Sermon 2643. The Honored Servant
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, OCTOBER 8, 1899.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 22, 1882.
"Whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waits on his master shall be honored." Proverbs 27:18.
IN Solomon's day, every man sat under his own vine and fig tree and there was peace throughout the whole country. Then, God'sLaw about dividing out the land among the people, so that every man had his own plot, was rightly observed and each one hada fig tree of his own, to which he gave his personal attention. And, in due time, having waited upon the fig tree and keptit, he ate the fruit thereof. Solomon says, in another place, "In all labor there is profit," and it is well when men feelthat it is so, for then they will be inclined to labor. A man would not long keep a fruitless fig tree. If he was quite surethat no fruit would be the result of his toil, he would leave the tree to itself, or else he would say, "Cut it down; whycumbers it the ground?"
There were some men, in Solomon's day, who, for divers reasons, became servants to others-as there still are and always mustbe-and they looked for some return from their service. And the wise man here tells them that just as, "Whoever keeps the figtree shall eat the fruit thereof," so, "he that waits on his master shall be honored." It is a commonplace truth that thosewho are faithful servants ought to be honored. I wish, in these times, that matter was more often thought of and that mendid honor those who are faithful to them. There are some people who permit others to minister to their comfort, but it neveroccurs to them to provide for the comfort of their servants. They will allow a man to spend most of his life in increasingtheir business and yet, when he is getting old, he is discharged and left to perish by starvation so far as they are concerned.I notice this kind of thing frequently, with very much regret-and I am not always able to make exceptions on behalf of Christianmasters, for, sometimes they seem only to remember their business and to forget that they are Christians-and they act as cruellyas did that Amalekite in David's day, who left his servant to die because he was sick. I pray that the time may come whenthere shall be so good an understanding between all men that Solomon's words shall be true, "he that waits on his master shallbe honored."
I am sorry that they are not always true in that sense, now, but I am going to leave that literalmeaning of the words andapply the text to those who wait upon the Lord Jesus, having made Him to be their Master, for, most certainly, as surely ashe who keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof, even much more certainly shall those who wait upon our great Masterin Heaven find a sweet return from their service, for they shall be honored by Him. Very simple will my talk be and you, Beloved,who are His servants, do not need anything else, I am sure.
I. The first observation is that OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS OUR MASTER.
He said to His disciples, after He had washed their feet, "You call Me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am." Isit so with you, dear Friends? Let conscience answer the question. Is Jesus Christ really Master and Lord to each one of us?It is a wonderful way in which He masters us if we are, indeed, His servants. I can never forget how, in my own case, it cameto pass that I, who had been bought with His precious blood and, therefore, belonged to Him, had yet lived forgetful of Hisclaims. He passed by and looked on me-and that very look made me go out to weep bitterly! But He did more. He laid His handon me-it was a pierced hand and from that day I had a twist in my understanding and my judgment! Those who knew me saw thatsomething extraordinary had happened to me which had altogether changed me. From that time I thought very little of men, andvery much of One whom, until then, I had despised! Many of my former pursuits ceased to have the slightest charm for me andI had, for my one pursuit, the desire to do everything to His honor and glory! From that twist I have never been able to escapeand I have never wanted to do so-from that mystic influence which He cast over me, I have never come forth and, what is more,I trust I never shall!
I know that I am describing many of you as well as myself. Oh, did He not master you from head to foot? If you are reallyconverted, it was not the conversion of the feelings only, or the intellect only-it was the subjugation of everything withinyou to that sweet power of His! You were quite broken down. You had no strength to stand up against Him any longer-and thejoy of it was that you had not any wish to do so! When He was about to fix the chains of His love on you, you held out yourhands saying, "Here, Lord, bind my wrists." You put forth your feet, crying, "Place the fetters here." You asked Him to casta chain around your heart-you made a covenant with Him and agreed to be bound all over-for that part of you which was unbound,you reckoned to be enslaved and only that which He did bind, you considered to be free! When He had so mastered us, we longedto lie forever at His feet and weep ourselves away. Or we wished to sit forever at His feet and listen to His wondrous Wordsand learn His blessed teaching. Yet we also wanted to run about the world on His errands-it mattered not to us where He mightsend us-we would not make any choice of our sphere of service! If He would but employ us, that would be all we would ask.We wanted, then, to have a dozen lives and to spend them all for Him! Yes, we remember singing-
"Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer's praise!"
