Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
Value of Ideals to Church and World
By C. T. Russell
Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"Shapen in iniquity, in sin did my mother conceive me."
"BE FRUITFUL and multiply" was the Divine commission to our first parents before they sinned. The entrance of sin and its penalty, death, brought serious impairments, mental, moral and physical, to our race. It is no longer natural to us to do right, but contrariwise, as St. Paul declared, "We cannot do the things that we would." In other words we are constitutionally defective, because of mental disloyalty to God. Yet the mind can rise to loftier heights than it is able to lift the body and its functions. "To will is present with me, but how to perform I know not." —
Many are grasping after this great truth, and attempting human uplift through eugenics, etc., but nevertheless imperfectly appreciate what they teach, failing to see the matter from the Bible standpoint. The mind, the will, the body, should be entirely submitted to the will of God. Thus only can the highest good be possible. This was God’s requirement of our first parents. In this they failed; and in consequence mental, moral and physical impairment have come to us as a race. "All have sinned and come short" of the glorious standard which God established.
Best Ideals for Sinners
The Bible divides the world into two classes; the mass of sinners condemned by God and out of relationship with Him; and the few who have, by covenant with the Lord, come back into relationship with Him through the merit of Christ. We shall first address the world of sinners, with the suggestion that, while they cannot hope to lift themselves up to perfection and everlasting life, they can do much toward the uplift of themselves and their children by conforming to certain Scriptural ideals. The world already recognizes this in considerable measure, but not sufficiently.
All should know, and do appreciate to some extent, the value of a good example, good training in the family. The child who continually hears coarse, rude expressions in the home will surely grow up not much better than those surroundings, if not worse. But while encouraging high ideals in the home—cleanliness, gentleness, kindness—we call special attention to the duty of parents toward their children before birth. Few seem to realize that the general attitude of a mother’s mind birthmarks her child either for good or for ill. With this fact recognized, surely every couple would feel their responsibility as creators of a family. If they realized that coarse, brutal, selfish words, acts and thoughts would be impressed upon their unborn child, surely they would strive to avoid these before their child’s birth as well as after it. If they realized that noble words, conduct, thoughts and ideals during the period of gestation, would be imprinted upon their child, how greatly would they strive to have children that would be not only
OV367 beautiful in appearance, but noble in character.
Horsemen recognize this principle; and when a racing mare is in foal, her intelligent owner, desiring to breed a fine colt, will give the mother every attention. Her condition will be happifying and comfortable. She will be led to the race track, there to see other horses running, trotting, etc., that thus her colt may be birthmarked for speed. How much people will be for money, and how often they forget to do for their own families what they think to do for their horses! But the world is awakening. A New Dispensation is about to be ushered in, and its light has been streaming over the world during the past forty years, giving us increasing knowledge and higher ideals of the good, the true, the noble, the beautiful.
Our horticulturists have already caught the fever of the New Age, and are presenting to us fruits and flowers that are marvelous. Our newspapers are giving us beautiful photogravures. Art is becoming cheap. Every home should be well supplied, when the cost need be no more than the time to clip from the paper and to arrange tastefully upon the wall. Ideal homes are everywhere being arranged, and even the poorest to-day have much in life to cheer and refresh. Let us lift our ideals, and make the most of life, however cramped our financial condition. The will to do is what is needed, and where there is a will there is a way.
Christian Ideals the Best.
Before the Christian, our Lord sets the very highest ideals: "Be like unto your Father in Heaven"—not that Christians can be all that the Heavenly Father’s character expresses, but that this is to be their ideal or aim in life. Only God can know when they are doing their best; and He assures them that He will judge them, not according to their success, but according to their endeavor to live up to their ideals, and the sacrifices they make in order closely to attain those ideals.
What we have said of the home and ideals of sinners—of those who have not come into relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ—is still more true of real Christians, begotten of the Holy Spirit and adopted into the family of God. Ideal homes, ideal children, ideal relationships every way, are pre-eminently their privilege and duty; and they have much advantage over others in respect to this matter. Have.they not received the begetting of the Spirit? Have they not become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have they not been taught in the School of Christ? (
.) Have they not knowledge to understand that the Spirit of Christ manifests itself in meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love! Have they not learned that any other spirit than this—such as anger, malice, hatred, envy and strife, works of the flesh and the Devil—is contrary to the Spirit of Christ? Have they not resolved to put away all these and to put on the fruits of the Spirit of Christ? They have adopted these ideals and are working along this line.
