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DECISION IN CHARACTER BUILDING

[SM755]
"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve....As for me and my house,
we will serve the Lord."--Josh. 24:15.
Indecision is one of the greatest foes to character building, while the
liberty or privilege of choosing, eercising our wills, is one of the grandest
blessings accorded to hu!anity, and is an i!portant ele!ent of !an"s
li#eness to his $reator. %rue, we see will, decision of purpose, !anifested on
every plane of life, even by the crawling wor! or snail. &ut the hu!an will,
!ore richly endowed by the $reator, has a higher range, which includes,
especially, decision in respect to the higher !oralities, ta#ing hold of
'uestions of (ustice and love which affect and influence all of life"s affairs.
)oo# where we will we find that the people who are successful in any
depart!ent of life are those who have purpose and will and deter!ination--
whether it be good, bad or indifferent. *e see also that those who have no
fiity of purpose, will, intention, are unsuccessful. +s the ,criptures declare,
-+ double-!inded !an is unstable in all his ways-. and if we loo# into the
teachings of history we find this sa!e lesson taught by all the past. It !ay,
therefore, be well settled in our !inds that one of the chief difficulties of the
!a(ority of the race is lac# of decision, indecision of purpose.--Ja!es 1:/.
*orst of all, observation shows us that the vast !a(ority of our race
are in this very condition of uncertainty, indecision--they have no positive
ai!, no fied purpose in life. +s a conse'uence they are unhappy,
discontented, and, li#e the chaff, ready to be blown hither and thither by
every wind. %hese discontented ones, purposeless, ai!less, half awa#e, are
the dangerous ele!ent of society, which will very shortly bring to the world
the awful [SM756] anarchy which the ,criptures clearly show will close the
present age and usher in the 0ew 1ispensation.
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6any as they pass through the streets can read in the countenances
of their fellow-creatures the indecision, the lac# of a fiity of purpose or real
ai! in life. ,o!e loo# sour, sullen. %hey feel a grudge against their
neighbors, who, because of purpose and decision, are !ore successful in the
various affairs of life. 7thers have a resigned and despondent loo#, which
inti!ates that they see no prospect in the future, and are !erely enduring the
present eistence through a fear that the future !ay be worse. 7ther faces
show eagerness--a desire to find a successful path, a reali8ation that it is
difficult to find and a hope that they !ay be a!ongst the favored few. ,till
other faces indicate that the !ind is thoroughly dor!ant, that the individual
!erely eats, sleeps, tal#s and wal#s after the !anner of the brute creation,
without so !uch as desiring a purpose or in'uiring, -*hat was the ob(ect of
!y creation9 3ow !ay I best attain that ob(ect9 *hat will tend to !y
intellectual and physical welfare and what to !y in(ury9- ,till other faces
show intenseness of purpose, endeavor. but the eager, anious, careworn
countenance indicates that the a!bition or purpose is not on a high level, but
a low one, on a selfish plane---6e and !y wife, !y son John and his wife:
us four, no !ore.-
3ow few faces indicate that their owners are well-balanced in !ind,
that they have a purpose in life, and that it is a noble, honorable, ealted
purpose, generous and benevolent toward others: %his, however, should be
estee!ed the ideal face, the one which indicates that the higher ele!ents of
the !ind are in control, that the ani!al instincts for food and rai!ent have
not run away with the !anly 'ualities created originally in the i!age and
li#eness of ;od. *hoever recogni8es this as the proper, the ideal condition,
should search diligently to find the secret of it. %hat secret will be found to
be a fiity of [SM757] purpose an establish!ent of !ind and will, along the
lines of wisdo! and righteousness, and in opposition to sin, in(ustice, etc.
