2643. The Honoured Servant

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No. 2643-45:481. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, June 22, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 1/30/2016*1/30/2016

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, October 8, 1899.

Whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat its fruit: so he who waits on his master shall be honoured. {Pr 27:18}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1118, “Way to Honour, The” 1109}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2643, “Honoured Servant, The” 2644}
   Exposition on Pr 27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3080, “Two Ancient Proverbs” 3081 @@ "Exposition"}

1. In Solomon’s day, every man sat under his own vine and fig tree, and there was peace throughout the whole country. Then, God’s law about dividing the land among the people, so that every man had his own plot, was rightly observed, and each one had a fig tree of his own, to which he gave his personal attention; and, in due time, having waited on the fig tree, and kept it, he ate its fruit. Solomon says, in another place, “In all labour there is profit”; and it is good when men feel that it is so, for then they will be inclined to labour. A man would not keep a fruitless fig tree for long. If he was quite sure that no fruit would be the result of his toil, he would leave the tree to itself, or else he would say, “Cut it down; why does it encumbers the ground?”

2. There were some men, in Solomon’s day, who, for various reasons, became servants to others, — as there still are, and always must be; — and they looked for some return for their service; and the wise man here tells them that, just as “whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat its fruit, so he who waits on his master shall be honoured.” It is a commonplace truth that those who are faithful servants ought to be honoured; I wish, in these times, that matter was more often thought of, and that men did honour those who are faithful to them. There are some people, who permit others to minister to their comfort, but it never occurs to them to provide for the comfort of their servants. They will allow a man to spend most of his life in increasing their business; and yet, when he is getting old, he is discharged, and left to perish by starvation as 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 Christian masters; for, sometimes, they seem only to remember their business, and to forget that they are Christians, and they act as cruelly as that Amalekite in David’s day did, who left his servant to die because he was sick. I pray that the time may come when there shall be so good an understanding between all men that Solomon’s words shall be true, “he who waits on his master shall be honoured.” I am sorry that they are not always true in that sense now, but I am going to leave that literal meaning of the words, and apply the text to those who wait on the Lord Jesus, having made him to be their Master; for, most certainly, as surely as he who keeps the fig tree shall eat its fruit, even much more certainly shall those who wait on our great Master in heaven find a sweet return for their service, for they shall be honoured by him. My talk will be very simple, and you, beloved, who are his servants, do not want anything else, I am sure.

3. I. The first observation is, that OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS OUR MASTER.

4. 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.” Is it so with you, dear friends? Let conscience answer the question. Is Jesus Christ really Master and Lord for each one of us? It is a wonderful way in which he does master us, if we are indeed his servants. I can never forget how, in my own case, it came to pass that I, who had been bought with his precious blood, and therefore belonged to him, had yet lived forgetful of his claims. He passed by, and looked at me; and that very look made me go out to weep bitterly. But he did more; he laid his hand on me, — it was a pierced hand; and from that day I had a change in my understanding and my judgment; those who knew me saw that something extraordinary had happened to me, which had altogether changed me. From that time, I thought very little of men, and very much of One whom, until then, I had despised; many of my former pursuits ceased to have the slightest charm for me, and I had, for my one pursuit, the desire to do everything for his honour and glory. After that change I have never been able to escape, and I have never wanted to do so; from that mystical influence which he cast over me I have never come out; 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 really converted, it was not the conversion of the feelings only, or the intellect only; it was the subjugation of everything within you to that sweet power of his. You were quite broken down; you had no strength to stand up against him any longer; and the joy of it was that you did not have any wish to do so. When he was about to fix the chains of his love on you, you held out your hands, saying, “Here, Lord, bind my wrists”; you put out your feet, crying, “Place the fetters here also.” You asked him to cast a 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 considered to be enslaved, and only what he did bind you considered to be free. When he had so mastered us, we longed to lie at his feet for ever, and weep ourselves away; or we wished to sit at his feet for ever, and listen to his wondrous words, and learn his blessed teaching; yet we also wanted to run around the world on his errands; it did not matter to us where he might send us, we would not make any choice of our sphere of service; if he would only employ us, that would be all we would ask for. We wanted then to have a dozen lives, and to spend them all for him. Indeed, 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 thee;

