Sermon 2334. Our Service For Christ Never Finished
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1893.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 19, 1889.
"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him, by-and-by, when he is come from the field,Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird yourself, and serve me,till I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you shall eat and drink? Does he thank that servant because he did the things thatwere commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say,We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." Luke 17:7-10.
THESE words are not addressed to the general congregation. You notice that the chapter begins, "Then said He unto the disciples."Even they felt as if Christ's words were too heavy for them and so, when you get to the fifth verse, you read, "And the Apostlessaid unto the Lord, Increase our faith," as if only the very strongest of them were able to receive His teaching just then-Hewas describing such difficult duties and prescribing so peculiar a path. Mark you, He was not laying down the way of salvation,but pointing out a path of service for those who were already saved. We must be saved, first, and must serve afterwards. Tohope to serve Christ so as to win salvation is a fallacy, a delusion of our proud hearts. But to be saved by His Grace asa matter of pure favor and then, afterwards, to serve Him, having gratitude for our great motive, is the right order and avery different thing from self-righteousness. It is to disciples, then, that the words about which I speak, tonight, are addressed.
We must not start back at the sight of the service which is required of us. It is our highest honor that we are allowed tobe the servants of our Savior and, being servants, unless we are so only nominally, and not really, we must not be offendedat anything that is demanded of us. We must try to fill up the word, "servant," and show the world what a servant can be!It is the duty of every Christian to turn each common silver word into a golden one. Whatever "husband," or "father," or "son,"may mean in reference to ordinary society, it must mean something more when it gets into the Church of God! We must fulfillit, we must fill it full! We must make something more of it than it used to be. So with regard to servants, if we are servantsof Christ, let us be servants, as the mathematicians say, "to the nth degree"-to the very highest possible degree! Let uselevate and enlarge our calling till, if men want to know what a servant is, they will only have to ask Christ, our Master,and He will point to us and say, "These are the kind of servants that My love and My Grace can produce. Money could not buysuch and no rate of wages could secure such service as they are prepared to freely render."
With those two thoughts on your minds, that, being saved, you are servants, and being servants, it is your intense desireto make that word mean all it possibly can mean, follow me while I try to bring out the teaching of the passage before us.
I. First, WE ARE, ADMITTEDLY, THE SERVANTS OF CHRIST.
If the word, doulos, is interpreted here, "slave," as it certainly might be, we are quite willing to be known as the bond-slavesof Jesus Christ. Like Paul, we have no objection, even, to be branded with the mark of a slave, and with him we dare to say,"From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
We are the servants, the slaves of Christ, and we rejoice to be so because in this lies our deliverance from the bondage ofsin. No man can really be his own master-he will serve either one lord or another. We are such dependent creatures that wemust give ourselves up to be either the servants of sin, or the servants of righteousness. We were once the servants of sin.We were "children of wrath, even as others." We found ourselves born into hereditary bondage which we also freely chose, forthe iron entered into our will and our will chose the bondage of evil passions and corrupt desires. One way or another, thougheach of us differently, we resolved to be the servants and the serfs of the Prince of Darkness, that Evil One who still rulesover the children of disobedience! Now that we have become the servants of Christ, we are freed from the bondage of sin-Hisservice is our freedom! There was no other method of setting us free from the bondage of the black prince than that of bringingus under a Divine and blessed servitude to Immanuel, the Prince of Holiness and Peace. We therefore rejoice in being His servantsbecause it means deliverance from an older servitude, even the service of sin and Satan!
Our being Christ's servants is the absolute result of redemption. We are bought with a price-therefore we are not our own.Standing on Calvary and gazing with wonder at those purple founts from which flow our salvation and eternal life, we feelthat, "if One died for all, then all died," and that, inasmuch as Jesus Christ there bought us with His precious blood, weare His inalienable property and belong to Him-body, soul and spirit-forever. Such a price, paid by such an One, in the midstof such circumstances of shame and derision, binds us as His forever and ever! We do not want to be our own-our purchase byChrist is our delight and we willingly yield ourselves up to Him who has paid for us a price infinitely more than we couldever be conceived to be worth! Hence our service is founded upon our deliverance from the bondage of sin and it is also thedirect result of our redemption by the blood of Christ.
