Success By Giving -- By: Burnett T. Stafford

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 074:295 (Jul 1917)
Article: Success By Giving
Author: Burnett T. Stafford

Success By Giving

Burnett T. Stafford

From the time to which the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, the subject of successful living has been a great subject of discussion. Plato wrote many pages to solve it, but nothing definite came of it. Under such leaders as Cicero and Caesar, Rome attempted success by the use of physical force, and failed. When the sinews of her strength had waxed old, the great Empire reverted to the primal racial units and contentions. The Prophet of Galilee with His first public words said that the way of success was by giving. His major proposition was the establishment of a kingdom by this means. His main working injunction to the first advocates of the method was this: “Freely ye have received, freely give.” This was a new and unheard-of principle of conquest. It was not strange that His first advocates questioned and hesitated. His plan of campaign was for the whole world. Long before their day the missionary spirit and compulsion of Moses and the prophets had died out among their fathers. That they should be the recipients of wealth and favor from the Gentiles was readily understood: that to these unclean peoples should be given the most cherished privilege of the Hebrew heritage was staggering. But this matter of gaining success by giving was the first and essential working principle of the proposed conquest. It was higher than their loftiest imaginations,

stronger than their most fervid desires, and deeper than their longest sounding lines. In the end they found themselves under the compulsion of a great law of the moral verities, and they — a few middle-class people — were against the world to conquer it by giving.

A good deal of courage is required in these days of tolerance to speak contrary to old and cherished traditions. It was a much harder task when the Galileans preached that good will, expressed in the service of giving freely, is the true philosophy of successful living. There was astonishment all around. Other people were astonished that such a doctrine should be seriously advocated, and those presenting it were astonished that any should question its reality and primal authority. The Jew was shocked that his sacred writings were quoted as both conveying and confirming it. The Gentile stiffened in antagonism because the cherished and venerated foundations of his ancient and venerable civilization were so forcefully challenged. When some said that they were “turning the world upside down,” the exact truth was told. Perhaps the most remarkable fact was the absence of fear from the advocates of the new teaching. It is always so with men in harmony with the moral order and speaking from the elemental realities of thought and emotion.

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