and we did give ourselves up entirely to our Lord. We could not help doing so; we were carried right away, as when a mountain torrent comes, removes the earth from the young tree that is growing by the riverside, and gradually undermines it, until the tree falls into the stream, and the current sweeps it on and on, and never lets it rest again, but bears it right down to the sea. So it was with us that blessed day when we first knew that we could call Christ “Master and Lord.”

5. Brethren, our Lord Jesus Christ has so completely mastered us that now, today, he is our only Master. It is not always a thing to ennoble a man when he is able to call another person his master; but we feel that, the more fully we are mastered by Christ, the better it will be for us; and the more absolutely we can become his servants, the more noble and honoured we shall be. In many passages of Scripture, where our translation uses the term “servant,” the true word is “slave”; and I 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 slave completely belonged to his master, to do his master’s bidding, to live or die at his master’s will, so we have given ourselves up to Christ; he has become our only Master. There are others who struggle for the mastery over us; but no man can serve two masters. He may serve two rival powers, — one struggling against the other for a while, — but they cannot both be masters; only one can be supreme within the spirit. In this way, Christ has become so completely the believer’s Master that sin shall not have 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 sheep back, for they are still his property even when they are wandering away from him.

6. What do you say, brothers and sisters? Do you have any other master besides Christ? If you do, in that divided sovereignty you shall find ten thousand miseries. Oh! if your right eye is contrary to Christ, pluck it out, and cast it from you; if your very life should stand up in rivalry with Christ, it would be much better for you that you should die than that you should lead such a life as that. Our Lord Jesus is the only Master of us today.

7. And what a choice Master he is also! If we had had the opportunity, in our old state, of choosing our master, we were so blind and foolish that we would not have chosen him; but if we had known then what we know now, we would have chosen him; and if we knew infinitely more about him, we would never discover a reason why he should not be our Master; but we should continually find stronger arguments why we should be his servants for ever. There was never such a Master as our Lord Jesus Christ, who took our nature so 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 sceptre, 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 fully surrendered, and in whom all loveliness is centred. When a husband truly loves his wife, it becomes easy for the wife to be obedient to her husband; and since Christ loves us infinitely, we must love him and serve him in return. Look, by faith, into his blessed face; it is Jehovah’s joy to look at him, and it shall be ours for ever. 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 in on 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 among ten 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 are not worthy to be compared with the glory and beauty and excellency of the Well-Beloved. All their goodness came from him, therefore let them all lie at his feet, for there is no one to be compared with him.

8. Next, our spirit exultingly says, “Just as he is our choice Master, so he is our chosen Master. Since he has chosen us, we have learned to choose him.” The love was, at first, all on his side; but now, through the effective working of his grace, it is on our side, too. Each one of us can say, “I love my Master; I love his house; I love his children; I love his service; I have chosen him to be mine for ever. If he should dismiss me from his service, I would come back to him again. If he gave me what men call liberty, I would beg of him to withdraw such accursed liberty, and let me be, for ever, and only, and completely, and entirely his; for, just as he has chosen me by his grace, so his grace has led me to choose him.” I know that many of you can say the same; and I daresay, while I have been speaking, you have been thinking of George Herbert’s lines, —

    How sweetly doth “my Master” sound! “My Master!”
       As ambergris {a} leaves a rich scent
             Unto the taster:
       So do these words give a sweet content
    An oriental fragrancy, “My Master.”

9. We delight to use this title concerning our Lord, for he is, further, our gracious Master. That word “Master” seems to lose the idea of masterfulness when it is applied to him. He is most graciously and wondrously our Lord; but yet we call him no more “Baali,” that is, “my Lord,” but we call him “Ishi,” that is, “my Man,” “my Husband.” There is, truly, a service to which we are called; yet his message to his disciples was, “Henceforth I do not call you servants; for the servant does not know what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” We never can forget that, with all his love, he is our Lord; it is our joy to remember that; yet what loving service we have received from 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 that for us; for he stooped so low as to be despised by men, and rejected by the people, in order that he might save us. Then, surely, it shall be our joy, and bliss, and glory, henceforth to call him Master and Lord.