We said-and we meant it-
"Had I ten thousand hearts, dear Lord, I'd give them all to You,"
and we did give ourselves up wholly to our Lord. We could not help doing so! We were carried right away, as when a mountaintorrent comes, removes the earth from the young tree that is growing by the river side and gradually undermines it until thetree falls into the stream, and the current sweeps it on and on, and never lets it rest again, but bears it right down tothe sea! So was it with us that blessed day when first we knew that we could call Christ, "Master and
Brothers and Sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ has so completely mastered us that now, today, He is our only Master. It is notalways a thing to ennoble a man when he is able to call another person his master, but we feel that the more fully we aremastered by Christ, the better will it be for us-and the more absolutely we can become His servants, the more noble and honoredshall we be! In many passages of Scripture where our translation uses the term, "servant," the true word is, "slave," andI think the time has come when we had better speak of it as it ought to be, that we may learn the full force of the expression!We do not mean that there is any cruel slavery of Christ's people to Himself, but we do mean that just as much as the slavecompletely belonged to his master, to do his master's bidding, to live or die at his master's will, so have we given ourselvesup to Christ! He has become our only Master. There are others who struggle for the mastery over us, but no man can serve twomasters. He may serve two rival powers-one struggling against the other for a while-but they cannot both be masters. Onlyone can be supreme within the spirit. In this way Christ has become so completely the Believer's Master that sin shall nothave dominion over him-and he shall not be any longer under the domination of Satan. Christ is the Master of all His people,whatever happens to them. We may wander like sheep, but Christ is still our Shepherd, and He will bring the straying sheepback, for they are still His property even when they are wandering away from Him!
What do you say, Brothers and Sisters? Do you acknowledge any other master beside Christ? If you do, in that divided sovereigntyyou shall find ten thousand miseries! Oh, if your right eye is contrary to Christ, pluck it out and cast it from you! If yourvery life should stand up in rivalry with Christ, it would be much better for you that you should die than that you shouldlead such a life as that! Our Lord Jesus is our only Master!
And what a choice Master He is! If we had had the opportunity, in our old state, of choosing our master, we were so blindand foolish that we would not have chosen Him. But if we had known, then, what we know, now, we would have chosen Him. Andif we knew infinitely more about Him, we could never discover a reason why He should not be our Master, but we would continuallyfind stronger arguments why we should be His servants forever! There was never such a Master as our Lord Jesus Christ, whotook our nature that He might be able to master such servants as we are, who even died to win us and whose only mastership,after all, is that of love! He rules us sovereignly, yet in His hand is the silver scepter, not the rod of iron!
Our Master is, at the same time, our Husband, whom we must obey. Oh, it is blessed to obey Him to whom our hearts are fullysurrendered and in whom all loveliness is centered! When a husband truly loves his wife, it becomes easy for the wife to beobedient unto her husband and, as Christ loves us infinitely, we must love Him and serve Him in return. Look, by faith, intoHis blessed face-it is Jehovah's joy to look upon Him-and it shall be forever ours! Was there ever such another Countenance?Was ever such loveliness imagined as really exists in Him? Look at all His Character, from Bethlehem even until now-peep inupon Him in His loneliness, or see Him in the midst of the crowd and will you not say of Him, "He is the standard-bearer amongten thousand; yes, He is altogether lovely"? Pick out all the charms that ever could be found in the most amiable character,gather up all the virtues that ever glittered in the most spiritual man or woman, and bring them all here. Ah, but they arenot worthy to be compared with the glory and beauty and excellency of the Well-Beloved! All theirgoodness came from Him, thereforelet them all lie at His feet, for there is none to be compared with Him!
