By George Kulp
"She hath done what she could." Mark 14:8
Near the coast of England, on a reef of rocks out in the sea, stood a lighthouse to warn and guide vessels approaching that dangerous spot. Out there were terrific storms, and that part of the coast was the dread of the mariner. One dark, wild night, a ship with hundreds of passengers struck the reef, only a little distance from the lighthouse, but the mad waves were boiling and dashing so furiously that it hardly seemed possible a boat could live three minutes if an attempt should be made to rescue any of the passengers. To make matters more hopeless, there was only one person with the keeper of the lighthouse, a young girl of eighteen summers. But with her father she launched the boat and pulling the oar opposite her father, they made their way through the surging billows to the wreck, and brought off nine persons to the lighthouse. All the rest were lost, but all through the kingdom that heroic girl was honored. She had done what she could.
The text proves to us conclusively that the Lord Jesus approves of doers, desires His people to be doing Christians, to show their Christianity by their lives. True religion is not made up of general notions and abstract opinions, of certain views and feelings, of doctrines and sentiments only. These things are useful but they are not everything. The wheels of the machine must move. The clock must go as well as have a handsome exterior. It matters very little what a man thinks, wishes and feels in religion if he never gets any farther than that. "hat does he do? How does he live? Doing is the only satisfactory proof that a man is a real Christian, that his religion is a real' work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus laid this down as a test. "By their fruits shall ye know them."
We all admit that not only were the heavens created to shew forth the glory of God, but man is to glorify God, and "Herein," Jesus says, "is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." Doing is the only evidence that will avail a person in the day of judgment. Talking is a very easy thing, profession is a very cheap thing. Hearing is not hard, but in this good old-fashioned Bible there is an exhortation like this, "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only." Every one can do something, and what we can do we ought to do, and what we ought to do, we can. Here is an axiomatic truth for every person to whom the path of duty is plain, "I ought to, therefore I can." All may win this encomium of our text, and in the great day of accounts, the great question each must meet is this, "Hast thou done for me what thou could'st?"
A few years ago the Czar of Russia went to his long home. He was the ruler of fifty-seven millions of human souls, embracing nine nations of men, a million soldiers drew their breath subject to his despotic will, two millions of square miles of territory were ruled by his word, the guns of massive forts made continents tremble at his edict. Kings and cabinets were perplexed at the cunning of his brain, but when he died, when his soul, disrobed of purple and of crown, went the presence of the Kings of kings, the simple question for him to answer was this, "Hast thou done for Me what thou could'st?"
I knew a girl on my last charge named Esther Nichols, quiet, unassuming and gentle. To my mind she was very much like her Lord. She lived in a very plain, bumble home; went in and out of the church without creating much stir. If she was asked to do anything, she did it for Jesus' sake, quietly and thoroughly, as was the manner of her life. The last Sunday she spent on earth, she sang in the choir, because she was needed, and in a few days afterward she died, and went up to join the choirs of Heaven. When the plain Christian girl entered the other world, the question to the Emperor would be for her also, "Hast thou done for me what thou could'st?"
I presume there are many honest hearts in this congregation this morning, and you are asking, "What can I do?" and as a servant of God I want to point out to you some things that all may do.
1. Every one can keep a pure heart, a holy heart. Purity -- wholeness -- is the heritage of every child of God. To every one Jesus says, "Wilt thou be made whole?" and He not only makes whole, or holy and pure, but He has made rich provision for every one of His children that they may keep pure. Listen to this if you doubt it, and tell me if it means what it reads. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." "Be ye holy for I am holy." "Keep thyself pure." "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Do not listen to the suggestion of the devil that that is for you just before you die. Whenever it is done, God must do it, and if He can do it for you at death, He can do it now, and by having it done now you can be more useful, for if you want God to use you, you must he holy. God can use nothing unclean and impure. If you want to be happy, you must be holy. "Ye are the temple of the Holy Ghost." Let the Spirit in, in all His fulness, and you can keep a pure heart, and keep it easily. The man who has a hard time is the one who is half-hearted instead of being whole, or holy-hearted, but, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Brother, sister, I want you to understand, it is your privilege to be purified. If Jesus can not save you and keep you from all sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness, then He is a failure. He came to save His people "from their sins," to save unto the uttermost all them that come unto uttermost salvation.
"Oh, bliss of the purified,
Bliss of the pure,
No wound hath the soul
That His blood cannot cure.
"No sorrow-bowed head
But may sweetly find rest,
No tears but may dry them
On Jesus' breast."
2. You can avoid the very appearance of evil. You can so live that your life will be above suspicion. The devil may stir up some one to throw mud at you, but if your heart and life are pare it 'will not stick, it will fall off harmlessly. Some one may lie about you, but it will not stick, it will fall to the ground -- no one will believe it, not even the liar himself. Be careful what you do. If you do not want to be even to be thought a card player, do not have cards in your house. Do not go to the dance to look on, and no one will think you love the dance. Be careful what you do, and what you speak, and where you go. Do not go to the saloon to get a glass of lemonade, -- some one may think you were after liquor. Make your lemonade at home. An old naturalist tells us a dove is so afraid of a hawk that it will be frightened at one of its feathers, so the Christian, knowing that sin separates the soul from God, ought to be frightened at the very appearance of sin.
