Making the Most of Life
God has given to each of us a life freighted with many privileges and with many opportunities. There is a little verse in the New Testament which reads: "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." We need to know how to redeem every moment, and to make the best of each day, as it is passing by. We have five observations taken from the opening verses of today's chapter.
1. The brevity of life. Proverbs 27:1 tells us, "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." There are many Scriptures which suggest to us the shortness of life. One Scripture speaks of life as "the grass * * which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven."
Life may be compared to a passing cloud, which flits across the horizon, above our heads, and then disappears.
Life may again be compared to a dream, or a summer's day. For a little while it seems full of joy and of gladsome visions, and then we wake up but to find it gone.
Life is like a ship on sea. It starts on its way, when it leaves port, while every day it hastens to its destiny. If life is short, we certainly need to use it as it passes.
2. The uncertainty of life. This is suggested for us in the latter half of our verse. "Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." We can only see one step ahead. No man knoweth what the future may hold. We know neither the sorrow nor the joys, the pains nor the pleasures, around the next shore line. There may be accidents, or diseases or what not. Surely, our vision at best is brief. The whole world sometimes wakes up to find itself suddenly thrust into war. The storm breaks unannounced. The earthquake comes unexpected.
3. Buying up the time. If life is short, we want to occupy while we may. We have no time to waste in idle lounging. When a certain king was dying, he offered the doctor fabulous wealth for a few more days of life. This, the doctor had no power to give. Life seems very precious when it is gone. Some one has pictured "opportunity" as a fleeing man, bald upon the back of his head, and with but a tuft of hair upon his forehead. In other words, you must take opportunity as it appears if you would grasp it.
4. Men who put off their salvation are not wise. We can remember how Felix said, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Agrippa afterward said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Neither the one nor the other, so far as the records go, ever came to Christ.
He who puts off his salvation may never find the time to be saved. The truth is God only calls us one time; and now is that time. It is written, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation"!
5. Christians who delay service. There is another little Scripture which reads, "As thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone." If we have any word to say, any warning to utter, let us do it now. One day we entered the office of an outstanding lawyer and we saw the three words, "Do It Now," in a beautiful frame upon his desk. He told us that they were his motto.
When we went to South America there were two words that we heard so frequently. The words were "Ha amanha." The words translated, are, "There is a tomorrow." It seemed to us that this was a reminder that they would never do anything today, that they could do tomorrow. They forgot that tomorrow may never come.
I. WOUNDS VS. KISSES (Proverbs 27:6)
Our verse reads: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
1. The blessings of the rod. The Bible says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son." Proverbs 27:5 in our chapter says, "Open rebuke is better than secret love." When a friend wounds another, he does not do it to destroy. He does it to aid.
We have read of how God did tempt, or test Abraham. However, God's testings to Abraham, were sent in order that he might mount higher.
The temptations of Satan are given to cast us down, to overwhelm us, and lay us low. The temptings of a friend are always given to lead to something better. We all know that, "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." True love does not fail to see the faults of a friend.
2. The curses of vain praise. Our verse says that "the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Our minds go immediately to Judas and his kiss. His kiss was a kiss of betrayal. Under the guise of affection, he sought to deliver his Lord into the hands of His enemies.
Sometimes young people approach others with fullsome praise, for no other reason than to lead them to their ruin. When Caesar saw Brutus, his trusted and familiar friend, drawing a dagger to slay him, it quite vanquished him.
We need to weigh carefully and wisely the plaudits of this world. It is far better to have one that we love to stand, with his arm around us, and wound our pride; than to have one who despises us, talk glibly but vainly with praise.
The world will put on its best face when it seeks to lead some unsuspecting life into its clutches. The woman of sin, who has no other purpose save the destroying of some youth, will approach him with fair words.
This is the way the Word of God puts it: "Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner. So she caught him, and kissed him." A little further we read, "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him." It is of this that the Spirit warns us when He says in our verse, "The kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
II. PLENTY AND PENURY (Proverbs 27:7)
"The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." The words bring before us two phases of life: the one, that of a soul hungry and famishing; the other, of a soul filled with every good thing.
1. The bane of abundance. There are many, of course, who have the idea that money is the root of every blessing. God, however, says that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Then God adds, "Which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
The difficulty with those who have riches lies in the fact that they expect their riches to satisfy them. However, "He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." More than that, the rich are, somehow, in danger of turning away from the Lord.