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*hile it is very i!portant that we !a#e a wise choice, co!e to a
correct decision, follow right principles, in !any instances there are certain
particulars in which even a poor choice, an unwise purpose, !ight be !ore
desirable than none. =or instance, a deter!ination to be rich cannot be
classed as a good or honorable or trustworthy a!bition. 0evertheless, by
occupying his ti!e, awa#ening his energies, sti!ulating his brain, it !ay
prove a source of !uch rest and co!fort to the one who !a#es such a
decision and who lays out his life for its acco!plish!ent as a goal. *hether
he acco!plish his ai! or not, it at least gives hi! a purpose in life which, by
engaging his talents, gives hi! refresh!ent, !inisters to his co!fort, and
!a#es hi! ten-fold !ore useful to society than the purposeless !an. 0ot
that we are co!!ending such a course as a worthy one, but !erely noting
that though unworthy it is better than none.
*hen we consider that the average of life is thirty-five years, and
that re!ar#ably few of the race attain to seventy years, and that to the
!a(ority the present eistence is but the vestibule to a future life, when we
note the present tendency on the part of the entire civili8ed world to strive
for !oney, wealth--not !erely for the necessities, co!forts and luuries for
the!selves and their dependents, but for the accu!ulation of wealth which
neither they nor theirs can ever hope properly to !a#e use of--when we
perceive that to gain wealth the !a(ority are willing to sacrifice al!ost
everything of virtue and character, ti!e, energy, relationship and
co!!union with ;od and even life itself--we reali8e that this choice
indicates a serious unsoundness of !ind, an unbalance which a!ounts
al!ost to !ono!ania. 0evertheless we repeat that such an unbalance, such a
!ono!ania, [SM758] is preferable to no choice, no decision of the will, no
purpose in life.
+ll reasonable people, then, will agree >1? that there is an advantage
in !a#ing a choice, in reaching a decision in life as to what we will do with
our ti!e, our talents, our influence. >2? that the choice !ay be a wise or an
unwise one, and >@? that we all need counsel in respect to what would
constitute a wise choice, a wise decision, so that we !ay !a#e the !ost of
our opportunities and attain the largest degree of blessing out of life in its
present condition and also its hope for the future. %o such a one co!es the
'uery, *here shall we obtain the counsel, the assistance so necessary to us--
so necessary to our prosperity in the life that now is and in that which is to
co!e9
$hildren should properly loo# to their parents for assistance and
guidance in this !atter. <et, as we have (ust seen, the parents the!selves
have generally reached no decision, and are therefore 'uite incapable of
instructing those for who! they are naturally responsible. &oth parents and
children, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, need counsel upon this
sub(ect, and are beginning to find this out. %hey are loo#ing about in various
directions, ta#ing note of the ea!ples of the good and the great, but are as
apt to copy the wrong as the right.
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%o the !a(ority today co!es the desire for wealth, and the
suggestion that to ac'uire wealth they should copy the !ethods e!ployed by
the wealthy. 7ne thing is evident. na!ely, that no !an could accu!ulate
!illions, !uch less hundreds of !illions, of !oney by his own toil on any
ade'uate basis of distribution a!ongst !en, as a reward for services
rendered to the world. *e are not !eaning to suggest that there is an
e'uality of value for services, but si!ply that the ine'uality is not so great
actually as the differences in wealth would i!ply. $o!!on report,
discounted one-half, would leave [SM759] the !a(ority of people to suppose
that the wealthy attained their stations by partly dishonest or disreputable
!eans. ,uch thoughts add to the general discontent.
