"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good untoall men, especially unto them who are of the Householdof Faith."— Gal. 6:10.
THE Apostle's exhortation here is very comprehensive—to do good without limitation, whether it be in word or deed. Some can be more benefited by words than by any other service we could render them. One of the great needs of the world is moreknowledge. And if any one can dispel the darkness of this ignorance and let in light, he will surely do great good. The implied thought of the Apostle, however, seems to be that the principles of right and wrong—good and evil—are to be discerned by the Lord's people. From our standpoint we should recognize what would be a good work and what would be an evil work. Many are not able to discern between what is good and what is evil. Those who do evil are, with very few exceptions, in more or less ignorance and blindness.
Saul of Tarsus, for instance, was doing an evil work when he was persecuting the Church. But he did not realize this. Hence, the best service to Saul of Tarsus, or any one else under like conditions, would be to open the eyes of his understanding.
SOME GOOD WORKS ENUMERATED
Clothing the needy, feeding the hungry, taking care of the imbecile, are all good works—doing good to the world of mankind. As we look out into the world, we see many efforts being made to do good. Some of these efforts are wisely directed, and some unwisely. But we are not commissioned to set the world straight. We are not to interfere with anybody. Others have a right to their judgment, as we have a right to ours. But if any one were doing an evil work, thinking it to be a good work, we would be quite right to endeavor to stop him, using such means as might seem appropriate and wise—the law, or our own words, or the words of others. But even here we are to take heed lest we should be busybodying in other men's matters.
If we were to further enumerate some of the good works which ought to be done, we would say, to care for the blind, to organize or put into operation a method by which they might be enabled to read, or to get happiness; to care for the deaf and dumb would also be a very good work. As for slum work, we would not have much sympathy with a good deal of this, as reported. We should, however, be very much in sympathy with everything that aims for good—physical good, mental good, social good, good of any kind. There are, besides the foregoing, good arrangements provided for the sick, the incurable; such as hospitals, sanitariums, etc.
All who love their fellow men and have sympathy for those in distress should be in sympathy with efforts for the betterment of their condition, and neither manifest nor feel opposition to them. No child of God could feel in sympathy with anything evil. God is the Representative of everything that is good. Satan is the representative of everything that is evil and injurious. If we would be children of God we must be out of harmony with everything not in line with His original provision for man, and out of harmony with everything that is in support of Satan.
Some of the efforts along the line of social uplift are not at all bad. Their promoters may be working in an illogical way, a way that we feel sure is not in harmony with the Bible way; but nevertheless we have sympathy with the Socialists. They are trying to do good. But we have no sympathy with those who are trying to do evil, injury. We have faith in God—that He purposes to bring about a great change shortly; but we believe that no efforts of humanity can bring about this change. Then there is a way of doing good along intellectual lines, the lines of instruction. It is a good thing to teach children how to sew, how to cook, how to learn the mechanical arts that will make them useful. Our public school teachers are doing a good work, as they give instruction to the youth, and especially if they give the right understanding in regard to that which they teach, that which is in harmony with God's Word—the proper instruction.
SPECIAL WORK OF THE LORD'S PEOPLE
But there is a higher work than all these. And we are to give our life and time to this, which we see is the most valuable of all. This is the instruction given for all who have the ear to hear, respecting the Almighty, His will, His purposes, His plan; for these are associated with every affair of life. This instruction, to those who receive it, becomes the best aid to proper thinking, proper living, proper acting, for this is God's way. And this way becomes the way of all who are consecrated to do His will, to walk in Jesus' footsteps.
As, therefore, we come more and more in harmony with God's Plan, we perceive that no other work could be so grand as to make known to others God's character, God's Plan and God's will concerning us. As this has brought great blessing and sanctification to us, we should have the desire to take the Good Tidings to others, refreshing them as we have been refreshed, comforting them as we have been comforted.
In doing this work we resort to every lawful means. And this is called in the Scriptures, preaching the Gospel—whether it is done by the printed page or orally or by pictorial representations, it is proclaiming the Gospel—that which will do the most good to all mankind. We labor under one difficulty in this respect; namely, that the world is not able to appreciate the Good Tidings, Satan having blinded their eyes, so that they cannot see the philosophy of God's Plan—it does not seem reasonable to them. Those in this condition are trying, as it were, to look around a corner, instead of coming to the corner and getting the right angle of vision. But whether people believe it or not, we believe preaching the Gospel to be the Lord's work and therefore the best. This does not hinder us, however, from having sympathy with others who are doing what they consider to be the best work, so long as the result is good. We should be in sympathy with everything that is in harmony with the Truth—in sympathy with everything the influence of which is beneficial to mankind.
So then the Apostle is calling to our minds in a general way the opportunity of doing good to all men. But some may require assistance which we cannot give. For instance, we could not give up preaching the Gospel and go into the slum work, for the slum work is not preaching the Gospel. A godly physician might, however, in connection with his practise do good, not only along lines physical and mental, but also along spiritual lines. So we have opportunities every day with the butcher, the baker, the ice man, etc., all of whom are fellow creatures; for God made all mankind of one blood. As the Apostle enjoins, we should seek to do them good, seek to make them better, happier, more comfortable.