Next, our spirit exultingly says, "As He is our choice Master, so He is our chosen Master Since He has chosen us, we havelearned to choose Him." The love was, at first, all on His side, but now, through the effectual working of His Grace, it ison our side, too. We can, each one, say, "I love my Master. I love His house. I love His children. I love His service. I havechosen Him to be mine forever. If He should dismiss me from His service, I would come back to Him. If He gave me what mencall, liberty, I would beg of Him to withdraw such accursed liberty and let me be, forever, and only, and completely, andentirely His, for, as He has chosen me by His Grace, so has His Grace led me to choose Him." I know that many of you can saythe same and I daresay, while I have been speaking, you have been thinking of George Herbert's lines-
"Howsweetly does 'my Master'sound! 'MyMaster!' As ambergris leaves a rich scent Unto the taster-
So do these words give a sweet content An oriental fragrance, 'My Master.'"
We delight to use this title concerning our Lord, for He is, further, our gracious Master. That word, "Master," seems to losethe idea of masterfulness when it is applied to Him. He is most graciously and wondrously our Lord, but yet we no more callHim, "Baali," that is, "my Lord," but we call Him, "Ishi," that is, "my Man," "my Husband." There is, truly, a service towhich we are called, yet His message to His disciples was, "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows notwhat His lord does, but I have called you, Friends, for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you."We can never forget that with all His love, He is our Lord! It is our joy to remember that, yet what loving service we havereceived at His hands! He has been so much our servant that we have sometimes had to ask ourselves, "Who is the servant?"He is Servus Servorum-the Servant of Servants-as He proved when He washed His disciples' feet. He has done more than thatfor us, for He stooped so low as to be despised of men and rejected of the people in order that He might save us. Then, surely,it shall be our joy, bliss and glory to henceforth call Him Master and
He is also our lifelong Master. No, that is a mistake, for there was, alas, a time when we lived, yet we lived not unto Him.Some of us were but boys when we first began to serve Him. I always feel glad to think that I wore a boy's jacket when I wasbaptized into His name. I had not assumed the garb of a man, but my whole soul was His and I was buried with Him. I wish ithad been still earlier! O dear young people, there is no such joy as that of knowing Christ in your early youth! We hear,sometimes, of life-long teetotalers, but I could wish that I had been a life-long abstainer from self-righteousness, a life-longdrinker of the river of the Water of Life! But, as all of us have failed to serve the Lord at the beginning of our life, letus try, with all our hearts, to serve Him right to the end! Oh, to have Him for our lifelong Master-with no little intervalsof running away, no furloughs, no holidays!
Brothers and Sisters, we have our recreations in Christ's service, but we never have any holidays. That is to say, He re-createsus, but He permits us to continue in His work without cessation or intermission. It would be no recreation for us to havea furlough from the great work of the Lord-we only wish that we could live, labor, spend ourselves and find our rest, as somebirds do, on the wing-flying, mounting, singing and so resting and making this to be our continual joy! So, you see, we arein our Master's service for life. We have entered His employ and we are bound to Him-and "neither death, nor life, nor angels,nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shallbe able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" and Master-forever blessed be His name!
II. Now I hasten, in the second place, to remind you that OUR BUSINESS IS TO SERVE OUR MASTER.
That business is expressed in the Hebrew of our text by the word, "keep." I will read you the text as it should be renderedand as the translators will make it read if they use their senses in their revision of the Old Testament. That is, if theygive the same meaning to a word in all places. The previous translators thought that the Bible would sound tautological ifthey gave the same translation of a word everywhere, so, to charm the ears, they changed the words. But then, alas, they sometimeschanged the sense. Here, the original ought to be rendered thus-"Whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: sohe that keeps his master shall be honored." Is not that a wonderful word? In the interpretation I am giving to the passage,it means that as certainly as the farmer keeps and tends a fig tree, so you and I are to keep and tend Christ! Is it reallytrue that He has committed Himself to our keeping? Yes! On earth, among the sons of men, there is One who keeps Israel, butIsrael, in another sense, is made to be a keeper, and is to keep the Lord Jesus Christ!
How are we to do that? Well, first, we must keep Him by always remaining His servants. We must keep Him as our Master. I likethe idea of that man who once said to his master, "Sir, you talk about discharging me, but you see, Sir, if you don't knowwhen you have a good servant, I know very well when I have a good master-and I don't mean to be discharged. If you put meout of the front door, I shall come in at the back, for I have been your servant ever since I was a boy. I was born in yourfather's house and I mean to die in this house." The gentleman saw that it was quite hopeless to try to get rid of the oldman, as he would not go, so he decided they should not be parted. And I think some of us have come to the same point withour Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Truly, He knows that, in us, He has, even at our best, only unprofitable servants, butthen He accepted us. He knew all that we were and all that we should be. He had a clear foresight of our whole future andHe has still engaged us for life!
