THE principle that each person shall mind his own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11), and let other people’s business alone (Galatians 6:4); in other words, that each person shall give account of himself to God, and shall leave every other person absolutely free to give account of him self to God and to nobody else; is not only specifically stated in the Bible, but is emphasized by many illustrations.
When Jesus was talking to his disciples just before he ascended to heaven, he asked Peter, three times, the question, “Lovest thou me?” Peter responded that he did, and Christ replied, “Feed my lambs; Feed my sheep.” And then as they were walking along,—Jesus, Peter, and John,—Peter turned to Christ and said, “What shall this man do?” Jesus replied, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.”
The Scripture says that Peter turned and saw the other disciple following Jesus. That was what John was doing,—following Jesus. Peter too at first was following Jesus; but when he turned to see John, what then was he doing? If he was following him at all he must have been following him backwards. But backwards is not way to follow Jesus. Men must follow him with the face to him and the eyes upon him. The only way for Peter to have followed the Lord was to keep on the way he was going. But he was so concerned with the other disciple’s welfare as to whether he was following the Lord just right or not, that he himself must turn from following the Lord to behold the other who was following the Lord, and to inquire, Well, Lord, I am to do so and so; but what about this man? Jesus simply said in other words, That is none of your business. What that man does is nothing whatever to you. Follow thou me.
This illustrates the principle which the Lord Jesus established for the guidance of his disciples, and which he has drawn out in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Romans.
Therefore it is written, “Let us not judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother’s way.” That is the point we are to watch. I am to watch myself that I do not put in your way an occasion for you to fall; and the only way I can do that is by keeping my eyes upon Jesus, and him only.
Yet at this many will query, “Why, are we not our brother’s keeper?” Yes. And it must not be forgotten that the man who first asked the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was brought to the point where he asked that question by his disregard of the very principle which we are studying. If Cain had regarded the principle which is here before us, of following the Lord for himself, and letting Abel follow the Lord for him self, rendering allegiance to his own Master in everything which he did, he would never have been brought to the place where he said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” for the question would never have been asked him—“Where is thy brother?”
It was only when Cain had failed to follow the Lord that he turned his attention to his brother; and because his brother’s ways did not please him, he began to sit in judgment upon him and to find fault with him. And at last Cain decided that his brother’s ways were so seriously wrong that he was not fit to be on the earth; and therefore the only reasonable and legitimate thing for him to do was to put Abel out of the way; and so he killed him. Why was not Abel fit to live? O, because his ways did not please Cain, who set himself up to judge and correct Abel, and say what he should do, and how he should do it.
This incident is placed at the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 4:8, 9), and is repeated to the end of the Bible (1 John 3:12; Jude 11), as a warning to all people to regard the living principle that we are to honor God ourselves, and follow him ourselves, and let other people do the same.
There is a secret in this which people do not realize. When an individual is following the Lord, and him only,—with his eyes upon the Lord, his whole heart devoted to the Lord—an influence goes forth from him that is ten thousand times more helpful to the man who is the farthest away from God, than can possibly be all the superintending that man can do when he takes his eyes away from Christ. People forget that it takes the power of God to convince a man of truth; and because a man does not go in the way which they think the Lord would have him go, or because he does not go steadily enough to please them, or does not shape his ways satisfactorily  to them, they grow impatient, and put forth their hands to undertake to steady the ark. And there the mischief comes in.
There is no power but of God. “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God.” Psalm 62:11. We pray every day “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” Fellow Christians, Christians must depend on God’s power alone to influence people to do right.
Listen! “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15. The power is the Lord’s, so also the influence is his. The fragrance which goes forth from you and me must be the same that Christ carried, or we cannot influence anybody for good. Of all things this must be so, of those who profess to know Christ, who are “set on an hill” and therefore “cannot be hid.” The Lord not only tells us not to judge other people, not to set them at naught because they do not follow exactly as we say, or observe exactly as we observe; but he tells us the secret of why we should not do so,—it is because all power and influence is his.
It is influence which draws. God himself,—we say it with all reverence—cannot drive people to himself. Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” It is only by having an influence which draws that we can do any soul any good; and the only influence that can draw is that of Christ.
There is another notable instance in illustration of this great principle. Everything that is recorded in the life of Jesus, is a living lesson to us.
The Pharisees were always trying to entrap him in every way they could. At one time they found a woman who was taken in the very act of adultery, and they brought her to the Lord, thinking they had a fatal trap ready this time. After explaining the circumstances of the case, they said, “Now Moses said that all such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” They did not care how Christ answered that question. If he said, Go ahead; that is the right thing to do; stone her; they would have gone straight to the Roman authorities and said: “This man sets himself up to be the king of the Jews, and is usurping Roman authority.” If he had said, You cannot stone such any more; that comes to an end now; Moses is to be set aside; they would have spread it everywhere that he would not observe the teachings of Moses, and was therefore an impostor. They intended to accuse him whichever way he might answer. But he disappointed them. He answered their question in the way of Christ; not in the way of the Pharisees, nor in the way of the Romans. He said, “Let him that is without sin among you, cast the first stone at her,” and stooped down and wrote on the ground. When he rose up, about half of the people were gone. Saying nothing he stooped down again and wrote with his finger on the ground, and when he rose up again all were gone but the woman and himself.
Now he had said to them before he began to write on the ground, “Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone.” But none of them threw any stones. Why? he opened the way freely. Ah! none of them could, because none of them was without sin. The only thing they could do to escape the condemnation of their own consciences was to go away. So there was none left but himself and the woman, and he was without sin, and HE DID NOT STONE HER. Yet he said, “Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone” at her. None of them could because they were not without sin; and he was without sin, but didn’t. And this teaches the great Christian truth that he who is not without sin cannot throw stones; and he who is without sin WILL NOT throw stones. And all this teaches the mighty Christian truth, that with Christians there is NEVER any throwing of stones.
Then Christ turned to the woman, and said, “Woman, hath no man condemned thee?” She said, “No man, Lord.” Did he reply, “Well, I do. You must get out of here. It is not fit that I should be seen in the company of such persons as you are. Go away; you will bring reproach on the cause?”—No; thank the Lord! This is what he said: “Woman, hath no man condemned thee?” “No man, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.” Those who have sinned cannot condemn others who have; and those who have NOT sinned, WILL not condemn those who have.
That one sentence of Jesus, “Neither do I condemn thee. GO, and sin no more,” had more influence and power to hold back from sin that poor sin-laden woman, than all the condemnation of all the Pharisees of Jerusalem, Palestine and America put together.
There is where the power lies. The power of the Christian lies in the influence of Jesus Christ which goes forth from him as fragrance from a rose, as he stands with a heaven sent reverence in the presence of even the worst sinner.
The Christianity of Jesus Christ in the true believer looks reverently upon the conscience of the worst sinner; holds himself back from anything that would seem like condemnation or judgment; and lets God reach that soul by the fragrance of the influence of Jesus which goes forth from him.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” That is Christianity; that is divine regard for human right; because only he who is altogether divine can rightly estimate a human right. And He has estimated it, defined it, and respected it. And He calls upon every soul to recognize that human right which, in his Word, He who is altogether divine, has set up above all things and all people to be respected.
A. T. J.