Miller’s Monday Musings #85: Things That Are Worthwhile

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Miller's Monday Musings | 2 comments

things that are worthwhile

What things in life are truly worthwhile?

A person may spend his whole lifetime in humble Christian living. He fears God, and walks after God’s commandments. He makes no great successes according to the world’s standards. He is even spoken of by others with a sort of pity, as a man who never has been successful. Yet all the while, he has lived honestly and faithfully in his place. While others have been fighting for positions, scrambling for honor, and thinking only of advancing and pleasing self; this person has been giving out his life in generous love, serving others, and doing eternal good. He has not gotten far in the world, and his hands are empty at the last.

But there is a success which is not measured by the standards of this vain world. There is an invisible sphere in which values are not rated by dollars and cents, but by their spiritual and eternal character. In that sphere, a cup of cold water given to a thirsty one in the name of Christ will count for more than the piling of a fortune for self. Hence it is that a person who has seemed unsuccessful – but has nevertheless been doing good all the while in Christ’s name, and living unselfishly – has truly achieved a success which lifts his name to high honor.

Sometimes in the countryside, you will see an old water-wheel outside of a mill. The water fills its buckets; and all day long, it turns around and around. It seems to be working in vain. You see nothing that it is doing by its constant motion. But its shaft runs through the wall; and inside the mill, it turns the stones which grind the wheat, and the bolts which prepare the flour for the bread that feeds hundreds. Or it runs the looms which weave fabric that keeps many people warm in the winter. There are lives which, despite all their ceaseless toiling, seem to be accomplishing nothing; and yet they reach through the veil into the sphere of the unseen world, and there they make blessing and benefit with incalculable value.

Some Godly people become discouraged because they do not seem to get far in life. They work hard but can scarcely make ends meet. As fast as they earn, they must spend. A father toils through the years, bringing up a family; but at last, he dies a poor man. Other men who began with him as boys succeed and grow rich. He feels that he has failed. But consider what he has really achieved!

To begin with, work itself is one of life’s best blessings. This man’s years of daily task-work have built up in him many of the best qualities of true and worthy character: promptness, accuracy, faithfulness, patience, persistence, and obedience. Work, too, has given him health; it has kept him from many an evil; it has knit in him strong muscles and bones; and it has wrought in him a spirit of confidence and independence.

Consider, too, the value of his work to his family. He has provided a home for his household where the wife has presided with love and gentleness. Through his toil, he has furnished means for the education of his children. In his own life, he has set them an example of honesty, truthfulness, unselfishness, diligence, and faith. Dwelling himself near the heart of Jesus, he has made an atmosphere of heavenliness in his home where his family has grown up. He has taught them the Word of God; and he has given them books to read which have put into their minds and hearts pure, inspiring, and elevating thoughts. One by one, they go out of their father’s house to become influential in building up homes of their own, carrying with them and in them a heritage of Christian character which shall make them blessings in the world.

Even though this good man leaves no money and no monument of material success, yet his life has been well worthwhile! He has given to the world something better than money. He has shown it an example of a true and faithful life in conditions that were not always inspiring. He has maintained in it a Godly home – keeping the fires burning on God’s altar, and putting into the lives of his household the influences of true religion. He has trained his children and sent them forth to be useful members of society, new centers of good influence, and new powers for righteousness. His name may be forgotten among men, but the blessing of his life and work will stay in the world forever. It is worthwhile to make sacrifices of love in order to do good.

In India, they tell the story of the Golden Palace. Sultan Ahmed was a great king. He sent Yakoob, the most skillful of his builders, with a large sum of money, to build in the mountains of snow the most splendid palace ever seen. Yakoob went to the place, and he found a great famine prevailing among the people. Many were dying. Instead of building the palace, he took the money and gave it to buy bread for the starving people. At length, Ahmed came to see his palace; but there was no palace there. He sent for Yakoob and learned his story. He grew very angry and cast the builder into chains. “Tomorrow you shall die!” he said. “You have robbed your king!” But that night, Ahmed had a wonderful dream. There came to him one in shining garments, who said, “Follow me.” Up they soared from earth until they came to heaven’s gate. They entered, and lo and behold – there stood a palace of pure gold, more brilliant than the sun! “What palace is this?” asked Ahmed. His guide answered, “This is the palace of Merciful Deeds, built for you by Yakoob the Wise. Its glory shall endure when all earth’s things have passed away.” Then the king understood that Yakoob had acted very wisely indeed with his money.

This is only a heathen legend, but its teaching is true. If we are doing true work, we do not need to concern ourselves about visible results. Although in self-denying life, we build no palaces upon earth, we are building far nobler walls beyond the skies. The money that we give in service and sacrifice of helpfulness may add nothing to our bank account; but it is laid up as a treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

It is worthwhile to turn away from our own cherished plans at any hour, in order to do the things of love that God may send to our hand. It is not easy for us to have our own ways broken into. We do not like to have our pleasures and our congenial occupations interrupted by calls to do services for others. Yet no doubt these very things are often the most splendid things of all that our hands find to do! They are fragments of God’s will, breaking into the schedule of our own will. They are pieces of angel-ministry to which we are called in the midst of our worldly work.

