A brother inquires:—Does God look with displeasure on those who, knowing his plan thoroughly, as laid down in MILLENNIAL DAWN, just give up sin of all kinds, while still retaining their love of the good things of this life? Before reading MILLENNIAL DAWN I was a professing Christian; but, I see now, in name only. While trying to lead a pure life, I do not feel ready to enter on to a life of self-sacrifice. Do you think there is anything wrong in this course?
To this we reply:—We do not believe that the Lord looks with displeasure upon a life which seeks to avoid sin, and which recognizes the merit of Christ's righteousness as the ground of acceptance. Nevertheless we hold with the Apostle, that it is but a "reasonable service" on our part to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God; for we judge that, Christ having died for us, we should live the remainder of our lives in his service.—2 Cor. 5:14,15,20.
The spirit which would permit us to please simply ourselves, to the neglect of others who might be greatly blessed by the same truths which have so refreshed our hearts, would certainly be the spirit of selfishness—the opposite to the spirit of love. I trust, therefore, that your reception of the truth will lead to the development in you of the spirit of the truth—love; for we know that this spirit alone is the holy spirit—the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ—and that whoever does not sooner or later develop a spirit of love will not be accounted worthy of everlasting life, either as a member of the little flock, or of the great company or of the world during the Millennial age. None will be accounted worthy of everlasting life except he have the spirit of Christ. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his."—Rom. 8:9.
Nevertheless, as we said before, the Lord is very merciful through Christ, and those who at first merely shun sin and accept the Redeemer will be recognized of God and patiently dealt with, that perchance the fruit of the spirit may ultimately be developed. "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control."—Gal. 5:22,23—Diaglott.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I want to get out of Babylon; but, if I meet not with the Church to which I have been attached for years (Disciple), I feel lost. I realize the necessity of close fellowship with spiritually minded people. And, now, the following please answer as fully as you can, either by letter to me personally or through the WATCH TOWER. If a man attempt the race for the "high calling," what is the nature of the sacrifice he must make? You say (MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I.), he is not only forbidden sinful things, but must deny himself the "good things" of this life. Please make this plain. Be explicit. Please come down to particulars. Again, are there any in the world doing so at present, to your knowledge? Any who are suffering for righteousness' sake? I say suffering; because to be slighted and misrepresented for the truth's sake does not cause one much "suffering." It is more of the nature of "sorrow."
REPLY:—What we mean by "suffering" is not the infliction of wounds or other injury to the person, but self-denials. The suffering is small—"not worthy to be compared to the glory to follow;" but it is the result of the ignoring of the hopes, ambitions and feelings of the sacrificer.
Since it is to be a sacrifice, the things to be sacrificed are not specified in the Scriptures; nor may we speculate as to what you should sacrifice; but each one should seek to sacrifice something of comfort, pleasure or luxury in the service of the Lord, his truth and his Church.
A person of means might deny himself several hundred or thousand dollar's worth of luxury in a year—luxury which he foregoes simply in the interest of the truth, that the means may be used in a better way. A poor brother, for instance, recently sent in $2.00 to the Tract Fund, saying it was the result of his walking instead of riding to daily work, and other small extras which he had willingly denied himself to be able to share in the spread of the truth.
These both represent self-denials, self-sacrificings; the one of much out of much, the other of less out of little; but both, if done from the same pure, worthy motive, alike acceptable to God. See Mark 12:41-44.
Then there are other forms of sacrifice,—the practice of economy for the truth's sake, the sacrifice of time and strength in doing good, feeding the physically or spiritually hungry, the spending of time and energy in preaching the Word, either by voice or pen or printed page—tracts, etc. Any service rendered to God, his people, or his Word, which costs the flesh something, is a sacrifice, acceptable in God's sight through Christ. But a whole burnt-offering, the giving of all that we have and are to the Lord, is most pleasing to him, and our reasonable service. When practicable (i.e., when previous obligations as husband or wife, father or mother, do not prevent), this often leads to the Colporteur work, or some other service which ignores worldly ambitions; but where impracticable, the Lord equally accepts the will with lesser deeds, when they are faithfully done as unto him.