Some of our friends think He only engaged them for a quarter or half a year, or for a limited period, but I know that He tookme on for life-and for eternity, too! And my soul rejoices in the fact that He will keep to the bargain. Like the old man,I am determined that if He puts me out at the front door, I will come in at the back, for I know that I have a good Masterand I will not leave Him. Do you not say the same, Beloved? Then hold on to Him and tell Him that you will not let Him go!Should He chasten you with the rod of men and lay many stripes on you, yet be like some dogs that seem to love their mastersall the better the more they beat them! And so, dear Friends, love your Lord all the better when He treats you roughly-kissthe hand that smites you, and let this be your settled resolution-that from Him you will never go.
What else are we to do in order to keep our Master? I think, next, we are to keep Him by defending Him. We must defend ourLord's name, honor and cause at all costs and all hazards. We must not let Him sleep like King Saul, with his spear stuckin the ground by his bolster, and his bodyguard asleep! But if the enemy should ever come to attack our Master, our watchwordmust be, "Up, guards, and at them!" Give them a warm reception from whatever quarter they may come. You and I, Beloved, areput in charge of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and every child of God is bound to be upon the defensive just as ifthe keeping of the Gospel depended entirely upon him. I believe that I am as much bound to preach against error, and to warfor the Truth of Christ, as if there were not another minister living-and I think that every other minister stands in thesame responsible position! And it is the same with every Christian. Keep your Master and all that He has in safety-let notraitor come near Him! Guard His ordinances, His doctrines, His precepts! Adore His matchless Person and extol His blessedwork-and so keep Him against all comers.
Then, dear Friends, keep Him by guarding all His interests. It is the duty of a servant to reckon that what belongs to hismaster is, in a certain sense, his, and, therefore, to be sacredly defended. I have heard of servants in the olden times,saying, "That is our park!" "This is our country house," or, "this is our town house!" "These are our horses" and one of themwas heard by his master to say, "There come our children, bless their little hearts!" Well, they were no children of his,were they? Yes they were, for they were his master's children and he had become so identified with his master's intereststhat he regarded his master's children as belonging to him! So ought we to think of everything that appertains to
Christ-and if the Lord has, anywhere, a little child who needs to be cared for, each of us who are His servants should beprepared to nurse it and watch over it for Him-and say to Him, with good Dr. Doddridge-
"Have You a lamb in all Your flock I would disdain to feed? Have You a foe, before whose face I fear Your cause to plead?
Thus, dear Friends, keep your Master! Watch over your Master's possessions! Guard your Master's Truth! Defend your Master'shonor! Care for your Master's children! As far as your power goes, try to keep everything that belongs to Him, labor for thegood of His cause, struggle for the advancement of His interests and for the overthrow of His adversaries, just as every loyalsoldier seeks to preserve his sovereign's dominions intact and to keep his king's arms from suffering any dishonor. Thus letus keep our Master and all that belongs to Him.
Now let us come back to our own Authorized Version-"he that waits on his master shall be honored." This also is a very goodtranslation, if not equal to the other, and I think it conveys an important meaning for us. You and I are like servants whowait upon our Master. And that waiting consists, in part, in waiting for His orders, trying to ascertain what they are and,when we know them, waiting until He bids us carry them out. It is not intended that you and I should be inventors of rites,ceremonies, novelties of worship and all manner of strange doctrines! Our position is simply that of servants. Our Masterhas a certain way of setting out His Table and inviting His guests to it. And I have no business to go to Him and say, "Lookhow the king of Syria arranges histable? Is not that a better plan than Yours?" No, that would be utter disloyalty! I haveto set the Table according to my Master's plan and custom. There are some old country squires who have acquired odd ways oftheir own and the servants whom they employ must drop into them, whatever their own notions may be. Now, the ways of the Lordare right-and it is your duty and mine to ask what they are and to conform our practice to them.
