Sermon 2517. From Twenty-five to Thirty-five
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 16, 1897.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, OCTTOBER 11, 1885.
"And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; go you also intothe vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you. And they went their way." Matthew 20:3,4.
No parable teaches all sides of the Truth of God. It is wrong to attempt to make a parable run on all fours-it is intendedto convey some one lesson-and if it teaches that, we must not attempt to draw everything else out of it. This parable setsforth the great God as a householder going forth to find men to work for Him, but let no man imagine that God needs any ofus! He was perfect-perfectly happy and perfectly glorious-long before wings of angels moved in space, or before space andtime even existed! God was always and still is self-contained and all-sufficient and if He chooses to make any creatures,or to preserve or use any of the creatures He has formed, that is not because He needs them, or is in the least degree dependentupon them. If God comes forth in wondrous Grace to call any of us to work in His vineyard, it is not because He needs us,but because we need Him. He does not set us to work because He needs workers, but because we need work. He calls us not becauseHe requires us, but because we require to be called.
Let no man, therefore, attach great importance to himself, as though God's cause or Kingdom depended upon him. It may be thatwe fancy, sometimes, in our little sphere, that if we were gone, there would be a great gap, but the Lord did very well withoutus before we were born and He will do just as well when we are dead and gone. His work never really suffers, after all. Workersdie, but the work lives on. If any man, therefore, should be so boldly wicked as to suppose that God will be robbed of anyof His Glory if he stands out against Him, or that God will suffer because he does not intend to serve Him, he is greatlymistaken! The loss of glory will be your loss, Sir, not God's, and the loss of benefit will be your loss, not God's. If Hewere hungry, He would not tell you, for the cattle upon a thousand hills are His and the world with the fullness thereof.He can effect His eternal purposes without our help and He can as easily effect them even if we choose to resist Him.
He is infinitely greater than we are, so that what I shall have to say to you at this time about our going to work for Godin His vineyard is not to be understood as though we could do anything meritorious in the eyes of our Maker, or as if He hadany need of us. He is great and glorious, whatever we may be, and it is for our joy, our safety, our everlasting happinessthat we should become His servants. It is necessary for the right ordering of our lives, that our hearts may be in tune toyield the music of joy, that we should be tuned by obedience to His will and that we should learn to serve Him. My prayeris that, this very hour, some who have never known our Savior may find Him making Himself known to them and engaging themin His service.
I. I shall begin by asking, first, HOW MAY THE LORD BE SAID TO GO OUT?
Please notice what it says in the first verse of this chapter, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder,which went out early in the morning." Then it says in our text, "He went out about the third hour." In the fifth verse, "Againhe went out about the sixth and ninth hours." And in the sixth verse, "And about the eleventh hour he went out and found othersstanding idle." How may God be said to go out?
This language is used, first, to teach us that the impulse to serve God always comes from God to us. It never comes from withinourselves, first of all. If any man wills to serve God, there was another will which moved his will, or else his will wouldnever have moved towards God. Out of the various men who are mentioned here, no one went to the vineyard, either early inthe morning or later in the day, and requested to be employed. The householder came out into the marketplace and engaged hismen. At the third hour, the sixth hour and the ninth hour, not one had come of his own free will, but in every case the firstoverture was from the householder-"He went out to hire laborers into his vineyard." And at the eleventh hour, though the daywas coming to its close, and the sun was almost down, yet even then, men were not wise enough to wish to conclude the dayin the right service, but they still remained, as they had been all day, idling in the marketplace until the generous employercame out and expostulated with them and induced them to enter the vineyard. No man ever comes to God till God first comesto him, so it is my earnest desire that the impulses of Divine Grace may be, even now, felt in many hearts! God the Holy Spiritis able to work upon the judgment, the understanding, the affections, the fears, the hopes, the will of men-and as He worksupon them, He makes men willing, in the day of God's power, so that they turn to Him and enter into His service. That is,I think, the first meaning of God's going out.
