George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Keeping in Love With Life
For he that will love life (lit., he that wisheth to love life), and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; Let him eschew evil, and do good,' let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers--1Pe 3:10-12
What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil--Psa 34:12-13
These words of Peter are not original; they are a quotation from the Book of Psalms. The interesting thing to note is how Peter gives a new turn to the old thought. The psalmist asks, Do you desire life; do you want to live for many years? Peter asks, Do you wish to love life, to find it sweet and delightful to the end? In other words, the psalmist teaches us how to live if we want to reach old age, while Peter teaches us how we ought to live if we want through everything to find life lovable.
At the back of Peter's mind there lies the thought that in youth we are all in love with life. That is an experience, not a problem. To the child life is always sweet in spite of the childish bitterness of tears. To the young man or woman life is thrilling in its morning freshness of sensation. Of course, that very freshness and intensity has its reaction in the realm of suffering and darkens all the stars it sets shining. Still, speaking generally, we are all in love with life at one-and-twenty. We do not need to be taught to make life exquisite. It is fashioned so by Him who commands the morning. The difficult thing is to keep in love with life through all the experience of the years, through the sorrows and trials of the after days and the disappointments which are the lot of everybody.
It is notable that in Peter's answer there is not a word about poverty or hardship. That is one of the silences of Scripture which are as eloquent as any speech. Desperate poverty may make a man rebellious; it may rouse him against the social order; it may fill him with passionate anger at the flaunting of luxury and wealth. But that very anger is a token that poverty has not lost its love for life, for we are never angry about things that are indifferent. Poverty, strange though it may seem, does not throw men out of love with life. Far more often it is the idle rich who have lost the tang of living. I have scarcely ever known a working person for whom life was not sweet. But I have known scores of rich and idle people who were dead sick of everything.
We Must Not Shun the Cross
Nor is it less important to observe that Peter says nothing of suffering or cross-bearing. There is not a hint that we must shun the cross if we want to keep in love with life. One might think that constant suffering would create a loathing against life, or that a hidden cross, borne daily, would transform life into a thing unlovable. As a matter of fact, witnessed by experience, it does nothing of the kind. Suffering is a challenge; it calls out what is bravest in us; it makes us set our teeth and hold on tighter, determined never to be beaten. And who does not know how many a woman's life grows richer and more Christlike by some daily hidden cross she has to bear? Peter never dreams of saying that we must shun the cross to keep in love with life. That would make it impossible for most of us.
Now just here we face the splendid fact that our Lord was in love with life right to the end. To Him it was a glorious thing, and He came to give it more abundantly. Every element was in His cup that might seem to make life unendurable. There was hardship, poverty, misunderstanding; there was infinite and unutterable loneliness. Yet at the end, and in agony, He cried, "Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me," (Luk 22:42) and "this cup" was not life, but death. Buddha said, Life is an evil thing; let us be done with it, and win Nirvana. Christ said, Life is a glorious thing: believe on Me and have eternal life. And yet His life knew all the depths of suffering and was tempted in all points like as ours is and was passed in a loneliness we cannot fathom.
How to Keep in Love With Love
And just here we come to Peter's answer, for do you not see what Peter's answer is? He says, If you want to keep in love with life, then live as the blessed Master did. Keep thy lips from speaking guile--there was no guile upon His lips. Eschew evil and do good--He went about continually doing good. Seek peace and ensue it, and He is the Prince of peace forever in a divided and alienated world. For Him life was not possessions. It was character; it was service; it was love. And do you want to keep in love with it? Then you must follow in His steps. Put first things first. Give primacy to character. Serve your brother. Walk in love--and you will keep in love with life to the end.
And then remember life was sweet to Jesus because He lived it under the eye of God. He felt, as nobody else has ever felt, the continual presence of the Father. There was no God for Buddha. There is no God for any pessimist. For Jesus, God was Father: He was Friend; He shared in every heart-beat of His child. And does not Peter say, If you want to keep in love with life as Jesus did, right on to the end, then never forget that the eyes of the Lord are on you, and His ears are open to your prayers. When over life there is an arch like that, when underneath are the everlasting arms, when there is a heavenly hand to guide and a heavenly breast on which to lean, then, bring life what it may, a man is able to keep in love with it till the day break and the shadows flee away.
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