This chapter is based on
the following verses:
CHRIST on the Mount of Olives had spoken to
His disciples of His second advent to the world. He had specified certain signs that were
to show when His coming was near, and had bidden His disciples watch and be ready. Again
He repeated the warning, "Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour
wherein the Son of man cometh." Then He showed what it means to watch for His coming.
The time is to be spent, not in idle waiting, but in diligent working. This lesson He
taught in the parable of the talents.
"The kingdom of
heaven," He said, "is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own
servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another
two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway
took his journey."
The man traveling into a far
country represents Christ,
who, when speaking this parable, was soon to depart from
this earth to heaven. The "bondservants" (R.V.), or slaves, of the parable,
represent the followers of Christ. We are not our own. We have been "bought with a
price" (1 Cor. 6:20), not "with corruptible things, as silver and gold, . . .
but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18, 19); "that they which live
should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose
again" (2 Cor. 5:15).
All men have been bought with
this infinite price. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us
in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of
every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord's property. All
are called to do service for Him, and for the manner in which they have met this claim,
all will be required to render an account at the great judgment day.
But the claims of God are not
recognized by all. It is those who profess to have accepted Christ's service who in the
parable are represented as His own servants.
Christ's followers have been
redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ
Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service--service to God
and to their fellow men. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of
life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into
connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to
God and to our fellow men.
To His servants Christ
commits "His goods"--something to be put to use for Him. He gives "to every
man his work." Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in
co-operation with Christ for the salvation
of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared
for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are
to work for God.
of the Holy Spirit
The talents that Christ
entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy
Spirit. "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of
knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of
healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to
another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the
interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit,
dividing to every man severally as He will." 1 Cor. 12:8-11. All men do not receive
the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised.
Before He left His disciples,
Christ "breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." John
20:22. Again He said, "Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you." Luke
24:29. But not until after the ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until
through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves fully for His working
was the outpouring of the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven
were committed to the followers of Christ. "When He ascended up on high, He led
captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." Eph. 4:8, 7. "Unto every one of us
is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ," the Spirit
"dividing to every man severally as He will." 1 Cor. 12:11. The gifts are
already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the
Spirit of God.
The promise of the Spirit is
not appreciated as it should be. Its fulfillment is not realized as it might be. It is the
absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talents,
eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence
of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner be won to Christ. On the other
hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the
poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts.
God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe.
The special gifts of the
Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and
endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in
Christ's service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that
we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His
glory in blessing our fellow men.
To every man God has given
"according to his several ability." The talents are not apportioned
capriciously. He who has ability to use five talents receives five. He who can improve but
two, receives two. He who can wisely use only one, receives one. None need lament that
they have not received larger gifts; for He who has apportioned to every man is equally
honored by the improvement of each trust, whether it be great or small. The one to whom
five talents have been committed is to render the improvement of five; he who has but one,
the improvement of one. God expects returns "according to that a man hath, and not
according to that he hath not." 2 Cor. 8:12.
In the parable he that had
"received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five
talents; and likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two."
The talents, however few, are
to be put to use. The question that most concerns us is not, How much have I received?
but, What am I doing with that which I have? The development of all our powers is the
first duty we owe to God and to our fellow men. No one who is not growing daily in
capability and usefulness is fulfilling the purpose
of life. In making a profession of
faith in Christ we pledge ourselves to become all that it is possible for us to be as
workers for the Master, and we should cultivate every faculty to the highest degree of
perfection, that we may do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable.
The Lord has a great work to
be done, and He will bequeath the most in the future life to those who do the most
faithful, willing service in the present life. The Lord chooses His own agents, and each
day under different circumstances He gives them a trial in His plan of operation. In each
true-hearted endeavor to work out His plan, He chooses His agents not because they are
perfect but because, through a connection with Him, they may gain perfection.
God will accept only those
who are determined to aim high. He places every human agent under obligation to do his
best. Moral perfection is required of all. Never should we lower the standard of
righteousness in order to accommodate inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong-doing.
We need to understand that imperfection of character is sin. All righteous attributes of
character dwell in God as a perfect, harmonious whole, and every one who receives Christ
as a personal Saviour is privileged to possess these attributes.
And those who would be
workers together with God must strive for perfection of every organ of the body and
quality of the mind. True education is the preparation of the physical, mental, and moral
powers for the performance of every duty; it is the training of body, mind, and soul for
divine service. This is the education that will endure unto eternal life.
Of every Christian the Lord
requires growth in efficiency and capability in every line. Christ has paid us our wages,
even His own blood and suffering, to secure
our willing service. He came to our world to
give us an example of how we should work, and what spirit we should bring into our labor.
He desires us to study how we can best advance His work and glorify His name in the world,
crowning with honor, with the greatest love and devotion, the Father who "so loved
the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
But Christ has given us no
assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble, all-round
character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is
earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents,
the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with
self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have
to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected.
Let no one say, I cannot
remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of
obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then
you can not overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified
heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God.
Many whom God has qualified
to do excellent work accomplish very little, because they attempt little. Thousands pass
through life as if they had no definite object for which to live, no standard to reach.
Such will obtain a reward proportionate to their works.
Remember that you will never
reach a higher standard than you yourself set. Then set your mark high, and step by step,
even though it be by painful effort, by self-denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole length
of the ladder
of progress. Let nothing hinder you. Fate has not woven its meshes about any
human being so firmly that he need remain helpless and in uncertainty. Opposing
circumstances should create a firm determination to overcome them. The breaking down of
one barrier will give greater ability and courage to go forward. Press with determination
in the right direction, and circumstances will be your helpers, not your hindrances.
Be ambitious, for the
Master's glory, to cultivate every grace of character. In every phase of your character
building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a
degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day.