But, next, it means that there are times and seasons when God seems especially to display His Grace. There are such seasons,I believe, whenever the Gospel is preached. In this one Church and under one ministry for nearly 32 years, we have almostcontinually enjoyed the converting power of God's Grace. There has been a greater increase, sometimes, or a little diminutionnow and then, but, for the most part, the unbroken stream of blessing has run on at much the same rate all the while. It neverwas deeper, nor was the current more strong than now, for which we praise the Lord with all our hearts. But it has usuallyhappened with Churches that there are certain seasons when men are brought to Christ in large numbers. The Word comes homewith unusual power, there is a sudden flight of the arrows of conviction and the wounded cry out, "What must we do to be saved?"Then is a great outpouring of the healing balm and the wounds of sin are cured, the bleeding of the pierced conscience isstanched. When God comes out, as it were, from His hiding place, to deal thus with the souls of men, it is a time of revival!
Personally, to most men, there is a time ofGod's going forth when they are specially moved to holy things. It happens to somein childhood. While they are yet young, God speaks with them as He did with Samuel. Perhaps even on their little bed at nightHe appears to them, and says, "Samuel, Samuel," and then helps them to answer, "Here am I, for You did call me." To others,God comes a little farther on, when it is the second hour of the day, while yet they are in the heyday of their youth. Itwas the great privilege of some of us for the Lord to call us while we were yet young men. And it is a great blessing whenGod comes to us at that important period of our history. To others He appears when they are advanced in life and, blessedbe God, He comes also to some when the day is well-near closed-when the furrows of care are on their brows and the snows ofage are on their heads! He comes with power, by the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit, and He speaks to them and they yieldto His speaking and give themselves up to be His servants for the rest of their life. Pray, dear children of God, that theDivine Householder may come into this marketplace, even now, and may speak to young and old effectually by His Grace! If thehouseholder in the parable had sent his servants to call these men, it is possible that none of them would have gone intothe vineyard. But inasmuch as he came, himself, and spoke personally to them, they went at his bidding. And this I know, thatI, poor creature that I am, may stand and speak with all my might, but I have no keys of human hearts at my belt. I may speakto the ear, but I can get no farther. But if my Lord shall come in all the splendor of His Omnipotent Grace, He shall notcall in vain, for He has the keys of human hearts! "He opens, and no man shuts." And when He speaks effectually, men fly toHim like doves to their dovecotes. Oh, that it might be so with many here!
Thus I have answered the first question-How may the Lord be said to go out?
II. The second one is-WHAT IS THE HOUR HERE MENTIONED? "He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle inthe marketplace."
I have heard or read a good many sermons to the young, or I have heard ofthem, sermons to those who are called by God earlyin the morning. And I know there have been a great many sermons to those who have reached the 11th hour. So I thought that,in this discourse, I would specially address those who have come to the thirdhour. What kind of people are those who are atthe third hour? What is the third hour? Let us calculate a little. To the Jews there were always 12 hours in the day, whetherit was summertime or winter, so that the hour altered every day-a very difficult way of computing time, for, as the day lengthenedor shortened, they still divided the daylight into 12 hours Well, dear Friends, think of human life as a period of 12 hoursand then form a calculation of what each hour must be. Take the whole of life roughly at 70, 72, 73, 74, or 75, as you like.Then you have to leave out the very earliest hours-that period of life in which God does not call children to intelligentfaith because they have not yet understanding enough to be capable of intelligent faith. Strike off a little for that andI should give the first three hours of life to be over at about 20, 21, 22, 23, or 24, if you please. And I should say thatthe third hour of life would range from 25 to thirty-five. That is the period in which the man has come to perfection andin which the woman has reached the fullness of her strength. There will be little growing after this-if not the zenith oflife, yet certainly a considerably-developed period of life has now been reached. Very earnestly do I pray the Master to comeout to you who have come to the third hour of your day and to say to you in the language of the text, "Go you, also, intothe vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you."
