Thursday, October 15, 2009

...warnings about thoughtlessness and contempt of Christianity

by J.C. Ryle

(3) Another danger to young men is THOUGHTLESSNESS.

Not thinking is one simple reason why thousands of souls are thrown away forever into the Lake of Fire. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking.

Young men, none are in more danger of this than yourselves. You know little of the perils around you, and so you are careless how you walk. You hate the trouble of serious, quiet thinking, and so you make wrong decisions and bring upon yourselves much sorrow. Young Esau had to have his brother's stew and sold his birthright: he never thought how much he would want it in the future. Young Simeon and Levi had to avenge the rape of their sister Dinah, and kill the Shechemites: they never considered how much trouble and anxiety they might bring on their father Jacob and his house. Job seems to have been especially afraid of this thoughtlessness among his children: it is written, that when they had a feast, and the "period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, 'Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' This was Job's regular custom" (Job 1:5).

Believe me, this world is not a world in which we can do well without thinking, and least of all do well in the matter of our souls. "Don't think," whispers Satan: he knows that an unconverted heart is like a dishonest businessman's financial records, they will not bear close inspection. "Consider your ways," says the Word of God--stop and think--consider and be wise. The Spanish proverb says it well, "Hurry comes from the devil." Just as men marry in a rush and then are miserable with their mate, so they make mistakes about their souls in a minute, and then suffer for it for years. Just as a bad servant does wrong, and then says, "I never gave it a thought," so young men run into sin, and then say, "I did not think about it--it did not look like sin." Not look like sin! What would you expect? Sin will not come to you, saying, "I am sin;" it would do little harm if it did. Sin always seems "good, and pleasant, and desirable," at the time of commission. Oh, get wisdom, get discretion! Remember the words of Solomon: "Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm" (Proverbs 4:26).

Some, I dare say, will object that I am asking what is unreasonable; that youth is not the time of life when people ought to be grave and thoughtful. I answer, there is little danger of their being too much so in the present day. Foolish talking and kidding, and joking, and excessive amusement, are only too common. I don't argue the fact that there is a time for all things; but to be always flippant and joking is anything but wise. What does the wisest of men say--

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure" -Ecclesiastes 7:2-4
Matthew Henry tells a story of a great statesman in Queen Elizabeth's time, who retired from public life in his latter days, and gave himself up to serious thought. His former merry companions came to visit him, and told him that he was becoming somber: "No," he replied, "I am serious; for everyone around me is serious. God is serious in observing us--Christ is serious in interceding for us--the Spirit is serious in striving with us--the truths of God are serious--our spiritual enemies are serious in their endeavors to ruin us--poor lost sinners are serious in hell--and why then should you and I not be serious too?"

Oh, young men, learn to be thoughtful! Learn to consider what you are doing, and where you are going. Make time for calm reflection. Commune with your own heart, and be still. Remember my caution--Do not be lost merely for the lack of thought.

(4) Another danger to young men is CONTEMPT OF CHRISTIANITY.

This also is one of your special dangers. I always observe that none pay so little outward respect to Christianity as young men. None take so little part in our services, when they are present at them--use Bibles so little--sing so little--listen to preaching so little. None are so generally absent at prayer meetings, Bible Studies, and all other weekday helps to the soul. Young men seem to think they do not need these things--they may be good for women and old men, but not for them. They appear ashamed of seeming to care about their souls: one would almost fancy they considered it a disgrace to go to heaven at all. And this is contempt of Christianity--it is the same spirit which made the young people of Bethel mock Elisha--and of this spirit I say to all young men, Beware! If it is worthwhile to be a Christian, it is worthwhile to be in earnest about it.

Contempt of holy things is the straight road to hell. Once a man begins to make a joke of any part of Christianity, then I am never surprised to hear that he has turned out to be an unbeliever. (This is why I posted McLaren's new book cover; IMHO, no one in our postmodern day continually displays a contempt for orthodox, historical, biblical Christianity than he.)

Young men, have you really made up your minds to this? Have you clearly looked into the fires which are before you, if you persist in despising Christianity? Call to mind the words of David: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). The fool, and no one but the fool has said it: but he has never proved it! Remember, if there ever was a book which has been proved true from beginning to end, by every kind of evidence, that book is the Bible. It has defied the attacks of all enemies and faultfinders. "The Word of the Lord is flawless" (Psalm 18:30). It has been tested in every way, and the more it has been tested, the more evidently has it been shown to be the very handiwork of God Himself. What will you believe, if you do not believe the Bible? There is no choice but to believe something ridiculous and absurd. Depend on it, no man is so grossly naive as the man who denies the Bible to be the Word of God; and if it be the Word of God, be careful that you don't despise it.