10. He is also our lifelong Master. No; that is a mistake, for there was, alas! a time when we lived, yet we did not live for him. Some of us were only boys when we first began to serve him. I always feel glad to think that I wore a boy’s jacket when I was baptized 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 it had been even earlier. Oh dear young people, there is no such joy as that of knowing Christ in your early youth! We hear sometimes of lifelong teetotallers, but I could wish that I had been a lifelong abstainer from self-righteousness, a lifelong drinker of the river of the water of life; but, since all of us failed to serve the Lord at the beginning of our life, let us try, with all our hearts, to serve him right to the end. Oh, to have him for our lifelong Master, — with no little intervals of running away, no furloughs, no holidays! Brethren, we have our recreations in Christ’s service, but we never have any holidays; that is to say, he recreates us, but he permits us to continue in his work without cessation or intermission. It would be no recreation for us to have a furlough from the great work of the Lord; we only wish that we could live, and labour, and spend ourselves, and find our rest, as some birds do, on the wing, flying, mounting, singing, and so resting, and making this to be our continual joy. So, you see, we are in for 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, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” and Master for ever blessed be his name!

11. II. Now I hurry, in the second place, to remind you that OUR BUSINESS IS TO SERVE OUR MASTER.

12. That business is expressed in the Hebrew of our text by the word “keep.” I will read to you the text as it should be rendered, and as the translators will make it read if they use their senses in their revision of the Old Testament; that is, if they give the same meaning to a word in all places. The previous translators thought that the Bible would sound tautological if they gave the same translation of a word everywhere; so, to charm the ears, they changed the words; but then, alas! they sometimes changed the sense. Here, the original ought to be rendered like this: “Whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat its fruit: so he who keeps his master shall be honoured.” Is that not 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 really true that he has committed himself to our keeping? Yes. On earth, among the sons of men, there is One who keeps Israel; but Israel, in another sense, is made to be a keeper, and is to keep the Lord Jesus Christ.

13. 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 like the idea of that man who once said to his master, “Sir, you talk about discharging me; but you see, sir, if you do not know when you have a good servant, I know very well when I have a good master, and I do not want to be discharged. If you put me out 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 your father’s house, and I intend to die in this house.” The gentleman saw that it was quite hopeless to try to get rid of the old man, since he would not go, so he decided they should not be parted; and I think some of us have come to the same impasse with our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Truly, he knows that, in us, he has, even at our best, only unprofitable servants; but then he accepted us, he knew all that we were and all that we should be; he had a clear foresight of our whole future, and he has 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 took me 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 Master, and I will not go away from him. Do you not say the same, beloved? Then still 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 masters all the better the more they beat them. So, dear friends, love your Lord all the better when he treats you roughly; kiss the hand that strikes you, and let this be your settled resolution, that you will not go from him.

14. 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 our Lord’s name, and honour, and cause at all costs and all hazards. We must not let him sleep like King Saul, with his spear stuck in the ground by his bolster, and his body-guard also asleep; but if the enemy should ever come to attack our Master, our watchword must be, “Up, guards, and at them!” Give them a warm reception from whatever quarter they may come. You and I, beloved, are put in charge of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and every child of God is bound to be on the defensive just as if the keeping of the gospel depended entirely on him. I believe that I am as much bound to preach against error, and to war for the truth of Christ, as if there were not another minister living, and I think that every other minister stands in the same responsible position, and it is the same with every Christian. Keep your Master and all that he has in safety; let no traitor come near him; guard his ordinances, his doctrines, his precepts; adore his matchless person, and extol his blessed work, and so keep him against all comers.