Now, my Friend-between 20 and 40 years of age-I want you to become the servant of my Lord and Master, first, because alreadyyou have wasted some of the best hours of the day. There are no hours of the day like the early morning, when the dew is uponeverything and the smoke of care and trouble has not yet dimmed the landscape. Give me for enjoyment the earliest hours ofa summer's morning, when the birds are singing at their sweetest and all nature seems to be gemmed with her wedding jewels,her most delightful ornaments! There is no time for work like the first hours of the day and there is no time for servingthe Lord like the very earliest days of youth. I recollect the joy I had in the little service I was able to render to Godwhen first I knew Him. I was engaged in a school all the week, but there was Saturday afternoon-and that Saturday afternoon,though I might rightly have used it for rest-and though I was but a boy, myself, was given to a tract-district and to visitingthe very poor within my reach. And the Sabbath was devoted to teaching a class, and later on, addressing the Sunday school.Oh, but how earnestly I did it all! I often think that I spoke better, then, than I did in later years, for I spoke so tremblinglythat my heart went with it all!
And when I began to talk a little in the villages on Sunday and afterwards every night in the week, I know that I used tospeak, then, what came fresh from my heart. There was little time for gathering much from books-my chief library was the Wordof God and my own experience, but I spoke out from my very soul-no doubt with much blundering, much weakness and much youthfulfolly, but oh, with such an intense desire to bring men to Christ! I remember how I felt that I would cheerfully lay downmy life if I might but save a poor old man, or bring a boy of my own age to the Savior's feet! There is nothing in later lifequite like those early morning works! Yet, my Friend, you have let that period pass away. You are 25, you are 30, are youeven 35 and still unsaved? Then, do not waste any more precious time! Go at once to the Crucified, my adorable Lord and Master!There He stands with a crown of thorns about His brow. Give Him, at least, the rest of your days and beg Him to pardon youfor having lived so long without loving and serving Him.
Besides, I must plead with you at this age that you come to Christ because already habits of idleness are forming upon you."No," you say, "it is not so." I mean, spiritualidleness! You have not done anything yet for Christ! You have not even lookedto see what you could do! You have not meditated upon what place in the vineyard you could occupy- whether you could trimthe vines, or water them, or gather the grapes, or tread the wine vat. No, you have done nothing as yet and what I am afraidof is that soon you will get settled down into this do-nothing style-and you will go back to the dust from whence you sprang,having achieved nothing for Him who gave Himself that He might save us from our sins! Do not stay in that condition a momentlonger! The wax is not very soft, now, it is beginning to harden. Before yet it has quite set, let the stamp of SovereignGrace be pressed upon it that your life may yet bear the impress of Christ!
Moreover, Satan is very ready with his temptations and, you know, he always-
"Finds some mischief still, For idle hands to do."
You have not gone into any gross open sin, I hope. Perhaps you have been kept, like the young man in the narrative we read,quite pure and clean outwardly. Well, but do you not see that-so good a fellow as you are in your own estimation-you are extremelylikely to be assailed by Satan? And if he can get you to indulge the lusts of the flesh, or some other vain and sinful pleasure,he will take great delight in ruining you! Oh, how I wish that I could get you enlisted into my Lord's army! Here, take theshilling. I mean, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and accept Him as your Savior! Become His faithful servant! I wish I couldput a hoe into your hands, or a pruning knife, or something with which you could be induced to go into the vineyard of myMaster, to serve Him!
You who have reached 25, or 30, or 35, I want you to come to Christ because your sun may go down at noon. Such things do happen.This morning, as I looked over this congregation, I remembered an old friend who used to sit not far from here and who wentto Heaven a few weeks ago. And there used to sit another child of God, a dear friend who went
Home but a very little while ago. I will not now go in thought round the whole place, but I look upon it often with the remembranceof where they used to sit who are now with God. One after another has gone-some very old people, but among those who havebeen called away there have been many who were quite young. I should have expected that they would have been here, at myfuneraland yours, but instead thereof, they have been carried to an early grave. With good hope, thank God, the most of them whomI remember-carried with gladness to their tomb because we knew that, through the Grace of God, they were ripe for Glory! Butwhat if the call should come for you, dear Friend, before you have begun to serve your God? No, it must not be so, must it?Is there not something in your heart that seems to say, "By the Grace of God, it shall not be so! I will seek Jesus even nowand give myself to Him who gave Himself for me."