Moreover, as you sang just now, you helped me to another point-we are Christ's by our own pledge. You remember your declaration-
" 'Tis done! The great transaction's done; I am my Lord's and He is mine."
You added to that the further resolve-
"High Heaven, that heard the solemn vow, That vow renewed shall daily hear- Till in life's latest hour I bow, And bless indeath a bond so dear." If we were not Christ's, tonight, we would not rest an hour until we were! We wish to be His, we wishto be perfectly His-our prayer is that every thought may be brought into captivity to Him. Our soul pines after the perfectliberty of complete subjection to the will of God in Christ Jesus! Is it not so, Brothers and Sisters? Have you not liftedyour hand to Heaven so that you cannot go back? And what is more, has not every desire to go back ceased out of your heart?If you had been mindful of the place from where you came out, you might have had abundant opportunity to return-but you desiresomething beyond-your motto is, "Onward, upward, homeward, heavenward." You want to get away from the place from where youcame. You belong to Christ! You confess the impeachment, tonight, wondering much that you should have the joy of daring tofeel that you belong to Christ! Have you any sweeter hymn in the whole repertoire of your heart than this-
"Oh! I am my Beloved's, And my Belo ved's mine"?
Do you not sing that in your happiest moments, in the quiet of your spirit? If so, then you are admittedly the servant ofChrist.
We regard this service as a great gift of the Free Grace of God. We look back to the eternal counsels and we see the Fatherchoosing us in Christ Jesus-and giving us to His dear Son before the foundation of the world! We see our Lord Jesus undertaking,on our behalf, to present us faultless to the Father in the day of His appearing-and it is a great delight to us to feel thatit is because God willed it that we are now the property of Christ. God decreed it. God laid plans for it. It was in the purposeand Covenant of unchangeable Grace that we should belong to Christ. In this we rejoice, not as a bondage imposed, but as aGrace given! Oh, what would we not have given, years ago, when first we were awakened, if we could have even hoped that webelonged to Christ? And now that we know that we are His, and none other's, and that He will keep us to the end-it is thehighest delight of our spirit! Do not think, dear Friends, any of you, that we consider ourselves demeaned by submitting toa very slavery to Christ! We wish to make the bondage as tight as it can possibly be-we desire not to have any will, or anywish, or even any imagination that would go flying over the Divine boundaries of God's will! We would be wholly His-that isour honor, our crown-God's best gift to us!
More than that, we find that the service of Christ is its own reward. What if He never smiled on me? If He would let me serveHim, I would count the fact of service to be a smile! If He should drive me from His Presence, if He would only let me glorifyHim, I would be satisfied to make that my Heaven! To be completely given up to live for God and to glorify Christ-what largerhappiness could a redeemed creature desire? There is reward enough to us in being permitted to unloose the laces of His shoes,or to be engaged in His farm-work, as the text says, plowing, or feeding cattle, so long as it is but done for Him!
Besides, there is a rich reward in store for the righteous and we may look for it. We remember how Moses "had respect untothe recompense of the reward" and, without being mercenary, we may anticipate our reward. God will not let His people workfor nothing and though the reward is not of debt, but of Grace, yet verily there is a reward for the righteous! In that daywhen Christ shall come in the Glory of His Father, He will award to His saints their several crowns. To those who have beenfaithful, He will give according to the measure of their faithfulness. "You have been faithful over a few things, I will makeyou ruler over many things." We count it a high honor not to be in the civil service, but to be in the Divine service! Howardently some young men are looking forward for a place, "under government." That is exactly what I have-it is just what everychild of God has-a place under Divine Government! We do not wish for anything better than this. O you glorified saints, ifwe may but come among your thrones, or even lie at your feet, we will make no choice, so that we may but see our Lord's faceand, meanwhile, if it shall be our lot to do the dishwasher's work in Christ's kitchen, we will count it most honorable employment-andwe will do it as unto Him.
