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Psalmist and prophets had sung of the exalted character of the coming Messiah. “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips.” “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

At his coming he lifted to a higher plane, by his precepts and example, the ideal of a true, noble and worthy human life. By his teachings and by his life of utter unselfishness he revealed clearly the exalted character and conduct that conformed to the Divine will.

1. Our Lord’s character forbids that we should think of him for a moment as devoted to the gathering of worldly wealth. He came to minister unto, not to serve himself. Self-seeking was foreign to his nature. A great truth was spoken by the scoffers. “He saved others, himself he cannot save.”

He who strives to follow in his footsteps cannot serve himself.

The whole drift of a great unselfish Christ-like soul must be for others. The whole current of his thought and effort during his life must be, to be helpful to others. Studying and striving to help others, he cannot seek wealth. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

It is out of harmony with the whole life and all the teachings of the Master that he should encourage or permit a means of increasing wealth forbidden by the laws given by Moses and classed among the vilest of sins by the prophets.

2. Again: He did not undo the teachings of the prophets, but enlarged their scope. He showed by word and example how the true spirit of the teachings of the old dispensation led to self-sacrifice for the welfare of others. Mat:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Fulfill, here, is more than to obey. It is in antithesis with destroy, and means to perfect and complete.

The old ceremonial forms of religious worship, pointed to the advent of one who should be a perfect sacrifice for sin, typified by the daily sacrifice of bulls and rams. The sacrifice typified, was completed in Him.

The moral enactments were not set aside, but they were given a completed meaning; that is they were made to reach beyond the external to the hidden desires and affections of the heart. He taught that mere external compliance was not sufficient in the All Seeing Eye. The affections and desires of the soul must be in agreement.

Thus we have the explanation of the law of chastity, completed, requiring purity of the soul. So murder is not merely the external act, but the law for murder, completed, forbids enmity or hatred hidden in the heart.

The requirements for mutual helpfulness were also perfected or completed.

The old law required the helping of a brother in need.

Deu:7, 8: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.”

This was completed so as to extend the help to all sufferers, though not kindred nor friendly, and though they may not be able nor willing to repay. Luke 6:35: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.”

The old law permitted the lender to take a pledge to secure the return of “as much again,” that is, the loan without interest. The Master enjoins being helpful though the principal should never be repaid. To take a pledge or mortgage and add the interest would greatly harden the conditions for the borrower. It would be a step backward and not forward in the way of helpfulness to others.

Again, the year of Jubilee was a kind of legal time limit to debts. All obligations were then cancelled. No debt could be collected. The selfish Hebrew feared to make a loan shortly before Jubilee lest it should not be repaid promptly and his claim would become worthless. Deu:9: “Beware that there be no thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release is at hand; and thine eye be evil toward thy poor brother, and thou givest him naught; and he cry unto the Lord against thee and it be sin unto thee.” In his heart the old Hebrew might have a desire to press his claim but the law protected the debtor. This law for the release of the debtor from the payment of principal without interest is completed so as to require sincere and hearty forgiveness.

Our Lord taught his disciples to ask for forgiveness of God only as they forgave their debtors, Mat:12: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” The commercial terms here used show this to be the completion of the law as touching the creditor and his released debtor.

3. Again, he broke down the artificial barriers, the distinction of Hebrew and Gentile, Greek and Barbarian, bond and free.

The love and sympathy and helpfulness among men was no longer to be limited to such narrow bounds, but must be wide as the race. “Who is my neighbor?” is so answered that every man must be neighbor to every other man, and the object of his care and help. All are of one blood, and all God’s children. He gave one law for all classes and conditions in all times. He so expounded the old commandments and so condensed them, that they became the one law of love. Whosoever is governed by supreme love to God, and loves his neighbor as himself, has fulfilled the law. He would thus bind all men together, and all to the throne of God, by the one bond of love.

But he further intensified the obligations of love, by his own special command. John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” And he adds it to the decalogue, John 13:34: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you that ye also love one another.” This new command requires that men shall love their brethren above themselves and be ready to sacrifice for their welfare. As he gave his life, so also he commanded that men should sacrifice for their fellows.

Those who hear his voice and have the spirit of obedience go to the ends of the earth, and make any sacrifice that may be required for the uplifting of fallen men.