For, once again, it seems to me that if God will spare you, there is a fair opportunity of work yet before you. As I lookall round here at men and women in the prime of life and know that many of them are not yet converted to God, I feel, dearFriends, that Satan must not have you and the world must not have you and sin must not have you, but Christ must have you.He is such a glorious Savior and Lord that I would gladly have all the world at His feet! He deserves so much that if allkings fell down before Him and all princes called Him blessed, He deserves it well! And, if you will do so, it shall be butright. What a life you may yet lead! What usefulness, what happiness, what blessedness may yet be your portion! If you couldlook through a telescope that could reveal what you might be if your heart were consecrated to God, what a Heaven below andwhat a Heaven above awaits you! I feel sure that you would now yield to the calling of the Great Householder and enter Hisvineyard before you left this building!
III. Now let me try to answer a third question. WHAT WERE THESE MEN DOING TO WHOM THE HOUSEHOLDER SPOKE? "Standing idle inthe marketplace."
I shall not enlarge upon this point, but I must say a little about some who are standing idle. In a literal sense, many arealtogether idling. There are, still, many Christian men and Christian women-no, I do not mean Christian men and Christianwomen, but those who ought to be Christians, who are really idle. Sometimes, when I have been by the seaside, at Mentone andelsewhere, I have seen a great many well-to-do folk who had nothing the matter with them. They were perfectly well, yet theywere idling their time away day after day. And I have almost thought to myself, "If they were thrown into the Mediterranean,who would lose anything by them?" Are there not plenty of people just like that even among those who come to our places ofworship? They consume so much bread and meat and if they are not careful, they will get consumed, one of these days, for theydo no good to anybody!
What a pity it is that a man who stands nearly six feet in his shoes should be doing nothing and that a woman who is madefor love and kindness should not be scattering that love and kindness on all sides and serving the Lord! To those of you whoare of the ages from 30 to 40, who yet are idle, I wish to say, with all earnestness, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,"Come to Him by faith. Confess your idleness and all your other sins! Seek His Grace and mercy and then enter His vineyardand serve Him while you may."
There are also others who are laboriously idle, wearied with toils which accomplish nothing of real worth. The man who isspending all his life in his business, living simply to get money, has but trifling goals, for temporary objects engross him.He who lives for God, for Christ, for the good of men, lives for an objective worthy of an immortal being, but he who livesonly for his own aggrandizement, lives for such a temporary and trifling objective that he may be said to be idle though hewears himself to death with his labor! Ah, Sir, if this is all you do, the Master thinks you are idle! You are doing nothingfor Him, nothing worth the doing, nothing that can be written in the roll and record of history as a great feat done by asoul redeemed with the blood of Christ! O you laborious idlers, I pray that you may be made to go and work in the Master'svineyard!
There are some who are idling because of their constant indecision. They are not altogether bad, but they are not good. Theydo not serve the devil unless it is by neglecting to serve God. Though they are idle, they are full of good intentions-butso they have long been. If they were now what they resolved to be 10 years ago, there would be a great change in them. Butno. And, apparently, in 10 years' time they will be as they are now. That is to say, if God spares them. They will get nofarther, for they are of the sort that "resolve and re-resolve," and yet remain the same. I almost wish that they would saythat they would be lost, sooner than say that they will be saved and yet not mean it, for, if they said that they would belost, they would recoil from it with horror after having said it! But now they play with God, with eternity, Heaven and Hell,and say, "I will, I will, I will." And always it is, "I will," yet they never will to make that, "I will," a thing of thepresent moment. Sirs, if a house were on fire and you were in the upper story, it would be a pity to say, "I will escape,by-and-by, when the flames have reached another story, but I must wait a little while." No, you would be eager to escape atonce, I am sure that you would! And wisdom dictates that a man should not always parley and say, "I will," and yet never comeup to the mark. Wisdom dictates that, by the Grace of God, we should say, "I have reached the end of my indecision. I willbegin to live for God, if He will give me spiritual life. I will cast off the works of darkness if God will give me spirituallight. I will lay myself at Jesus' feet and cry, 'Save me, O Lord, for I long to escape from my sin and to be an idler nolonger!'"
