Charles Kingsley: A serious divorce between faith and practice vs. a seriousness and godly fear

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Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

“Let us lay this to heart, and say, there can be no doubt — I at least have none — that there is growing up among us a serious divorce between faith and practice; a serious disbelief that the kingdom of heaven is about us, and that Christ is ruling us, as He told us plainly enough in His parables, by the laws of the kingdom of heaven; and that He does, and will punish and reward each man according to those laws, and according to nothing else.

We pride ourselves on our superior light, and our improved civilisation, and look down on the old Roman Catholic missionaries, who converted our forefathers from heathendom in the Middle Ages. Now, I am a Protestant, if ever there was one, and I know well that these men had their superstitions and false doctrines. They made mistakes, and often worse than mistakes, for they were but men. But this I tell you, that if they had not had a deep and sound belief that they were in the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven; and that they and all men must obey the laws of the kingdom of heaven; and that the first law of it was, that wrong doing would be punished, and right doing rewarded, in this life, every day, and all day long, as sure as Christ the living Lord reigned in righteousness over all the earth; if they had not believed that, I say, and acted on it, we should probably have been heathen at this day.

As it is, unless we Protestants get back the old belief, that God is a living God, and that His judgments are abroad in the earth, and that only in keeping His commandments can we get life, and not perish, we shall be seriously in danger of sinking at last into that hopeless state of popular feeling, into which more than one nation in our own time has fallen, that, as the prophet of old says, a wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets— that is, the preachers and teachers — prophesy falsely ; and the priests — the ministers of religion — bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so — love to have their consciences drugged by the news that they may live bad lives, and yet die good deaths…

Let us lay this to heart, with seriousness and godly fear. For so we shall look up with reverence, and yet with hope, to Christ the ascended king, to whom all power is given in heaven and earth; forever asking Him for His Holy Spirit, to put into our minds good desires, and to enable us to bring these desires to good effect. And so we shall live for ever under our great task master’s eye, and find out that that eye is not merely the eye of a just judge, not merely the eye of a bountiful king, but more the eye of a loving and merciful Saviour, in whose presence is life even here on earth ; and at whose right hand, even in this sinful world, are pleasures forevermore.”

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) in Sermon XXX “The Kingdom of Heaven” in All Saints Day and Other Sermons by the Rev. Charles Kingsley (London: C. Kegan Paul & Company, 1878) 282-284.

Today is a special day. Our daughter, Sophie, and her fiancé, Peter, graduate from San Diego Christian College in Santee, California, and Sammy’s fiancé, Emily, graduates from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

What excites me most is that Sophie, Peter, and Emily possess a “seriousness and godly fear” of God when it comes to biblical teaching on money in a day when most of their peers have a “serious divorce between faith and practice.”

In plain terms, most people find themselves slaves to mammon rather than God and they live as though the teachings of Jesus on money are optional suggestions rather than imperative commands. Here’s where this relates to generosity.

We cannot ever be generous if we are not obeying the commands of Jesus, especially the ones related to money. In my teaching around the world, I find the most receptive souls to sound biblical teaching on money are young people. They actually want the assistance.

If you have any graduates out there you want to bless with a gift, send them my book, Good and Faithful: Ten Stewardship Lessons for Everyday Living. It teaches them how to relate to money. Students around the world have found it helpful, including Sophie, Peter, and Emily.