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Natural Law Paralleled On The Spiritual Plane
“He that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully; but he that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly.” (2 Cor. 9:6)
The speaker showed that reaping invariably corresponds to sowing, not only in kind, but also in quality and in quantity. It is very evident that his view on the application of both text and context differs from that of the majority of even professed Christians.
Usually this passage is applied in a general way to everybody; but the Pastor applies it only to Christians. While he admits that it is true that all reap as they sow, yet he claims that only Christians those who have made a full consecration of themselves to God are begotten of the holy Spirit can sow to the Spirit; that these are now on trial for life or death everlasting. He believes that only a few are sowing seed along spiritual lines and reaping spiritual harvests; and that the great majority are sowing along merely natural lines, whether the seed be good or evil, and will reap accordingly, some a noble and some an ignoble character.
So far has man fallen from the estate in which Adam was created that it may be truly said, as the apostle declares,“They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10-12) Instead of being a holy Spirit a holy mind or disposition the mind of fallen man today is largely unholy, perverted and imperfect. But those who have stepped out from the world, those who have become, through faith in Christ and dedication of themselves to God, children of God, have His holy Spirit His mind or disposition; and this they have in proportion as they are living close to God, following in their Master’s footsteps.
According to the measure that this latter class “sow to the Spirit” will they reap the character of Christ, the fruitage of the holy Spirit. The Lord desires His people not only to sow to the Spirit, but to sow bountifully. There is a principle of justice that runs all through the matter. God does not say, “Never mind what you do, I will forgive you and make it all right with you. I know that you are imperfect.” No! The principle constantly operates that whoever sows good seed will reap corresponding blessings; but whoever sows evil seed may expect to reap corresponding injury. The merit of Christ covers the Christian’s unwitting mistakes when he is doing his best; but it does not make up for negligence, carelessness or indifference as to the kind of seed he sows. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
INFLEXIBLE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
Those, now children of God, found before they left the world, that when they lived in accordance with the will of the fallen human nature, the things from which they expected good results and happiness gave poor results and dissatisfaction that anticipation was much better than realization. They also found that following their own will generally yielded bad fruitage. They had sown wrong thoughts; and these thoughts produced more of the same kind. Then the wrong thoughts brought forth wrong deeds, which in time developed a wrong character. The things which at first were merely optional became fixed characteristics. As somebody has well said, “Sow a thought and reap an act, sow an act and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap a character; sow a character and reap a destiny.” To the extent that an unholy character had been developed it must be painstakingly demolished, and a righteous character erected.
In this connection, parents should begin with their children, by keeping before their minds from earliest childhood pure, noble, loving thoughts. While it is impossible to make them perfect, yet parents can do much toward shielding their children from the evil in the world. By giving their children a right start in life, parents would be bestowing upon them a legacy for which the children would thank them throughout eternity. If mothers could only know how much they have in their power the molding of the minds of their children, how careful they would be! How vigilantly they would guard their own mental conditions and attitudes in order that they might bring into the world children whose dispositions would be noble, upright children that would be a blessing rather than a curse.
But if vicious passions control, if wrong thoughts are harbored, the child will be born with these evil tendencies; and no matter how hard he may try in after life to develop a noble character, he will have a lifelong battle with the results of improper pre-natal influences. How sad it is that these facts were not set before us long ago!
The fathers also have especial responsibility along this line. Not only should they themselves be noble if they would hope to bring forth noble offspring, but they should see to it that so far as possible the mother should have the proper associations and environment, the proper care and attention. As these things are all taken into consideration in the breeding of fine horses, dogs, etc., of how much more importance is it that our children be given thus a noble heritage!