This servitude to Christ is to us unutterable freedom. We are never free till Christ binds us. Here I stand, tonight, He hasbound my heart and fastened it to Himself! He has bound my hands and they must serve Him! He has bound my feet and they mustrun in the way of His commands. He has bound my tongue, too. It sometimes speaks amiss, but yet it longs to speak only andwholly for Him. My Master, tie my eyes and my eyelids, too, and bind every filament of my nature, every nerve, and every muscleof my body, and every hair of my head-and let me be wholly Yours-in absolute bondage unto You and then shall I cry, "O God,truly I am Your servant! I am Your servant, You have loosed my bonds!" We never have our bonds loosed until, like the Psalmist,we can twice over mark the absolute servitude to Himself into which Christ has brought us.
That is my first remark on the text and there is much in it-we are, admittedly, the servants of Christ.
II. Secondly, OUR SERVICE IS NOT FINISHED-"Which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him, by-and-by,when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?"
Observe, first, that our service may have been long and arduous. We may have been plowing. I speak to some here who have hada very hard bit of plowing-instead of breaking the soil, you have, sometimes, thought that you would break the plow and manya time the bullocks, unaccustomed to the yoke, have been very difficult to drive-and some of them that are accustomed to theyoke have taken to kicking every now and then. You have not found plowing to be playing! I am sure no plowman ever does. Hefinds that it is tough work. He earns his living well who earns it by his plowing and, if some of the gentlemen in Londonwho quarrel with their wages, had to do a plowman's work, and to get a plowman's wages, I guarantee you that they would thinkthemselves better off at the work they have to do now! A good day's plowing is about as hard a day's toil as a man can have.
Well, some of us have been plowing, for the Master has given us difficulties. He has given us trials, He has given us caresand we have also had to feed cattle. I cannot say that I have been literally feeding cattle but I have found it more troubleto feed some of you than I should have had in feeding cattle! I had an old friend who was 40 years a shepherd and he livedto be 80 years old. During the last 40 years of his life he was a minister and he said, one day, "I have had two flocks. Thefirst 40 years I fed sheep and the second 40 years I fed men-and the second flock was a deal more sheepish than the first."I can vouch for the latter part-not that all of you are like sheep, for there are some of you who are easily fed-but thereare others who are not. I remember a young man who left the Church because he said that I never gave him a bit of bone onwhich he could try his teeth. Well, now, I thought that if I took out the bone and gave meat, alone, I was doing the bestthing possible. But this foolish youth wanted a bit of gristle, not that he could digest it, but he wanted something thathe could not digest. I could have given him plenty of that sort of stuff-I had no end of it at home-but I save that for mydogs and bring the meat for the people I have to feed.
You can never please everybody and there are some people who are like those described in Psalm Sixty-Seven. I think that Davidsaid that they were fools, but I will not say that. And further he says of them, "Their soul abhors all manner of meat." Therewas no feeding them! I would rather feed cattle than feed them. Cattle will eat what you give them, as a general rule, butwe have some in our congregations, dear souls, that are afraid to feed on the promises of God, afraid to feed, even, on theBread of Life. They are not worthy, they say, which is quite true-but then we are not fed according to our worthiness in theCovenant of Grace! This feeding of cattle, this feeding of men, is not the easiest thing in the world.
The text also teaches that our service may change its form. Some of you have been at Sunday School work. Others of you havebeen at slum work. Some have been visiting the lodging houses-others have stood in the streets and preached for Christ. Youhave had a good long day of plowing and feeding cattle, but your work is not done. Oh, by no means! When the man mentionedby our Lord had been out all day in the field and then came home, he had just to tidy himself up and do a little domesticservice, for, in the East, the manservant, after plowing in the field, had to gird his loins and prepare his master's dinner-andserve at the table waiting upon his lord. Well, now, dear Friends, after a good long day's work you shall have a change ofoccupation, but you shall still go on working! You have not finished your service yet. Have you had 40 years of it? Well,that is a long day, but you have not done work yet-there is something else for you to do! If you cannot go out plowing, youshall go down into the kitchen and do some cooking! And if you cannot feed the cattle, you shall bring up a dish of food foryour master. This is a change of work for you, but you are to keep on as long as you live.
