"Take what belongs to you and go." - Matt. 20:14; "Your Father knows what you need befre you ask him." Matt. 6:8
There is a large number of things in the world which we can get by on very well without. There is also a large number of things which we covet because we think they're necessary to our happiness, but which we really do not need. Lastly, there are a few things, but only a few, which we must have in order to make our lives what God intended they should be.
A large part of our discontent comes from not having what we ourselves think we ought to have, but what God evidently regards as unnecessary to our development. This difference of opinion between us and the Almighty is the fruitful source of much human misery. We demand that He shall agree with us, whereas it is clearly our duty to agree with Him. Our ignorance is the standard by which we measure His.
Yet if one of our children took the same attitude toward us, it would nearly break our hearts. Instead of accepting what comes and making the best of it, we constantly pray that God will do what we want to have done, and because the prayer is not answered we not only grow spiritually cold, but open the door to a great many doubts, which literally freeze the nobler part of our natures.
If a trainee should come into our warehouse or manufacturing plant and ask us to conduct our business on the basis of his inexperience rather than on that of our hard-earned knowledge, the difference between us and God is that we should indignantly eject him, whereas God pities us for doing precisely the same thing.
The forbearance of the Almighty with our wilfulness and conceit, His everlasting patience with us under such circumstances, is one of the most wonderful facts of the universe, and one of the most thrilling and startling.
Human life may be reverently compared to an opera. God is the author of the music, and He gives each person a part to take. Religion is simply the drill-master, who constantly enjoins upon us the necessity of strictly following the score, and constantly insists that we cannot make changes in the score without injuring the unity of the production. Of course I do not refer to the formulas of religion, but to its essence.
The formulas are simply certain men's opinions of religion, or possibly their prejudices, while its essence is contained in the statement that the author of the opera knows better how it should be rendered than you do.
But suppose each singer should insist on singing in accordance with his own interpretation, and suppose further that you had the impression that these various and discordant interpretations represented the author and not the personal peculiarities of the singers, what a strange piece of music it would all be, and what a queer idea of the author the listener would have!
Well, that is precisely what we are doing all the time in matters of religion, and that is why we make of it such a jumble and jangle. Sing the music as it was written, and it is exquisitely beautiful and uplifting; but let it be sung as each individual thinks it ought to be sung, and the discord becomes deafening and disheartening.
Our real wants are very few, though we are apt to think they are very many. We can be happy - this is true of at least nine tenths of the world - with what we have if we know how to make the most of it and the best of it. It takes but little to make the soul content if we do not try to make our avarice and our envy contented also.
When we begin to count the things we ought to have, we begin to be miserable, but when we begin to be thankful for the things we really possess, we begin to be happy. You do not need wealth, nor yet fame, nor a palace, nor a park.
If you have a shelter and have made that shelter a home, if you have dear ones whose love is trustful and confiding, whose lives are woven into yours by threads of steel, pray what more is there to ask for?
If you are not happy here, then, you can hardly expect to be happy in heaven, for heaven has only love to offer, thru heavenly treasures we have built up on the earth, not Earthly treasures, which we cannot take with us there. (Matt. 619-20.)
(Adapted from a sermon by Rev. George Hughes Hepworth (1833-1902), in the 1894 book, "Herald Sermons")