NEW YORK, NY—Abortion provider Planned Parenthood has been confusing its supporters, claiming that black lives matter but still killing a disproportionate number of black people a day.
The organization issued a revised statement today that black lives do matter, but only once they’ve been born. “Before that, they’re fair game for killing,” said a spokesperson. “In fact, they’re a huge chunk of our business. So we didn’t want people to start thinking that black lives matter when they’re in the womb, because honestly, that’d be a huge hit to our bottom line.”
“Err, I mean, women’s healthcare or whatever.”
At publishing time, Planned Parenthood had clarified its statement once again, stating that black lives were still subject to not mattering for “at least a few hours” after birth.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a press briefing with the always insufferable White House press pool from the Brady room.
WORLD—Cancel culture is real: according to a recent report, God has dug up humanity’s atrocious past and offered to cancel the sins of the world through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God combed through humanity’s old tweets, wars, racism, hate for one another, and all other offensive acts, motives, and attitudes against a thrice-holy God, and decided that He had every right to cancel humanity. But then He did something really strange that didn’t make a ton of sense to anyone: instead of canceling humanity, He sent His Son to pay for the sins of the world and offered to cancel forever the sin-debt of those who believe in Him.
Reports indicated that for those who were dead in their sins, “God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
However, sources warned that God has canceled humanity once before with water and will do it again with fire one day, for those who reject His offer of canceling their sins forever.
The Tee shirt promoted by Beth Moore on Twitter was given to her by her friend Christine Caine of heretical Hillsong Church in Australia. Caine considers Joyce Meyer her chief mentor and “spiritual mother.” Both are Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel wolves. So with this background in mind, here’s Reformation Charlotte’s report. Watch Moore’s video. Sadly, she appears to be mentally deranged — and that’s putting it mildly.
The slogan, “Nevertheless, She Persisted,” has become synonymous with far-left ideology after it was popularized by the progressive senator, Elizabeth Warren….
Much like the Marxist slogan, “Black Lives Matter,” “Nevertheless, She Persisted” is used to express pro-feminist ideology that is aligned with the intersectionality movement associated with the pro-homosexual, pro-abortion leftist agenda.
It honestly should come as no surprise as Reformation Charlotte has been warning about Beth Moore — a Southern Baptist lady-preacher — who has been single-handedly leading a movement in the Southern Baptist Convention to the left for years. Besides her terrible theology and inability to rightly handle the Scriptures, she is a rebellious fraudulent woman intent on lifting her finger to God daily.
After consultation with President Donald Trump, Tulsa Oklahoma Mayor G.T. Bynum has cancelled the curfew that was in effect around the Trump rally venue.
…“Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said in the release. “Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.” (LINK)
Podcast: Play in new window
What does sex mean according to the Supreme Court? Frank identifies and expounds upon 5 Casualties in the Court’s LGBTQ Sex Ruling:
- We the People
- LGBTQ People
- 96% of the Population
- Religious Freedom
Frank reveals the sixth casualty as well, one for which the original civil rights law was made.
He then offers some solutions and traces the absurd ruling—which rationally nullifies the basis for any human rights—back to a rejection of Aristotle. Listen to find out how.
A recent Gallup Poll indicated that 42% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago. Conversely, half believe humans evolved (i.e. they developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life), albeit God guided the evolutionary process.1 Billy Graham shared about being open to models that find compatibility between evolution and a historical Adam and Eve, whereas other Christian thinkers, such as Alister McGrath and C.S. Lewis, suggested non-historical models of the first man and woman being compatible with evolution.2 Are the biblical Adam and Eve historical people? Is evolution compatible with a historical Adam and Eve? My humble opinion is that Adam and Eve were historical people and that Darwinian Evolution, as we know it, is a bankrupt idea.
Adam and Eve
Genesis 1:1-2:3 narrates the creation week. It is on the sixth day that God decrees, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” and the first male and female divine image bearing dyad come into existence (Gen. 1:26-27).3 Rather than a strict chronological sequence of events, there is a literary framework employed in Genesis 1:1-2:3. The first triad of days presents the creation of kingdoms: light on the first day; sky and sea on second day; land and vegetation on the third day. The second triad of days presents the creation of rulers of the kingdoms: luminaries (sun, moon, stars) on the fourth day; sea creatures and flying creatures on the fifth day; land creatures and humans created in the image of God on the sixth day. The seventh day then highlights the glory of the King of Creation.4 Regardless of the chronological sequence, the reality of the Creator and the first biological human male and female dyad created in the image of God are undeniable. The origin of the universe in general and humans in particular came as the result of divine fiat.