The same rule is to be observed in matters of church government and discipline, in the ordinances of the Lord's house, inthe Truths of God to be preached, and in the way we go about our Master's business. It is not for us to make our own laws,or to invent our own methods, but to wait upon our Master and learn His will concerning everything. If we do not do that,we shall get into a world of trouble! But if we wait upon Him for our orders and then obey the orders we receive from ourMaster, we shall be honored.
Next, we must wait upon Him for strength to obey His orders; for if we do not, we shall either fail in our attempts, or elsewe shall fail altogether to make the attempt. We must also wait upon our Master, seeking His smile. I am afraid we do a greatdeal to get the smiles of our fellow men-and if they think we have done well, we congratulate ourselves. But, oh, to preachfor the Master, to pray for the Master, to teach that class for the Master-not for your pastor! Not for the elders or deacons!Not for your fellow members, that they may say, "What a zeal for the Lord this person has!" Let it all be done for the Master!"He that waits on his master shall be honored." Do you not think that sometimes you and I wait upon ourselves, and that, whilewe are very busy and fancying we are working for the Lord, we may be doing it entirely for self? Because we find some sortof pleasure in it, we keep on doing it just for that pleasure, or because we feel that some kind of credit must come to ourselvesas the result of it. If we are serving self, not our Master, we shall have a reward, but it will be a poor commonplace reward-likethat of the Pharisees, of whom the Master said, "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward." That is the end of it! Theyhave had their reward and they cannot expect to be paid twice for what they have done.
We are, dear Friends, further to wait upon the Lord by expecting Him to fulfill His promises. And His promises will only befulfilled in His own time. We are not to run before the Lord, nor to seek to hurry the Lord as though we thought He was slowin accomplishing His purposes. If we ever cry, "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord," we shall probably receivefor an answer, "Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion." It is we who are asleep-the Lord never is. And so we are to waitupon Him and plead the promises that He has given us.
This waiting also includes acquiescence in His will Not only doing it, but doing it willingly-being ready for anything thatHe may appoint. Perhaps lying on a sick bed for months. Why, if we never rose again and had to lie bedridden until we died,we ought to be perfectly willing to do so to wait on our Master! You remember the story of poor old Betty who said that theLord told her to do this and that, and she tried to do it, and at last He said to her, "Betty, go upstairs and lie in yourbed and cough." She said, "I am doing it, and I take satisfaction even in coughing if that is according to my Lord's will."If you have no will of your own in such matters, you will have very little sorrow. Our troubles mostly grow from the rootof self-will-but when self-will is conquered and we hold ourselves entirely at God's disposal, then there is a sweetness evenin wormwood and gall-and our heaviest cross becomes our joy and delight and we say, with holy Rutherford, "I find the Crossof Christ no more a burden to me than wings are to a bird, or sails are to a ship." That saintly man said that sometimes hefelt so deeply in love with his cross that he almost feared lest his sufferings and grief should become so lovely to him asto be a rival to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no such danger, I am afraid, with the most of us, for we are as bulls unaccustomedto the yoke-and we kick against the pricks. But if you can wait upon your Master and say, "Do with me as You will, Lord,"all will be well. Try to be like the shepherd on Salisbury Plain, whose story should never be forgotten. When he was asked,"Is it good weather?" he answered, "Yes, it is all good weather that God sends." "But does this weather please you?" "If itpleases God, it pleases me," was his reply. That is the point to get to-may God bring us there by His Grace!
III. When we get there, we shall come to our last point, OUR SERVICE WILL BRING US HONOR-"He that waits on his master shallbe honored."
Brothers and Sisters, the thought of waiting upon Christ and being His servant is an unspeakable honor! Therefore I willnot try to speak about it, but ask youto just sit still and think about it. You are His servants, the servants of the eternalSon of God! Perhaps somebody is going to be made an earl or a duchess. I do not think that would be any honor to you, foryou have already a higher honor than that, for you are a servant of the Lord! There will be a coronet for somebody to wear,but really, I do not see that it could add any luster to you, for you are a prince of the blood-royal of the skies! As forour pedigree, there is none like it. We do not trace it to the Normans, but to Calvary! We are of that seed that was to crushthe serpent's head. Our coat of arms is much more ancient than any that the Heralds' College can ever issue! We need no otherhonor and can have no higher glory than to be servants of Christ! Are you only a little nurse-girl? Well, if you belong toChrist, you are one of those whom He counts right honorable! Are you a chimneysweep, my Brother? Never mind that-if the Lordhas washed you in His precious blood, you are as noble as any peer of the realm and nobler than most of them! Do you haveto go to the workhouse for weekly help? Never mind about your poverty-you are not so poor, now, as your Lord was-for He hadnowhere to lay His head. Do not talk about being mean and obscure-why, you are descended from the King of Kings! "This honorhave all His saints." "Unto you that believe, He is an honor"-that is the meaning of the Greek-and I take it that it is honorenough for us to have such a Savior to believe in and such a Master to serve!
