J. R. Miller
The up as tree which grows in Java has an acrid, milky juice which contains a virulent poison. According to the story told by a Dutch surgeon, the exhalations of this tree are fatal to both animal and vegetable life. Birds flying over the tree fall dead. No flower or plant will live near the tree. The story illustrates human lives in this world, whose influence always leaves a blight on others. They may be winning and attractive. They may come in the guise of friendship, and wear the garb of innocence—but they have absorbed the poison of evil until their very breath is deadly! One cannot be with them, accepting their friendship, or coming under their influence, without being hurt by them. The sweet flowers of purity wither in their presence. There are men and women whose merest touch is defiling, who carry moral blight for other lives wherever they go!
How can we hope to live unhurt—in this world so full of evil and danger? This is one of the most serious problems of Christian living. Yet it is possible for us to do it—through the grace and help of Christ. We can never do it without Christ—but we are assured that he can keep us. One inspired word tells us that he is able to keep us from stumbling, and to set us before the presence of his glory without blemish in exceeding joy. The secret of safety lies, therefore, in staying ever in the keeping of Christ.
We miss much of the comfort we should get from Christ, by narrowing our thought of his redeeming work. This was not all wrought on the cross, when he there gave himself to die for us. Comfort should come to us from the knowledge that he was tempted in all points like as we are—yet without sin. That is, he met every form of temptation and of evil, and was victorious. This assures us, first, of his sympathy with us in all our temptations—he knows what the struggle means. Then, having himself overcome—he is able to help us to overcome.
We should never forget that Jesus Christ is living. He is our personal friend, with us in every battle. Too often this element of faith is lacking in our experience. We look back to the cross for help—while our help is close beside us. Moses endured, as seeing him who is invisible. He did not see God—no eye can see him; but it was as if he saw him. His faith made God as real to him—as if God were actually visible to his sight. If we have such faith in the living Christ, no temptation can ever overmaster us; we shall be more than conquerors, through him who loved us.
The trouble with us of times is, however, that we forget Christ—and then we fall. If we would always believe that he is with us, and then always remember it—we would not fall in temptations.
When Frederick Arnold was writing the life of F.W. Robertson he went to Brighton to talk with Robertson’s friends, to find incidents for his biography. Among other places, he went to a bookseller’s shop, and learned that the proprietor had been a constant attendant upon Robertson’s ministry and had in his parlor a picture of the great preacher. The bookseller said to Mr. Arnold, “Do you see that picture? Whenever I am tempted to do an evil thing—I run back here and look at it. Then I cannot do it. Whenever I feel afraid of some difficulty or some obstacle, I come and look into those eyes—and I go out strong for my struggle.”
If the mere picture of the great preacher, had such a power over this humble man, how much more power will a vision of the Christ have in helping us to overcome temptation! If always in the moment of danger, we would run to Christ and look into his face—we could not commit the sin! This is one of the great secrets of meeting and overcoming temptation.
Thus temptation may be so met—as to be transformed into a help; so met at least as to be compelled to yield up a blessing to the victor. We are stronger for having overcome. Then the experience of struggle and victory, prepares us to be a guide, helper, and friend to others in their time of temptation. But we should never forget that only in Christ, can we overcome. He who enters the terrible conflict without the aid of the strong Son of God, can only fail and perish on the field.