For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
Is this a good time for a sober, righteous, and godly life? "Business standards," it is said, "are relaxing; home habits, loose; self-seeking, the common rule; plain living and high thinking, not the custom of the time." in such a slate of mind two things seem possible. One is to yield to the pressure of the age. Accepting its inconsistency with the Christian life, one may adapt himself to standards which his conscience never can approve. That is the common worldliness of the present age, surrendering character to the social pressure of the time. The other thing to do is to run away from the age. That is what thousands of the choicest souls have done throughout Christian history. They have thought it impossible to live a sober life in the full current of their own time; and so they have fled from its influence, hiding themselves in monasteries and peopling the desert with their caves. No one can survey the story of these ascetics and hermits without a glow of admiration. It is a great thing that the enticements of each age which have overpowered so many souls have been powerless over a few. But none the less this whole story is not the story of a battle, but of a flight. And it was a fruitless flight. Fleeing from the world, they fled from all the chance they had to make it better. If, then, the sober, righteous, and godly man is not to yield himself to the present age, nor yet to flee from it, what is he to do? Why, he is to use it — to take it just as it is, as the God-given material out of which the Christian character fit for the present time is to be wrought. The saints of the past have been, for the most part, those who have fled from the world; but the Christian saint of today is the person who can use the world. Such a person may be all unconscious that he is doing anything heroic. He is simply the man in the business world who, amid looseness and dishonour, keeps himself true and clean; simply the woman who, amid luxury and affectation, keeps her simplicity and sympathy; simply the youth who, without the least retreat from the influences which beset him in a place like this, makes them contribute to his growth of character. That is a harder thing than to be a hermit, and quite as noble as to be a saint. It is the sober, righteous, and godly life lived in the midst of this present age. The man who hides himself behind the spirit of the age, and makes it the apology of his own folly or sin, is simply deceived. He is like many a man in that western country, who has thought himself standing in a hopeless desert when he really stood in what might be a garden of the world. He simply abandons it to barrenness, instead of turning upon it the stream of service which is at his command, and for which the desert longs. The man, who throws a sober and a godly life into the main movement of the present age, is but contributing the fertilising power to a receptive and responsive world; and the hills and valleys about him will shout for joy at their redemption by that pure and abundant stream.
(F. G. Peabody, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,