You shall have honor, dear Friends, among poor fellow Christians. If you really honor only your Master's name, it will notbe long before they will honor and esteem you. I notice that the moment a man begins to seek honor for himself, he loses theesteem of his fellows. Do you ever hear any minister who preaches very grandly? If so, you think to yourself, "What a splendidpreacher he is!" But you will find that, as a rule, God's people do not care much about him. Notice any worker in the churchwho wants to be very prominent and push himself forward-everybody desires to kick him! But there is another Brother who servesChrist in the rear rank and who blushes when he is pushed to the front-he is the man to whom his Brothers and Sisters lookup to and though they may say little to him, they delight to honor him in their hearts. Perhaps the most honorable thing inChrist's house is the doormat-when all the brethren wipe their dirty boots upon it, they are so much the cleaner.
1 know some people who do not like to be in the position of the doormat-if a person brushes against them, they cry, "Whata shame!" It is a great honor to do anything for your Master's children which will be for their good. In the Kingdom of God,the way to go up is to go down-and the way to grow great is to grow little. Look at little Paul- that man short of statureand with many infirmities. Why, he is the biggest of all the Apostles! And what is "great Paul"? Oh, he is only sounding brassand the less we hear of him, the better. Get to be like little Paul, Brother, and your sound shall go out to the very endsof the earth! Whereas if you are ever a big Paul, you will only give out a brazen note which will be heard for a very littleway. If the Lord Jesus Christ has made us to be His servants, let us count it our highest honor to be a servant of the leastof Hisservantsso that we may bless them and glorify Him!
But our highest honor is yet to come.It is in that day when Christ shall call His chosen ones to His own right hand to reignwith Him. It is when He shall appoint unto them a Kingdom even as His Father appointed it to Him. It is when he who was faithfulin a few things shall be made ruler over many things in the Kingdom of the Master forever and forever! I think I see the Kingcoming into His court-it is crowded with cherubim and seraphim and all the shining ones that form His royal retinue! Therethey stand in all their gorgeous glory and the Master, from the Throne, looks over all their ranks as He accepts their loyaland reverent homage. But He is looking for one poor man who on earth loved Him and who kept the faith under much derisionand scorn. At last He spies him out and says, "Make way, My angelic servants! Cherubim and seraphim, stand in line and lethim come! This man was with Me in My humiliation, as you could not be. For Me he bore the cross and was despised. Make wayand let him come and sit with Me, for they who have been with Me in My humiliation shall be with Me in My glory."
Oh, that you and I, dear Friends, may have that honor at the last! And what will we do when we get it? Why, we will cast ourcrowns at our Savior's feet and say to Him, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Your name be all the praise and glory forever!"And in that very deed we shall find the highest honor of all! And we shall then, perhaps, remember this Thursday evening andthis text, "He that waits on his master shall be honored." The Lord bless you all, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW25:14-30.
Verse 14. For the kingdom of Heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered unto themhis goods. This parable has to do with you who are professors of Christianity. He, "called his servants," those who, by theirown consent, were numbered among his household servitors. "He called his servants and delivered unto them his goods." Nottheirs, but his! And therefore to be used forhim. If you are Christ's servant, your abilities are His, He has lent them toyou to be employed for your Lord. "He called his servants and delivered unto them his goods."
15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his ability; and straightwaytook his journey. He is gone. Our Lord has risen and we, His servants, are left behind to trade with His goods for His glory.