%o the beginner, who sets out to be a worshiper of 6a!!on, the
lesson is that to succeed he !ust not be too particular in respect to the
(ustice, truthfulness and honorableness of the !eans he will e!ploy in
ac'uiring wealth. %his signifies a bad start, with the intention to fight against
the voice of conscience throughout the re!ainder of life. 0ear by stand the
advocates of religion and science calling for recruits and assistance, but both
assure the in'uirer that they will appreciate hi! the !ore if he has a bac#ing
of wealth and influence a!ongst the wealthy. +nd in answer to his 'ueries
they fran#ly tell hi! that it is true that to co!e to the! under these favored
conditions will !ean that he !ust not be thoroughly religious, thoroughly
truthful, thoroughly conscientious. +nd as he investigates the possibilities
along the lines of science, he finds that while the word science is
synony!ous with truth, yet really so!e of the !ost renowned scientists have
gotten their reputations by !ere guesses and pretensions rather than by their
#nowledge and presentations of facts. If the in'uirer has not so!ething to
guide hi! in the !atter, this also spea#s to hi! of the necessity of bowing
not to conscience--of being worldly-wise. In other words, -the end (ustifies
the !eans.-
If net he turn to religion, his ears are saluted with a &abel of
confusing advice: creeds fro! the 1ar# +ges and so!e !ore !odern appeal
to hi!, telling hi! of three gods in one person or of -the sa!e substance.-
%his he cannot understand. for it is not understandable. 3e cannot believe it
in the true sense because no one can properly believe what he cannot
understand. but he is sole!nly told that to doubt this will !ean his eternal
conde!nation in tor!ent at the hands of de!ons. 3e is told that ;od is
)ove, and in the net breath that 3e created a place of [SM760] tor!ent for
the great !asses of hu!anity even before 3e created the!, and that fire-
proof devils and fuel for all eternity have long been provided. *hen he
doubts how a ;od of )ove could have devised such a plan, he is again
threatened that to deny that such a procedure is a loving and a (ust one would
surely be a ground for his conde!nation to suffer that eternal tor!ent. 3e is
urged to confess these !atters which he cannot understand or believe, and to
call hi!self a $hristian, to go out into the world and !a#e !oney as
honestly as possible and to contribute liberally to the $hurch, and is told that
he will be granted a free pass to eternal happiness in the future.
%he whole !atter see!s so unreasonable, so preposterous, that the
!a(ority of thin#ing people cannot ta#e this proposition seriously.
nevertheless, through fear they treat it as though they partially believed it.
7stensibly they serve the )ord, in reality they serve 6a!!on, selfishness in
their churches, in the!selves, in their fa!ilies.--6att. A:21-2@.
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+side fro! these voices there is another, which, however, very few
can hear. %he !a(ority hear only the &abel of unreason. %he few har#en to
the *ord of the )ord, with its testi!ony that the great $reator of all things is
(ust, wise, loving and powerful. that the present condition of hu!anity,
!oral and physical decrepitude, is the result of original sin, and is in effect
the outwor#ing of its sentence, the death sentence, upon the race. that there
is no hope of a full recovery fro! these adverse conditions ecept as ;od
3i!self shall render the aid. 3is !essage through 3is *ord is that while 3is
Justice has conde!ned the race as a whole, 3is )ove !et the re'uire!ents
of (ustice--that the ,on of ;od left the glory of the =ather, beca!e a !e!ber
of our race, and, as such, redee!ed it fro! the death sentence and !ade
possible, not only an awa#ening fro! the to!b, but also a full restoration
bac# to the original perfection, the i!age and [SM761] li#eness of ;od, lost
by =ather +da! and by us all through his disobedience. %he still s!all voice
through the sa!e *ord of ;od tells us that 1ivine *isdo! is controlling in
the !atter, and has set the 6illennial +ge in the future as the ti!e in which
+l!ighty Cower will be eercised for the deliverance of the world fro! its
bondage to sin and death and its restoration to 1ivine favor.
*isdo! assures us that 1ivine Cower will be eercised at that ti!e
for our relief, and will be 'uite sufficient. *isdo! also eplains that in the
interi! between the ti!e when $hrist died for our sins and the ti!e when
3e will inaugurate the 6illennial +ge for the blessing of the world, it is the
1ivine Clan to select fro! a!ongst !en a )ittle =loc# of peculiar character,
of peculiar loyalty to righteousness, to truth, to ;od and to all that are in
accord with 3i!. that this )ittle =loc# is to constitute the &ride of $hrist,
3is (oint-heir in the 6illennial Dingdo!, participating with 3i! in 3is
wor# of blessing, restoring and uplifting !an#ind. %he sa!e voice eplains
through the *ord that only by accepting $hrist and the assistance 3e will
gladly grant, can any ever attain to the eternal life conditions which 1ivine
*isdo! has provided for us--that all who refuse the 1ivine favor will be cut
off in the ,econd 1eath, fro! which there will be no deliverance.