The law forbidding the Hebrews exacting usury of their brethren, of the stranger who had accepted their faith and kept the passover, of the stranger, sojourner who dwelt among them, of everybody except the Canaanite who was under the condemnation of God, could not have been annulled or suspended by the divine Master who thus draws together and embraces as one family the whole race. The ties of Christian brotherhood are not less strong than the ties of Hebrew blood. The converts from heathen to Christian faith are not less dear to the missionary than the proselytes to the Hebrew faith were to the Pharisees. The foreigner who comes into a Christian community must not be treated with less justice and kindness than the wandering Arab who strolled into Jerusalem for a trade. It cannot be that the relation between Christians is like that between the Hebrew and the criminal Canaanites who were convicted of capital crimes and under sentence of death. As usury was repugnant to that spirit of justice and brotherly love that obtained in the Hebrew State, much more is it repugnant to that closer brotherhood into which we are drawn by the divine Lord.

4. Again, He was a friend of the poor and lowly. This was foretold by the song of the virgin, when assured that she should be the mother of the Savior. Luke 51:52, 53: “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.”

The prophets foretold that He should be the friend of the poor. He pointed John to the fulfilment of these prophecies in proof of his Messiahship.

In his first address in the explanation of the new dispensation he began by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The literal rendering would be, “Blessed are the poor, to the Spirit.” This is the dative singular with the definite article. He is speaking of external conditions as contrasted with spiritual blessings, and those conditions thought wretched in the world were especially favorable for the development of grace. The poor, humble, mourning, suffering, and persecuted were especially blessed in his kingdom.

The word rendered poor does not mean pauper. There is a great difference. The poor may be industrious, self-reliant and self-supporting. There is no hint of dependence.

In Luke he says, “Blessed are ye poor.” When at the rich man’s table, he told his host that he would be more blessed if he should make the next feast to the poor and defective, that could make him no return.

He was uncompromising in his denunciation of the rich. Luke 6:24: “But woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.” He showed the danger of riches in the parable of the sower. Mat:22: “He also that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”

Where grace is to be cultivated and flourish, the “greed of gain” must not enter. The young man who came to him, whom he loved for his sweet disposition and excellent character, he turned away by the answer that his wealth was incompatible with his salvation. He must part from his riches. When the disciples were surprised, he made it more emphatic, Mat:24: “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And when they felt that this made salvation impossible, he declared it could only be possible by the exercise of omnipotent, divine grace.

Zaccheus, the one rich man whose conversion is recorded, surrendered his ill-gotten gain fourfold and gave away half of the remainder before salvation came to his house. The temptation to trust and lean upon riches is irresistible.

Our Lord did not make wealth more dangerous than under the Mosaic dispensation by removing the restraint that was there put upon it. As a friend to the poor he did not give wealth an advantage it did not have before.

5. The whole drift of his teachings limited and restrained accumulation of wealth. The parable of the rich fool is a forcible presentation of its human folly on the earthly side.

“Whose shall these things be?”

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The result is irresistible; when engaged in storing earthly treasure, the heart will be earthly; or if laying up treasures in heaven, the heart will reach heavenward. He who labors for a heavenly reward, will be heavenly minded.

Treasures are stored for eternity, when used for the bringing out of that which shall survive the grave; for the bringing out the highest divine type of manhood and womanhood, in ourselves, in our children, and in all the children of men.

Treasures expended in the development of immortals shall be found when the earthly and temporal scenes have passed away. That which is expended in the uplifting of the race shall be our eternal reward.

Giving, giving, not hoarding is commended. Productive industry he enforced by his example, the carpenter that wrought for his daily bread. He chose workmen to be his followers. He taught economy in the command to take up the fragments of the food miraculously created “that nothing be lost,” yet unreserved giving was the lesson he inculcated and illustrated in his life. To follow his example, we must produce and produce much, yet what we gain is to be expended, so as to promote the highest welfare of all mankind. We must not store the fruits of our labor, but expend, not as a spendthrift who wastes, but judiciously and wisely for God and man. Our giving is only limited by the ability and facility to produce. Our Lord did not greatly add to the temptation to hoard by delivering the earthly treasures from the decay by “moth and rust” and instead permitting their increase. Our hoarding of earthly treasures must be limited, because of our disposition to trust in them. We must always be so dependent that we shall pray truly with the spirit of dependence, “Give us this day our daily bread.” “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.”

Thrift does not require that we shall hoard an amount that will support us through life, much less that we shall lay up a fortune, that shall free our children from the necessity of productive labor. The spirit of the Master’s teachings is, that each age shall produce and spend its product for its own advancement, then each succeeding age shall be better fitted to produce and care for itself and so advance the coming generations. “Go work today in my vineyard.” Now is the time to give and do for the generation yet unborn.