“The Topmost Round in the Ladder of Life.”
This was the subject three young ladies were discussing one afternoon. One of them thought if she could become a world renowned painter that she would reach, what she thought to be the topmost round in life’s ladder. The second aspired to become a great educator. The third thought she could be the greatest blessing to man by becoming a politician, therefore, she thought of entering the world of politics.
An old man who was passing by was asked by the young ladies what he thought to be the topmost round in the ladder of life. Taking a small well-worn book from his pocket, he read these words, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17) He explained to them that “name” meant nature or character. “Therefore, whatever else you may do in life,” said the aged man, “you have not reached the true standard of life except you do those things in the nature, or character of Jesus.”
The young ladies exclaimed in one breath, “It is impossible to live such a life. Only angels live in such a way.”
This little book proposes to speak to you, gentle reader, about that which these young ladies thought to be impossible. To do all our deeds and speak all our words in the nature or character of Jesus is to live heavenly. These short messages are brought to you to show you that such a life can be lived on the earth, to tell you how it can be done, and also to tell you why it should be done.
We are called to heavenliness of life. None have attained to the true standard of life who do not live heavenly. It is God’s ideal life for man. In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke these words, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) Nothing but doing the will of God entitles man to heaven, and whosoever does His will lives heavenly. In teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) When the will of God is done in earth as it is in heaven, then earth becomes counterpart of heaven. Wherever you see anyone doing the will of God, there you will behold an heavenly life. It is thought by some Christian professors that the will of God cannot be done on earth. They say we cannot even know the will of God. If you will read this little book carefully and prayerfully, you will learn how to know the will of God and also how to do it. There is a precious secret in knowing the will of God. It is said that “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” (Psalm 25:14) And again, “His secret is with the righteous.” (Proverbs 3:32) Yes, it is given to us to know the will of God and the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. There is a close fellowship between Christ and His trusting child. There is a most intimate and blessed communion.
There is a hallowed place of prayer;
Wondrous things to me unfold;
My blessed Savior meets me there
And whispers secrets to my soul.
It is as easy to know the will of God as it is for the bird to know how to build its nest. Further on, we will have more to say about this. Paul, in writing a letter to Titus, his own son after the common faith, said, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” (Titus 2:11-12) To have these words fulfilled in our life is to live heavenly. Grace is a teacher come from God. It teaches man how to live. We have been told that grace means favor, and so it does, but that is not its primary meaning. Grace primarily means, “that which brings joy to another.” The night in which the Savior was born, an angel announced, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” (Luke 2:10) Then immediately, a multitude of the heavenly host shouted, “On earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) The bringing of great joy to man was God’s good will to man. Grace means favor, but such favor as brings gladness to the heart of man. This grace that brings joy to the life of man teaches him of a life that corresponds with joy. Joy is found only in heavenly living. In no other plane of life will man find joy.
If all who profess to be Christians would live soberly, righteously, and godly, they would win the world for Christ in a short time. A heathen said to a missionary, “We are finding you out. You are not as good as your Book. We like your Book, but you do not live like your Book reads. If you would live like your Book reads, you would conquer India for Jesus in five years.” Amid the cares of everyday life, do you live like the Book reads? The Book tells us that we should live godly in this world, or in this life. To live godly is to live like God.
Let me tell you a story. It is only a story of my own imagination, but it may give you a serious thought. Suppose the planet Mars is inhabited by people of like nature to us. They have moving pictures there as men have here. One theatrical man hears of the life of Jesus. He hears of it being the most wonderful life ever lived. He wishes to get that life on his films that he may play it out in his picture house. But he is told that the life of Jesus is a Spirit life, and he has no camera that will photograph a spirit. But he is also told that there is a people on the planet Earth who live the life of Jesus in the flesh, and if he will send his photographer to Earth and take a picture of the daily life of these people, he will have the life of Jesus.
Now we wish to ask you if you are ready to sit for the picture? Suppose you can’t get your automobile started, or the bread burns, or the clothesline breaks, or the baby is cross, or someone tells a falsehood on you, are you ready to have your picture taken and write under it, “Christlike”?
In speaking of the great salvation of God through His abundant mercy and love, Paul said, “And hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6) Through the saving grace of God, man is raised up to an heavenly place in Christ. In chapter one Paul tells that God will bless us “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) Many are praying for spiritual blessings. Such blessings fall only in heavenly places. Man will have all the spiritual blessings his soul demands if he will but live in an heavenly place. Now man can live in an heavenly place for the grace of God in salvation raises him up to an heavenly place. The only kind of life people live in an heavenly place is an heavenly life. You cannot live a sinful, worldly life in an heavenly place.
A holy life is a convincing proof of the reality of the Christian religion and the truthfulness of the Bible. A God-filled life is a strong magnet drawing men into companionship with Jesus. If a holy life does not draw men to God, it is because they are of such a nature as to gravitate only toward the world. There are powers in a godly life that distinguishes it from all other life. A holy life is an index finger pointing the way to God. A life free from sin speaks out the story of redeeming grace to other lives. If we carry holy principles with us in the world, the world will be hallowed by us. Those who work in flower fields carry the fragrance on their clothes. There is no sweeter music in the world or in heaven than those psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs sung out of hearts filled with the love of heaven. It is not for artistic music that the world is thirsting; it is the music sung in the lives of holy men and women. Fill your soul, O saint of God, in the place of secret prayer, with the music of the celestial world, and then go out, and sing it into the hearts of men. Nothing will gladden the world like this. The world of men is weary with a religion that is worldly. “Away with the plays, pictures, classical music, programs, socials,” they cry, “give us a religion that has come from heaven and lifts men up to an heavenly place and to holiness of life.” The world is looking for men who walk with God.