Stand like Daniel, that
faithful statesman, a man whom no temptation could corrupt. Do not disappoint Him who so
loved you that He gave His own life to cancel your sins. He says, "Without Me ye can
do nothing." John 15:5. Remember this. If you have made mistakes, you certainly gain
a victory if you see these mistakes and regard them as beacons of warning. Thus you turn
defeat into victory, disappointing the enemy and honoring your Redeemer.
A character formed according
to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next.
Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine
attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to
improve. How important, then, is the development of character in this life.
The heavenly intelligences
will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of
character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work
Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you.
As the will of man
co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His
command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.
God requires the training of
the mental faculties. He designs that His servants shall possess more intelligence and
clearer discernment than the worldling, and He is displeased with those who are too
careless or too indolent to become efficient, well-informed workers. The Lord bids us love
Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and with all the
mind. This lays upon us the obligation of developing the intellect to its fullest
capacity, that with all the mind we may know and love our Creator.
If placed under the control
of His Spirit, the more thoroughly the intellect is cultivated, the more effectively it
can be used in the service of God. The uneducated man who is consecrated to God and who
longs to bless others can be, and is, used by the Lord in His service. But those who, with
the same spirit of consecration, have had the benefit of a thorough education, can do a
much more extensive work for Christ. They stand on vantage ground.
The Lord desires us to obtain
all the education possible, with the object in view of imparting our knowledge to others.
None can know where or how they may be called to labor or to speak for God. Our heavenly
Father alone sees what He can make of men. There are before us possibilities which our
feeble faith does not discern. Our minds should be so trained that if necessary we can
present the truths of His word before the highest earthly authorities
in such a way as to
glorify His name. We should not let slip even one opportunity of qualifying ourselves
intellectually to work for God.
Let the youth who need an
education set to work with a determination to obtain it. Do not wait for an opening; make
one for yourselves. Take hold in any small way that presents itself. Practice economy. Do
not spend your means for the gratification of appetite, or in pleasure seeking. Be
determined to become as useful and efficient as God calls you to be. Be thorough and
faithful in whatever you undertake. Procure every advantage within your reach for
strengthening the intellect. Let the study of books be combined with useful manual labor,
and by faithful endeavor, watchfulness, and prayer secure the wisdom that is from above.
This will give you an all-round education. Thus you may rise in character, and gain an
influence over other minds, enabling you to lead them in the path of uprightness and
Far more might be
accomplished in the work of self-education if we were awake to our own opportunities and
privileges. True education means more than the colleges can give. While the study of the
sciences is not to be neglected, there is a higher training to be obtained through a vital
connection with God. Let every student take his Bible and place himself in communion with
the great Teacher. Let the mind be trained and disciplined to wrestle with hard problems
in the search for divine truth.
Those who hunger for
knowledge that they may bless their fellow men will themselves receive blessing from God.
Through the study of His word their mental powers will be aroused to earnest activity.
There will be an expansion and development of the faculties, and the mind will acquire
power and efficiency.
Self-discipline must be
practiced by everyone who would be a worker for God. This will accomplish more than
eloquence or the most brilliant talents. An ordinary mind, well disciplined, will
accomplish more and higher work than will the most highly educated mind and the greatest
talents without self-control.
The power of speech is a
talent that should be diligently cultivated. Of all the gifts we have received from God,
none is capable of being a greater blessing than this. With the voice we convince and
persuade, with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we tell others of the
Redeemer's love. How important, then, that it be so trained as to be most effective for
The culture and right use of
the voice are greatly neglected, even by persons of intelligence and Christian activity.
There are many who read or speak in so low or so rapid a manner that they cannot be
readily understood. Some have a thick, indistinct utterance; others speak in a high key,
in sharp, shrill tones, that are painful to the hearers. Texts, hymns, and the reports and
other papers presented before public assemblies are sometimes read in such a way that they
are not understood and often so that their force and impressiveness are destroyed.
This is an evil that can and
should be corrected. On this point the Bible gives instruction. Of the Levites who read
the Scriptures to the people in the days of Ezra, it is said, "They read in the book
in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the
reading." Neh. 8:8.
By diligent effort all may
acquire the power to read intelligibly, and to speak in a full, clear, round tone, in a
distinct and impressive manner. By doing this we may greatly increase our efficiency as
workers for Christ.
Every Christian is called to
make known to others the unsearchable riches of Christ; therefore he should seek for
perfection in speech. He should present the word of God in a way that will commend it to
the hearers. God does not design that His human channels shall be uncouth. It is not His
will that man shall belittle or degrade the heavenly current that flows through him to the
We should look to Jesus, the
perfect pattern; we should pray for the aid of the Holy Spirit, and in His strength we
should seek to train every organ for perfect work.
Especially is this true of
those who are called to public service. Every minister and every teacher should bear in
mind that he is giving to the people a message that involves eternal interests. The truth
spoken will judge them in the great day of final reckoning. And with some souls the manner
of the one delivering the message will determine its reception or rejection. Then let the
word be so spoken that it will appeal to the understanding and impress the heart. Slowly,
distinctly, and solemnly should it be spoken, yet with all the earnestness which its
The right culture and use of
the power of speech has to do with every line of Christian work; it enters into the home
life, and into all our intercourse with one another. We should accustom ourselves to speak
in pleasant tones, to use pure and correct language, and words that are kind and
courteous. Sweet, kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. The Scripture says
of Christ that grace was poured into His lips that He might "know how to speak a word
in season to him that is weary." Ps. 45:2; Isa. 50:4. And the Lord bids us, "Let
your speech be alway with grace" (COL. 4:6) "that it may minister grace unto the
hearers" (Eph. 4:29).