True, some of them by nature may be very deficient, very degraded; but because God is no respecter of persons, He accepts all who come to Him through Christ. Those naturally deficient, those naturally much fallen, may have the more difficulty approximating their ideals, but they will surely be making progress; and those who have known them before will take note of them, that they have been with Jesus and learned of Him. God will perceive the thoughts and intents of their hearts; and they will have His blessing in proportion as they are striving to be God-like.
Let Us Awake to the True Situation
The children of Christians should be pre-eminently beautiful, both in feature and in character; for Christians have the highest ideals, and should, more than others, put these into practice. Moreover, they have Divine assistance, through the Scriptures and through God’s providential direction in
OV368 their affairs, that they might know, appreciate and use the things freely given to them of God as His children.
But alas! Many are Christians only in name, having never entered into a covenant with the Lord. They have neither part nor lot in the things of God. Others, who have truly given up themselves to the Lord, have been sadly neglected as respects lessons in the School of Christ. The great religious institutions of the world are not teaching the highest ideals, but instead are separating the people from those highest ideals by misrepresentations of the Divine character and the Divine Plan.
Let us awake to the true situation, awake to our privileges as children of God, awake to the true teaching of the Bible. These direct not only that our conduct toward men shall be in harmony with the Golden Rule, but that we shall go beyond this and have a love which will delight in doing good unto all men, as we have opportunity, especially unto the Household of Faith. It will go further, and take hold upon the very thoughts and intents of the heart. The Christian is under direct obligation to the Lord to do His will; and that will, he is informed, takes notice not merely of his actions and words, but of his very thoughts as well.—
Happy the child who has such parentage, and especially so if the parents have been guided by an appreciation of the fact that the mother’s mind during the period of gestation will mark the child for life. Happy the child who has a mother thus fully committed to God, intent upon doing His will and appreciative of His high ideals!
Happy the child who has a father similarly devoted to God and noble ideals, who will help his wife at this, the most critical time of her experience as a mother, not only by providing for her comfort of body and rest of mind, but by assisting her to noble sentiments of justice, mercy, love, kindness, and, by drawing her attention to things beautiful, lovely, happifying! Oh, what a beautiful character might not such a child have! What a blessing to be born with such a heritage, and then to be consecrated to God and His service!
Forbidding to Marry.
St. Paul calls attention to the fact that some, getting out of harmony with the Divine arrangement, will forbid marriage. Such should remember that God originally said: "Be fruitful and multiply," but we may well urge upon them the importance of seeing that the children they bring into the world come into it with as much blessing as possible—as free from the curse of sin as possible.
Be it remembered, however, that St. Paul pointed out that the Church of Christ has a different mission in the world from others. Her mission is not the propagation of the human species, but co-operation with God in the work of the present time; namely, the development of the New Creation. The coming Age will be the time for Christ and the Church, as the Heavenly Bridegroom and the Heavenly Bride, to take over the world of mankind by resurrection, regeneration. Now, as the Apostle suggests, is the time in which the Church is to make her own calling and election sure to the Divine nature, that she may become "the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife." It is her privilege, also, to carry the Message of this High Calling to those who now have ears to hear. Thus she becomes God’s mouthpiece, or ambassador, in finding, calling, instructing and helping all who accept the Divine invitation, and enter into covenant relationship with God through Christ as New Creatures.
It is in view of this important work that the Apostle suggests that those of the Church who can do so should consider it a privilege to forego marriage, that they may live celibate lives as Jesus did, and as St. Paul himself is supposed to have done—not that celibacy of itself need be considered a necessity for the perfecting of the Divine character, but that its practice will give increased opportunity for
OV369 serving the King of Kings. Many zealous Christians feel, as St. Paul felt, that the time is short and their opportunities few for rendering service unto the Lord and His Cause.
