A Figure of the Deceitful Life—The True Test of Character.
THE LESSON—That stability or weakness of character are revealed when the supreme test comes.
This lesson from nature is planned to impress the truth that we must be worthy "through and through" if we are to endure the test of character which comes to every life.
"I want every one of you to stop looking at me and to take a good look at the wood out of which the pew ahead of you is made. [If necessary, revise the following sentences to meet your immediate conditions.] You will notice that the pew is made up of a good many pieces of oak fastened together so nicely that you can hardly tell where they are joined. And so it is with all this other furniture, and with the tables and the chairs and the bookcases in your homes and everywhere else. A great many fine trees must be cut down every day to furnish the wood from which all the things are made. The furniture manufacturers buy the wood in the form of heavy lumber. The companies which sell this lumber to the furniture factories send their expert tree buyers into the forests to pick out the trees which will make the best lumber. These tree experts go into the forests and select the trees that they want, and leave all the others standing.
"One day a tree buyer, after examining an oak grove, told the owner that he would pay him a certain amount of money for a specified number of trees, and at the same time he pointed out the trees which he wanted.
"'But,' said the owner of the forest, 'you have overlooked one of the nicest-looking trees of them all. Don't you want this one?' [Draw outlines of tree, Fig. 114.]
"'No,' replied the buyer, 'I can't use that tree. It is no good for our purpose.'
"'No good!' exclaimed the owner, 'why that tree looks to me to be a good deal better than some that you selected.'
"But the buyer was an expert and knew what he was talking about. To show the owner what was the trouble with it, he cut the tree down, and this is what they found: [Remove the paper from the drawing board; turn it one-fourth around, and reattach to the board; add lines to complete Fig. 115.]
(The left edge is the top of the sheet during the drawing of Fig. 114.)
"What was the matter with the tree? Yes, it was hollow. The owner was a much-surprised man. The expert, by tapping the tree with the blunt side of his ax, could tell that the tree was not solid. We might call it a deceitful tree because it seemed to be better than it really was.
"Sometimes we hear of deceitful men and women—deceitful boys and girls. None of us wants to be called deceitful, for the world has no more use for a deceitful person than this man had for a hollow tree. Some may think that they may deceive their friends and everyone else around them, but they get found out sooner or later, and, worst of all, their lives are an open book to the Lord, who sees and knows their every thought. The hollow tree in the forest is certain to come crashing to the earth when a severe storm breaks. The deceitful man or woman suffers a like fate when something happens to reveal their hollow lives to the world.
"On this Decision day, let us resolve anew to make our lives of solid worth through and through. We can do it only by coming close to the Master and learning from Him how to live.
"The trouble with the tree in the forest was that it was not sound. It lacked inside strength. Even a slight tap of the ax proved that it was a sort of 'hollow mockery.' It was a good-looking tree on the outside, but its heart was not right. And isn't that exactly the case with a lot of good-looking, well-dressed people? Why, even a boy or a girl can be all wrong at the heart, though their faces and hands and clothes are clean and beautiful.
"Have you ever stopped to think what good eyes God has? He never needs a telescope or a microscope, for 'the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.' God never beholds evil where there is none, but no boy or girl, man or woman, can hide it so well in their hearts but that God sees it and knows it.
"Let us, therefore, on this Decision day, resolve never to let deceit come into our hearts, to make our lives hollow, but to be sound in character through and through."