IV. I will not say more upon that point, but go on to the next question-WHAT WORK WOULD THE LORD
HAVE THESE IDLERS DO-
"Go you also into the vineyard."
One would think, from what you hear from some men, that the service of God was a very difficult, dreary, dismal, hard, toilsomebusiness. But it is not so. The work which the Lord would have us do is very proper and fit for us. He would have us recognizethat we are sinners and He, therefore, would have us come and be washed. And when we are washed, He would have us realizethat it is our joy, our duty, our privilege, our delight, to show forth the praises of Him who has thus saved us. The serviceof God is the most fit employment for a man to be engaged in-it never degrades him, it never wearies him, for in the serviceof God we gain fresh strength. And the more we serve Him, the more we can serve Him.
Beloved Friends, the Lord invites you to a service in which He will give you all the tools and all the strength you need.When He sends you to His vineyard, He does not expect you to go home to fetch a basket of tools. God does not expect sinnersto find their own Savior and He never sends His soldiers on a warfare at their own charges. He who yields himself up to bea servant of God shall find himself singularly prepared and specially helped to do all that God asks him to do.
More than that, if you will come into God's vineyard, dear Friend, you shall work with God and so be ennobled. That seemsto me the most wonderful thing about our service, that we are "workers together with God." To bend the tendril of that vineand find an almighty hand softly working with our own-to take the sharp pruning knife and cut off the too-luxuriant branchand feel that there is a knife sharper than ours cutting as we cut-to take a spade and dig about the vine, and all the whileto feel and know that there is a secret Worker digging deeper than we are digging and so making what we do effectual! Happymen who thus have their God working with them! Beloved, if you are building for God and you lift the trowel, or the hammerand feel that there is another hand lifting another trowel and another hammer- building with you and building by you-you aredivinely honored! You are of the nobility of Heaven if God works with you and it is to that position He invites you when Hesays, "Go you also into the vineyard."
Young men of 25, or 30, let me tell you that if you engage in this work, it shall be growingly pleasant to you. The littledifficulties at the commencement shall soon be gone. The service of God may seem, at first, like swimming against the stream,but afterwards you shall discover that there is a pleasure, even, in the opposing element, for the live fish always prefersto swim up the stream. You shall find a delight in your difficulties, a sacred joy in that which seems at first so arduousto you and, as you live and labor for your Lord, it shall become joy upon joy to serve Him and glorify His holy name!
And, dear Friends, this work shall be graciously rewarded at the last. The Lord will give you, according to His Grace, a rewardhere and a reward hereafter! Not of debt, mark you-I am preaching no legal sermon, asking the young man to work that he maywinHeaven thereby, but I ask you, first, to believe in Jesus and so to become the servants of the living God, and then outof gratitude, to spend yourselves and to be spent for Him. If you do so, verily, I say unto you, you shall not lack a rewardeither here or hereafter!
I will close when I have reminded you that though I have been speaking to men who have reached the third hour- from 25 tothirty-five-we must remember that the householder went out, again, at the sixth hour-say, 35 to forty-five. He called thosewhom he found then and when he called them, they went into the vineyard. You men who are between 35 and 50, in the very strengthof your days, Christ will not refuse to employ you if you will come at His call!
Then the householder went out again at the ninth hour, say, fifty, fifty-five, sixty-or farther on, sixty-five. It was gettinglate, but still they could do a good stroke of work if they threw all their energies into it. No man needs despair of doinga life-work even now. If you cannot do long work, you can do strong work. There are some men who begin work very late, butthey go at it with such vigor and earnestness that they get through a good deal. I do not see why you should not, at any rate,come in now! Old men have done great things in the past-if they have not the vivacity of youth, they have more wisdom. Ifthey have not all the strength, they have more prudence. There is a place for you to fill, my good Brother and Sister, thoughso many years have flown over your head. If you come to Christ even now, He will use you in His vineyard.
