Seek good and not evil, that ye may live.
From these words two things may be inferred concerning religion.
I. It implies a specific pursuit. “Seek” good, and not evil. Good and evil are both in the world; they work in all human souls; they explain all history.
1. They imply a standard of right. By what do we determine the good and evil in human life? The revealed will of God. What accords with that will is good, what disagrees with it is evil.
2. Their object is a human pursuit. There are those who pursue evil; they follow it for worldly wealth, animal pleasure, secular aggrandisement. There are those who pursue good; and their grand question is, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
3. The pursuit of good is the specific effort of religion. Good in thought, spirit, aim, habit, as embodied in the life of Christ. To get good requires strenuous, persistent, devout, prayerful effort.
II. It involves the highest benediction.
1. The enjoyment of true life. “ That ye may live.” Without goodness you cannot really live: goodness is life. Everlasting goodness is everlasting life.
2. The enjoyment of the Divine friendship. What a benediction this! “The Lord God of hosts,” the Almighty Creator, Proprietor and Governor of the universe to be with us, to guide, guard, beautify existence. “I will walk among you,” says He, “I will be your God, and ye shall be My people.” (Homilist.)
Siding with the good is to be on God’s side
If a man wants to be on the winning side, let him be on the right side. There is no other safe rule to conform to. If a man is on the right side he will be on the winning side, even ii it seems the losing side. The right side is God’s side, and God’s side is sure of a triumph in the end, however it may look to the world just now. It may be said reverently, that God’s trains have the right of way on the roads of universe, and that he who wants to reach his destination surely, and in time, will do well to take his passage on one of those trains. Any other train is liable to a disastrous collision; at the best it is sure to go astray. He who is not going with God is not going God’s way; and no other way is a safe one to travel. (Great Thoughts.)
Habit aids right doin
g:--The force of habit, when enlisted on the side of righteousness, not only strengthens and makes sure our resistance to vice, but facilitates the most arduous performances of virtue. The man whose thoughts, with the purposes and doings to which they lead, are at the bidding of conscience, will, by frequent repetition, at length describe the same track almost spontaneously,--even as in physical education, things, laboriously learned at the first, come to be done at last without the feeling of an effort. And so, in moral education, every new achievement of principle smooths the way to future achievements of the same kind; and the precious fruit or purchase of each moral virtue is to set us on higher and firmer vantage-ground for the conquests of principle in all time coming. He who resolutely bids away the suggestions of avarice, when they come into conflict with the incumbent generosity; or the suggestions of voluptuousness, when they come into conflict with the incumbent self-denial; or the suggestions of anger, when they come into conflict with the incumbent act of magnanimity and forbearance--will at length obtain not a respite only, but a final deliverance from their intrusion. (T. Chalmers.)