Hence if marriage would interfere in any measure with this, their highest privilege, they would gladly forego a measure of earthly happiness and privilege, to be more efficient servants of the Lord.
This same thought is expressed by Jesus, saying: "Some have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake." (
); that is, have denied themselves their privileges and rights as human beings, in order to render the better service to the Lord. But such a matter is a sacrifice, a privilege, and not a command, not an obligation. Whoever chooses may sacrifice, and should not be criticized therefor. Whoever prefers not to sacrifice should not be criticized on that account. To his own master each servant stands or falls.
We must remember that the Bible has no communication whatever for those who are not Christians. The Christian business man may to some extent be copied by his neighbors. But his own responsibility is the matter in which he is interested most. A business man’s ideal is the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you," applies to his buying, his selling, to his dealing with his clerks and with his customers. It includes his advertising, and the ideals which he sets before his clerks.
We believe that more and more the Golden Rule is coming to be appreciated by the public, and that those who follow it will more and more receive a blessing. We do not mean that it will make them richer than their neighbors, who may follow the other rule sometimes quoted: Do your neighbors as you believe he would do you; but do him first, before he can do you. But whether following the Golden Rule shall bring little success or much success, the business man who has given his heart to the Lord and become a son of God must follow the Golden Rule. He can do no less, though he is privileged to do as much more as he chooses in the way of benevolences.
A business man’s ideals should have some bearing upon his manner of doing business, as well as the character of the stock he offers for sale. The Christian business man’s store should be known as a place where trash and injurious things would not be found.
Social and Neighborly Ideals
The true Christian is to remember that nothing less than the Golden Rule may be followed by him under any circumstances. He must see to it that his children, his chickens, his dogs, etc., do not disturb his neighbors in their proper rights. The same Golden Rule requires of him that he shall do a neighbor’s part for any one in distress, even as he would have a neighbor do for him if he were in trouble. "Do good and lend, hoping for nothing again," is to be exemplified in the Christian, with the understanding that he is not to do lending that would impair his own credit, nor seriously interfere with his own obligations to his family. Moreover, proper lending would be merely in cases of necessity. He is not to be neighborly because he hopes the neighbor will return the compliment, but because from the Word of God he has received high ideals of a proper neighbor, and because he wishes to live up to the Divine requirement, doing good as he has opportunity, and especially unto the Household of Faith.
The Christian may not have time to waste in some of the social amenities common to our day. He is a representative and ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
His time, his influence, his talents, are not his own. They are to be used according to his judgment of the Lord’s will. He may not, therefore, seem to be as sociable as some might desire. He will have no time to kill in games or amusements. He has come to a realization that "Life is real, life is earnest;" and that while there is so much sin and
OV370 sorrow in the world, he may not fritter away his precious moments in idleness or in that which is merely pleasurable, but not really profitable. This will not mean that he shall not take any time to look after the interests of his family in a social way and to keep in touch with his social obligations as a neighbor. It would make him dignified, and first of all, loyal to God.
Our ideals are merely fantasies, floating clouds without rain, until we bring them to the point of determination—until we consecrate our lives to these ideals and resolve to live in harmony with them. Here the Christian has much advantage every way, for he not only has his ideals from the Lord, but the promise of Divine oversight, blessing, guidance and assistance in working out these ideals in his own heart and in his life.
"DISAPPOINTMENT—His appointment," Change one letter, then I see That the thwarting of my purpose Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing, Tho’ it may come in disguise, For the end from the beginning Open to His wisdom lies.
"Disappointment—His appointment," Whose? The Lord’s, who loves me best, Understands and knows me fully, Who my faith and love would test; For, like loving earthly parent, He rejoices when He knows That His child accepts, unquestioned, All that from His wisdom flows.
"Disappointment—His appointment," "No good thing will He withhold," From denials oft we gather Treasures of His love untold.
Well He knows each broken purpose Leads to fuller, deeper trust, And the end of all His dealings Proves our God is wise and just.
"Disappointment—His appointment," Lord, I take it, then, as such.
Like the clay in hands of potter, Yielding wholly to Thy touch.
All my life’s plan is Thy moulding, Not one single choice be mine; Let me answer, unrepining—Father, "Not my will, but Thine."