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Chapter XV Practical Precepts For Practical People
“If I were to do business on the principles laid down in the Sermon on the Mount I would be down and out in less than a year,” said a critic recently. “Why, the Bible is utterly impracticable under our present economic conditions; it is impossible to live according to it.”

If that is true there is a good reason for the unbelief of the world, but in a court the accused is always allowed a fair trial, and let us examine the Bible thoroughly before we judge. What are the specific charges? “Why, they are countless,” answered the critic, “but to mention only a few, let us take such passages as, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven;’ ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth;’ ‘Take no thought for the morrow, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink.’ Such ideas point the way to the poor-house.”

“Very well,” says the apologist,115 “let us take the last charge first. King James’ version says: ’No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve God and mammon, therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? for after all these things do the Gentiles seek; your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.’”

If this is intended to mean that we should wastefully squander all we have in prodigal or riotous living, then it is of course not only impractical but demoralizing. Such an interpretation is, however, out of keeping with the tenor and teaching of the whole Book, and it does not say so. The Greek word116 merimnon means being overly careful or anxious, and if we read the passage with this alteration we shall find that it teaches a different lesson which is entirely practical. Mammon is the Syriac word for riches, desired by foolish people. In the preceding paragraph Christ exhorted them not to become servants or slaves to riches, which they must leave behind when the silver cord is broken and the spirit returns to God, but seek rather to live lives of love and service and lay up treasures of good deeds, which they might take with them into the Kingdom of Heaven. In the meantime, He exhorted, be not overly anxious regarding what you shall eat and drink and clothe yourself with. Why worry? You cannot add a hairbreadth to your height or a hair to your head by worrying. Worry is the most wasteful and depleting of all our emotions, and it does no good whatever. Your heavenly Father knows you need material things, therefore seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all else needed will be added. On at least two occasions when multitudes came to Christ in places far from their homes and distant from towns where refreshment was obtainable, He demonstrated this; He gave them first the spiritual food they sought and then ministered to their bodily needs direct from a spiritual source of supply.

Does it work out in these modern days? Surely there have been so many demonstrations of this that it is not at all necessary to recount any special one.117 When we work and pray, pray and work, and make our lives a living prayer for opportunities to serve others, then all earthly things will come of their own accord as we need them, and they will keep coming in larger measure according to the degree to which they are used in the service of God. If we regard ourselves only as stewards and custodians of whatever earthly goods we possess, then we are really “poor in spirit” so far as the evanescent earthly treasures are concerned, but rich in the more lasting treasures of the Kingdom of Heaven; and if we are not out and out materialists, surely this is a practical attitude.

It is not so long ago that “caveat emptor,” “............
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