Men may tell you that there are difficulties in the Bible; things hard to understand. It would not be God's book if there were not. And what if there are? You don't despise medicines because you cannot explain all that your doctor does with them. But whatever men may say, the things needed for salvation are as clear as daylight. Be very sure of this--people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment. They try to believe it is false and useless, because they don't like to believe it is true. An evil lifestyle must always raise an objection to this book. Men question the truth of Christianity because they hate the practice of it.

Young men, when did God ever fail to keep His word? Never. What He has said, He has always done; and what He has spoken, He has always made good. Did He fail to keep His word at the flood? No. Did He fail with Sodom and Gomorrah? No. Did He fail with unbelieving Jerusalem? No. Has He failed with the Jews up to this very hour? No. He has never failed to fulfill His word. Take care, lest you be found among those who despise God's Word.

Never laugh at Christianity. Never make a joke of sacred things. Never mock those who are serious and earnest about their souls. The time may come when you will count those happy whom you laughed at--a time when your laughter will be turned into sorrow, and your mockery into seriousness.


4given said...

This: "None take so little part in our services, when they are present at them--use Bibles so little--sing so little--listen to preaching so little."

Made me think of this:
I have 4 sons, 2 daughters. I have shared that already. One of the most incredible blessings to me as a mother, is to see especially my older boys worshiping the Lord and listening intently to the sermon. Part of that might be that they know we will discuss the sermon at lunch and find ways through the week to put into practice what we gleaned from the sermon. No, this doesn't happen perfectly everytime. It is a battle even for the most golden Christian to stay focused on Christ. Menial distractions abound. Thus the prayerful, pleading battle for focus.
Our entire family sits through the service... music, sermon. All 6 kids ages 3 through almost teen. It is a time in which we stop, hold our young ones, enjoy worshipping together.
On Resurrection Sunday we were getting ready for church. All but one was ready. It was my oldest son. He was having a rebellious moment while my husband was in the van with the rest of the children waiting for us. I was prodding him to be respectful and to hurry... prodding him rather angrily and I lost it. I yelled. We got into the van, I was still steaming... so was he. We got the church, smiles, hugs, found our seats. And then we began to sing. That is when I broke. I glanced over at my son and he was broken too. I have never seen him weep before through a song. He's a boy... becoming a man... We occasionally have to take Rachael out after the singing (she's 3) and it is still a training process for her. Josh took her out. I followed. We broke down and prayed together. It was then that it hit me... my son... becoming a man... that boy loves the Lord with all his heart. He loves to study his Bible and memorize scripture. His favorite book is "Pilgrim's Progress." I have lost count of how many times he has read it. But that boy, that young man... my son... is on a journey. A hard and narrow road and it is just the beginning. May the Lord keep our boys in the Narrow Way. Protect them. Guide them. This world is so truly wicked. But in the midst of it all is the beauty of His holiness.

4given said...

The song the Lord used to break my son and I was "How Deep the Father's Love for Us."...

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

~Mark said...

Excellent postings, thank you Steve. I've linked to these.

littlegal_66 said...

4given said: "I was prodding him to be respectful and to hurry... prodding him rather angrily and I lost it. I yelled."

I've been there, too. But isn't it great the way we can use times such as that to teach the children that Mom is not perfect, either (whew....this one, at least, is far from it), and that we (as parents) mess up sometimes, too? (And most of the time, when I blow it, it's because I have been thoughtless, and said something, or raised my voice, etc., before I weighed the pros & cons of my words/actions).

These are teachable moments, when I can go to my boys, and say, "I'm sorry, guys, Mom was wrong--I made a mistake. I wasn't thinking my words through before I spoke. Will you forgive me, and can we pray together about this?" I want them to hear me repent in prayer at times like those.

I pray that these moments can be used to show them the consequences of wrongs such as "thoughtlessness," (as Ryle pointed out)........and how it can affect others around you, as well as yourself.

4given said...

Excellent point Littlegal.

Ya know, Mr. Camp... IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT... that I have developed this sweet friendship with Littlegal off-blog.

donsands said...

Such a great series. It builds-up the soul, and molds the heart.
We do need to use our minds, and think as Christains. God made us with intellects.

Thanks for sharing. It's a blessing to see how our Lord's hand is upon you and your family. Very encouraging, and honoring to our Lord and Savior.

SJ Camp said...


I am happy to take all the blame :-).


Joe said...


Powerful post. I RT'ed today. I'll be linking back to it tomorrow morning.

In Christ,


W. James Wright said...

I had to tweet this to my followers. An amazing post. TY Steve for all you do for the Body @truthsintheword