Divine creation of humans is recapitulated and expanded upon in Genesis 2:4-3:22. Here God plants the Garden of Eden, forms Adam from dust and fashions Eve from the man’s rib. Adam is caretaker of the Garden and Eve is “mother of all living.” Beguiled by the serpent, Eve and Adam partake in the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they are expelled from the Garden the fall and kept from partaking in the fruit from the tree of life. Genesis 2:4-3:22 does employ figurative language to communicate truth, as in the case of the snake which depicts the craftiness of the deceiver, but such never precludes the historicity of Adam and Eve and their falling out with God.5 C. John Collins puts it this way: “We have plenty of reasons from the text itself to be careful about reading it too literalistically; and at the same time we have reasons to accept an historical core.”6
Genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are symmetrical. The former presents the generations from Adam to Noah with Noah being a man with three sons — Shem, Ham and Japheth. The latter presents the generations from Shem to Terah with Terah being a man with three sons — Abram (Abraham), Nahor and Haran. Interestingly, the Septuagint (ancient Greek translations of the Old Testament often abbreviated with the Roman numeral LXX) include the name Cainan between Arpachshad and Shelah in Genesis 10:24, and Luke 3:35-36 does too, which makes ten generations from Shem to Terah.7 The ten generations from Shem to Terah will then match the ten generations from Adam to Noah, which further emphasizes the symmetry between the two genealogies. It is a mistake to suppose these genealogies present every single generation from Adam to Abraham. The two genealogies are deliberately edited to be symmetrical. Nevertheless, the historical kernel of Genesis 5 and 11 informs us that Adam is the progenitor of all humanity, and while the first man’s lineage was nearly snuffed out by the flood, his descendants continued on through the sons of Noah, according to the grace of God provided. In so far as the Book of Genesis is concerned, Adam is the progenitor of all humanity.
Adam is also named as progenitor of all patriarchs, rulers, and priests — particularly those of the descendants of Abraham returning from Babylonian exile — in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1:1-9:44.
Paul even presupposes both a historical Adam and Christ. During the address to the Areopagus, the Apostle said, “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27). This is an affirmation of God being the creator of humans, and all humans coming from one man — that man being Adam.
A historical Adam and Christ is presupposed in Pauline teaching on the despair of human sin and death and being resolved with the hope of resurrection life. The apostle writes, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
Phrases like “in Adam” and “in Christ” refer to covenant representatives. Christ is a covenantal representative of one group of people whereas Adam is a covenantal representative for another group of people and “what happens to the representative affects all members of the group, and vice-versa” but “there is no evidence that one can be covenantally ‘in’ someone who had no historical existence.”8 Put it another way: “Something happened to ‘all’ as a result of Adam’s deeds as a representative, just as something will happen to ‘all as a result of Christ’s representative deeds”9 and “one person did something to cause the problem for those he represented, a later person did something to rescue from the problem those he represented. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is the down payment on the final restoration of the entire physical world from the problems of sin and death — problems that, according to Paul, were introduced by the sin of Adam and Eve.”10
The same idea of covenantal representatives whose actions affect the people being represented is further expounded upon in the comparison and contrast between Adam and the last Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 along with the teaching on the transgression of Adam that brings sin and death in opposition to the righteousness of Christ that brings justification and life in Romans 5:12-21. If there is a historical Christ that connects the Christian to justification and resurrection, then it stands to reason there is a historical Adam that connects humanity to the perennial problem of sin and death.
What Scriptures declare about the human species coming from a single couple — Adam and Eve — is even scientifically plausible. Research scientist Anne Gauger says, “The science as we know it shows that it is mathematically possible for us to have come from just one man and one woman. That is based on population genetics, a field that keeps track of genetic diversity in populations over time.”11
A historical Adam and Eve is the best understanding of what is communicated from the abovementioned passages from the Scriptures.
Evolution is a theory initially proposed in the nineteenth century by Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Darwin contended that all life evolved from simple to complex lifeforms. Undirected forces bring about random variations in lifeforms. In other words, mutations occasionally happen when species reproduce. These mutations can be either harmful or beneficial. Natural selection (i.e. the survival of the fittest) determines whether a mutation promotes the lifeform’s continuance. The diversity of species existing and thriving today, for the most part, are the ones with the random various that made them well-fit for survival in their respective environments. Newer species better fit for survival in their environment will supplant older lesser fit species in the same environment.
