page 410, we read: "Even before He took humanity upon Him, He saw the whole length of the path He must travel . . . The path from the manger to Calvary was all before His eyes." Yet, understanding the cross and the shame that would be His, He nevertheless accepted them, focusing His vision on the "joy that was set before him," and pressed on unhesitatingly.
We are reminded of the famous physician who always entered the sickroom with a smile on his lips, no matter how serious the disease of his patient. On being asked how he could possibly examine and treat so many terrible diseases without being overwhelmed by them, he explained, "I always look upon disease from a curative viewpoint."
So it was with Jesus. He looked at the sinner from a "curative viewpoint," therefore He was willing; more, He was eager to come to this world, which is a vast isolation ward in the universe, to walk among men and women filled with the loathsome spiritual, moral, and physical diseases that sin has occasioned, knowing that He Himself would at last be struck down by sin, to die in terrible physical and mental agony amid the hatred and abuse of those He tried to save. But for Him it was all worth while.