Ah, but, best of all, the householder went out even at the eleventh hour! He might have said, "It is of no use to go out now,for if I bring them in, there is only one hour left for them to work." Still, as I have told you, it was not because he neededmen, but because theyneeded the money, that he employed them. So, to show that he did not need them at the first hour anddid not need them at the third, or the sixth, or the ninth hour, much less could he need them at the eleventh hour, yet hewould still go out! There they are! I see them-they are a pack of old men and old women. You would not engage them, I am sure.You would say, "They will take half their time talking and the other half wiping the sweat from their brows-and do nothing!There is not any strength left in the poor old souls-they had better have an almshouse, a basin of gruel and sit by the fireside."
But this good householder's engagement of the men was not for his own sake, but for their sakes. He felt that he might aswell engage these as he had done the rest, so he said to them, "Here, it is the eleventh hour, but go and work in my vineyard,and whatever is right I will give you." I feel it a great joy to have been called to work for my Lord in the early hours ofmy life's day. And I hope, by-and-by, to be able to say, "O God, You have taught me from my youth and up to now I have declaredYour wondrous works. Now, also, when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not until I have showed Your strength untothis generation and Your power to everyone that is to come." I do not think my Lord will turn His old servant out. When Iget old, you may become tired of me, but He will not! He will hear my prayers-
"Dismiss me not from Your service, Lord."
It is the best and the happiest thing of all, if we have served our Lord from our youth, but dear aged Friend, if you havemissed that privilege, to your own grief and sorrow, if you are now an old man unsaved, or an old woman unsaved, yet evennow the Lord invites you! He calls you! He bids you come and welcome! And if you do but come to Him, He will give you yourpenny, too, even as He gives it to those who have begun their working day so early!
If I remember rightly, there was a man who was converted at the age of 103. He was sitting under a hedge, I think in Virginia,and he remembered a sermon that he had heard Mr. Flavel preach at Plymouth. And recalling a striking part of it, he turnedto God and found peace and pardon. He was spared to live three more years and when he died, this inscription was put overhis grave, "Here lies a babe in Grace, aged three years, who died, according to nature, aged 106." Do you remember that venerablefriend who was baptized here about six months ago? Dear old man, I had often seen him in distress of mind, oh, so sorrowful!I must confess that I sometimes avoided going where he was because I could not cheer him up, and he was rather inclined topull one down to his own level, he was so sad-a dear good soul and a true child of God, but always doubting his evidences.One day, when I sat to see enquirers, he came. He said that he wished to be baptized that he might confess his faith in Christ.He was not sure that he was a child of God, but he knew that he had no hope but in the precious blood of Christ.
He was a very old man. Did I think that he was too old? No, I did not. Bless him! I was glad to see him. He was baptized at86 and that day he was so happy! Those who knew him never saw him so joyful. He was trusting in the precious blood and hehad obeyed his Master's command. He had about three months of the days of Heaven upon earth in which, if you saw the old man,you must have noticed how bright he was. He walked with God and then he went Home. We had not our old member long, had we?No, but there sits in this place, if she has been able to get here, tonight, a Sister who joined this Church when she wasabout sixteen, and she has been a member 76 years and is still among us! Think of the difference between these two-one makesa confession of faith for 76 years, and another for only two or three months! Yet they shall both receive their penny! I amsure we do not grudge the penny to the Brother who came in at eighty-six. We are glad that he should have the full tale ofblessing here and hereafter. Still, dear Friends, do not wait as long as he did. And if you have waited until now, make hasteand get to Christ at once! May His Holy Spirit lead you and guide you, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON. MATTHEW 19:13-30; 20:1-16.
All sorts of persons are invited to come to Christ, whatever their age may be. We begin here with the children.
Matthew 19:13-15. Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebukedthem. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto Me: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. AndHe laid His hands on them, and departed there. The principal difficulty of children in coming to Christ frequently lies intheir friends. Their parents or their other relatives think they are too young, and discourage them. Oh, that we all had aright idea of the possibility of the conversion of little children! No, not only of the possibility, but that we lookedforit, watchedfor it and encouraged young children to come to Christ! You know that in the parable I am going to read presently,we are told that the householder "went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard." What a privilege it isto be brought to Christ early in the morning-that is, while we are yet children.