The rich young ruler went off rejecting the Son of God, for the simple reason that his heart's affections were set upon his wealth. The farmer whose barns were overfilled said: "I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; * * eat, drink, and be merry." Down from the blue, God spoke saying, "Thou fool"!
2. The blessings of hunger. We would hardly go to the empty larder in order to find blessings. We would hardly think that hunger would be a steppingstone to plenty; and yet, so it often is. Did not Jesus say, "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation."
Here is another expression; "Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." The Lord also said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Again he said, "Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the Kingdom of God." "Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh."
The Laodicean Church boasted its riches, saying, "I * * have need of nothing." The Lord said quickly, that they were "miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." If hunger will drive us unto God, unto His fullness, unto His riches that never fail, then let that hunger come.
III. THE WANDERER (Proverbs 27:8)
Here is a striking verse: "As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place." There is much in the Bible about the backslider. The Book of Jeremiah particularly emphasizes the one who wanders away from God. The story is given in part as follows: "Thou hast * * scattered thy ways to the strangers, under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed My voice, saith the Lord."
Thus it was that Jeremiah thundered forth his Lamentation, and wrote, "How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people?" The Prophet says of backsliding Israel, "She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks. * * Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper."
There is nothing sadder than the story of a youth who wanders away from his home. We are all familiar with the Prodigal Son. It was the love of the world that caught him. He went out into the far country to get pleasure but he got pain. He went out to live riotously, and he fed the swine. He went out full, but came back empty.
God pity the wanderer. When David turned aside and went after Bath-sheba, did he rejoice? Nay, for two years his bones waxed old with their roaring all the day. When Peter wandered from the Lord he went out, and wept bitterly.
There is no pleasure when a bird wandereth from her nest, or when a man wandereth from his place. Home is the place of security, and of safety, as well as joy and pleasure.
IV. TRAPS BY THE WAY (Proverbs 27:12)
"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished."
1. The snares which are set for the downfall of youth. The Bible says "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, * * should shine unto them."
The trap, or snare which Satan places to catch the youth, are never seen, but lie hidden away under the pleasures of this world, under the deceitfulness of riches, under the praise and the flattery of human lips.
It is written, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." The devil is too wise to set forth the dangers of his pathway. He paints them with rosy hues, and delightful colors. Satan goes about as a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is but deceiving us, for he is, in truth, "a roaring lion, * * seeking whom he may devour."
The Bible speaks of those "who are taken captive by him at his will." The man or the woman who allows himself or herself to become ensnared by the devil, is called "simple," by the wise man. The "prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself."
Abraham looked afar off. He saw, with the eye of faith, the burning of Sodom. Lot, on the other hand, had a circumscribed vision, and walked into Satan's snares. He pitched his tent toward Sodom, and there he was soon entrapped.
2. The great deliverance. If any young man, reading these words, finds himself in Satan's traps, let him lift up his voice unto Jesus Christ. Of Him it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me * * to preach deliverance to the captives, * * to set at liberty them that are bruised."
V. THE REWARDS OF THE RIGHTEOUS (Proverbs 27:18)
"Whosoever keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured."
1. An example in farming. The expression, "keepeth the fig tree," carries with it the idea of faithful husbandry. If you go by the farm of the sluggard, you will find his walls are falling down, his hedges are broken; while the weeds, destroy his planting. No farmer expects to reap a harvest unless he tills the soil. There is, however, not alone the sowing of the seed, and the cultivating of plants.
We can pass from the life of the farmer, to any other sphere. Take for instance, the shepherd. Proverbs 27:23 says: "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds." We dare not leave everything to take care of itself, We must be faithful. Have you not read, "Seest thou a man diligent in business? he shall stand before kings." Have you not read that a good soldier should; endure hardness?
2. The example applied to spiritual living. Does not God seem to be using the natural and true laws of harvest, to set forth the spiritual laws of increase and rewards? Christ has said, "Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
He who took his talent, and wrapped it in a napkin, shall receive nothing of the Lord. The Apostle Paul said, "So run, that ye may obtain." The incorruptible crown shall be given only to those, who have laid aside every weight; who have kept their bodies under and brought them into subjection.
Let us, from this hour, forget the things behind, and press unto the things which are before. Let us begin now to lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven.
The Apostle John speaks of some who will be ashamed from before the Lord, at His Coming.
