Sacrifice a Factor in Spiritual Progress

LETTER NO. 79 - June, 1917

From time to time letters are received at Headquarters asking in various terms the question: "How can I make more spiritual progress?" I have therefore thought well to devote this letter to a consideration of this subject.

It is a law in nature that "from nothing, nothing comes" Yet a great many people labor under the fallacy that spiritual truth and advancement may be had without money and without price. In a certain sense that is true, because it is absolutely wrong and vile to barter spiritual power for fitlhly lucre, as was so forcefully shown by Peter when he dealt with Simon the sorcerer, who wanted to buy spiritual powers from him and offered him money in exchange. At the same time there is a definite price upon spiritual growth which must be paid by every one who wants to attain it. In the first place, the old interests must be sacrificed. We all remember the parable about those who were bidden to the feast of the king but who refrained from coming for various reasons. One had taken a wife and wanted to enjoy his honeymoon; another had bought oxen and wanted to inspect his new property; and so on, with the result that they all neglected their opportunity and lost their chance of advancement.

The same proposition comes to us today in different guise. We may be willing to sit at home and read a book about spiritual things in our leisure hours when we have nothing to do that interest us more, but when the Great Work demands some of our time, we have various excuses. "I have a daughter I want to send through college," says one. "When that is done and my obligations are liquidated, I will take hold." Another says: "My business needs my presence every day, and at night I am tired. I cannot work for the Fellowship in the evening or attend their meetings, for I would not be fit to give all my energies to my work next day. But when I retire from business, I will take hold. A third says: "I have many children who demand my attention and attendance at various social functions. I cannot go to the Fellowship meetings and neglect them. But when they are married, I will work for the cause."

It is perfectly true that when we have assumed obligations we must discharge them to the best of our ability. At the same time there is also more than a possibility that if we think thoroughly over the matter we will find that we have some time left from our duties which may be devoted to the Great Work. In this connection it may be well to remember the incident of some coming to Christ and saying to Him: "Thy mother and they brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee." He answered, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?....Whososever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Again He said: "If any man come to Me, and hate not his Father, mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And every one that hath foresaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or Father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

There is and must be a sacrifice involved in the regenerate life. It has been my experience personally, and in watching thousands of others, that in the direct proportion that any one gives of his thoughts, his time and money to the cause he has espoused so will he reap spiritual benefit. When one consecrates all that he is to the regenerate life and follows the guidance of the spirit it will soon be seen that his very intensity of purpose in the new direction shuts out the old things. He has no longer time for them. They pass out of his thoughts and drop away. In one way or another the daughter gets through college or finds some equally suitable employment. The business prospers even better than when the proprietor devoted all his time and all his energies to worrying and money grubbing. The children find another chaperon fully as capable as their mother when sometimes she is working for the spiritual cause. In every case that which we give up for the work's sake, the time that we spend in the cause of Christ, and the money we expend in discriminate charity are all provided for and compensated for under the law that works for good.

As the psalmist says: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous foresaken, nor his seed begging bread." The law enunciated by Christ, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," holds good in this day as well as when it was spoken. This I have found by actual experience, and every one else who lives the life and does the work will find that the same holds good in his or her case. There is growth only in service.