Our Personal Responsibilities

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God bless you, and welcome again to Meditation Moments. We remind you again that we’re praying for you, and this little program, though so brief, how we do pray that it will be a blessing to your heart and meet your needs, and that you’ll pray for us and pray for those that write in for help. We say again the old-time greeting: God bless you and make you a blessing.

This precious old hymn came to my mind so many times recently when I was with my dear husband in his declining time at the hospital. I would visit the hospital every day when he was ill, and I would watch those dear lives there, in the different beds. Oh, the suffering, the human suffering!

Then I would look out through the windows of the tall hospital, out to the highway where cars were rushing back and forth, and I would think about poor lost humanity, but especially those who I met in the hospital and down in the waiting room. So many who are sorrowing, so many with broken hearts, and I thought how much they need the Father’s mercy, and how the Lord needs us, as lower lights, to keep burning. And that precious old song would come to me, and I would sing sometimes above his bed:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse ever more,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother,
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed
Is trying now to make the harbor,
And in the darkness may be lost.

Some poor fainting, struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.
Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.

From the hymn, “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy,” by Philip Paul Bliss, 1838–1876

That wonderful old song coming to my heart made me long so sometimes that people would catch a vision of service for others. And I’d come to think of this verse of scripture, this wonderful passage in Matthew, the twenty-fifth chapter. God’s Word says,

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

“Then shall the righteous answer and say, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? When saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”

Matthew 25:31–40

I saw some of those dear ones, especially the very aged, lie there day after day, and it went into weeks after a while. For a month I visited the hospital, and no one ever came to see them. You know, God has entrusted us with some sacred responsibilities, certain things which have to have the first attention in life. Lots of things are demanding our attention; so many things are happening on the stage of life today. The calls are just multitudinous, and there is so little time for them in the mighty rush of time.

We have to face the issue of what is the greatest outstanding purpose of life. Of course, God’s Word tells us that, first of all, it’s to work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12). But after that, it is the salvation of those around us, the furtherance of God’s kingdom. These are the sacred trusts, and they have to be put in their rightful place.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33a). Oh, how trite that gets to us, we hear it so many times. The first for every Christian then are eternal things, not temporal. But so often God is set aside and the merest trifles are attended to before those two outstanding purposes in life: your own salvation and the care of the souls about you.

I’d look into some of those poor drawn faces, and their children never cared enough to come. And then I’d see them draw the curtain about a life, and after a while that bed was empty—but nobody had come. It was all too much for the chaplain, Dr. Fry, whom I got to know quite well.

You know, these great realities of life, the eternal purpose, they’re set in a second place, just put in really a secondary place. As someone has so aptly put it, there’s a misplaced attention, a false priority. The emphasis in life is put in the wrong place.

Maybe I told you the story long ago about the old lady in Valparaiso, Indiana, that H. B. Brown, the president of Valparaiso University, Indiana, sent her on a trip from Valparaiso to Chicago. She had always wanted to take that trip. Afterwards, the conductor told that she fussed with her handbag and her little satchel all the way into Chicago, trying to arrange things and a little pillow she had brought along for her back, and just fooling around. She never looked out at the scenery.

She had talked about wanting to see what it looked like on the road between Valparaiso, Indiana, and Chicago, and H. B. Brown had tried to meet the desire of her heart. But she didn’t deal with the main purpose of her trip at all. She forgot all about what it was for and just fooled with those little, inconsequential things. There was a misplaced attention, a false priority; the emphasis was in the wrong place.

If you do not think temporal things have had the priority maybe in your life, my life, quietly and sincerely we ought to go over the past month, the past week, and meditate on how much of the temporal rather than the eternal has occupied our time and thought.

We sing that we are pilgrims and strangers in this world, but I tell you, dearly beloved, we don’t act like it a great deal. A sense of values: I’ve so often said no man is a great man, no woman is a great woman, unless they have a sense of values. If we keep from doing the better thing because we’re so occupied with things that are so secondary, then God’s going to have to judge us. That’s what the scripture is about when He said, “I was sick, and ye visited me not” (Matthew 25:43b).

Oh, I wish you could read some of the letters that come in from sick souls and heartsick young people even! You know, there are such great possibilities in your life; there’s such promise in your life, and you have all the resources of heaven at your command. What a blessing you could be in that neighborhood, what a joy you could be in your church, what an uplift you could be to your pastor!

We’re going to have to give an account of what we might have been, because God’s going to judge us by what we might have been. He’s going to judge us by the life that we might have lived. God’s going to ask some day, “What kept you from doing these things? What kept you from these things which should have been put first?” The world is so full of opportunity, and eternal things are calling so loudly today. The need is so very desperate.

Oh, how true those words:

Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

From “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy.”

And we are the lights along the shore. Christians are the “lower lights.” The upper lights up there are the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, but we are the lower lights. Nobody else is going to tell them if we don’t, and no one else will call on the sick and those that are in prison and those that need clothing.

A man came to our door the other day—he was brought there by someone that picked him up on the highway and brought him to us to talk to him. And do you know, he was 60 years old, and no one had ever presented him with the plan of salvation. No one had ever talked to him about Jesus.

If we fail in the supreme task of life and we make utter shipwreck of the great purpose of life, which is our salvation and then the salvation of others, and we come to the end of the road and offer God trifles instead of the great immortal purpose of life, what is our judgment going to be?

You know, what makes this so pertinent, what makes it so vital is that we have at our command the remedy for all the world’s ills, and that is the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how He can transform lives! Christ can come in and crowd out all that sin and self and all. What He can do for lives, we see it so much!

I think of people like Sam Jones and I think about Tony Fontane. We heard him give his life story the other night, about how he had been so cruel to his mother and so indifferent to God and didn’t want to hear anything about the Gospel. And then God so wonderfully transformed that life and he’s such a blessing today and daily.1 I read not long ago his book Love Opened Prison Doors, and how he had been an addict to some kind of narcotic and a drunkard. The Salvation Army at last brought the plan of salvation to him and the transforming power of Christ opened prison doors.

We pray, Father God: Cleanse me, O God, from selfishness. Cleanse me of accepting the secondary things to the great purpose of life in a world so full of opportunity. Forgive us and cleanse our hearts from this that has kept us from fulfilling our mission in life.

Your attitude may be, “Let the world in need be forgotten. Let someone else win the lost souls, millions starving for the light. Well, let them starve, it isn’t my business. Little children in cruelty and darkness—let come mighty issues, let come death, let come judgment. I’m occupied with things of self and things that please me to do.” God help us and forgive us and cleanse us from all this.

God bless you. We’re praying for you, and He’s still on the throne; prayer will change things for you.

  1. Tony Fontane (1925–1974) was a popular American recording artist in the 1940s and 1950s who, following a near-fatal car accident in 1957, gave up his popular career to pursue one as a gospel singer. Thanks to his high, clear tenor voice and unrelenting sense of purpose, he became one of the world's most famous gospel singers. (Wikipedia)