In seeking to correct or
reform others we should be careful of our words. They will be a savor of life unto life or
of death unto death. In giving reproof or counsel, many indulge in sharp, severe speech,
words not adapted to heal the wounded soul. By these ill-advised expressions the spirit is
chafed, and often the erring ones are stirred to rebellion. All who would advocate the
principles of truth need to receive the heavenly oil of love. Under all circumstances
reproof should be spoken in love. Then our words will reform but not exasperate. Christ by
His Holy Spirit will supply the force and the power. This is His work.
Not one word is to be spoken
unadvisedly. No evil speaking, no frivolous talk, no fretful repining or impure
suggestion, will escape the lips of him who is following Christ. The apostle Paul, writing
by the Holy Spirit, says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your
mouth." Eph. 4:29. A corrupt communication does not mean only words that are vile. It
means any expression contrary to holy principles and pure and undefiled religion. It
includes impure hints and covert insinuations of evil. Unless instantly resisted, these
lead to great sin.
Upon every family, upon every
individual Christian, is laid the duty of barring the way against corrupt speech. When in
the company of those who indulge in foolish talk, it is our duty to change the subject of
conversation if possible. By the help of the grace of God we should quietly drop words or
introduce a subject that will turn the conversation into a profitable channel.
It is the work of parents to
train their children to proper habits of speech. The very best school for this culture is
the home life. From the earliest years the children should be taught to speak respectfully
and lovingly to their parents and to one another. They should be taught that only words
gentleness, truth, and purity must pass their lips. Let the parents themselves be daily
learners in the school of Christ. Then by precept and example they can teach their
children the use of "sound speech, that cannot be condemned." Titus 2:8. This is
one of the greatest and most responsible of their duties.
As followers of Christ we
should make our words such as to be a help and an encouragement to one another in the
Christian life. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our
experience. We should speak of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless
depths of the Saviour's love. Our words should be words of praise and thanksgiving. If the
mind and heart are full of the love of God, this will be revealed in the conversation. It
will not be a difficult matter to impart that which enters into our spiritual life. Great
thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for
piety and holiness, will bear fruit in words that reveal the character of the heart
treasure. When Christ is thus revealed in our speech, it will have power in winning souls
We should speak of Christ to
those who know Him not. We should do as Christ did. Wherever He was, in the synagogue, by
the wayside, in the boat thrust out a little from the land, at the Pharisee's feast or the
table of the publican, He spoke to men of the things pertaining to the higher life. The
things of nature, the events of daily life, were bound up by Him with the words of truth.
The hearts of His hearers were drawn to Him; for He had healed their sick, had comforted
their sorrowing ones, and had taken their children in His arms and blessed them. When He
opened His lips to speak, their attention was riveted upon Him, and every word was to some
soul a savor of life unto life.
So it should be with us.
Wherever we are, we should watch for opportunities of speaking to others of the Saviour.
If we follow Christ's example in doing good, hearts will open to us as they did to Him.
Not abruptly, but with tact born of divine love, we can tell them of Him who is the
"Chiefest among ten thousand" and the One "altogether lovely." Cant.
5:10, 16. This is the very highest work in which we can employ the talent of speech. It
was given to us that we might present Christ as the sin-pardoning Saviour.
The life of Christ was an
ever-widening, shoreless influence, an influence that bound Him to God and to the whole
human family. Through Christ, God has invested man with an influence that makes it
impossible for him to live to himself. Individually we are connected with our fellow men,
a part of God's great whole, and we stand under mutual obligations. No man can be
independent of his fellow men; for the well-being of each affects others. It is God's
purpose that each shall feel himself necessary to others' welfare, and seek to promote
Every soul is surrounded by
an atmosphere of it own-- an atmosphere, it may be, charged with the life-giving power of
faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and
chill with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of
cherished sin. By the atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact
is consciously or unconsciously affected.
This is a responsibility from
which we cannot free ourselves. Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment, even the
expression of the countenance, has an influence.
Upon the impression thus made there hang
results for good or evil which no man can measure. Every impulse thus imparted is seed
sown which will produce its harvest. It is a link in the long chain of human events,
extending we know not whither. If by our example we aid others in the development of good
principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same influence
upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our unconscious influence thousands may
Throw a pebble into the lake,
and a wave is formed, and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens,
until it reaches the very shore. So with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it
tells upon others in blessing or in cursing.
Character is power. The
silent witness of a true, unselfish, godly life carries an almost irresistible influence.
By revealing in our own life the character of Christ we co-operate with Him in the work of
saving souls. It is only by revealing in our life His character that we can co-operate
with Him. And the wider the sphere of our influence, the more good we may do. When those
who profess to serve God follow Christ's example, practicing the principles of the law in
their daily life; when every act bears witness that they love God supremely and their
neighbor as themselves, then will the church have power to move the world.
But never should it be
forgotten that influence is no less a power for evil. To lose one's own soul is a terrible
thing; but to cause the loss of other souls is still more terrible. That our influence
should be a savor of death unto death is a fearful thought; yet this is possible. Many who
profess to gather with Christ are scattering from Him. This is why the church is so weak.
Many indulge freely
in criticism and accusing. By giving expression to suspicion,
jealousy, and discontent, they yield themselves as instruments to Satan. Before they
realize what they are doing, the adversary has through them accomplished his purpose. The
impression of evil has been made, the shadow has been cast, the arrows of Satan have found
their mark. Distrust, unbelief, and downright infidelity have fastened upon those who
otherwise might have accepted Christ. Meanwhile the workers for Satan look complacently
upon those whom they have driven to skepticism, and who are now hardened against reproof
and entreaty. They flatter themselves that in comparison with these souls they are
virtuous and righteous. They do not realize that these sad wrecks of character are the
work of their own unbridled tongues and rebellious hearts. It is through their influence
that these tempted ones have fallen.
So frivolity, selfish
indulgence, and careless indifference on the part of professed Christians are turning away
many souls from the path of life. Many there are who will fear to meet at the bar of God
the results of their influence.
