Christianity in Public Life
There is one text which should rule the action of every man toward his fellow man. These are the words: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31) We desire to mention a few sinful things we find practiced among men which reveal the wicked and selfish condition of the heart.
Many men are prone to misrepresent property they are offering for sale. For instance, a horse may be said to be seven years old by his owner when he knows he is ten. He may represent him to be sound in every way when he knows he is diseased, and for this very reason he desires to sell him. Of course, no man can do these things and be a Christian. The Bible says, “Lie not one to another.” (Colossians 3:9) “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.” (Ephesians 4:25) The Christian not only tells the truth as is asked him concerning his horse, but he also tells of all his defects though he be unquestioned. If a horse should be in some way diseased or blemished unknown to and unsuspected by the purchasing party, the owner instead of seeking to hide his defect, frankly tells, if he is a Christian, all about the diseased and blemished condition. This is doing as he would be done unto, and is Christian conduct.
Recently a gentleman was telling me of a man who, when having his wheat threshed, asked the men that were doing the measuring to heap up the half bushel, that he might save some of his threshing bill. Is it not a pity that man will allow a covetous heart to lead him into such awful sin? He brings the wrath of God upon his soul for a few pennies. It is much worse than Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage. The salvation of Jesus saves men from such conduct; consequently a Christian desires the men to give a just and right measure, for under no circumstance would he defraud his neighbor, because he would not that men should do so to him. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20); so we know that a man that will thus defraud another is not a Christian.
Men sometimes become so greedy of gain that in order to secure the good price of an early market they will cut their melons when they have reason to believe they are too green. This is not Christian conduct, but is very sinful. It is not as you would want others to do to you, so let no man endeavor to persuade himself that he is a Christian when he has such a disposition of heart. Christianity is not merely a profession, but is an experience of the heart, and you have agreed with me that if a man has the experience he will live the life. Thus we are “known and read of all men.” (2 Corinthians 3:2)
Sometimes men and women manifest a selfish and avaricious disposition at the counter of their grocer. They always want the grocer to give them down weight, just a few more ounces of meat, or a bit of sugar, or a few more inches of calico, etc. Of course, if the grocer is a Christian he will have patience with them and give them just weight and measure. Some people have the disagreeable custom of trying to get everything they buy at the very lowest price possible, and the highest price possible for everything they have to sell. This only indexes an impure heart. No matter to them if the merchant can only get 8 cents per pound for chickens in the city, they will want him to pay 8.5 cents, and would gladly take it if they could get it; and no matter to them if his calico cost him 5 cents per yard, they want it for 5 cents. This is all shameful and has led into sinful practices. Some excuse themselves for haggling unfairly with their merchant by saying, “He makes his goods too high, and we haggle with him to get him down to a reasonable profit.” It is their practice of haggling unfairly that has forced the merchant into the practice of high marking. He expects you to haggle with him and so makes ready for you. This is wrong, and things ought not so to be. Farmers and mechanics have need of home merchants, and should be perfectly willing to allow their merchant a reasonable profit, and the merchant should not ask any more. Christianity sets these things right. It has come to pass that at the present time man has but little confidence in his fellow man. Christianity restores this lost confidence. Some of the leading men in the monopolies and “trusts” are professing to be followers of Jesus, and yet are hoarding up their thousands at the expense and cry of the poor. Such profession is an abomination to God. Christianity will break up all “trusts.”
Christianity will compel a man to pay his debts if he possibly can. Refusing to pay debts is sinful and a Christian will not do such a thing. Christianity will not allow a man to place the inferior potatoes in the bottom of the barrel and the very finest on the top. In some sections of the country moneyed men have a custom of requiring a “bonus” on loaned money; that is, you borrow one hundred dollars of them and they want you to give a note for one hundred and ten dollars and give a legal interest besides. In the fear and love of God we say a Christian will not do such a thing. It is not doing as he would want others to do to him. It is oppressing the poor. The legal interest is all the law of the land and the law of God allows him, but he has forced the poor man to give him ten dollars for nothing, and he ought to be ashamed of such conduct. “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Christianity will not allow a man to return evil for evil. If a Christian is smitten upon the right cheek he will turn the other. If his neighbor claims a few feet of land over the right line he will let him take it. If his neighbor abuses him and mistreats him he does him good in return. If his neighbor mistreats or kills any of his farm stock he in return will gladly rescue this neighbor’s stock from injury. If this neighbor should set fire to his buildings he in return would put out a fire that was destroying his neighbor’s buildings. If his enemy hungers, he feeds him; if he thirsts, he gives him drink. This is the spirit of Christianity as manifested in the life of Jesus, and as it was in Him so it will be in all who possess it. It is sometimes known that neighbors are at enmity with one another. Perhaps one or both of them profess to be Christians, yet they will not speak to each other if they meet upon the street or in their house of worship. Do you think that looks like Christianity? What shall they do in heaven should they get there? No, this is not Christian conduct, and any man that holds enmity or ill feelings, and ill wishes toward another fellow man and thinks he is a Christian is deceived, and I shall be thankful if this little book by the help of God’s Spirit will help him out of his deception. Remember we are not writing for the purpose of condemning, but for the purpose of helping such ones to a real, living experience of salvation that will admit them into that glorious land of eternal rest when life’s toils are over. Jesus says we should love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us and despitefully use us (Matt. 5:44).