I said, one Sabbath morning, that I feared I might not be able to keep on preaching, meaning that I feared that I should soonbe laid aside by illness, which I hope may not now occur-and somebody said that I was not going to preach anymore, I was goingto retire. I shall "retire" when four men carry me on their shoulders to the grave, but not till then, by God's Grace! Aslong as there is breath in our body and we are able to say a word for Christ, we certainly shall not give up our service!Nor will any of you, I hope, ever talk about retiring from your Master's work. If any of you young men ever think of doingso, I beg you to remember what came to Jonah when he "retired" from his Master's business- and whales are scarcer, now, thanthey were then! You had better go down to Nineveh and work away in your Master's service as long as you have health and strength.There may be change of service, but no retiring from service!
Next, the servant came to service which required greater care. When he was only plowing, or feeding cattle, he could do thatin a rough way, with unwashed hands. But now that he has to wait on his master, do you not see how he smartens himself up,how he has washed his hands and face? He would not be properly waiting on his master if he had any filth on his clothes oron the plates. And he attends to this service with all his wits about him-he does not fall asleep over it. If the Lord callsyou to be His body-servant, to wait upon Him in close attendance and high communion with Him-if He gives you more to do withthe souls of men, more to do with the Church of God, as He may do, promoting you to higher service-yet remember that you arestill a servant and you are to prove that you are still a servant by working with greater care, with more of the spirit ofa servant than you ever had before.
Dear Friends, is it not a mercy for us that our service is not ended? Why should it be finished? Our dependence upon our Masteris not ended. We burn His candles, so we ought to do His work. Every morning's breakfast and every day's meals are His giftsto us-and the clothes on our back are from Him-should we not, then, continue to serve Him? When you can do without Christ,He can do without you. But that will not be, "by-and-by." You are always depending upon His daily bounty, therefore be thankfulthat your service is not ended.
And remember this, also-it is a blessed thing that our service is not ended because it shows that the Lord still has pleasurein His servant. There is a prayer put into verse, that you and I may constantly offer-
"Dismiss me not Your service, Lord!" Suppose that He had dismissed us and said, "Go and sit down to meat, I do not need youanymore. I have no poor child for you to nurse, I have not even anymore cattle for you to feed-there is not even a lamb amongMy flock for you to carry in your bosom"? That would show that He did not love us with the love of complacency, or take suchdelight in us as He once did. But as long as He gives us something to do, we will gratefully do it, because we will take itas a token of His continual delight in us and, therefore, delighting in us, He gives us something to do for Him. That is mysecond point-our service is not ended.
III. And next, WE DO NOT WISH TO BE TREATED AS IF IT WERE-"Which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, willsay unto him, by-and-by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?"
That would show that his service was ended. But we do not wish our Master to treat us so. I mean this-we do not expect freedomfrom trial. Do you? We read of Abraham as being sorely tried and wonderfully prevailing. And then we come upon this text,"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt (that is, try, or test) Abraham." Yes, and after all your yearsof service, after you have been honored in bringing souls to Christ, you will have to still be tried. He will not say, "Goand sit down to meat," but He will bid you gird yourselves and come and serve Him.
Also, dear Friends, we are not to expect honor here. After many years of preaching the Gospel, one might be tempted to sayto himself, "I have a name and some esteem among men. I must take care of them." That is a temptation from Satan-throw itall away. Serve your Lord and care nothing about your honor, or your reputation, for it is not for Him to say to you, "Goand sit down to meat." If He still calls you to do some service for Him in the defense or proclamation of His Truth, do notask Him to treat you otherwise.