The evidence for Darwinian evolution is tenuous at best. Even the known fossil record betrays the basic paradigm. For example, if evolution is true, one expects to find the remains of lifeforms in the strata near the surface to be the most complex and divers, but the remains of the life forms in strata descending further from the surface to gradually become less complex and diverse. The gist of the idea is the strata gets older descending from the surface, and the fossils found closer to the surface are newer than those further below the surface are older. The deeper strata should have the older and simpler lifeforms whereas the remains of the lifeforms should gradually grow more diverse and complex ascending towards the surface, according to the story of evolution.
What actually exists in the strata is completely different. Instead of finding fossil remains gradually becoming more complex and divers ascending towards the surface, we find a blooming of diverse and complex lifeforms in the strata from the Cambrian period. The fossil record reveals that “almost all of the animal body plans that have ever existed on earth abruptly appeared within the Cambrian period, about 530 million years ago.”12 This blooming of diverse and complex lifeforms is referred to as the Cambrian explosion.
Lots of fossil remains of extinct hominids have been excavated; however, the reports given about those creatures typically say more than what the remains actually reveal. Biologist Jonathan Wells says, “One of the major problems with paleoanthropology is that compared to all the fossils we have, only a miniscule number are believed to be creatures ancestral to humans…often, it’s just skull fragments or teeth.” He goes on to say, “So this gives a lot of elasticity in reconstructing the specimens to fit evolutionary theory. For example, when National Geographic hired four artists to reconstruct a female figure from seven fossil bones found in Kenya, they came up with quite different interpretations. One looked like a modern African-American woman; another like a werewolf; another had a heavy, gorilla-like brow; and another had a missing forehead and jaws that looked a bit like a beaked dinosaur.”13 The popular illustration of upright hominids walking in line with examples becoming more ape-like towards the back line and Neanderthals and modern humans towards the front tells us more about artistic license coupled with fertile imagination than what the fossils actually reveal. There is simply a lack of any evidence for there being evolutionary precursors to modern humans.
Complex information stored in codes of the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of complex lifeforms poses another insurmountable challenge to Darwinian evolution origins story. Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, indicates that “just as letters in an English sentence or digital characters in a computer program may convey information depending on their arrangement, so too do certain sequences of chemical bases along the spine of the DNA molecule convey precise instructions for building proteins” but “to date, no theory of undirected chemical evolution has explained the origin of the digital information needed to build the first living cell. Why? There is simply too much information in the cell to be explained by chance alone.”14
Information rich DNA, the basic building blocks of all species of biological lifeforms, is more consistent with an intelligent cause as opposed to unguided evolution. Dr. Meyer writes, “Whenever we find specified information and we know the causal story of how that information arose, we always find that it arose from an intelligent source. It follows that the best, most likely explanation for the origin of the information in DNA is that it too had an intelligent source.”15 Elsewhere Dr. Meyer states, “So the realization that building the animals attested by the Cambrian fossil record required huge infusions of new functional information into the biosphere provides strong grounds for inferring that a designing intelligence played a role in this event in the history of life, even if we weren’t there to observe the first animals coming into existence.”16
Chances of life emerging on this planet through unguided processes are statistically improbable to the extreme. For example, consider the odds of a protein molecule forming by chance. Dr. Meyer says, “First, you need the right bonds between amino acids. Second, amino acids come in right-handed and left-handed versions, and you’ve got to get only left-handed ones. Third, the amino acids must link up in a specified sequence, like letters in a sentence.” The odds of this occurring are “one chance in a hundred thousand trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion,” which is equivalent to “a ten with 125 zeroes after it!” But this is just producing a single protein molecule by chance. Dr. Meyer also points out that “a minimally complex cell would need between three hundred and five hundred protein molecules. Plus, all this would have to be accomplished in a mere 100 million years, which is the approximate window of time between the Earth cooling and the first microfossils we’ve found.” 17 The odds one protein molecule forming by chance are astronomically improbable. Forming enough protein molecules to make up a cell is more unlikely. It is doubtful to the extreme that that unguided processes would produce humans, dinosaurs or complex lifeforms. Whether we have a young earth of 6,000 to 10,000 years old or an old earth of 4.5 billion years old, the odds are against life on Earth emerging from unguided processes. Let the chips fall where they may on the age of the Earth discussion.
God and Evolution
The idea of God using evolution as a means of bringing about all biological lifeforms is commonly called theistic evolution. Evolutionary Creation or BioLogos similarly holds “that God created all things, including human beings in his own image” and “that evolution is the best scientific explanation we currently have for the diversity and similarities of all life on Earth.”18
The idea of God using evolution is actually a significant departure from the blind watchmaker thesis inherent in Darwinian’s theory. The blind watchmaker thesis is “the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.”19 To say that God uses evolution, a sort of Cosmic Bioengineer, implies teleology or purpose, which is the antithesis to the blind watchmaker thesis. How can God guide an unguided process?