15. Then, dear friends, keep him by guarding all his interests. It is the duty of a servant to consider that what belongs to his master 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 them was 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 interests that he regarded his master’s children as belonging to him. So ought we to think of everything that pertains 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 be prepared to nurse him and watch over him for him, and say to him, with good Dr. Doddridge, —

    Hast thou a lamb in all thy flock
       I would disdain to feed?
    Hast thou a foe, before whose face
       I fear thy cause to plead?

So, dear friends, keep your Master; watch over your Master’s possessions; guard your Master’s truth; defend your Master’s honour; care for your Master’s children; as far as your power goes, try to keep everything that belongs to him, labour for the good of his cause; struggle for the advancement of his interests, and for the overthrow of his adversaries, just as every loyal soldier seeks to preserve his sovereign’s dominions intact, and to keep his king’s arms from suffering any dishonour. So let us keep our Master and all that belongs to him.

16. Now let us come back to our own Authorized Version: “He who waits on his master shall be honoured.” This also is a very good translation, if not equal to the other; and I think it conveys an important meaning for us. You and I are like servants who wait on their 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 tells us to carry them out. It is not intended that you and I should be inventors of rites, and ceremonies, and novelties of worship, and all kinds of strange doctrines; our position is simply that of servants. Our Master has a certain way of setting his table, and inviting his guests to it; and I have no business to go to him and say, “See how the king of Syria arranges his table; is that not a better plan than yours?” No, that would be utter disloyalty; I have to set the table according to my Master’s plan and custom. There are some old country squires who have acquired odd ways of their own, and the servants whom they employ must follow them, whatever their own notions may be. Now, the ways of the Lord are right; and it is your duty and mine to ask what they are, and to conform our practice to them.

17. The same rule is to be observed in matters of church government and discipline, in the ordinances of the Lord’s house, in the truth 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 just to wait on 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 on him for our orders, and then obey the orders we receive from our Master, we shall be honoured.

18. Next, we must wait on him for strength to obey his orders; for if we do not, we shall either fail in our attempts, or else we shall fail altogether to make the attempt. We must also wait on our Master, seeking his smile. I am afraid we do a great deal to get the smiles of our brethren; and if they think we have done well, we congratulate ourselves. But, oh! to preach for 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, so that they may say, “What a zeal for the Lord this person has!” Let it all be done for the Master. “He who waits on his master shall be honoured.” Do you not think that, sometimes, you and I wait on ourselves, and that, while we are very busy, and imagining we are working for the Lord, we may be doing it entirely for self? Because we find some kind of pleasure in it, we keep on doing it just for that pleasure, or because we feel that some kind of credit must come to ourselves as 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, like that of the Pharisees, of whom the Master said, “Truly I say to you, they have their reward.” That is the end of it; they have had their reward, and they cannot expect to be paid twice for what they have done.

19. We are, dear friends, further to wait on the Lord by expecting him to fulfil his promises; and his promises will only be fulfilled in his own time. We are not to run before the Lord, nor to seek to rush the Lord, as though we thought he was slow in accomplishing his purposes. If we ever do cry, “Awake, awake, put on strength, oh arm of the Lord,” we shall probably receive for an answer, “Awake, awake; put on your strength, oh Zion.” It is we who are asleep, the Lord never is; and we are to wait on him, and plead the promises that he has given us.

20. This waiting also includes acquiescence in his will; not only doing it, but suffering it, being ready for anything that he 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 wait like that on our Master. You remember the story of poor old Betty, who said that the Lord 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 your bed, 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 root of self-will; but when self-will is conquered, and we hold ourselves entirely at God’s disposal, then there is a sweetness even in wormwood and gall, and our heaviest cross becomes our joy and delight, and we say, with holy Rutherford, “I find the cross of 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, he felt so deeply in love with his cross, that he almost feared lest his sufferings and grief should become so lovely to him as to be a rival to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no such danger, I am afraid, with most of us, for we are like young bulls unaccustomed to the yoke, and we kick against the pricks. But if you can wait on 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 it pleases God, it pleases me,” was his reply. That is the point to get to; may God bring us there by his grace!