Then, we are not to think that we cannot do anymore. Do I speak to any Christian who has come in here, tonight, saying, "Ireally think that I must give up this service and give up that"? Do no such thing, I pray you! Hold on to it as for dear life.Your engagement to your Master is not a five years' service, like that of a soldier, but you are His for life. Yours is alifelong bondage to Him, a happy apprenticeship to your Lord and Master throughout the whole term of your natural-no, of yourspiritual life! Say not that you can do no more-there is much yet remaining for you to do! Pick up a new thread and beginto spin, and He will find you more. Take up a bit of iron you have never tried to fashion, put it in the fire, and see whetheryou cannot make some fresh instrument there. Give yourself up continually to serve your Lord yet more and more, and thinknot that your work is finished.
And, Beloved, we must not be beginning to look for our reward here. If you think to have Heaven this side the Jordan, youare greatly mistaken. Heaven is to be hereafter, but Heaven is not, "by-and-by." This is the place for fighting-out with yoursword! This is the field for labor-get you to your plow! If such a wish could come to you in Heaven, you might desire to getback, again, to the service of earth, that you might do still more for your Lord. When I get to Heaven and you get to Heaven,if we know that false doctrine is spreading in the world, we shall long to go back and confront the adversary, again, if suchwishes are permitted in Heaven. While souls are perishing for lack of knowledge, let none of us want to be away from the earth-solong as men need us to tell them the way of salvation, let us gladly continue at our work-let us serve God, my Brothers andSisters, while we have the opportunity-
"In works which perfect saints above And holy angels cannot do."
Now is our time for preaching! Now is your time for teaching the children! Brothers, seven heavens could not find us anotherpulpit when once we get to Glory-we might almost wish that they could. What opportunities of praying with the sick and instructingignorant children you now have! You will not have them when once you are in the other world. Therefore use the golden hoursyou have while you are here below. Your service is not finished, so do not wish to be treated as though it were. Ask not honorfrom men. Ask not even for honor from God, if that were meant to exempt you from further shame, from further suffering, fromfurther reproach for Christ's dear sake. The further we go in His service, the more resolved we are to give up everythingfor Him. When we first started, we may have thought of making some reserve, but now we have gone so far into the river ofconsecration that we find "waters to swim in" and we can truly say-
"Yet if I might make some reserve, And duty did not call, I'd love my God with zeal so great That I should give Him all."May you not only sing it, but may you mean it and practice it, for Christ's sake!
IV. Now we go a step further. WE ARE ALWAYS TO PUT OUR MASTER FIRST. We are servants and our work
is not done-neither ought we to wish to be treated as though it were. We are not ourselves to sit down to meat, but we areto hear our Master say, "Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird yourself, and serve Me, till I have eaten and drunk; andafterward you shall eat and drink." I will very hurriedly mention these points.
First, we are to prefer service to rest. Service is feeding our Master-rest is refreshing ourselves. If we may have a choice,we must always choose that which will be for His Glory. If it is necessary to rest for His Glory, rest. But if you can betterserve Him by continued activity-even unto death-select the service.
Next, we must put His pleasure before our own. I must not want what will please me, but what will please Him. It ought alwaysto please us to have the opportunity of pleasing Him. Did not Abraham run unto the herd, to fetch a calf, tender and good,that he might feed the blessed ones when, under the tree, they came to favor him with a visit? What an honor is put upon uswhen we are permitted to feed Christ and to wait upon Him till He has eaten and drunk! I can hardly conceive of myself ashaving the high honor, on bended knee, of waiting on my Lord. If He would but once come to my house, what would I not do forHim? So have I often said, yet the whole of our life should be an entertainment of Christ, our blessed Prince. We should alwaysbe seeking to gratify Him, to give Him to drink that which He thirsts for in the salvation of the souls of men-and to giveHim to eat of that which He delights in, namely, the holiness and consecration of His people. His pleasure is to be put beforeour pleasure.
And, next, His people are to be preferred before ourselves. His people are His body-therefore think more of His body thanof your own body. Let the poor saints be very near your heart-let the man in whom you see anything of Christ be loved becauseof your Lord's likeness which you see in him. Always put Christ's people before yourself.
