By Charles J. Fowler
TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY
Jesus said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of God." The food of the soul is the word of God. What bread -- "the staff of life" -- is to the outer man, God's word is to the inner. Suppose we neglect or refuse food, then what? The answer is with all, it is weakness and death. What then of the soul-nature? To fail to supply the inner life with the word of God, is to realize this same result -- spiritual weakness and death.
The continuance of spiritual life and its development, demand the time factor. There is a song, familiar to many, the burden of which is "Take Time to be Holy."
To become holy may not involve the question of time; but to continue in holiness certainly does, to a noticeable and proper degree. The fact is, as little as any like the thought, people are too much in a hurry to allow their being holy. And we are not meaning to say that they are too engrossed in the cares of life to give attention to becoming holy; we mean rather, that having become holy they are tricked into dullness of experience if not into the loss of it entirely, by the rush of life.
The market men have a certain stamp they put upon certain bundles, and it is "Rush." That stamp seems to be upon our American life, indeed to an alarming extent. What we seem to need now is to have more days added to the week; time seems to be too brief for people to get into the seven days all that they want to do. The American people in general, and those who live in the latitude which has the most ozone in the atmosphere in particular, are a lively, aggressive and rushing class of mankind. From early morn to the night-time, the usual man and woman are tumbling over themselves in the regular, if not regulated cares and affairs of the day. Take, for instance, the single matter of eating. To look at the child as it comes to be able to "feed itself" at the table, what nature demands and directs relative to speed in eating will be seen. How slowly the usual little child eats. And it by no means is, mainly, because of inexperience; but simply an unperverted nature exercising itself in the manner of food-taking. "Oh, Mary, how slow you are; you never will be done with your breakfast!" So this natural child is taught early to throw the food into its mouth and give it a few turns over and run it down the throat half chewed.
How many people spend much more than forty-five minutes a day at the table eating three meals? Some do; the most do not. This American habit would mean indigestion among so many, that an exception would hardly be found, were it not that the activity of labor, especially out-of-doors, offsets the miserable practice. "Ten minutes for refreshments," the trainmen yell, and the passengers scramble out of the train and tumble up to the counter in the restaurant and eat a lunch made possible to eat in such a brief time by the free use of milk or a liquid of some kind; then a scampering back to the train, which is yanking them about before the passengers can get seated, in its rush to get off.
Tens of thousands of wage earners get out of the places of employment at the noon hour as though driven out by a raging fire; they rush home, tumble into the house and half out of breath eat a hearty meal, and up, out and back by the time the whistle blows one o'clock, and the whole proceeding as though something dearer than life depended upon this race. There is one thing that the inventor must certainly secure for the American people, and that is rapid transit by pneumatic tube -- get in and be shot to the destination of the dinner table. But we forget; there is one thing more to be added, and this is an individual stomach-filler. We suggest as a starter toward the invention, an old-fashioned sausage stuffer. Rushity rush! Rushity rush!
What has this to do with keeping sanctified? Well, if there is any truth in what we are saying, we should say that it has much every way to do with it. The fact is that this manner of life has a direct influence upon our religious experiences. This rush-life must be resisted, at least to the extent of giving one time to be holy. We have little time to be holy. We have little time to pray. We have little time to read the word of God. Alas! then what? Not a few who read these lines know.
The fact is, we reverse the order of things We do not mean to do it -- we mean not to do it -- and yet so many alas! do it; business and care come first, as against the matter of being holy. Theoretically this is not so; but practically it is. In our thinking we do not allow this -- of course we do not -- but in our living we do. The home caring, the store keeping, the farm working, the school teaching, the dress making, and a multitude of legitimate activities none of which should be wholly ignored or can be, get so nearly the whole time that only a fragment for the soul is left; and a fragment that is so hurried, and stinted, if not actually begrudged, that it carries no value sufficient to be of worth to the soul.
We must face this fact; the sooner the better; whatever we do or do not do, we must be holy! God, or our convictions, demands no impossibility. Character, [inward purity, the experience of entire sanctification] as to quality, is come by at once; but the quantity of it conditions the continuance of the quality! We may and do become holy at once; but holiness must be sustained, and this demands attention. Better, far better, drop one meal a day to get time to read God's word for the health of the soul, if no other method can be found for the supplying the greater nature with its sustenance.
The relation of the scriptures to the peace, the delight and strength of the inner self every Christian knows. To read devoutly a few verses or chapters, is to go from this exercise with as conscious satisfaction and added power as one ever finds in the physical nature from having eaten an inviting and nourishing dinner. Oh, we may not be exactly correct when we say with "as conscious satisfaction and added power," but before many hours have gone, the consciousness will be delightfully present.
Let us urge again the business of being holy. If the term "business" should seem to be somewhat too exacting or worldly to apply to so spiritual a matter, may we not suggest that besides its definition -- that which engages one's attention -- it is sanctioned by our Lord's own use -while his lofty and divine mission was spiritual, he spoke of it as "business." [Luke 2:49 "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"]
The business of holiness! Many remember the saying of the quaint cobbler when asked as to what his business was, replied, "My business is serving the Lord, and I mend shoes to pay expenses."
Holiness people are not seldom derisively called "hobbyists." This should not be rejected, or accepted with hesitation if the meaning of the term be considered, which is "a favorite pursuit." Holiness people ought always to have this favorite pursuit -- that of following holiness; for it "is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."