16-18. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them another five talents. And likewisehe that had received two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went and dug in the earth and hid his lord'smoney. We are grieved to know that there are persons with five talents and others with two talents who do as this man did-butthe case is put in this way so as to reach us all. Since most persons have but one talent, they are the most often found,each one, saying, "I have so little ability, I will not do anything. If I had five talents, I might become distinguished.If I had two, I might be very useful. But with only one, I need not attempt anything. I am a private person-a mother, quiteobscure, with my little family around me-what can I do?" It is very often a strong temptation from Satan to those who havebut one talent, to make them think that they may, with impunity, hide that one. And then, you see, the argument cuts the otherway. If it is wrong to hide one talent, it is much more wrong to hide two, and far worse to dig in the earth and bury five!
19. After a long time the lord of those servants returned and reckoned with them. Always remember the reckoning. We have heardof one who went into a house of entertainment and fed most luxuriously. But, when the landlord brought him the bill, he said,"Oh, I never thought of that!" And there are many who spend their whole lives without ever thinking of the reckoning-yet itmust come, and for every hour, for every opportunity, for every ability, for every sin and for every omission of duty, theymust give account! "The lord of those servants returned and reckoned with them."
20, 21. And so he that had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered unto mefive talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, you good and faithfulservant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of yourlord. I do not doubt that this man had often reckoned with himself-for he that never reckons with himself may well be afraidof being called to reckon with his God-and I expect that he had often grieved to think that he had not turned the five talentsinto twenty. He must have thought that to gain only five talents more was very little. But he found his master was well contentwith what he had done. Do you think, Brothers and Sisters, that all of you who have five talents have gained five talentsmore? You were richly endowed as a youth-have you increased the ability to serve your God? You see the parable speaks notso much of what they had done for other people, as of what they had themselves gained and still had in hand! Have you moreGrace? Have you more tact? Have you more adaptation to your Master's service? Are you conscious that it is so? I should notwonder if you are mourning that you are not more useful and more fit to be used. It is well that you should mourn in thatway, but when your Master comes, I trust that He will say, "Well done, you good and faithful servant."
22, 23. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered unto me two talents: behold, I have gainedtwo other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over afew things, I shall make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. That is a beautiful reward-not somuch to have a joy of our own as to enter into the joy of our Lord! It is not a servant's portion that is given to us-it isthe Master's portion sharedby His servants. How it ennobles Christian work to feel that it is not simply our work, but workdone by the Master through the servant-and the reward shall not so much be our joy as our entrance into our Master's joy!That is, indeed, giving to us the best of the best in return for our poor service here!
24, 25. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping whereyou have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered: and I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth:lo, there you have what is yours. "I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth." See, Friends, how fear may oftenbe the mother of presumption? Confidence in God begets holy fear, but unholy fear begets a doubt of God and leads us to desperaterebellion of unbelief. God save us from such fear!
26, 27. His lord answered and said unto him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, andgather where I have not scattered? You ought therefore to have put my money in the bank, and then at my coming I should havereceived my own with usury. His lord took him on his own ground and condemned him out of his own mouth.
28. 29. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which has ten talents. For unto everyone that has shall begiven, and he shall have abundance. He that has faith shall have more faith. He that has a secret taste for heavenly thingsshall have a greater love for them. He that has some understanding of the Truth of God shall get more understanding of it.God gives to those that have-it is equally true that He gives to those who confess that they have not.
29. But from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. If you need an instance of taking away from a manwhat he has not-you may have seen it sometimes in the case of a person without any education or knowledge who is quite contentto remain in that condition. But, all of a sudden he is introduced into learned society-he hears what educated people haveto say, and he exclaims, "What a fool I am!" What he thought he had, though he never had it, suddenly goes from him!
30. And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. If we give any descriptionof the world to come which is at all terrible, those who reject the Scriptures begin to cry out that we have borrowed it fromDante, or taken it from Milton! But I take leave to say that the most awful and harrowing descriptions of the woes of thelost that ever fell from human lips do not exceed or even equal the language of the loving Christ, Himself! Listen-"Cast theunprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." He is the true lover of men's soulswho does not deceive them! He that paints the miseries of Hell as though they were but little is seeking to murder men's soulsunder the pretense of being their friend! May God give all of you Grace to trust in Jesus for yourselves and then to pointothers to Him, for Christ's sake! Amen.