It is only through the grace
of God that we can make a right use of this endowment. There is nothing in us of ourselves
by which we can influence others for good. If we realize our helplessness and our need of
divine power, we shall not trust to ourselves. We know not what results a day, an hour, or
a moment may determine, and never should we begin the day without committing our ways to
our heavenly Father. His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves
under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand.
When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by
our side, prompting us to a
better course, choosing our words for us, and influencing our
actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing
others to Christ and the heavenly world.
Our time belongs to God.
Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His
glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.
The value of time is beyond
computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should
regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in
which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish
pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for
the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment.
The human family have
scarcely begun to live when they begin to die, and the world's incessant labor ends in
nothingness unless a true knowledge in regard to eternal life is gained. The man who
appreciates time as his working day will fit himself for a mansion and for a life that is
immortal. It is well that he was born.
We are admonished to redeem
the time. But time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment.
The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains,
by being co-workers with God in His great plan of redemption.
In him who does this, a
transformation of character takes place. He becomes a son of God, a member of the royal
family, a child of the heavenly King. He is fitted to be the companion of the angels.
Now is our time to labor for
the salvation of our fellow men. There are some who think that if they give money to the
cause of Christ, this is all they are required to do; the precious time in which they
might do personal service for Him passes unimproved. But it is the privilege and duty of
all who have health and strength to render to God active service. All are to labor in
winning souls to Christ. Donations of money cannot take the place of this.
Every moment is freighted
with eternal consequences. We are to stand as minute men, ready for service at a moment's
notice. The opportunity that is now ours to speak to some needy soul the word of life may
never offer again. God may say to that one, "This night thy soul shall be required of
thee," and through our neglect he may not be ready. (Luke 12:20.) In the great
judgment day, how shall we render our account to God?
Life is too solemn to be
absorbed in temporal and earthly matters, in a treadmill of care and anxiety for the
things that are but an atom in comparison with the things of eternal interest. Yet God has
called us to serve Him in the temporal affairs of life. Diligence in this work is as much
a part of true religion as is devotion. The Bible gives no indorsement to idleness. It is
the greatest curse that afflicts our world. Every man and woman who is truly converted
will be a diligent worker.
Upon the right improvement of
our time depends our success in acquiring knowledge and mental culture. The cultivation of
the intellect need not be prevented by poverty, humble origin, or unfavorable
surroundings. Only let the moments be treasured. A few moments here and a few there, that
might be frittered away in aimless talk; the morning hours so often wasted in bed; the
time spent in traveling on trams or railway cars, or waiting at the
station; the moments
of waiting for meals, waiting for those who are tardy in keeping an appointment--if a book
were kept at hand, and these fragments of time were improved in study, reading, or careful
thought, what might not be accomplished. A resolute purpose, persistent industry, and
careful economy of time, will enable men to acquire knowledge and mental discipline which
will qualify them for almost any position of influence and usefulness.
It is the duty of every
Christian to acquire habits of order, thoroughness, and dispatch. There is no excuse for
slow bungling at work of any character. When one is always at work and the work is never
done, it is because mind and heart are not put into the labor. The one who is slow and who
works at a disadvantage should realize that these are faults to be corrected. He needs to
exercise his mind in planning how to use the time so as to secure the best results. By
tact and method, some will accomplish as much in five hours as others do in ten. Some who
are engaged in domestic labor are always at work not because they have so much to do but
because they do not plan so as to save time. By their slow, dilatory ways they make much
work out of very little. But all who will, may overcome these fussy, lingering habits. In
their work let them have a definite aim. Decide how long a time is required for a given
task, and then bend every effort toward accomplishing the work in the given time. The
exercise of the will power will make the hands move deftly.
Through lack of determination
to take themselves in hand and reform, persons can become stereotyped in a wrong course of
action; or by cultivating their powers they may acquire ability to do the very best of
service. Then they will find themselves in demand anywhere and everywhere. They will be
appreciated for all that they are worth.
By many children and youth,
time is wasted that might be spent in carrying home burdens, and thus showing a loving
interest in father and mother. The youth might take upon their strong young shoulders many
responsibilities which someone must bear.
The life of Christ from His
earliest years was a life of earnest activity. He lived not to please Himself. He was the
Son of the infinite God, yet He worked at the carpenter's trade with His father Joseph.
His trade was significant. He had come into the world as the character builder, and as
such all His work was perfect. Into all His secular labor He brought the same perfection
as into the characters He was transforming by His divine power. He is our pattern.
Parents should teach their
children the value and right use of time. Teach them that to do something which will honor
God and bless humanity is worth striving for. Even in their early years they can be
missionaries for God.
Parents cannot commit a
greater sin than to allow their children to have nothing to do. The children soon learn to
love idleness, and they grow up shiftless, useless men and women. When they are old enough
to earn their living, and find employment, they work in a lazy, droning way, yet expect to
be paid as much as if they were faithful. There is a world-wide difference between this
class of workers and those who realize that they must be faithful stewards.
Indolent, careless habits
indulged in secular work will be brought into the religious life and will unfit one to do
any efficient service for God. Many who through diligent labor might have been a blessing
to the world, have been ruined through idleness. Lack of employment and of steadfast
purpose opens the door to a thousand temptations. Evil companions and vicious habits
deprave mind and soul, and the result is ruin for this life and for the life to come.
Whatever the line of work in
which we engage, the word of God teaches us to be "not slothful in business; fervent
in spirit; serving the Lord." "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might," "knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the
inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ." Rom. 12:11; Eccl. 9:10; Col. 3:24.
Health is a blessing of which
few appreciate the value; yet upon it the efficiency of our mental and physical powers
largely depends. Our impulses and passions have their seat in the body, and it must be
kept in the best condition physically and under the most spiritual influences in order
that our talents may be put to the highest use.
