(J. R. Miller, 1902)
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25: 31-40)
We mistake, when we think that only great deeds make worthy service. In no life can there be many large and conspicuous things; the years must chiefly be filled with little things.
Take even the story of the life of Jesus. In it there were, as recorded, a definite number of miracles which stand out in the narrative, as stars of the first magnitude in the heavens. But strewn through all the days, filling all the moments, crowded into all the interstices of that wonderful life – were innumerable kindnesses and thoughtfulnesses, unrecorded, even unremembered words and acts. Jesus was not always working miracles – but He was always doing good; and the greater measure of the blessing He left in the world came, not from His few supernatural works—but from the countless common human kindnesses He wrought. “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (Jn. 21: 25). He “went about doing good” (Acts 10: 38).
It is so in every really great and holy life. Now and then there may be some conspicuous deed done, which wins the applause of men – an account of which gets into the newspapers, and which is talked about near and far. But on all the days of all the years, there is going on a ministry of love which uplifts many people, which gives pleasure to old and young, which leaves inspiration of holiness and beauty in countless hearts, which makes one spot of the world sweeter.
Sometimes it happens, that those who seek human applause for what they can accomplish, striving to do things that are conspicuous and that make a sensation in the world – have no beautiful ministry of kindness to fill and brighten the days of their common life. When they give alms – they sound a trumpet proclaiming the fact, that their good deeds may be seen and praised of men. But when they are not exhibiting their charity or their generosity, that is, when others are not watching, they are neither charitable nor generous! They do not take the trouble to be kind or loving – when there is nothing to be gained by it. That is, their doing of good is spurious, because it is something enacted for men’s eyes, not for God’s. The staple of their life is selfishness. When they are not posing for effect – their days are full of things which are not lovely!
It may be set down as a principle, that the true test of a life is found in the things that are done – when no human eye is watching – the things of the quiet days. The ten thousand little acts and words and manifestations of disposition, which make up the substance of living, much more justly index the real character – than do the one or two ostentatious things which people talk about.
After all, the greatness is not in the conspicuousness of that which is done – but in its spirit, its moral quality. “With God there is neither little nor great; there is only straight or crooked.”
That which we do really for God – is great; though it seems but a trifle in human eyes. That which we do only for men is small; though in bulk – it is as large as a mountain! “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 6: 1)
We never know what will be in the end of the smallest good we do in this world. It may start a series of blessings which shall extend, with increasing benefit, through centuries! There are single sentences in the Bible which have been helping, comforting, strengthening, guiding, cheering, and inspiring men and women for thousands of years and in all lands! There have been single acts of simple kindness, done even without the thought that they would be helpful – which have proved the beginning of endless chains of blessing! Says one, “When men do anything for God – the very least thing – they never know where it will end, nor what amount of work it will do for Him. Love’s secret, therefore, is to be always doing things for God, and not to mind because they are very little ones.”
When they get home to heaven at last, and all the harvest of their lives has been gathered in, godly people will experience two great surprises. They will be surprised to find that certain things which they have done, which they regarded as great things and largely useful – were really of very small account, received but slight commendation by God, and left but small blessing in the world. But they will be surprised, on the other hand – at the great beauty and the rare value – of many little things which they have done, which they had not considered as of any importance; things, perhaps, they do not even remember doing; or were done with so little thought, that they could be of any worth!
It is a law of God’s kingdom – that what we do with thought of SELF lacks one of the finest elements of moral quality. Consciousness of doing good things – mars the beauty. What we do, intending that it shall be fine and winsome – is of far less worth in God’s sight – than what we do, when our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing!
(to be concluded)
(Article adapted from GraceGems Website)