The Apostle Peter urges that we give diligence to add to our faith, virtue; to virtue, knowledge; and etc. His call for this "adding" is that we may obtain an abundant entrance unto the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul stretched every nerve, as he pressed toward the prize of the up-calling of God in Christ Jesus. Shall we not follow the examples of these early saints? If we would have fruit in abundance in our eternal inheritance, We must "keep our fig tree."
VI. THE FOLLY OF RICHES (Proverbs 27:24)
"For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?" Relative to riches we wish to present two lines of thought.
1. The riches which perish. Our key text says very plainly, "Riches are not for ever." We suppose that most of the readers are familiar with the words of Ecclesiastes. This Book describes everything that a man may have under the sun. It particularly sets forth the vanity of riches under the story of Solomon's own accumulations. None other was as rich as he. He made great works, he builded houses, he planted vineyards, he made paradises and orchards.
Solomon instituted his own irrigation system. He had servants and maidens in abundance. He had great possessions in every way. He gathered silver and gold, and the peculiar treasures of kings and provinces. Solomon had his own theatricals; his own singers and musicians. These men played on musical instruments of all sorts. The truth is that there was no joy which wealth could afford that was kept from Solomon.
However, when he looked on all that his hands had wrought, he cried, "There is no profit under the sun." He even said, "I hated all my labour * * because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me."
The richest man of the world stood viewing all of his wealth, and said, "As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hands." Do you marvel that our key verse says, "For riches are not for ever; and doth the crown endure to every generation?" Do you marvel that Solomon, who in the Spirit wrote these words, bitterly despaired of his own life? The truth is that everything he had, was left behind.
2. The riches which live forevermore. There is another side to the story of riches, which we wish to present. Jesus Christ told us how we could lay up our treasures in Heaven. In order to do this, of course, we must be able to place them here where they will make friends to receive us into everlasting habitations. Riches kept by the owners thereof, will be kept to their hurt. Riches squandered in riotous living, will bring nothing but sorrow and loss; riches, however, employed in the propagation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, or, in the caring for of the needy and impoverished, will be riches safeguarded unto the ages of the ages.
He who is rich toward himself may be poor toward God. He who is poor toward himself, and rich toward God, will meet his riches beyond the skies. If we save our life we will lose it; if we lose it for Christ's sake, we will find it.
VII. HELL'S CAPACITY (Proverbs 27:20)
"Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied."
1. Hell is the end of an ungodly life. We have been speaking thus far about how to make the most of life. We have brought out God's warning about squandering life, and God's blessings that protect and seal life.
We slipped beyond the present world, and have discovered the rewards that lay beyond this life for the obedient and faithful. Now we come to the other side, under the expression, "Hell and destruction are never full."
Does the man who follows after sin and sinful pleasures realize that he is being led, blindfolded, toward the pit of the abyss? Does he realize that he is going after the goddess of pleasure, or of riches straightway, "as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks"?
Does the wicked stop to consider that he is "as a bird hasteneth to the snare, and knowest not that it is for his Hie"? Does he not know that the gaping mouth of hell is open to receive him, and that hell is never full? God has written, "the wicked shall be turned into hell."
2. Once more we see that hell is the end of a misspent life. A sinner who lives carelessly, thoughtlessly, in his sins, is like a ship driven on a wild and stormy sea rushing on to its destruction. Hell is like a ravenous beast, devouring its prey. It is like the mighty deep swallowing up its victims. Hell is a bottomless abyss.
Even now you can call to mind the story of the two sirens, who, with their beautiful music and enchantments, allured the seamen who passed their way into the meshes of despair. Satan is ever alert, the world is ever awake, the flesh is ever ready to call young men and young women from the paths which lead to God. The broad way and the wide gate always lead to destruction.
Let us who would make the most of life, beware lest we live for self:
Some people find it very hard to see over their own doorstep with the naked eye. The real story of their lives is this:
"I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three
'Twas very small
Three guests in all
Just I, Myself, and Me.
Myself ate up all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea.
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to Me."
Their interest is pretty much confined to what happens within their own four walls, in their own little town or their own church. Now to be interested in one's church is a good thing. But one who is interested in his own church only is never able to do very much for that church. He is worth far more to his own local church when his interest extends beyond it, when he has something like the feeling which Jesus had when He looked out over the multitudes and was filled with compassion for them. "The light which shines farthest shines brightest at home" and the man whose heart is filled with interest and sympathy for people at a distance from him has a heart all the more ready to take upon it the burdens of things nearest. The Continent.