Anything that lessens
physical strength enfeebles the mind and makes it less capable of discriminating between
right and wrong. We become less capable of choosing the good and have less strength of
will to do that which we know to be right.
The misuse of our physical
powers shortens the period of time in which our lives can be used for the glory of God.
And it unfits us to accomplish the work God has given us to do. By allowing ourselves to
form wrong habits, by keeping late hours, by gratifying appetite at the expense of health,
we lay the foundation for feebleness. By neglecting physical exercise, by overworking mind
or body, we unbalance the nervous system. Those who thus shorten their lives and unfit
themselves for service by disregarding nature's laws, are guilty of robbery toward God.
And they are robbing their fellow men also. The opportunity of blessing others, the very
work for which God sent them into the world, has by their own course of action been cut
short. And they have unfitted themselves to do even that
which in a briefer period of time
they might have accomplished. The Lord holds us guilty when by our injurious habits we
thus deprive the world of good.
Transgression of physical law
is transgression of the moral law; for God is as truly the author of physical laws as He
is the author of the moral law. His law is written
with His own finger upon every nerve,
every muscle, every faculty, which has been entrusted to man. And every misuse of any part
of our organism is a violation of that law.
All should have an
intelligent knowledge of the human frame that they may keep their bodies in the condition
necessary to do the work of the Lord. The physical life is to be carefully preserved and
developed that through humanity the divine nature may be revealed in its fullness. The
relation of the physical organism to the spiritual life is one of the most important
branches of education. It should receive careful attention in the home and in the school.
All need to become acquainted with their physical structure and the laws that control
natural life. He who remains in willing ignorance of the laws of his physical being and
who violates them through ignorance is sinning against God. All should place themselves in
the best possible relation to life and health. Our habits should be brought under the
control of a mind that is itself under the control of God.
"Know ye not," says
the apostle Paul, "that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore
glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor. 6:19, 20.
We are to love God, not only
with all the heart, mind, and soul, but with all the strength. This covers the full,
intelligent use of the physical powers.
Christ was a true worker in
temporal as well as in spiritual things, and into all His work He brought a determination
to do His Father's will. The things of heaven and earth are more closely connected and are
more directly under the supervision of Christ than many realize.
It was Christ who planned
the arrangement for the first earthly tabernacle. He gave every specification in regard to
the building of Solomon's temple. The One who in His earthly life worked as a carpenter in
the village of Nazareth was the heavenly architect who marked out the plan for the sacred
building where His name was to be honored.
It was Christ who gave to the
builders of the tabernacle wisdom to execute the most skillful and beautiful workmanship.
He said, "See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the
tribe of Judah; and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in
understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. . . . And I, behold, I
have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts
of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have
commanded thee." Ex. 31:2-6.
God desires that His workers
in every line shall look to Him as the Giver of all they possess. All right inventions and
improvements have their source in Him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in
working. The skillful touch of the physician's hand, his power over nerve and muscle, his
knowledge of the delicate organism of the body, is the wisdom of divine power, to be used
in behalf of the suffering. The skill with which the carpenter uses the hammer, the
strength with which the blacksmith makes the anvil ring, comes from God. He has entrusted
men with talents, and He expects them to look to Him for counsel. Whatever we do, in
whatever department of the work we are placed, He desires to control our minds that we may
do perfect work.
Religion and business are not
two separate things; they are one. Bible religion is to be interwoven with all we do or
say. Divine and human agencies are to combine in
temporal as well as in spiritual
achievements. They are to be united in all human pursuits, in mechanical and agricultural
labors, in mercantile and scientific enterprises. There must be co-operation in everything
embraced in Christian activity.
God has proclaimed the
principles on which alone this co-operation is possible. His glory must be the motive of
all who are laborers together with Him. All our work is to be done from love of God and in
accordance with His will.
It is just as essential to do
the will of God when erecting a building as when taking part in a religious service. And
if the workers have brought the right principles into their own character making, then in
the erection of every building they will grow in grace and knowledge.
But God will not accept the
greatest talents or the most splendid service unless self is laid upon the altar, a
living, consuming sacrifice. The root must be holy, else there can be no fruit acceptable
The Lord made Daniel and
Joseph shrewd managers. He could work through them because they did not live to please
their own inclination but to please God.
The case of Daniel has a
lesson for us. It reveals the fact that a businessman is not necessarily a sharp, policy
man. He can be instructed by God at every step. Daniel, while prime minister of the
kingdom of Babylon, was a prophet of God, receiving the light of heavenly inspiration.
Worldly, ambitious statesmen are represented in the word of God as the grass that groweth
up and as the flower of the grass that fadeth. Yet the Lord desires to have in His service
intelligent men, men qualified for various lines of work. There is need of businessmen who
will weave the grand principles of truth into all their transactions. And their talents
should be perfected by most thorough study and training. If men in any line of work need
improve their opportunities to become wise and efficient, it is those who are using
their ability in building up the kingdom of God in our world. Of Daniel we learn that in
all his business transactions, when subjected to the closest scrutiny, not one fault or
error could be found. He was a sample of what every businessman may be. His history shows
what may be accomplished by one who consecrates the strength of brain and bone and muscle,
of heart and life, to the service of God.
God also entrusts men with
means. He gives them power to get wealth. He waters the earth with the dews of heaven and
with the showers of refreshing rain. He gives the sunlight, which warms the earth,
awakening to life the things of nature and causing them to flourish and bear fruit. And He
asks for a return of His own.
Our money has not been given
us that we might honor and glorify ourselves. As faithful stewards we are to use it for
the honor and glory of God. Some think that only a portion of their means is the Lord's.
