By J.R. Miller
"Let the redeemed of the LORD say so!"
There is a duly of keeping silent. There are times when we would better not say anything. There come thoughts and feelings into our hearts, which we would better not speak out. There are moments when silence is golden. But there is also a duty of speech. God has given us our tongues to be used. The world needs the true words that lie within our lips. There are times when silence would be ingratitude, even disloyalty. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"
If God has redeemed us, how can we but "say so"? It is disloyal for us to hide in our heart, the wonderful story of what God has done for us. Our Lord was hurt by the action of the nine lepers who had been healed by Him and did not return to give praise to God. One came back--a Samaritan, and then Jesus asked, "Where are the other nine?" We ought to give God our gratitude, when He has blessed us. Rescue from danger, recovery from sickness, the restoration of a friend from death's door, deliverance from trouble, prosperity in business, kindness shown at large cost which has brought great good--our lives are full of the goodness and loving-kindness of God. Surely there ought to be a great deal of praise in our life. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"
But to say it to God in the secrecy of our closet of prayer, is not enough. We ought to tell others that God has redeemed us. We owe it to Him to honor His name among men. Then we owe it to our fellows, also, to let them know what God has done for us. They have needs, trials, hungers--just like those in which God has comforted us; shall we not tell them where we were consoled in our sorrow, where we found companionship in our loneliness, friendship in our heart-hunger, deliverance in our temptation, guidance in our bewilderment and perplexity--that they may find the same in their like need? "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"
Then, God gives us messages to carry to others. He puts into the heart of every one of His creatures, something which He wants that creature to utter to the world. He puts into the star a message of light--you look up into the heavens at night and the star gives you its message. Who knows what a blessing the star may be to a weary traveler who finds his way by it, or to the sick man lying by his window, and in his sleeplessness looking up at the glimmering point of light in the calm, deep heaven. God gives to a flower a message of beauty and sweetness, and for its brief life it tells out its message to all who can read it. Who can count up the good that even a flower may do, as it blooms in the garden, or as it is carried into the sick room, or into the cheerless chamber of poverty?
Especially does God give to every human life a message to deliver. To one it is some new scientific revelation. To the poet God gives thoughts of beauty which he is to interpret to the world--and the world is richer, sweeter, and better for hearing his messages. Think what we owe to the men and women who along the centuries have given forth their songs of hope, cheer, comfort, and inspiration! To every one of us--God gives something that He wants us to say to others. We cannot all write poems, or books which shall bless men; but if we live near the heart of Christ, there is no one of us into whose ear He will not whisper some fragment of truth, some revealing of grace and love, or to whom He will not give some experience of comfort in sorrow, some new glimpse of glory.
God forms a personal friendship with each one of His faithful children, and each one learns something from Him, which no other one ever has learned. Your message is not the same as mine; it is God's own word to you, and you are His prophet to foretell it to the world. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"
If only one of the flowers that blooms in the summer days in the fields and gardens refused to bloom, hiding its gift of beauty--the world would be poorer and less lovely than it is. If but one of the myriad stars in the heavens refused to shine, keeping its beam of light locked in its breast, the nights will be a little darker than they are. And every human life that fails to hear its message, or fails to speak it out, keeping it hidden in the silence of the heart--leaves this earth poorer. But every life, even the lowliest, that learns of God and then speaks out its message--adds something to the world's blessing and beauty.
Live near to God--that He may speak to you out of His own heart, the word He would have you tell again to others. Then be sure you speak it out. "What I tell you in the dark--speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear--proclaim from the roofs." "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"
Again, we ought to let the gladness of our heart utter itself. I say the gladness. There is something very strange in the tendency which seems so common in human lives--to hide the gladness, and tell out the misery. If you will, for one week, keep an account of what the people you meet say to you, even in their shortest greetings, I think you will find that a large proportion of them will not say anything that is cheerful and happy--but much that is dreary and disheartening. They will speak of the discouragements in their business, the hardships in their occupation, the troubles in their various duties, and all the manifold miseries, real and imagined, that have fallen to their lot. But they will have very little to say of their prosperities, their health, their mercies, favors, blessings.
Yet it is of this latter class of experiences, that the world ought to hear the most. In the first place, we do not have half so many woes--as some of us imagine we have. We have a hundred mercies--to one misery. God makes this world just a little rough for most of us--to keep us from settling down in it as a final home of perfect contentment. But He does not want us to complain forever about the roughness. That is neither loyal nor brave--and it is not beautiful. We have no right to add to the world's burdens--by unloading our worries and frets into every ear we find open! There is no text that says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord tell everybody all their troubles, vexations, frets, and anxieties!"