16. And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?This wasnot a child, but a young man, who had come to riper years.
17-20. AndHe said unto him, Why do you callMe good? There is none good but One, that is, God: but ifyou will enter into life,keep the Commandments. He said unto Him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shallnot steal You shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother and, you shall love your neighbor as yourselfThe young man said unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lackI yet? Externally, in the letter, verylikely this young man had kept these Commandments and, so far he was to be commended, yet internally, in their spirit, hehad not kept one of them. Our Savior did not tell him that he had failed, but He took him on his own ground. "You say thatyou love your neighbor as yourself; I will give you a test to prove whether you do."
21, 22. Jesus said to him, Ifyou will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to thepoor, and you shall have treasurein Heaven: and come and followMe. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.See, then, that often with men-with young men-the great hindrance in coming to Christ may be the world. They may have riches,or they may have a great craving for riches-and this may stand in the way of their coming to the Savior. If any man lovesriches better than he loves Christ, he cannot be saved!
23, 24. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the Kingdom ofHeaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enterinto the Kingdom of God. Somehow or other-
"Gold and the Gospel seldom agree, Religion always sides with poverty" because a man's possessions are so liable to get intohis heart. He is apt to turn them into idols and to make devotion to them the great objective of his life. As long as he doesso, he cannot be saved.
25-27. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who, then, can be saved? But Jesus beheld them,and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto Him,Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; what shall we have, therefore?'Always too fast is this impetuous Peter; everready to put in a good word for himself if he can.
28, 29. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That you which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Sonof Man shall sit on the Throne of His Glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel Andeveryone that has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name'ssake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. He shall find himself a gainer by his losses for Christ'ssake! If he has lost friends, he shall find better and truer friends in the Church of God. If he has lost possessions, heshall get a spiritual'wealth that shall be better to him than houses and lands.
30. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Matthew 20:1, 2. For thee kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborersinto his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. That was theusual wage of the time, the daily pay of a Roman soldier.
3, 4. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; go you alsointo the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you. And they went their way. You notice that the first laborers madea bargain with the householder. He agreed with them for a penny a day and then sent them into his vineyard. So our Lord seemedto say to Peter, "If you are going to make a bargain concerning your service, you will not find it pays. You are saying, 'Wehave forsaken all, and followed You; what shall we have, therefore?'" That spirit will not do! Christ is not to be servedby hirelings! The moment the idea comes in that we deserve to have anything at His hands, we spoil all our service and thosewho might be first come to be last if they once get that notion into their heads. This parable shows that it is so.
5-9. Again he went out about the sixth andninth hour, and didlikewise. Andabout the eleventh hour he went out, and found othersstanding idle, and said unto them, Why standyou here all the day idle? They said unto him, Because no man has hired us. Hesaid unto them, Go you also into the vineyard; and whatever is right, that shall you receive. So when evening was come, thelord of the vineyard said unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto thefirst. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. This was the gift of Grace,through the generosity of the employer.
10-12. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man apenny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, saying, These last have worked butone hour, and you have made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. They put forth their claimon the ground of deserving, so they had what they had bargained for, but they had no more. They were engaged first, but becausethey had the hireling spirit they were put last.
13-15. But he answered one of them, andsaid, Friend, I do you no wrong: didnotyou agree with me for a penny? Take that whatis yours and go your way: I will give unto this last, even as unto you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with myown? Is your eye evil, because I am good? God will have us know that in dealing with us when we are His servants, He is underno obligation to us. If He chooses to give a reward, the reward is not of debt, but of His Sovereign Grace. We are bound toserve Him by the fact that He is our Creator, altogether apart from any reward, and we must not talk of dealing with Him onterms of reward! It is too high a style for us, poor worms, to assume in the Presence of Almighty God! It we talk so, He willsoon put us down into our right place.
16. So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few chosen.