When they have set apart a portion for religious and charitable purposes, they regard the
remainder as their own, to be used as they see fit. But in this they mistake. All we
possess is the Lord's, and we are accountable to Him for the use we make of it. In the use
of every penny, it will be seen whether we love God supremely and our neighbor as
Money has great value,
because it can do great good. In the hands of God's children it is food for the hungry,
drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a defense for the oppressed, and
a means of help to the sick. But money is of no more value than sand, only as it is put to
use in providing for the necessities of life, in blessing others, and advancing the cause
Hoarded wealth is not merely
useless, it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections
away from the heavenly treasure. In the great day of God its witness to unused talents and
neglected opportunities will condemn its possessor. The Scripture says, "Go to now,
ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are
corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust
of them shall bear witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have
heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have
reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them
which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth." James 5:1-4.
But Christ sanctions no
lavish or careless use of means. His lesson in economy, "Gather up the fragments that
remain, that nothing be lost," is for all His followers. (John 6:12.) He who realizes
that his money is a talent from God will use it economically, and will feel it a duty to
save that he may give.
The more means we expend in
display and self-indulgence, the less we can have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
Every penny used unnecessarily deprives the spender of a precious opportunity of doing
good. It is robbing God of the honor and glory which should flow back to Him through the
improvement of His entrusted talents.
Kindly Impulses and
Kindly affections, generous impulses, and a quick apprehension of spiritual
things are precious talents, and lay their possessor under a weighty responsibility. All
are to be used in God's service. But here many err. Satisfied with the possession of these
qualities, they fail to bring
them into active service for others. They flatter themselves
that if they had opportunity, if circumstances were favorable, they would do a great and
good work. But they are awaiting the opportunity. They despise the narrowness of the poor
niggard who grudges even a pittance to the needy. They see that he is living for self, and
that he is responsible for his misused talents. With much complacency they draw the
contrast between themselves and such narrow-minded ones, feeling that their own condition
is much more favorable than that of their mean-souled neighbors. But they are deceiving
themselves. The mere possession of unused qualities only increases their responsibility.
Those who possess large affections are under obligation to God to bestow them, not merely
on their friends, but on all who need their help. Social advantages are talents, and are
to be used for the benefit of all within reach of our influence. The love that gives
kindness to only a few is not love, but selfishness. It will not in any way work for the
good of souls or the glory of God. Those who thus leave their Master's talents unimproved
are even more guilty than are the ones for whom they feel such contempt. To them it will
be said, Ye knew your Master's will, but did it not.
Multiplied by Use
Talents used are talents
multiplied. Success is not the result of chance or of destiny; it is the outworking of
God's own providence, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and persevering
effort. The Lord desires us to use every gift we have; and if we do this, we shall have
greater gifts to use. He does not supernaturally endow us with the qualifications we lack;
but while we use that which we have, He will work with us to increase and strengthen
faculty. By every wholehearted, earnest sacrifice for the Master's service our powers will
increase. While we yield ourselves as instruments for the Holy Spirit's working, the grace
of God works in us to deny old inclinations, to overcome powerful propensities, and to
form new habits. As we cherish and obey the promptings of the Spirit, our hearts are
enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant
energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life.
The humble worker who
obediently responds to the call of God may be sure of receiving divine assistance. To
accept so great and holy a responsibility is itself elevating to the character. It calls
into action the highest mental and spiritual powers, and strengthens and purifies the mind
and heart. Through faith in the power of God, it is wonderful how strong a weak man may
become, how decided his efforts, how prolific of great results. He who begins with a
little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he knows, while seeking diligently for
further knowledge, will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand. The more he
seeks to impart light, the more light he will receive. The more one tries to explain the
word of God to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to himself. The more
we use our knowledge and exercise our powers, the more knowledge and power we shall have.
Every effort made for Christ
will react in blessing upon ourselves. If we use our means for His glory, He will give us
more. As we seek to win others to Christ, bearing the burden of souls in our prayers, our
own hearts will throb with the quickening influence of God's grace; our own affections
will glow with more divine fervor; our whole Christian life will be more of a reality,
more earnest, more prayerful.
The value of man is estimated
in heaven according to
the capacity of the heart to know God. This knowledge is the spring
from which flows all power. God created man that every faculty might be the faculty of the
divine mind; and He is ever seeking to bring the human mind into association with the
divine. He offers us the privilege of co-operation with Christ in revealing His grace to
the world, that we may receive increased knowledge of heavenly things.
Looking unto Jesus we obtain
brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness,
love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the
counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity
for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we
have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of
The man who received the one
talent "went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money."
It was the one with the
smallest gift who left his talent unimproved. In this is given a warning to all who feel
that the smallness of their endowments excuses them from service for Christ. If they could
do some great thing, how gladly would they undertake it; but because they can serve only
in little things, they think themselves justified in doing nothing. In this they err. The
Lord in His distribution of gifts is testing character. The man who neglected to improve
his talent proved himself an unfaithful servant. Had he received five talents, he would
have buried them as he buried the one. His misuse of the one talent showed that he
despised the gifts of heaven.
"He that is faithful in
that which is least is faithful also in much." Luke 16:10. The importance of the
little things is often underrated because they are small; but they supply much of the
actual discipline of life. There are really no nonessentials in the Christian's life. Our
character building will be full of peril while we underrate the importance of the little
"He that is unjust in
the least is unjust also in much." By unfaithfulness in even the smallest duties, man
robs his Maker of the service which is His due. This unfaithfulness reacts upon himself.
He fails of gaining the grace, the power, the force of character, which may be received
through an unreserved surrender to God. Living apart from Christ he is subject to Satan's
temptations, and he makes mistakes in his work for the Master. Because he is not guided by
right principles in little things, he fails to obey God in the great matters which he
regards as his special work. The defects cherished in dealing with life's minor details
pass into more important affairs. He acts on the principles to which he has accustomed
himself. Thus actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by the character
our destiny for time and for eternity is decided.
Only by faithfulness in the
little things can the soul be trained to act with fidelity under larger responsibilities.