Whatever adds in even the smallest way to the world’s brightness and cheer is worthwhile. One who plants a flower in a bare and bleak place is a benefactor. One who says an encouraging word to a disheartened neighbor, gives a look of love to a lonely one, or speaks a sentence which may become strength, guidance, or comfort to another – that person does something worthwhile. We never know how small a thing may become a blessing to a human life.

It was worthwhile for David to write the 23rd Psalm to be sung everywhere to the end of time. It was worthwhile for Mary to break the alabaster vase and pour the spikenard on the head and feet of the Master; all the world is sweeter ever since from the perfume of her ointment. Every singer who has sung a pure and joyous song has given something to earth to make it better. Every artist who has painted a worthy and noble picture, or made the smallest thing of beauty which will stay in the world, has added something to the enriching of our human life. Every lowly Christian who has lived a true, courageous life in the midst of temptation and trial has made it a little easier for others to live right. Everyone who has let fall into the stream of this world’s life wholesome words, good words, and Divine lessons has put into the current of humanity a handful of spices to sweeten the bitter waters a little. It is always worthwhile to live nobly and victoriously, to struggle to do right, and to show the world even the smallest fragments of Divine beauty.

It is worthwhile to be a friend. No other privilege is more sacred, and no other responsibility is greater. It is worthwhile indeed to be a friend! It is to come into people’s lives with hallowed and hallowing influences, and then to never again go out of them; for to be a friend at all is to stay forever in the life. God never takes from us a friend that He gives. Therefore, the privilege granted to a few rare spirits of being the friend of many people is one of earth’s most sacred gifts. To stand by others in their time of joy and in their hour of faintness; to guide them when the way is perilous; to comfort them in the day of sorrow; to be their counselor in perplexity; to be the inspirer in them of noble thoughts, gentle sentiments, and upward influences; and then to sit beside them when they are entering the valley of the shadow of death – no ministry on earth is holier and Diviner than this!

A poet has told us that our life is a leaf of white paper, upon which, each of us may write his word or two – and then comes night. What are we writing on our little leaf? It should be something that will bless those who read it. It should be something fit to carry into eternity. It should be most beautiful and worthy. It should be something which we shall not be ashamed to meet again.

It is well that we only do things that are worthwhile – things that are right and true and pure and lovely, and things that will last forever. “The world passes away, and the lust thereof; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions below.

God bless you and your family, this day and always.

All for our King’s glory,

photo by James Staddon  |

This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.

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  1. Debbie Wallace

    Dear Christian, thank you for sharing this article. It’s so good!
    It reminds me of what my son and I are listening to in our Values Class. It’s called Parable of the Sower by Bob Sorge; and it is a three part series on YouTube. Bob Sorge had an injury to his throat decades ago, so if you listen to it, turn the volume up, and really pay attention. That phrase right there is intriguing to me right now; I believe that’s what God wants us to do in listening to His voice … makes me smile!

    Here’s what I was going to comment on in regards to this phrase from the article: “… the invisible sphere in which values are not rated by dollars and cents but by their spiritual and eternal character…”

    Check out Mark 4:20
    “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some 30 fold, some 60, and some a hundred.”

    and John 15:16, 17
    “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and THAT YOUR FRUIT SHOULD REMAIN, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.

    This “fruit that remains” reminds me of the “invisible sphere’s value” that the article is referring to. In Bob Sorge’s teaching, he calls it “Kingdom Fruit,” and defines this type of fruit as “any godly quality that makes it into the age to come.” Fruit that Remains long after we die, I just love that! It changes my perspective of what truly is of value!

    And guess what Christian! Every time someone reads one of your writings or these Miller’s Musings articles that you share, and as a result, the one is drawn nearer to Jesus, or convicted of sin, or transformed because he/she heard the Word or God, or it caused someone to learn how to love the way God calls us to love, and he/she does it, you have just sown and will bear this reward even into the age to come! Wow, I want a glimpse of what this kind of reward/fruit would look like, feel like, etc! I can’t even imagine!

    • Christian Horstmann

      Hi Debbie! Thank you very, very much for your wonderful comment on this post! I’ll look up Mr. Sorge’s video and make sure to pay attention to the Lord’s wisdom through his voice! 🙂 I love that term, “Kingdom Fruit,” and agree with you that when we look at things and evaluate them as to whether or not they will be “fruit that remains,” it really helps us put them in their proper perspective.

      Thank you also for your encouraging words to me personally! They are a blessing and a refreshment to me, and I hope and pray that the Lord may graciously continue to use these writings on this site to be a blessing to many others and ultimately be a part of that “Kingdom Fruit.” What a precious thing to look forward to!

      Blessings to you and yours,


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