PROPER TRAINING OF CHILDREN
It is high time that all thinking people agitate this subject, and thus head off as far as possible the propagation of children badly equipped mentally, morally and physically. We cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of proper pre-natal influences in forming the child’s disposition. But parental responsibility does not cease with the birth of the child. Its entire life requires supervision. Here again the mother has her care to see that the child is not unjust in dealing with its playmates not even with the dog. She must inculcate cleanliness of body and of mind. If she is careless about these things, the child gets the idea that it does not matter what one does; and thus the liability to do unjustly and to live uncleanly is greatly increased.
Peculiar responsibility along all lines rests upon Christian parents. As we come to see the principles of God’s government, our minds should be filled with thoughts of justice, righteousness, kindness, love. These thoughts should be reflected upon our children; and thus they are taught of God. Even though they may not become spirit-begotten children of God, yet all who ever attain unto life everlasting on any plane must have this holy Spirit, mind. If a child is not naturally meek, if its pre-natal development was neglected in this respect, then it should be taught meekness. It should be shown how unbecoming are rudeness and self-assertion. It should have held up before it the beauty of gentleness and kindness. If a child is handled properly during the early formative years of its life, it will soon get these good principles fixed in its mind. Meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, kindness, love these are traits that parents should carefully cultivate in themselves. They are qualities of the Spirit of God which He expects all His children to develop richly. However bad a Christian’s habits may have been before he became God’s child, the Heavenly Father expects him to eradicate his undesirable traits of character as rapidly as possible, by Divine grace. He is to dig them up by the roots, as he would pull up noxious weeds from his garden. Then he must plant instead the beautiful and fruitful things. What a beautiful adornment is meekness! How unlovely are arrogance and headiness!
As this beauty of character is manifested by the parent, it will be noticed by the children, who are very quick of discernment, and who generally have a keen sense of justice and of consistency of example. Sooner or later this beauty in the parent is sure to bear fruitage in the child, unless its character had become too firmly fixed before the parents realized their responsibility along these lines. Undoubtedly the disrespect of parents so common today and neglect of parents in their old age are the legitimate fruitage of parental neglect in earlier days. Many parents today are reaping the harvest of their own failure to train their children properly in early childhood. In many cases evil seeds have been sown in the child mind instead of good seed; and today the bad fruitage of such sowing is evident. In other cases the seed has been sown far too sparingly; and the reaping has been in proportion.
GOD’S CHILDREN CAREFULLY TRAINED
As the child-life is a training school, so it is with the spiritbegotten children of God. As soon as we enter His family, He puts us to school; and during the remainder of our lives in the flesh we are given a systematic course of training, schooling. As new creatures, we are in the school of Christ, where we have daily lessons to learn lessons of meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love, as well as lessons of doctrine. Chronology shows us where we are on the stream of time. Doctrine is the foundation upon which our character structure is to be built. But the most important of all our lessons is that of character likeness of our great Teacher, Christ Jesus.
St. Peter tells us that this work is accomplished through the “exceeding great and precious promises,” given to us that thereby we “might be partakers of the Divine nature.” (2 Pet. 1:4) As the children of God feed upon these promises, they work in us to will and to do God’s good pleasure. Thus we become like Christ, who always delighted to do God’s will. At first we were willing to do that will, but now we are striving to do it. And this is right; for it is just what the promises are designed to do in us.
This school of Christ was opened at our Lord’s first advent. During His earthly ministry, about five hundred pupils were enrolled. At Pentecost, when the holy Spirit was first given in begetting power, many more entered this school and came under the instruction of the Master Teacher. At first the pupils were of the Jews only; but a little later the door of favor was opened to the Gentiles also. Then all who would meet the conditions of discipleship were invited to enter this school.
The terms of discipleship are very definite and rigid. To be a disciple of Christ one must entirely surrender his will to God, and then take up his cross and follow Jesus, henceforth to have no will of his own, but to strive day by day to copy Christ. (Matt. 16:24) This class shall, if faithful to the end of their course, reap the legitimate reward of their careful sowing to the Spirit full character likeness to Christ Jesus our Lord; and this will bring them joint-heirship with Him in His Messianic kingdom.
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