There is also an unsettling element to the notion of God using evolution. Hank Hanegraaff writes, “It is one thing to believe in evolution, it is quite another to blame God for it” but “an omnipotent, omniscient God does not have to plod painfully through millions of mistakes, misfits, and mutations in order to have fellowship with humans.”20[xx]For further reading on BioLogos and theistic evolution see, “Deflating Darwinism” by Jay W. Richards, “No God-of-the-Gaps Allowed: Francis Collins and Theistic Evolution” by Paul Nelson, and “The New Theistic Evolutionists: BioLogos and the Rush to Embrace the ‘Consensus’” by Casey Luskin.
Did Adam and Eve exist? Yes, they did. We are their progeny. The first man and woman were created in the image of God, and image of God is within all their progeny. We are more than just modified monkeys that came about through unguided impersonal evolutionary processes. We are made in God’s image. This is what is truly beautiful about the divine creation of mankind.
We are also organically united together to our first parents — Adam and Eve. We are more than just an insignificant speck upon specks that formed from unguided processes; rather, we are the handiwork of a Maker. God is the skillful potter and we are the clay being molded into vessels meant for honor.
If we are created in the image of God, then we have intrinsic worth. Our individual worth goes beyond personal assets, accomplishments, abilities, accolades or aesthetics; rather, our individual worth is grounded in being made in the image of God. We are divine image bearers who are to treat one another with dignity and respect. When people discriminate, segregate and eliminate other people, they ultimately desecrate and deface the image of God in themselves and others.
Even though Adam and Even fell from grace, and all humanity struggles in sin until death, God became a man to give us redemption and resurrection life. This is the mark of humanity’s true worth! We can become sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father through the work of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Frank Newport, “In U.S., 42% Believe Creationist View of Human Origins,” https://news.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx
BioLogos, “Were Adam and Eve Historical Figures?” https://biologos.org/common-questions/were-adam-and-eve-historical-figures/
All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), unless noted.
Lee Irons with Meredith G. Klein, The Genesis Debate ed. David G. Hagopian (Mission Viejo, CA: 2001), 217-253
For further discussion, cf. Hank Hanegraaff, The Creation Answer Book (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 57-64.-
C. John Collins, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011),66
Meredith G. Kline, Genesis: A New Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2016),51.
Justin Taylor, “Does Science Disprove Adam and Eve? An Interview with a Biologist and a Mathematician,” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/new-scientific-study-showing-come-original-adam-eve-interview-authors/ cf. Ola Hossjer and Ann Gauger, “A Single-Couple Human Origin is Possible,” https://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2019.1/BIO-C.2019.1 and Ann Gauger, “Adam and Eve Redux,” Christian Research Journal, 35, 1 : https://www.equip.org/article/adam-eve-redux/#christian-books-3
Hank Hanegraaff, The Creation Answer Book (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 212.
Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God (Grand Rapids, MIL Zondervan, 2004), 62. For further critique on purported evidence for evolution from fossils, cf. Jonathan Wells, Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2017) and Hank Hanegraaff, The FACE The Demonstrates the Farce of Evolution (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1998).
Stephen C. Meyer, “Unlocking the DNA Enigma,” Christian Research Journal, 35, 1 : https://www.equip.org/article/unlocking-dna-enigma/#christian-books-1
Meyer, “Unlocking the DNA Enigma.”
Stephen C. Meyer, “Darwin’s Doubt and the Case for Intelligent Design,” Christian Research Journal, 37, 1 : https://www.equip.org/article/darwins-doubt-and-the-case-for-intelligent-design/#christian-books-1
Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 229.
BioLogos, “What is Evolutionary Creation?” https://biologos.org/common-questions/what-is-evolutionary-creation
Jay Richards, “Thinking Clearly about God and Evolution,” https://www.equip.org/articles/thinking-clearly-about-god-and-evolution/
Hank Hanegraaff, “Neither Human Evolution nor Theistic Evolution,” Christian Research Journal, 34, 1 : https://www.equip.org/articles/neither-human-evolution-nor-theistic-evolution-1/
The Gospel Should Make People Upset
Segment 1 (00:00) Todd looks into the mailbag to answer some of your questions. In this segment he answers why people get angry when preaching the Gospel. Todd also looks at churches that tend to be a little coarse and crude in order to show that they’re not like those uptight snobby Christians, and then shows us how to respond to them.
Segment 2 (08:31) Todd continues with your questions, this time answering if it is ok or not to switch churches in order to find a spouse, and also discovering what exactly is “the flesh”.