It would be a far sweeter service to the world--if we were to speak only of our gladness, remembering the loving-kindness of the Lord, telling of the pleasant things of our life, and not uttering our woes. There is always a bright side. There is always something beautiful in the most painful or repulsive condition or circumstances; would it not be better for us to find that--and speak of it, keeping silent as to the painful or repulsive features?
Again, there is a large field of opportunities for saying so--when the words will do great good to others. This is true especially of the expression of kindly feelings, the utterance of encouragements, comforts, inspirations. Many of us are altogether too stingy with such words. We have the good thought in our heart--but we do not say it! Some people boast of their honesty, in saying what they think. That is very well--so long as they think only nobly, charitably, generously, lovingly. But saying what one thinks, means ofttimes speaking rashly, impulsively, cruelly, in the flashes of anger and bad temper--and then the words are not wise nor good. "As well say them--as think them," someone replies. No! thinking harsh or unkind things hurts you--but saying unkind things hurt others! A moment later you will repent, too, of the bitter thoughts, and if they have not been spoken--you will be most thankful that they were not.
One told of being very angry after enduring a bitter wrong, and then of writing a letter to the person who had done the wrong, into which all the anger was poured. The words were like fire. His conscience whispered, however, "Do not send the letter until morning." And it was never sent, and the friend has never ceased to thank God that it was not. It was all a terrible misunderstanding, and the two are the best of friends again. The redeemed of the Lord should not speak harsh, uncharitable, hurtful words, which will only give needless pain, break hearts, sunder friendships, and which can never be unsaid!
But we should speak out our good thoughts and feelings on every occasion. Some people fail to do this. Some seem to have the impression that the utterance of kindly words, however well deserved, is a sort of weak and unworthy flattery. But it is not, if the words are sincere and true.
Thackeray says, "Never lose an opportunity of saying a kind word." Then he tells of an English nobleman who always carried his pocket full of acorns, and whenever he saw a bare or vacant place in his estate, he would plant one. Just so, whenever we see a person whose life is sad, or who is discouraged, we should drop a pleasant, loving word into his heart. It will grow into beauty. "An acorn costs nothing--but it may sprout into a prodigious bit of timber." Kind words cost nothing--but they may mean a great deal in the way of blessing and good.
Your neighbor is in sorrow. The shutters are closed for days, as a loved one hovers between life and death; and then the death-crape on the door tells that death has conquered, and that the home is darkened. You want to help. Your heart is full of sympathy. But you do nothing; you say no word to give comfort. Is there no way by which your brotherly love might make your neighbor's burden a little lighter or his heart a little stronger? You want to help him. Why not say so?
Here is one whose life is full of care. His business is not prosperous. There is sickness in his family. Many things appear to go against him. He battles on bravely--but the fight is hard, the load is heavy, the road is rough and steep! He has to meet it all alone, too, without that human sympathy which would mean so much to him. You stand by and see all this. Ofttimes your heart aches as you notice the man's weariness, the discouragement in his sad face and bent form. You speak to other neighbors, with sincere feeling about his hard struggle and his defeated look. Yes, yes; but you never say anything to him to show him that you sympathize with him. Why not? A few loving, brotherly words--might make him strong to press on yet to victoriousness.
It is in our homes, perhaps, that the lesson is needed most. There is a great deal of love there that never finds expression. We keep sad silences ofttimes with those we love the best, even when their hearts are crying for words. A husband loves his wife and would give his life for her--but there are days and days when he never tells her so, nor reveals the sweet truth by any sign or token. The wife loves her husband with deep affection--but she has fallen into the habit of making no demonstration, saying nothing about her love, and going on through the daily home experiences, almost as if there were no love in her heart. No wonder husbands and wives drift apart in such homes! There are parents who make the same mistake with their children. A young man, referring to his home life, said: "My mother was a brilliant, busy person; but we never were close, and my home was a mere boardinghouse to me."
It is to the expression of the love in our hearts--that we are called today. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" It is to the good things we leave undone, our sins of omission, that we owe attention, quite as much as to the wrong things we do, our sins of commission.
"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" We must say it, too, before it is too late. Some people wait until the need is past--and then come up with tardy kindness. When the neighbor is well again--then they call to say how sorry they are he has been sick. The time for showing friendship, is in the friend's need or adversity--and not when the need is passed. There are many who say their first truly generous things of others--when the others lie in the coffin! Then they bring flowers, although they never gave a flower when their friends were alive!
Tell out your gratitude--God desires it. Speak your message--the world needs it. Pour out your love--hearts are breaking for it. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"