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+ll this is reasonable, ;od-li#e. 3ow strange it is that so few have an
ear to hear this glorious 6essage: 3ow strange that they do not re(ect as
unworthy the various substitutes offered the!: *hy do they not listen for
the still s!all voice of the )ord9 *hy should they not epect that 3e who
created us in 3is own i!age and li#eness would have a purpose respecting
us which would be worthy of 3is own character, and which 3e would not be
asha!ed to reveal to 3is people9 0ow they can understand why ,t. Caul was
not asha!ed of the ;ospel of $hrist, and why our )ord declared that 3e had
co!e to [SM762] see# and to save that which was lost.--5o!. 1:1E. )u#e
1F:1G. 1 John 2:2. John 1:F. )u#e 2:1G,14.
*hat now shall he choose whose eyes of understanding are opened
to this glorious vision of ;od"s goodness, !ercy and love, which will
ulti!ately bless all the fa!ilies of the earth9 %he effect of this glorious
picture will be to cheer and encourage his heart. 3e can surely fro! this
standpoint reali8e that for hi!, no !atter how adverse his conditions and
environ!ents in the present life !ay be, ;od has a glorious epoch in
reservation, with blessed possibilities for all. %his view of !atters !ay
satisfy hi! for a little while--so!e !ay be so contented therewith that they
will !a#e no further in'uiry. but others on the contrary will be so
overpowered with the glorious vision of ;od"s real character and Clan that
they will bow their hearts before 3i! in wonder, ad!iration, love, and their
cry will be as was that of the +postle Caul when his eyes were opened,
-)ord, what will %hou have !e to do9- >+cts F:E.? It is this class that the
)ord is see#ing during this ;ospel +ge. 7thers receive the grace of ;od in
vain now, and will !iss the special calling of the 4lect $hurch, and have
their portion and opportunity with the world in general.
%he bowing of the heart to the $reator and 5edee!er signifies the
renounce!ent of the hu!an will and preference and the acceptance of the
1ivine instead. 0o other course i!aginable is so safe, so sane, so reasonable
as this--to ac#nowledge our continued dependence upon our $reator, to
ac#nowledge our own unwisdo! and that of our fellows, to see# the wisdo!
fro! +bove to !a#e the wisest and best use of the frag!ent of the present
life yet at our disposal, and to !a#e sure of the eternal life which the )ord
has pro!ised to the! that love 3i!. It is insufficient that we consider these
!atters and thin# favorably of the!. %hey will not be ours unless we co!e
to the point of definite self-surrender. 6any !a#e a great !ista#e there.
%hey want to be the )ord"s, [SM763] they want to accept 3is pro!ises, they
want to have 3is peace in the present and in the everlasting future, but they
shrin# fro! definitely covenanting the!selves to the )ord. %hey tell us
so!eti!es that they fear to do so lest they should not be able to #eep the
agree!ent-- lest they should !a#e no better success at it than so!e no!inal
church !e!bers with who! they are ac'uainted, whose lives belie their
professions. *e reply that the ,criptures clearly inti!ate that we are not
sufficient of ourselves for such a covenant, and that ;od does not even
propose to !a#e a covenant with us ecept as the )ord Jesus is recogni8ed
as the 4ndorser of our pro!ises, and 3is endorse!ent which 3e proffers us
is acco!panied by 3is guarantee of assistance in every ti!e of need. that 3e
will not suffer us to be te!pted above that we are able to bear, but will with
each te!ptation provide a way of escape, and cause all our eperiences to
wor# together for our highest good.--1 $or. 1G:1@. 5o!. /:2/. John 1E:2A.
=+I%3 I, 4,,40%I+)
It is in accord with all this that the ,criptures assure us that faith in
the present ti!e is indispensable to our acceptance with the )ord and our
continuance in 3is favor. %hose who cannot eercise the faith cannot be of
the faithful class now being the recipients of 3is favor. %hose who can and
do eercise faith, hold to the 1ivine pro!ise, wal# to the best of their ability
in the footsteps of the )ord, and trust to the covering of the !erit of our
5edee!er--these only inherit all things --these only are to be the &ride, the
)a!b"s *ife, the Bery 4lect.--5o!. /:@A-@F.
