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The Lesson of Love: Chapter 14 - Gladdened to Gladden

By J.R. Miller

      Perhaps we do not think often enough of the responsibility of JOY. When God makes us glad the gladness is not to end with ourselves--we are to pass it on. The Lord said two things to Abraham: "I will bless you," and "You will be a blessing." The blessing was not merely for Abraham's own sake, nor was it to terminate in him. He was the custodian of this gift of God, that he in turn might give its benefits to others.

      So we may ask ourselves the question, after receiving any favor or blessing from God, "What did you do for others--when you were blessed?" When we have experienced any pure, sweet joy--we need to put this question to ourselves, "What enrichment of life did you receive from your joy? What new, sweet song did you learn to sing when you were happy? What blessings of cheer did you pass to others when your heart was glad?"

      For one thing, we ought to be better when God has given us joy. The joy should add to the charm and power of our personality, the strength and beauty and depth of our character. If we are not richer-hearted after God has given us some new, sweet gladness--we have failed to receive his gift aright or to get from it what he meant us to get. Whenever we have a day of radiant joy or sweet peace or blessed vision, and are not better therefor, we have missed the real object of the blessing which God intended us to get.

      Our mountain-top days are not merely experiences to be enjoyed by us; the radiance should become part of our life thereafter, and the light should shine from us upon others. The object of living is not merely to be happy ourselves--but to make others happy; not only to have blessings--but to grow into lives of deeper, sweeter blessedness.

      But besides being enriched ourselves by the blessings that God sends to us, besides getting new faith and hope and joy from the glimpses of heavenly beauty God gives to us along the way--these experiences should fit us to be more largely helpful to others. It goes without saying, that our faces should show it. Not many of the people one meets have really joyous faces. Too many show traces of worry and discontent. But if we have the joy of Christ in our hearts it ought to shine out. This is one of the ways we may let our light shine before men. We should remember that we are responsible for what our faces say to people. We have no right to show in our features doubt, fear, discontent, unhappiness, fretfulness, bitterness. We are not witnessing worthily for Christ--unless we are witnessing in our faces to the joy and blessing of his love.

      One says that the world is a looking-glass which reflects our looks, whether they be sweet or sour. Joy in our faces, breaking into smiles--starts smiles on other faces. There is many a face which is a blessed evangel because of the love, peace, and joy which illumine it. When we sit for our picture, the photographer says, "Now look pleasant." That is well. We cannot get a picture which we will want our friends to see--unless we wear a face that is bright, cheerful, and sunny when we are sitting before the camera. Of course we want a pleasant face in a photograph. But we have no right to wear an unhappy or a clouded face anywhere. Wherever we go, if we know the love of Christ, there is a voice bidding us look pleasant. We represent Christ, and Christ's face was always a blessing. He never made anyone's burden heavier, or anyone's heart sadder, by a gloomy face. Our faces should shine with the joy of Christ, which is in our hearts.

      But the face is not all. The mind of Christ should also inspire in us a personal ministry of kindness. When we have been warmed by our fire of love, we should shed the warmth on others, not only in happy faces--but also in a ministry of thoughtfulness and helpfulness which may bless many. Love is always kind, and nothing is more worth while than kindness. Nothing else does more to brighten the world and sweeten other lives.

      Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in a letter: "It is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes the world tolerable. If it were not for that, for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters, multiplying, spreading, making one happy through another, and bringing forth benefits, some thirty, some fifty, some a thousandfold, I would be tempted to think our life a practical jest of the worst possible kind."

      Kindnesses are the small coins of love. We should always be ready to scatter these bright coins wherever we go. Kindnesses are usually little things that we do, as we go along our daily path.

      We do not know the value of these little acts or their far-reaching influence. In the parable we are told how a mustard seed grew into a tree, amid whose branches the birds perched and sang. It is said that the fuchsia was first introduced into England by a sailor boy, who brought a single plant from some foreign country as a present for his mother. She put it in her window-box, and it became an attraction to all who passed by. From that little plant came all the fuchsias in England! The boy did not know when, in loving thought for his mother, he carried home the little plant, what a beautiful thing he was doing, what a ministry of good he was starting, how widely the influence of his simple thought of love would reach. We never know when we do any smallest thing in love for Christ--what the end of it will be, what a harvest of good will come from it.

      It is a beautiful thing to plant a flower which may grow and be the beginning of a lovely garden which shall brighten one little spot in the desert. That is worth while. It is worth while to put a bit of beauty into a dreary spot to brighten it. It is worth while to plant a few flowers where no flowers had bloomed before. It is a beautiful thing to change a spot of desert, into a garden. It is still more worth while to get love into a heart in which only selfishness and hate dwelt before. It is best of all to get Christ admitted where He has not been received before. That is the truest and best ministry.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The LESSON of Love
   Chapter 2 - Things That are LOVELY
   Chapter 3 - To SUFFER and Love On
   Chapter 4 - The Hurt of FLATTERY
   Chapter 5 - "Nor Life"
   Chapter 6 - Having the Mind of Christ
   Chapter 7 - The Second Mile
   Chapter 8 - Losing SELF in Christ
   Chapter 9 - Growing By Abandonment
   Chapter 10 - Leaving Things Undone
   Chapter 11 - Living for the BEST Things
   Chapter 12 - Serving and Following Christ
   Chapter 13 - Citizenship in Heaven
   Chapter 14 - Gladdened to Gladden
   Chapter 15 - The Gentleness of Christ
   Chapter 16 - Would Our Way Be Better?
   Chapter 17 - In the Father's Hands
   Chapter 18 - One Day at a Time
   Chapter 19 - True Friendship's Wishes
   Chapter 20 - Christ in Our Everydays
   Chapter 21 - In Tune With God


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