And put His name before your own name. I want you to dwell upon that. There is always a tendency among us to want to keepup our own respectability and, if we are ministers, to keep up our own name. The temptation has come to men who have beeneminently useful to found a denomination for the preservation of their name. George Whitefield was saved from that-when somepeople wanted him to set up a new sect to be called by his name, he said-"No, let my name perish, but let Christ's name standforever." So say I, let sect go, and let my name go, and let everything go-but let Christ and His Truth be preserved! Makeno reckoning between a grain of Christ's Glory and a ton of your own. Always think that everything you have has already goneand that you, yourself, have gone, a living sacrifice, wholly given up to your Lord. If you must be made as the offscouringof all things, as the rubbish on the dunghill, so let it be, so that Christ Jesus may be glorious and every particle of HisTruth may be set on high in the hearts of men!
This is the meaning of the text here-you are not to sit down to meat as yet. You are to gird yourself and serve your Lordand your eating and your drinking shall be glorious, indeed, "by-and-by." This same Gospel has a phrase in it which has oftenstaggered me. I mean that passage where Christ says that He will gird Himself and come forth and serve His servants who girdedthemselves to serve Him. The high reward reserved for you ought to brace you up to the most arduous service as long as youlive! God help you to render such service for Christ's sake!
V. I close with this remark, WE ARE TO TAKE OUR PLACE LOW DOWN. Read the latter part of the text- "Does he thank that servantbecause he did the things that were commanded him? I think not." I feel inclined to laugh as I read this verse, "Does he thankthat servant?" Only imagine the Lord Jesus Christ thanking you or thanking me for anything that we might do, even if we didall that He commanded us! For Him to thank us for what we do, even if we did all we ought, seems utterly absurd!
And then, how could He thank us for what we have not done, for we have not done the things which were commanded us? We haveleft many of them undone and we have done the things we ought not to have done. What thanks do we deserve? None, I think.Then, besides, dear Friends, if we had done all, Christ's thanks, if they were given to us, would be for so little servicecompared with His due. We are, at our best, unprofitable servants. Think of what He has done for us and do not set, side byside with that, anything that we have ever done for Him who loved us to the life and to the death-who loved us eternally andinfinitely. What have we done for Him compared with what He has done for us? Our service put beside Christ's is like one singlegrain of dust put in comparison with the mighty orb of the sun! There is but poor comparison there, but there is no comparisonat all between the little we do for Christ and the great, the immeasurable service that He has rendered to us! Truly, we areunprofitable servants to Him.
And then, Beloved, whatever we have done has all been done in us by Him. Whatever fruit we have, Christ can say to us, "FromMe is your fruit found." If there is any virtue, if there is any praise, if there is any love, if there is any faith, if thereis any zeal, if there is any holiness-was it not all given to us? Are we not all the greater debtors to God, the more we havedone? What have we ever profited Him? Growing saints think themselves nothing. Full-grown saints think themselves less thannothing! You may guess your real weight by the depths to which you sink in self-abasement. You
may estimate your true value in the market of Heaven by the low estimate you put upon yourself. May the Lord give us, therefore,to be His willing, ardent, earnest servants!
Oh, never let us have a single lofty thought as to the service that we have rendered, because, you know, if we once beginto think that we are very fine servants, we shall not like to do some of the work which He puts upon us. We shall be too proudfor that service and there is many a servant of God who is too tall, too big for his place and, therefore, he is not likelyto do much for his Master. There is much to be done that flesh and blood will not do, especially in dealing with some of theLord's people who are ill-mannered and foolish. But we must learn to clean the saucepans, to do the drudge's work, the servilework, if we are to be true servants for Christ. We must even select that sort of service and prefer it, if we would be likeour Master and desire to take the highest place in the ranks of the Believers. "These are hard things," you say. They are,to flesh and blood, but the Lord can give us of His Spirit that we may conquer flesh and blood.