21. III. When we get there, we shall come to our last point, OUR SERVICE WILL BRING US HONOUR: “he who waits on his master shall be honoured.”

22. Oh brethren, the thought of waiting on Christ, and being his servant, is an unspeakable honour; therefore I will not try to speak about it, but ask you just to sit still, and think about it. You are his servants, the servants of the eternal Son of God. Perhaps someone is going to be made an earl or a duchess. I do not think that would be any honour for you, for you have a higher honour than that already, for you are a servant of the Lord. There will be a crown for someone to wear; but really I do not see that it could add any lustre to you, for you are a prince of the blood-royal of the skies. As for our pedigree, there is nothing like it; we do not trace it to the Normans, but to Calvary; we are of that seed that was to crush the serpent’s head. Our coat of arms is much more ancient than any that the Heralds’ College can ever issue; we need no other honour, and can have no higher glory than to be servants of Christ. Are you only a little nurse girl? Well, if you belong to Christ, you are one of those whom he considers very honourable. Are you a chimney-sweep, my brother? Never mind that; if the Lord has washed you in his precious blood, you are as noble as any peer of the realm, and nobler than most of them. Do you have to go to the workhouse for weekly help? Never mind about your poverty, you are not so poor now as your Lord was, for he had nowhere to lay his head. Do not talk about being lowly and obscure; why, you are descended from the King of kings! “All his saints have this honour,” “To you who believe he is an honour,” — that is the meaning of the Greek; and I take it that it is honour enough for us to have such a Saviour to believe in, and such a Master to serve.

23. You shall have honour, dear friends, among poor fellow Christians. If you really honour your Master’s name alone, it will not be long before they will honour and esteem you. I notice that, the moment a man begins to seek honour for himself, he loses the esteem of his fellows. Do you ever hear any minister who preaches very grandly? If so, you think to yourself, “What a splendid preacher he is!” But you will find that, as a rule, God’s people do not care much for him. Notice any worker in the church who wants to be very prominent, and pushes himself forward; everyone desires to kick him; but there is another brother who serves Christ in the rear rank, and who blushes when he is pushed to the forefront, he is the man to whom his brothers and sisters look up, and though they may say little to him, they delight to honour him in their hearts. Perhaps the most honourable thing in Christ’s house is the door-mat; when all the brethren wipe their dirty boots on it, they are so much the cleaner. I know some people who do not like to be in the position of the door-mat; if a person brushes against them, they cry, “What a shame!” It is a great honour 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 stature, and with many infirmities. Why, he is the biggest of all the apostles! And what is “great Paul?” Oh! he is only sounding brass; and the less we hear of him, the better. Get to be like little Paul, brother, and your sound shall go out to the very ends of 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 little way, if the Lord Jesus Christ has made us to be his servants, let us consider it our highest honour to be a servant of the least of his servants so that we may bless them and glorify him.

24. But our highest honour is yet to come, in that day when Christ shall call his chosen ones to his own right hand to reign with him, when he shall appoint to them a kingdom even as his Father appointed it to him, when he who was faithful in a few things shall be made ruler over many things in the kingdom of the Master for ever and for ever. I think I see the King come into his court; it is crowded with cherubim and seraphim and all the shining ones who form his royal retinue. There they stand in all their gorgeous glory, and the Master, from the throne, looks over all their ranks as he accepts their loyal and reverent homage. But he is looking for one poor man who on earth loved him, and who kept the faith under much derision and scorn; at last he finds him, and says, “Make way, my angelic servants, cherubim and seraphim, stand in line, and let him come. This man was with me in my humiliation, as you could not be; for me he bore the cross, and was despised; make way, and let him come and sit with me, for those who have been with me in my humiliation shall be with me in my glory.”