William Stockton was so opposed to the theater that when he would be going up Arch Street, in Philadelphia, and come to the square on which was the Arch Street theater, he would cross the street before he would walk in the shadow of he building. If we go to an extreme in any direction, let it be in the right one.
Bismarck, premier of Germany, sold his stock in a French corporation, lest it should bias his judgment in matters of importance between his nation and the French. Do as much for God. Part with the very appearance of evil, and be whole-hearted for God.
3. You can pray a great deal for the unsaved. The secret of all real Pentecostal revivals is prayer. Ten days of prayer and waiting before God preceded the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the conversion of two thousand souls. If you want to see wonders wrought by God, pray and wait before Him. When Jonathan Edwards preached on the text "Their feet shall slide," the people caught hold of the pillars of the church to keep from sliding into Hell. God wonderfully helped the preacher, but many of his people had been up all night on Saturday praying for God's blessings on him.
John Livingstone preached a single sermon in Scotland that brought five hundred souls to Christ, but some of his people had been in prayer all night before. If you want the power of God to come, pray, and wait in humble faith and you certain as that God will come in answer to continual and faithful prayer.
A man who had been an atheist was converted and soon after his conversion he made out a list of all his old associates living within the reach of his influence, and for their conversion he determined to labor and pray daily. On his list were one hundred and sixteen names, among them skeptics, drunkards and individuals as little likely to be reached by Christian influence as any in the community. Within two years from this man's conversion, one hundred of these persons for whom he labored and prayed were converted. You can pray for the unsaved.
4. You can give money to the Church for Jesus. If pocket-books were consecrated to God, the Lord's treasury would never lack money, and no consecration is complete if the pocket-book is withheld.
Some people get nervous when you talk to them about money for God. A Christian man, who earned his money by the sweat of his brow, subscribed five dollars annually for the support of a school in Bombay. His friends said, "How can you afford it, and how can you give so much?" Mark his answer. "I have been for some time wishing to do something for Christ, I cannot preach, neither can I pray in public to anyone's edification, nor can I talk to people, but I have hands and I can work," and of the money thus obtained, he gave for Jesus.
I know a woman who surprises her pastor by the amount she contributes to the cause of Christ, for new churches, for missions, and though she is over sixty years of age, she earns every dollar of it by weaving carpet, that she may have the pleasure of giving. Brethren, if I could get the money for Jesus that the Church people spend for tobacco, ice-cream, candy and ribbons, I would undertake to build all the churches, feed all the Lord's poor, send out all the missionaries necessary to evangelize the world. We could evangelize the world with money spent for worldliness by the modern Church.
5. Every one can speak a few words to sinners for Jesus.
Jesus said to the man out of whom the devils were cast, and who was clothed and in his right mind, "Go to thy home and tell thy friends what great things the Lord hath done for thee." "Let him that heareth say come." "Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Go speak to sinners, tell them something of Jesus' love, tell them their feet are in the way of death.
A woman who had been thirty years in the Church came down to die, and she was in agony. This thought tormented her, "I have been thirty years in the Church and have never spoken to any person about his soul." Do something for the Church. Bring some one to Christ.
A young girl fifteen years of age was converted in New Jersey. Her parents and two older sisters were members of the Church, professors of religion, but they did not practice their profession. Suppose I tell you John Smith is a physician, but he does not practice, you would not send for him when any one is sick in your house, you want a practicing physician, and not one out of practice. God wants practicing Christians. This young girl began to work on her parents at home. Her mother was in the habit of buying milk on the Sabbath, she suggested it might be bought on Saturday night, boiled and kept, so there would be no ringing of bells, and no traffic on the Lord's day The mother yielded and that business closed. They were in the habit of having Sunday dinner, in fact it was the big dinner of the week, it was a day of feasting rather than worship and self-examination. Prayerfully and lovingly she set herself at work. Soon cold dishes took the place of hot. But there was no family altar. She did not know how to approach her father, so she went to her Heavenly Father. He understood her, and God sent the Spirit to the father's heart, and one Sabbath evening he called his family together, acknowledged his neglect, stated he would now lead them in devotion, and henceforth attend to it. The young daughter's heart overflowed, a new spiritual life was felt at home. . She began to work in her neighborhood, talked to souls and became eminently useful.
6. You can invite sinners to Church. Oftentimes the first sermon they hear influences them to surrender. A man who had been a libertine, a wrecked, abandoned character, one day strolled into a church when he heard the fifth chapter of Genesis read. "Enos lives 205 years, and died. Seth lived 912 years and he died, Methuselah lived 969 pears and he died." The frequent repetition of the words "and he died" struck him so deeply with the thought of death and eternity that, through divine grace, he became a Christian.
A gentleman, educated for the bar, was desired by some of his companions, who were with him at a coffee-house, to go and hear John Wesley preach, and then to return and exhibit his nonsense and discourse for their entertainment. He went with that intention, but just as he entered the place Mr. Wesley announced his text, "Prepare to meet thy God." The seriousness of the speaker, and the solemnity, impressed him, and when he returned to his companions, he was asked by his associates if "he had taken off the old Methodist," and he replied, "No, gentleman, but he has taken me off," and from that time had left their company and became a godly man and a Christian.
You can speak to the unsaved, visit their homes, tell them of Jesus. "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Advertise Jesus Christ, tell what He has done for you.
"What we have felt and seen,
With confidence we tell,
And publish to the sons of men,
The signs infallible."