Do any of you here say, "I am no servant of Christ and I do not want to be one"? The day will come when you would give youreyes to be His servants, even though you had to serve Him in the dark throughout your life! I would sooner be the Lord's dogthan the devil's darling! It is better to have the lowest place in Christ's house than to have the highest place in the tentsof wickedness. If any here are unconverted, I can tell them that the sorrows of Christ are better than the pleasures of sin.Christ's blacks are whiter than your whitest things. Christ's servitude is more heavenly than the world's heaven. A blow fromChrist is better than a kiss from the lips of sin. Oh, if you had but one glance, if you could even have but a glimpse atthe Glory that Jesus has, you would come to Him and beg Him, first, to save you, and then to let you serve Him, for it isbetter to serve Christ in the meanest capacity than to be the Czar of all the Russias, or even empress of the whole world!
God give me but to have a place where, washed in His blood, I may wear the white garments of an everlasting servitude to Himand He shall have the praise for it, world without end! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE171-10.
Verse 1. Then said He unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come. We are so strangely made that evengood men do not always agree and there are so many bad men about that they will cast a stumbling block in our way if theycan.
1,2. But woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and hecast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. To do grievous damage to the soul of the very leastof Christ's people is a great and ruinous sin-nothing can be worse. God grant that we may not do this even inadvertently!Let not the strong indulge in that which would be unsafe for the weak, lest the weak be led into sin through that which thestrong Brother might find lawful, but which certainly would not be expedient. May none of us ever willfully grieve any childof God!
3. Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repents. You shall not believe inHis penitence? "No, surely," you say, "that is incorrect." Yes, it is incorrect, but that is what many of you do. I was onlyreading as things generally are-but that is not Christ's direction.
3. 4. Forgive Him. And if He trespass against you seven times in a day. That is seven times too often.
4. And seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him. Do you say, "That is too many timesin a day to forgive him"? Let me ask-"How many times in a day have you sinned? How many times in a day does God forgive you?"Ah, the seven times a day that you have to forgive your brother are but a small number compared with the innumerable forgivenessesgranted to you by our ever-gracious God.
5. And the Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. For this kind of patient forgiving seemed too much for them, unlessthey had a larger stock of faith and, therein, they were right. Strength of faith gives strength of love and strength of lovemakes forgiveness easy.
6. And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say unto this sycamore tree, Be you plucked upby the root, and be you planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Now, if faith as a grain of mustard seed can do this,what cannot strong faith do? What a mercy it is for us that there is so much power in such little faith! A very small piece
of dynamite can work great wonders. And within the tiniest morsel of faith-if it is no bigger than a grain of mustard seed-therelies concealed almost Omnipotent force! Why do we not exercise that faith more? Nothing is impossible to him that believes.We could blast the very strongholds of Satan with this powerful powder if we would but try it!
7, 8. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him, by-and-by, when he is come from thefield, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird yourself, and serveme, till I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you shall eat and drink? See, Brothers and Sisters, our position as Be-lievers-weare here as servants. It is not yet the time for feasting. Whatever work we have done, even if it is getting towards the eveningof our life's day, we must not think of sitting down and expecting our Master to wait upon us. No, we must go on with ourservice and reckon it to be our highest privilege, still, to gird ourselves and wait on Him. This is not the place of restingor of feasting-this is the day of our holy servitude. Let us work on, plowing while we have strength for it, and when thesun goes down at eventide, then waiting, like servants, at the table of their lord.
9. Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. Do you take off your hat toyour servants and say, "I am very grateful to you for doing your duty"? Not so. And even he who serves God best, may he expecthonor as his due? Ah, no-he shall have honor because of the Grace of his Master-but it is not his place to look for it, muchless is it right for him to expect it as his due.
10. So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:we have done that which was our duty to do. And who shall praise us for that? The most self-denying servant of the Savior,the most ardent laborer for the Lord will expect nothing of God except to be blessed by His abounding Grace! What can we deserveof the dear hands of Him who bought us with His blood? Are we not the bondservants of Christ? "You are not your own; you arebought with a price." Therefore, whatever service you can render is due to Him! And unto Him let it be freely given withoutone thought of self-praise or pride because it is done so well.