God brought Daniel and his fellows into connection with the great men of Babylon, that
these heathen men might become acquainted with the principles of true religion. In the
midst of a nation of idolaters, Daniel was to represent the character of God. How did he
become fitted for a position of so great trust and honor? It was his faithfulness in the
little things that gave complexion to his whole life. He honored God in the smallest
duties, and the Lord co-operated with him. To Daniel and his companions God
"knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all
visions and dreams." Dan. 1:17.
As God called Daniel to
witness for Him in Babylon, so He calls us to be His witnesses in the world today. In the
smallest as well as the largest affairs of life He desires us to reveal to men the
principles of His kingdom.
Christ in His life on earth
taught the lesson of careful attention to the little things. The great work of redemption
weighed continually upon His soul. As He was teaching and healing, all the energies of
mind and body were taxed to the utmost; yet He noticed the most simple things in life and
in nature. His most instructive lessons were those in which by the simple things of nature
illustrated the great truths of the kingdom of God. He did not overlook the necessities
of the humblest of His servants. His ear heard every cry of need. He was awake to the
touch of the afflicted woman in the crowd; the very slightest touch of faith brought a
response. When He raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus, He reminded her parents
that she must have something to eat. When by His own mighty power He rose from the tomb,
He did not disdain to fold and put carefully in the proper place the graveclothes in which
He had been laid away.
The work to which as
Christians we are called is to co-operate with Christ for the salvation of souls. This
work we have entered into covenant with Him to do. To neglect the work is to prove
disloyal to Christ. But in order to accomplish this work we must follow His example of
faithful, conscientious attention to the little things. This is the secret of success in
every line of Christian effort and influence.
The Lord desires His people
to reach the highest round of the ladder that they may glorify Him by possessing the
ability He is willing to bestow. Through the grace of God every provision has been made
for us to reveal that we act upon better plans than those upon which the world acts. We
are to show a superiority in intellect, in understanding, in skill and knowledge, because
we believe in God and in His power to work upon human hearts.
But those who have not a
large endowment of gifts need not become discouraged. Let them use what they have,
faithfully guarding every weak point in their characters, seeking by divine grace to make
it strong. Into every action of life we are to weave faithfulness and loyalty, cultivating
the attributes that will enable us to accomplish the work.
Habits of negligence should
be resolutely overcome.
Many think it a sufficient excuse for the grossest errors to plead
forgetfulness. But do they not, as well as others, possess intellectual faculties? Then
they should discipline their minds to be retentive. It is a sin to forget, a sin to be
negligent. If you form a habit of negligence, you may neglect your own soul's salvation
and at last find that you are unready for the kingdom of God.
Great truths must be brought
into little things. Practical religion is to be carried into the lowly duties of daily
life. The greatest qualification for any man is to obey implicitly the word of the Lord.
Because they are not
connected with some directly religious work, many feel that their lives are useless; that
they are doing nothing for the advancement of God's kingdom. But this is a mistake. If
their work is that which someone must do, they should not accuse themselves of uselessness
in the great household of God. The humblest duties are not to be ignored. Any honest work
is a blessing, and faithfulness in it may prove a training for higher trusts.
However lowly, any work done
for God with a full surrender of self is as acceptable to Him as the highest service. No
offering is small that is given with true-heartedness and gladness of soul.
Wherever we may be, Christ
bids us take up the duty that presents itself. If this is in the home, take hold willingly
and earnestly to make home a pleasant place. If you are a mother, train your children for
Christ. This is as verily a work for God as is that of the minister in the pulpit. If your
duty is in the kitchen, seek to be a perfect cook. Prepare food that will be healthful,
nourishing, and appetizing. And as you employ the best ingredients in preparing food
remember that you are to give your mind the best thoughts. If it is your work to till the
soil or to engage in any other trade or occupation, make a success
of the present duty.
Put your mind on what you are doing. In all your work represent Christ. Do as He would do
in your place.
However small your talent,
God has a place for it. That one talent, wisely used, will accomplish its appointed work.
By faithfulness in little duties, we are to work on the plan of addition, and God will
work for us on the plan of multiplication. These littles will become the most precious
influences in His work.
Let a living faith run like
threads of gold through the performance of even the smallest duties. Then all the daily
work will promote Christian growth. There will be a continual looking unto Jesus. Love for
Him will give vital force to everything that is undertaken. Thus through the right use of
our talents, we may link ourselves by a golden chain to the higher world. This is true
sanctification; for sanctification consists in the cheerful performance of daily duties in
perfect obedience to the will of God.
But many Christians are
waiting for some great work to be brought to them. Because they cannot find a place large
enough to satisfy their ambition, they fail to perform faithfully the common duties of
life. These seem to them uninteresting. Day by day they let slip opportunities for showing
their faithfulness to God. While they are waiting for some great work, life passes away,
its purposes unfulfilled, its work unaccomplished.
"After a long time the
lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." When the Lord takes account
of His servants, the return from every talent will be scrutinized. The work done reveals
the character of the worker.
Those who have received the
five and the two talents return to the Lord the entrusted gifts with their increase.
doing this they claim no merit for themselves. Their talents are those that have been
delivered to them; they have gained other talents, but there could have been no gain
without the deposit. They see that they have done only their duty. The capital was the
Lord's; the improvement in His. Had not the Saviour bestowed upon them His love and grace,
they would have been bankrupt for eternity.
But when the Master receives
the talents, He approves and rewards the workers as though the merit were all their own.
His countenance is full of joy and satisfaction. He is filled with delight that He can
bestow blessings upon them. For every service and every sacrifice He requites them, not
because it is a debt He owes, but because His heart is overflowing with love and
"Well done, thou good
and faithful servant," He says; "thou hast been faithful over a few things, I
will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
It is the faithfulness, the
loyalty to God, the loving service, that wins the divine approval. Every impulse of the
Holy Spirit leading men to goodness and to God, is noted in the books of heaven, and in
the day of God the workers through whom He has wrought will be commended.