=ollowing faith co!es confession, and it also is indispensable. *e
are assured that with the heart !an believeth, and with the !outh confession
is !ade unto salvation. >5o!. 1G:1G.? %hose who can eercise the faith, but
are restrained fro! telling to others the (oy that they have found, their
relationship to the )ord and the [SM764] glorious prospects of the future, are
not of the #ind who! the )ord will count worthy of a share in the )ittle
=loc#, the Dingdo! class. 3is own words are, -3e that is asha!ed of 6e
and 6y *ord, of hi! will I be asha!ed.- 6anifestly such will not be fit for
the glorious position to which the )ord has called us if they are so wea# of
character as to be asha!ed of the )ord and 3is *ord of grace. %hey are not
overco!ers in the ,criptural sense of the word, but !ust be laboring under
the fear of !an that bringeth a snare. ,uch !ay receive a blessing in the
future, but cannot be granted the great blessing that is now being offered and
which will be dispensed to the worthy in the =irst 5esurrection.
+s choice, decision, was necessary in the accepting of $hrist at all,
even by faith in our hearts, so another step in decision, deter!ination, is
reached and tested by our willingness or unwillingness to confess the )ord
and 3is *ord before others. &ut the first decision in the heart is the !ost
i!portant step of all. +fter we have fully and irrevocably given our all to the
)ord, it is a co!paratively easy !atter, if our hearts re!ain faithful, to
confess 3i! and 3is *ord of grace. If it be as#ed how we shall confess the
)ord, we reply that the ,criptural progra! for these is baptis! in water,
which sy!boli8es our full consecration even to death, and by which we are
sy!bolically raised to wal# in newness of life in our 5edee!er"s footsteps.
%his was not to be done for us by our parents when we were infants, nor by
our godfathers or god!others standing sponsors for us, but was to be our
own individual act after !a#ing our consecration and co!ing to an
understanding of the )ord"s arrange!ent.
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Joshua, who uttered the words of our tet, properly understood
hi!self to be the head of his household, their representative under 1ivine
arrange!ent. 3is consecration, therefore, !eant the carrying of a
consecrated [SM765] !an"s influence to every !e!ber of his trusting
household. It !eant that as a proper father he would have a large and good
influence over all the !e!bers of his fa!ily, and that this influence would
all be turned to the )ord--into channels of righteousness in all !atters and
affairs of the fa!ily. It !ust have !eant, therefore, that Joshua would
thenceforth honor the )ord by worship in his household and in all his ways
ac#nowledging Jehovah. It !eant the reverence of the entire household for
religious things. it !eant the influence of the head of the fa!ily in
connection with the +l!ighty in leading his fa!ily to !a#e si!ilar
individual consecration to the )ord. +nd a si!ilar course is a proper one for
every one of us. =irst of all we !ust see to our own hearts, reach a positive
decision, get right with ;od, co!e under 3is blessing and care, and the
pro!ise of 3is *ord through $hrist. %hen the business of life should be to
bring our fa!ilies and neighbors and all with who! we have influence, who
have ears to hear and hearts to appreciate the 1ivine 6essage, into si!ilar
accord, si!ilar consecration.
)et us choose, let us decide today, dear friends, if we have not
already decided this !ost i!portant of all 'uestions. If in the past our course
has been a double-!inded one, let it not be so in the future. If in the past we
have chosen unworthy, selfish a!bitions, or foolish ones founded on our
own sur!ises or those of others, let us not be content with any of these, but
reali8ing the foundation of truth and of grace let us choose wisely, put our
affairs in the hands of the 7ne who is able to bring order out of confusion,
and to spea# peace to our troubled souls, and har!ony to our discontented
lives, and whose 6essage by and by is to cause the assuaging of all the
stor!s of passion and avarice which are now raging in the world, and to
bring in that everlasting peace which the )ord, has pro!ised under the reign
of 3i! who will be the Crince of Ceace.