The question is asked over and over every day, “What business are you in?” And, of course, there are almost as many different answers as there are times the question is asked. But whether a person be “butcher, baker, or candlestick maker” his real business is something far bigger and more important than how he earns his living.
You remember in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge says to Marley’s ghost, “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” Wringing his hands the ghost cries, “Business! Mankind was my business.” So it is with you and me. While busy here and there, we are so prone to forget why God has put us here.
That very morning the little girl has seen a beggar on the street. “Oh, mother,” she had said, “Look at that poor man! We’ve got to help him.” Her mother, grim-faced, replied as she quickly took her little daughter’s hand and led her away, “Come, dear, it isn’t any of our business.”
That evening she had almost finished her prayers when she remembered the sad-faced man on the busy street. “And please, God, help that poor man standing there on the corner.” Then recalling her mother’s words, she hastily added, “But really, it isn’t any of our business is it, Lord?”
“Chinese” Gordon was a British soldier and diplomat. He served in the Crimean War and was sent to China where he led the force known as the Ever-Victorious Army. Later, as a governor in equatorial Africa he was a key figure in the suppression of the slave trade.
Today his body lies buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. His epitaph reads: “Major General Charles Gordon, who at all times and everywhere gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his symphony to the suffering, and his heart to God.”
Some unknown poet has written: It’s just the way we carry through The business of the day
That makes and molds the character—
The things we do and say.
The way we act when we are vexed;
The attitude we take;
The sort of pleasures we enjoy;
The kind of friends we make.
It’s not the big events alone
That make us what we are;
And not the dizzy moments when
We’re swinging on a star.
It’s just the things that happen
As along life’s road we plod;
The little things determine
What we’re really worth to God.
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.