They will enter into the joy
of the Lord as they see in His kingdom those who have been redeemed through their
instrumentality. And they are privileged to participate in His work there, because they
have gained a fitness for it by participation in His work here. What we shall be in heaven
is the reflection of what we are now in character and holy service. Christ said of
Himself, "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Matt.
20:28. This, His work on earth, is His work in heaven. And our reward for working with
Christ in this world is the greater power and wider privilege of working with Him in the
world to come.
"Then he which had
received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man,
reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed; and I was
afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast that is thine."
Thus men excuse their neglect
of God's gifts. They look upon God as severe and tyrannical, as watching to spy out their
mistakes and visit them with judgments. They charge Him with demanding what He has never
given, with reaping where He has not sown.
There are many who in their
hearts charge God with being a hard master because He claims their possessions and their
service. But we can bring to God nothing that is not already His. "All things come of
Thee," said King David; "and of Thine own have we given Thee." I Chron.
29:14. All things are God's, not only by creation, but by redemption. All the blessings of
this life and of the life to come are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary.
Therefore the charge that God is a hard master, reaping where He has not sown, is false.
The master does not deny the
charge of the wicked servant, unjust as it is; but taking him on his own ground he shows
that his conduct is without excuse. Ways and means had been provided whereby the talent
might have been improved to the owner's profit. "Thou oughtest," he said,
"to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received
mine own with usury."
Our heavenly Father requires
no more nor less than He has given us ability to do. He lays upon His servants no burdens
that they are not able to bear. "He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are
dust." Ps. 103:14. All that He claims from us we through divine grace can render.
"Unto whomsoever much is
given, of him shall be much
required." Luke 12:48. We shall individually be held
responsible for doing one jot less than we have ability to do. The Lord measures with
exactness every possibility for service. The unused capabilities are as much brought into
account as are those that are improved. For all that we might become through the right use
of our talents God holds us responsible. We shall be judged according to what we ought to
have done, but did not accomplish because we did not use our powers to glorify God. Even
if we do not lose our souls, we shall realize in eternity the result of our unused
talents. For all the knowledge and ability that we might have gained and did not, there
will be an eternal loss.
But when we give ourselves
wholly to God and in our work follow His directions, He makes Himself responsible for its
accomplishment. He would not have us conjecture as to the success of our honest endeavors.
Not once should we even think of failure. We are to co-operate with One who knows no
We should not talk of our own
weakness and inability. This is a manifest distrust of God, a denial of His word. When we
murmur because of our burdens, or refuse the responsibilities He calls upon us to bear, we
are virtually saying that He is a hard master, that He requires what He has not given us
power to do.
The spirit of the slothful
servant we are often fain to call humility. But true humility is widely different. To be
clothed with humility does not mean that we are to be dwarfs in intellect, deficient in
aspiration, and cowardly in our lives, shunning burdens lest we fail to carry them
successfully. Real humility fulfills God's purposes by depending upon His strength.
God works by whom He will. He
sometimes selects the humblest instrument to do the greatest work, for His
revealed through the weakness of men. We have our standard, and by it we pronounce one
thing great and another small; but God does not estimate according to our rule. We are not
to suppose that what is great to us must be great to God, or that what is small to us must
be small to Him. It does not rest with us to pass judgment on our talents or to choose our
work. We are to take up the burdens that God appoints, bearing them for His sake, and ever
going to Him for rest. Whatever our work, God is honored by wholehearted, cheerful
service. He is pleased when we take up our duties with gratitude, rejoicing that we are
accounted worthy to be co-laborers with Him.
Upon the slothful servant the
sentence was, "Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath
ten talents." Here, as in the reward of the faithful worker, is indicated not merely
the reward at the final judgment but the gradual process of retribution in this life. As
in the natural, so in the spiritual world: every power unused will weaken and decay.
Activity is the law of life; idleness is death. "The manifestation of the Spirit is
given to every man to profit withal." 1 Cor. 12:7. Employed to bless others, his
gifts increase. Shut up to self-serving they diminish, and are finally withdrawn. He who
refuses to impart that which he has received will at last find that he has nothing to
give. He is consenting to a process that surely dwarfs and finally destroys the faculties
of the soul.
Let none suppose that they
can live a life of selfishness, and then, having served their own interests, enter into
the joy of their Lord. In the joy of unselfish love they could not participate. They would
not be fitted for the heavenly
courts. They could not appreciate the pure atmosphere of
love that pervades heaven. The voices of the angels and the music of their harps would not
satisfy them. To their minds the science of heaven would be as an enigma.
In the great judgment day
those who have not worked for Christ, those who have drifted along, carrying no
responsibility, thinking of themselves, pleasing themselves, will be placed by the Judge
of all the earth with those who did evil. They receive the same condemnation.
Many who profess to be
Christians neglect the claims of God, and yet they do not feel that in this there is any
wrong. They know that the blasphemer, the murderer, the adulterer, deserves punishment;
but as for them, they enjoy the services of religion. They love to hear the gospel
preached, and therefore they think themselves Christians. Though they have spent their
lives in caring for themselves, they will be as much surprised as was the unfaithful
servant in the parable to hear the sentence, "Take the talent from him." Like
the Jews, they mistake the enjoyment of their blessings for the use they should make of
Many who excuse themselves
from Christian effort plead their inability for the work. But did God make them so
incapable? No, never. This inability has been produced by their own inactivity and
perpetuated by their deliberate choice. Already, in their own characters, they are
realizing the result of the sentence, "Take the talent from him." The continual
misuse of their talents will effectually quench for them the Holy Spirit, which is the
only light. The sentence, "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer
darkness," sets Heaven's seal to the choice which they themselves have made for