We can live heavenly here amid the duties of every day life. We can have the stamp of holiness on every word we speak and every deed we do. By living much in the presence of Christ, the bloom of Christ will tint every act of life. By the assimilation of Christ, in the hour of quiet meditation, we become molded into His image, and we can then stamp that image upon the world. If we would impress the world with heaven, we must bear the impress of heaven.
“I hear my Savior saying,
‘I’ll never leave thee now,
If thou wilt bear My image
Upon thy heart and brow.’ ”*
God has a place for each of us. If we will find this place and fill it as He intends, our life will turn the thoughts of men from earthly to heavenly things. A Christian lady for days nursed a poor, sick, fallen girl. One day as the girl was recovering health, the lady said to her, “Do you ever have thoughts of God?” The girl, looking into her face replied, “I cannot help but have thoughts of God since I knew you.”
It is a blessed privilege to so live that we can bring thoughts of God to the minds of others. I would rather cause one man to think of God than have the wealth of the wealthiest man. A man said to his wife, “When I am tried and tempted to speak hastily and crossly, if you will keep sweet, it will help me to get the victory.” It is no small thing in the eyes of heaven to keep so mild, gentle and calm in a time of domestic tempest as to bring a quietness, a calmness into the life of some tried one.
There is a small marble slab, marking the grave of a child in a southern hillside cemetery, on which are engraven the words, “It is easy to live right when she was with us.” The words were the remark of one of the playmates of the deceased child, as the little body was being lowered into the grave.
Is there a soul so dead that does not thrill with an emotion at the thought of being able to make it easier for another to live right? Let us invest so heavily in the stock of grace that we may be able, by our heavenly life, to help others to live heavenly. Such investment will pay well in the day of eternity. It is a great privilege to be in the niche God has for us in the world of life. It is a wonderful thing to have a little spot in the great vineyard of the Lord assigned to our care and keeping. Let us keep it clean. It may not be a very large spot. It may not reach many miles from our cottage door, but small though it be, let’s keep it clean and beautiful. There is a wondrous reflex action in it. We grow into the image of the work we do from the heart. If we have an ideal life before us and we work to that ideal, we will have that ideal stamped in our character. As we work to brighten our corner, we will grow to be brighter.
We have seen the motto, “Take the world as you find it.” We would like to place another by the side of this, “But do not leave it as you found it.” An heavenly life in the world leaves its imprint upon the world. With whatsoever sort of life you touch the world, that is the stamp you will leave upon it. The old miller left some of the flourdust, with which his clothes were covered, upon everyone he touched. If we talk with someone for a few moments and do not leave something of heaven upon them, it is because we are not close enough to heaven or close enough to them, and possibly both.
A small dark spot on a snow-white cloth will attract more attention than all the snowy whiteness. Let us beware then to keep our lives unspotted. The finer the music, the greater the risk and the more noticeable the discord. The higher profession of religion we make, the greater the reproach of an unworthy deed. God made us for work and not for idleness. He has given us material which we are to work into the fabric of our lives, and the very material given us to rear a palace beautiful unto the Lord will become a stumbling block both for ourselves and others if we do not use it.
The lives we live do not die with us. They will go on preaching long after the grass is waving over our tomb. It is a serious thought. This is an age of lightness of thought respecting eternal things. It is an age in which there is much calculated to relieve men of the feeling of responsibility of life. It is a serious thing to live. Better never to have lived at all than to fail of doing our duty in life. No tears of our after life can wash out a deed that has been done. Jesus can forgive, but the deed still lives.
The son of a wealthy man was standing scratching the glass of a show-window with the diamond in his ring.
“Don’t do that,” said a ragged newsboy.
“I guess I will do as I please,” replied the young man.
“But you can’t rub it out,” answered the boy.
The deeds of life are difficult to efface.
There is an heavenly way marked out for the people of God. It was marked out by the life of Jesus. The way He trod is the heavenly way. God wants us at our best. It is our privilege, as Christians, to reveal Christ to men. God calls us to holiness of life. “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) “Be ye holy in all manner of living.” (1 Peter 1:15)ASV Holy living is heavenly living. Jesus has come to give us life (John 10:10); “He that hath the Son hath life.” (1 John 5:12) The life that Jesus came to give us is heavenly life. We can have it in its fullness, and when we have it, we can and will live it. Just as it takes time and effort to keep in strong physical life, so it will take time and effort to keep in strong spiritual life.
Take time, yes, take time
To ponder on the path of life that Jesus trod:
Take time, yes, take time
To steep your soul in long deep thoughts of God.
The following verses should be our daily testimony:
I am walking each day in an heavenly way
How e’er strait and narrow it be;
To me it is clear, and I love it so dear,
For Jesus is walking with me.
To me He is fair, naught with Him can compare,
The truest, the noblest, the best;
His love I can feel, to me He is real,
As gently I lie on His breast.
Though dark be the day, light lies on my way,
My pathway of life I can see;
I walk without fear, for my Savior is near,
His great loving hand leadeth me.
I am kept by His power, therefore reigning each hour,
Over all the dominion of sin:
To the world I am dead, by the Spirit I’m led,
Along an heavenly way with Him.
Earthly things are behind, I am armed with Christ’s mind,
I am happy as I can be;
I am running the race, locked in His embrace,
“And this is like heaven to me.”
No thirst for life’s pleasure, nor thought for earth’s treasure,
I live for a home o’er the sea;
With Christ I am walking, with Him I am talking,
This is pleasure, and treasure to me.
My pathway grows brighter, my heart’s growing lighter
As hourly I’m nearing the goal:
My joys are increasing, I’m waiting releasing,
To soar to the home of my soul.