KIND WORDS AND SMILES POTENT FOR GOOD
It might be argued that in order to do good most widely, one's efforts should be associated with using money for the purpose. It is true that money represents an accumulation of time. It takes time to produce money; therefore whoever gives a dollar to any cause, gives what represents so much time; whoever donates one thousand dollars gives that which represents so much time, for the money will purchase time, comforts, etc. But not many of the Lord's people have much money to use. And if they had much money, they would feel that this is a talent, and that it should be used chiefly for the Household of Faith, for the Lord's brethren.
Since, then, we cannot do much in a material way for men as we meet them in the walks of life, day by day, how can we do them good? One of the easiest ways is to look happy ourselves and thus inspire happiness in others. A person who goes about looking miserable is not likely to make others feel happy. But if we cannot always look very happy, let us look as happy as we can, and thus we will be doing good to a great many people whom we meet throughout the day. This we can do even if we have no money with which to help others. Look happy, and try thus to make them happy. And secondly, if we have no money, we can give a kind word, a smile, a pleasant tone, a little civility, wherever proper.
All such little courtesies of life are means of doing good, and may bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of a great many people, the majority of whom are unfavorably situated. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God does not yet shine into their hearts. They are dark within, gloomy, foreboding, fearful. They know not God! and what they know of their fellow men is a knowledge of selfishness. They feel that they must be on their guard lest every one cheat them and get the better of them. Now, if our look, our manner, our tone, would be helpful, comforting, assuring, to these, then we would be doing them good—more good than if we should scatter dollar bills all along our pathway. "Kind words shall never die"; and the expressions that go with them are some of the ways of doing good unto all men as we have opportunity.
We have a special work and therefore have not the opportunity to walk the streets and smile all the time. Our life-work is for the great King. But as we go about our work, we should drop a smile or a kind word—something along the line of doing "good unto all men." Our work is to be especially for the Household of Faith in the sense that while we may be doing missionary work, and going among those who are not of the Household of Faith, yet our motive in doing thus is the hope that there may be some of these who are already of the Faith Household, or some who will be amenable to the Message, and will wish to serve the Lord when they learn the way. And if we would desire to do good to them, how much more would we wish to encourage those who belong to the Lord, who have become members of His spiritual family!
THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH
These words—Household of Faith—are broad enough to include not only those who are fully in the way, but also those who have made more or less of an approach unto the Lord and the Truth. The very fact that any one is drawing near to the antitypical Tabernacle is a strong reason why we should wish to encourage him to press on. He has come a part of the way, even if he has not made a consecration.
In a strict sense, the Household of Faith, of course, includes only those who are consecrated. But the words of the Apostle justify us in believing that those who are considering the matter, counting the cost, would in a broad sense be counted as of the Household of Faith. And we are to give these special assistance—all in whom we see any prospect of consecration. Our constant desire and effort should be to point men directly or indirectly to the Lord. Thus we shall be showing "forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."
We are to do these things as we have opportunity. This would include the thought of times and seasons and ways and means of doing good. So far as we are concerned we are to "be instant in season, out of season." We are not to consider our own inclinations, tastes, etc., but we would be obliged to consider the interests of others. A husband must specially regard the interests of his wife, and the wife the interests of her husband and children.
SPIRIT OF A SOUND MIND NECESSARY
We should be willing to serve anybody in any way as we have opportunity. And if there are many opportunities for service, we must choose between them, exercising the spirit of a sound mind, as to which would be the will of the Lord for us. The Lord's people should so order their lives as to get the best results—get the most good possible out of them. In choosing a means of livelihood, if there is a choice of five trades, one would study as to which would be the most lucrative, which would be the cleanest, which the most honorable, which require the most labor, etc. This would be from the natural standpoint. But from the Divine standpoint, the Christian's standpoint, the decisive question would be, In which of these avocations can I best serve the Lord? And this would mean, In which can I find the best opportunity for carrying out the good intentions of my heart as to the Lord's will respecting me?
If we have made some mistake in this respect and the Lord opens wide the door for us to enter in elsewhere, or if He makes our present place so tight that we cannot stay there, then let us arrange our affairs accordingly, in such a manner that we may have the most opportunities for doing "good unto all, especially to the Household of Faith."
There are some occupations which take us away from men, where we would have less opportunity of meeting people. No doubt it was the Lord's arrangement that Moses for a time should be away off in the land of Midian, keeping sheep for his father-in-law, Jethro. But as soon as the Lord was ready, He called Moses out and gave him a place of great opportunity and responsibility. No doubt that work in the wilderness was a place of great opportunity also; and doubtless before that, while in the schools of Egypt, he had great opportunity for learning lessons of experience.
So the Lord's people are to watch for their opportunities. And day by day they are to seek, so far as possible, to be doing good to others, and especially to those of the Lord's Household—giving these always the preference.
The Christian is to be ready to do good to all men at the expense of his own time and convenience, but he is to be ready to lay down his life for the brethren. He is to seek opportunities for laying down his life day after day, in the sense of giving his time to the communication of the Truth, or helping the Lord's brethren in any manner to put on the "whole armor of God," that they may stand in the evil day.
"The world would be a desolate place, But for one here and there, Whose heart with self hath not been filled, Whose love for God hath not been killed, Whose thankful praise hath not been stilled— There's one such here and there.
"But oh! the grandeur of the work, For this one here and there, To join in lifting up our race, To wipe away of sin each trace, To make of earth a perfect place, Put glory everywhere!"