“The Fear of the Lord Tendeth to Life”
“Wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
The opinion is widely held, that spirituality and devotion to God are detrimental to health. While this conclusion is radically false, it is not without apparent foundation. Many who profess to be Christians are ever walking under a cloud. They seem to think it a virtue to complain of depression of spirits, great trials, and severe conflicts.
But these persons do not correctly represent the religion of the Bible. So far from being antagonistic to health and happiness, the fear of the Lord lies at the foundation of all real prosperity. “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile; depart from evil, and do good, seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”
The consciousness of right-doing, is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. He who is at peace with God has secured the most important requisite to health. The blessing of the Lord is life to the receiver. The assurance that the eye of the Lord is upon us, and his ear open to our prayer, is a never-failing source of satisfaction. To know that we have an all-wise friend, to whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul, is a privilege which words can never express.
The gloom and despondency supposed to be caused by obedience to God’s moral law, is often attributable to disregard of his physical laws. Those whose moral faculties are beclouded by disease, are not the ones to rightly represent the Christian life, to show forth the joys of salvation, or the beauties of holiness. They are too often in the fire of fanaticism, or the water of cold indifference or stolid gloom.
The Saviour of mankind declared, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;” and he bade his disciples, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” It is the duty of every Christian to follow closely the example of Christ; to cultivate peace and hope and joy, which will be manifested in unfeigned cheerfulness, and habitual serenity. Thus may they shed light upon all around them, instead of casting the dark shadow of discouragement and gloom.
Many are constantly craving excitement and diversion. They are restless and dissatisfied when not absorbed in mirth, frivolity, and pleasure-seeking. These persons may make a profession of religion, but they are deceiving their own souls. They do not possess the genuine article. Their life is not hid with Christ in God. They do not find in Jesus their joy and peace.
The vain and trifling amusements of the world may divert for a time, but when the excitement is past, when the mind reflects, and conscience arouses and makes her voice heard, then the pleasure-seeker feels how powerless are his pursuits to give health to the body or peace to the soul.
Undue excitement is invariably followed by corresponding depression. Transgression yields only disappointment and remorse. Those who walk in the path of wisdom and holiness, will not be troubled with vain regrets for their misspent hours; they will not need to plunge into the round of gayety or dissipation to banish gloomy or harassing thoughts. Useful, active labor that quickens the circulation and gives strength to the muscles, will also give tone and vigor to the mind, and will prove a most effective agent in the restoration of health.
The religion of Christ is first pure, then peaceable, full of righteousness and good fruits. Such religion is needed in the world today. Many young persons who profess to be followers of Christ, are indulging in romantic sentimentalism which is deteriorating in its influence, and dangerous in its tendency. They indulge day-dreaming and castle-building, and thus squander their precious hours, and unfit themselves for usefulness.
With great self-complacency many flatter themselves that if circumstances were only favorable they would do some great and good work. They do not view things from a correct stand-point. They have lived in an imaginary world, and have been imaginary martyrs, and imaginary Christians. Their character is destitute of sterling virtue, and real stamina.
Young ladies of this class sometimes imagine that they possess exquisite delicacy and refinement of character, and a keenly sensitive nature, which must receive sympathy and encouragement from all around them. They put on an appearance of langour and indolent ease, and imagine that they are not appreciated. These sickly fancies are an injury to themselves and to others.
Despondent feelings are frequently the result of undue leisure. Idleness gives time to brood over imaginary sorrows. Many who have no real trials or hardships in the present, are sure to borrow them from the future. If these persons would seek to lighten the burdens of others, they would forget their own. Energetic labor that would call into action both the mental and physical powers, would prove an inestimable blessing to mind and body.
Invalids should not allow themselves to sink down into a state of inaction. This is highly detrimental to health. The power of the will must be asserted; aversion to active exercise, and the dread of all responsibility must be conquered. They can never recover health, unless they shake off this listless, dreamy condition of mind, and arouse themselves to action.
There is much deception practiced under the cover of religion. Passion controls the minds of many who flatter themselves that they have reached high spiritual attainments. Their experience consists of idle fancies and love-sick sentimentalism, rather than of purity and true goodness.
The mind should be trained to look away from self, to dwell upon themes which are elevated and ennobling. Let not the precious hours of life be wasted in dreaming of some great work to be performed in the future, while the little duties of the present are neglected.
The heart must be in the work or it will drag heavily; whatever it may be. The Lord tests our ability by giving us small duties to perform. If we turn from these with contempt or dissatisfaction, no more will be intrusted to us. If we take hold of them with cheerfulness, and perform them well, greater responsibilities will be committed to our trust.
Talents have been committed to us, not to be squandered, but to be put out to the exchangers, that at the Master’s coming he may receive his own with usury. These talents have not been unjustly distributed. God has dispensed his sacred trusts according to the known ability of his servants. “To every man his work.”
As he bestows his gifts upon each, he expects from each a corresponding return. If we faithfully perform our duty, the amount intrusted to us will be increased, be it large or small. All who thus prove their fidelity, will be accounted as wise stewards, and will be intrusted with the true riches, even the gift of everlasting life.
“No man liveth to himself.” True happiness will not be found by those who live merely for self-gratification. He who would secure the highest, and most satisfactory enjoyment of this life, as well as a right hold upon the future immortal life, must make it his highest aim to glorify God, and do good to his fellow-men. “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
“Pure religion before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” True religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, and sanctifies the judgment. It makes the soul a partaker of the purity of Heaven, brings angels near, and separates more and more from the spirit and influence of the world.
It reveals to man an infinite and all-wise Protector, a Redeemer from sin, a Comforter in sorrow, a Light in darkness, a Guide in obscurity. It invites man to become a son of God, an heir of Heaven. It fills the soul with “joy unspeakable, and full of glory.”
This precious gift of Heaven is freely offered to all who will accept it. Our brightest hopes, our loftiest aspirations can ask nothing more complete, more noble, more exalted. The tokens of infinite love, the pleadings of divine mercy, are ever wooing us to turn to God. “Why do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, June 15, 1882