25. Oh, that you and I, dear friends, may have that honour at the last! And what will we do when we get it? Why, we will cast our crowns at our Saviour’s feet, and say to him, “Not to us, not to us, but to your name be all the praise and glory for ever,” and in that very deed we shall find the highest honour of all, and we shall then, perhaps, remember this Thursday evening, and this text, “He who waits on his master shall be honoured.” May the Lord bless you all, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

{a} Ambergris: A wax-like substance of marbled ashy colour, found floating in tropical seas, and as a morbid secretion in the intestines of the sperm-whale. It is odoriferous and used in perfumery; formerly in cookery. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 25:14-30}

14. For the kingdom of heaven is like a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.

This parable has to do with you who are professors of Christianity. He “called his own servants,” those who, by their own consent, were numbered among his household servants: “He called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.” Not theirs, but his; and therefore to be used for him. If you are Christ’s servant, your abilities are his, he has lent them to you to be employed for your Lord. “He called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.”

15. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his individual ability; and immediately took 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 who had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two, he also gained another two. But he who had received one went and dug in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

We are grieved to know that there are people with five talents, and others with two talents, who do as this man did; but the case is put in this way, so as to reach us all. Since most people have only one talent, each of them are the most often found 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 one, I need not attempt anything. I am a private person, — a mother, quite obscure, with my little family around me, what can I do?” It is very often a strong temptation from Satan, to those who have only one talent, to make them think that they may, with impunity, hide that one. And then, you see, the argument cuts the other way. If it is wrong to hide one talent, how much more wrong is it to hide two, and far worse to dig in the earth, and bury five.

19. After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and settles his accounts with them.

Always remember the reckoning. We have heard of one, who went into a house of entertainment, and ate 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 it must come, and for every hour, for every opportunity, for every ability, for every sin, and for every omission of duty, they must give account. “The lord of those servants comes, and settles his accounts with them.”

20, 21. And so he who had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained another five talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.”

I do not doubt that this man had often reckoned with himself, — for he who never reckons with himself may well be afraid of being called to account with his God; — and I expect that he had often grieved to think that he had not turned the five talents into twenty. He must have thought that, to gain only five talents more, was very little; but he found his master was well satisfied with what he had done. Do you think, brother, that all of you who have five talents have gained five talents more? You were richly endowed as a youth; have you increased the ability to serve your God? You see, the parable speaks not so much of what they had done for other people, as of what they had themselves gained, and still had in hand. Do you have more grace? Do you have more tact? Do you have more adaptation to your Master’s service? Are you conscious that it is so? I should not wonder if you are mourning that you are not more useful, and more fit to be used. It is good that you should mourn in that way; but when your Master comes, I trust that he will say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”

22, 23. He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I shall make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.”

That is a beautiful reward, — not so much 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 is the Master’s portion shared by his servants. How it ennobles Christian work to feel that it is not simply our work, but work done 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 who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed: 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 often be the mother of presumption. Confidence in God creates a holy fear; but unholy fear creates a doubt of God, and leads us to desperate rebellion of unbelief. May God save us from such fear!

26, 27. His lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I have not scattered seed: you ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest.

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 to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has shall be given, and he shall have abundance:

He who has faith shall have more faith. He who has a secret taste for heavenly things shall have a greater love for them. He who has some understanding of the truth of God shall get more understanding of it. God gives to those who have; it is equally true that he gives to those who confess that they do not have.

29. But from him who does not have shall be taken away even what he has.

If you want an example of taking away frown a man what he does not have, you may have seen it sometimes in the case of a person without any education or knowledge, who is quite content to remain in that condition. But, suddenly, he is introduced into learned society; he hears what educated people have to 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 description of the world to come which is at all terrible, those who reject the Scriptures begin to cry out that we have borrowed it from Dante, or taken it from Milton; but I take the liberty to say that the most awful and harrowing descriptions of the woes of the lost that ever fell from human lips do not exceed or even equal the language of the loving Christ himself. Listen: “Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He is the true lover of men’s souls who does not deceive them. He who paints the miseries of hell as though they were very little is seeking to murder men’s souls under the pretence of being their friend. May God give all of you grace to trust in Jesus for yourselves, and then to point others to him, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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