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19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
Most are wrapped up in the immediate present and the very limited future which comes within the scope of present undertakings. But such a course does not satisfy the contemplative mind.
"Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die," is the universal doctrine, but only the shallowest, dullest minds can find merriment satisfying under such circumstances. Such an attitude requires the cruelest, bitterest form of self-deception and wilful blindness.
But, in the mercy of God, there is a third alternative for those who feel the need. How is one brought to feel the need? By a recognition of the sadness and perversions of the present dispensation, due to the incapability and inhumanity of man.
Is this brought home to us easily or quickly? Usually not. At first the world is a place of bright promise, of comradeship and love, a gay and thoughtless adventure. This is the common first impression in the innocence and buoyancy of inexperience.
How do we learn differently? What prompts us to turn for comfort and satisfaction elsewhere? Usually it requires the rough hand of misfortune and disillusionment to make us fully appreciative of the vanity of present things. We are aware, it is true, in a vague, theoretic way, of the vast preponderance of sorrow over joy in the world, but we feel nobody's troubles as keenly as we do our own. This is in the very nature of things. Our minds can only work on what is being continually presented to them in some form or another. Unless constantly reminded either by circumstances or direct efforts of our own will, we soon forget and our attention is taken by other things.
This, too, demonstrates why we must constantly supply our minds with material for thought from the Word of God. If we do not, our minds will feed on other and unwholesome things that so easily present themselves to them.
Bro Growcott - Lift Up Your Eyes On High!
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
It is to illustrate the ultimate folly of making self-provision the engrossing rule of life, as it is with the common run of men. The occasion of its introduction gives even greater piquancy to the lesson. We are informed that "One of the company" on a certain occasion, "said unto Jesus, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." This was invoking Christ's authority in a case of disputed title to property. Such an appeal is generally considered important and respectable.
In the present circumstances of human life (in which men to whom God has spoken are on probation as to the question of doing the will of God), Jesus could not look on questions of human property as men generally look upon them. First, he denied jurisdiction in such matters in the present state of affairs, though he will have jurisdiction enough when he comes to exercise judgment and justice. "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?"
Next, most men would reckon he goes out of his way to have a needless fling at covetousness which more or less animates most men in their dealings. "Take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth."
The man who asked him to interfere must have felt this as an unkind rebuff, and the majority of people in our day would sympathise with him. He would feel he was only wanting "his own," and that if he asked Christ to help him, it was because the influence of a just man would be powerful. Yes, but there was another side to the question to which most men are blind. The lust of possession is a snare. It catches the heart and deadens it to other and higher considerations which ought to be supreme.
Hence Jesus says "Beware," and speaks of "the deceitfulness of riches;" their tendency to cheat the heart out of wisdom. He, therefore, advises men to turn "the mammon of unrighteousness," when it comes their way, into a friend, by its use for God in a good stewardship of which He alone, and not man, is judge. Universal experience shows the necessity for his exhortation. Nothing is more common than for men of enlarging wealth to make use of it for still greater enlargement in self-provision and self-ministration to themselves and families. And nothing seems more ghastly and sterile in the day of death than munificent and skilful arrangements in this direction to the neglect of what God requires at a man's hand in the way of faithful stewardship.
Nothing will emancipate a man so thoroughly and wholesomely from the bondage of riches as the use of them in the various duties which God has attached to this probationary state. This is what Jesus calls "being rich towards God" in contrast to a man "laying up treasure for himself."
Being rich towards God may not seem much of an acquisition in the day of health and liberty, but the matter wears a different aspect when that day sets in clouds and darkness, as it inevitably does sooner or later. When the dead rise, and the Lord sets up His throne in judgment, the reality of treasure laid up in heaven will be manifest in the eyes of men and angels.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 30.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We must look beyond the examples found in Messrs. C... and W..., for those who have "crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Enjoying the fat things of the present evil world, and as much of its honours and wealth as they can grasp, they are the last men who should taunt me with neglect of this Christian duty. They have been laboring for years for what this world affords, and they have obtained it.
They are rich in this world's stuff. They can count up their thousands of mammon; their flocks and herds; their broad acres and coal fields; endowments and houses, and fashionable goods. But of all these things "the unfortunate man" they revile and speak evil of falsely is almost as destitute of as the Great Founder of Christianity himself.
I have not labored for these things, and therefore have not acquired them. While they have been covering themselves with fatness, I have been laboring without hire, and trusting to Providence for supplies, in the work of opening the blind eyes, and of turning men from Gentilism to the intelligent belief of the knowledge of God as revealed in the old and new Scriptures.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1854
32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Go for pleasure! Go for it with all your heart and might! That is what you are put here on earth for -- to enjoy yourself to the uttermost. BUT -- be sure it IS pleasure.
The world is full of tragic, tempting, cheating counterfeits that never satisfy, but at best only stupefy with temporary excitement or sensation or absorption, like a brief drug high -- but all lead at last to the same dead end.
There is only one true, real, permanent pleasure -- unalloyed, unassailable, and everlasting. Ignore the myriad masks of the empty face of Folly, and heed the solitary sound of Wisdom's call to everlasting joy. God guarantees "pleasures for evermore."
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
Figurative language, but with a clear and obvious meaning.
"Loins girded" means awake, alert, and prepared for immediate action. "Lights burning" means the lamps of knowledge not only filled with the Spirit oil, but in the active state of radiance and illumination, both for our own path and to attract and guide others.
"And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord."
We are told, here and in other places, that the moment of Christ's coming will be sudden and unexpected; and some will be ready and others not. We are told that much depends on just how that moment catches us-prepared or unprepared-watching, or off-guard.
Not because our chance state at any particular moment would be the determining factor-that would be just like a game of chance-but because our state of readiness at that time will be the key to our whole life.
Some will tire, lose interest, relax, be temporarily diverted. With some, the keen edge of ardent expectation will be dulled by luxury or prosperity or simply the force of custom or habit. With some it won't happen to be Sunday morning when the call comes, and therefore their minds will be far away on other things.
But those who truly love will become more eager, more alert, more watchful with each passing day, knowing and rejoicing that each day brings them one day closer to that joyful time on which their heart is fixed. That great day will not catch THEM with their minds on other, rubbishy things.
"That when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him IMMEDIATELY."
"Immediately"; that is the vital word there. There must be no hesitation or looking back-no last minute scurrying to put ne glected things in order, or to fill neglected lamps.
Jesus' point is that, to please him, there must be a constant looking forward to that moment; a constant, instant readiness to go, like a runner on his mark, alert for the starter's gun.
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
"The Gospel Advocate calls me a restless, ambitious individual. I am restless, and shall so continue to be until I enter that rest which remains for the people of God. I am ambitious, and my ambition will be satisfied with nothing short of incorruptibility, and a portion in the undefiled and undecaying inheritance, in which I hope eternally to dwell.
Shall I rest, surrounded as I am by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, both in the church and in the world? Shall I cease to aim at the disenthralment of the human mind from the traditions both of Romish and Protestant 'Divines?' Shall I cease to plead for what I honestly believe to be the truth of Holy Scripture, because men, as liable to err as myself, are pleased to call it speculative and untaught? I am ambitious to benefit mankind...'
Dr Thomas life and works