Segment 3 (18:23) Todd further explains how we are to get our flesh under control, specifically dealing with the issue of guilt.
Wretched Surprise! (26:09) Friel Spiel – How to replace the lies of the world system.
Wow. There’s no way the DNC and/or James Clyburn can advance their candidate with this reliable poll result…. It might not be discussed openly; but this resonates loudly.
Zogby Analytics finally asks the poll question everyone talks about but no media journalists will admit to discussing. Zogby Polls asked 1,007 likely voters:
- 55% of Total likely voter respondents said it is likely.
- 77% of Republicans said it is likely.
- 56% of Independent voters said it is likely.
- 32% of Democrat voters said it is likely Joe Biden has dementia.
Zogby Poll – […] There was also an inverse relationship in the data between age and the likelihood of voters believing Biden had early-onset dementia, for example; as the age of voters increased the likelihood of voters believing Biden was exhibiting early-onset dementia decreased. Younger voters aged 18-24 (60% more likely/40% less likely) and 18-29 (59% more likely/41% less likely) were more likely to believe Biden had dementia than older voters aged 65+ (50% more likely/50% less likely).
African Americans (43% more likely/58% less likely) were less likely than Hispanics (61% more likely/39% less likely) to think Biden was in the early stages of dementia.
The voters most likely to believe Biden was having cognitive issues were staunch Trump supporters; weekly Walmart Shoppers (64% more likely/36% less likely), weekly Amazon shoppers (67% more likely/34% less likely) and union voters (71% more likely/29% less likely). –LINK–
THIS IS NOT A MEDIA POLL – If 32 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Independents and 71 percent of union voters think that Joe Biden had early onset dementia…. there’s just no way the DNC will let him stand as their candidate.
All media polling is manipulated. This is not a media poll.
The media will obviously not discuss this poll result, but you can be 100% certain that inside the club this is a big flare and will not be ignored. The question now becomes who will the DNC put in his place?
Judicial Watch founder and President Tom Fitton joined Lou Dobbs on Friday to discuss the Democrat Party’s plan to steal the 2020 election by voter fraud.
Democrats are hoping to use the coronavirus pandemic to push mail-in voting across the country and in several swing states.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to sneak in federally mandated ballot harvesting in the Coronavirus bill.
Barack and Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton are pushing for mail voting in November.
A recent report by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) Monday released a research brief revealing more than 28 MILLION mail ballots went missing in the last 10 years.
The state of Michigan previously announced it was mailing absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson last month announced all registered voters will receive absentee ballots for the primary election in August and the November General Election.
President Trump and Republican officials warned against this and said it would increase the likelihood of voter fraud.
As expected, Michigan Democrats sent ballot applications to dead people and they’re actually arguing that it won’t lead to voter fraud.
On Friday Tom Fitton argued that Democrats are using mail-in voting to steal the election. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice and Republicans DO NOTHING!
Voter Fraud Crisis: @TomFitton says the Radical Left is using mail-in voting to steal our elections, while the DOJ and Republicans do nothing to fight back. #AmericaFirst #MAGA #Dobbspic.twitter.com/sKL9XdCizV
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) June 20, 2020
Franklin D. Roosevelt is famous for the quote, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” But for many of us, fear seems like a constant variable that we can’t control. And given the world we live in today, it’s easy to understand why. Just watch 5 minutes of any newscast and you will see a host of things happening around the world that have the ability to strike terror in our hearts. Disease, war, governments in chaos, natural disasters, poverty, persecution, just to name a few.
Concern and Worry
And we aren’t wrong to have legitimate concern about these and many other more personal issues. Is my spouse being faithful? Will I be the next one fired from this company? Will my child be healed from this disease? None of these are sinful concerns or questions that shouldn’t be brought to God. But, when our concern turns into sinful worry or anxiety, it happens, typically, because we have allowed legitimate concerns to get out of control in the way we perceive them. Simply stated, our fears become sinful when they become bigger than our God.
A Fearful Servant
Our example today comes from 2 Kings 6:8-23. The Syrian king had gotten wind that Elisha (one of God’s chosen prophets) had been receiving information about the king’s plans to attack. This was information God was revealing to Elisha in secret, and it was being used by the Israelite army to avoid Syria’s attacks. This obviously did not make the Syrian king happy, so he sent an army to capture Elisha. As the army is approaching, Elisha’s servant looks out and sees the city surrounded by the enemy. This would qualify as a legitimate concern. He turns to Elisha and asks (paraphrased), “We’re outnumbered and in danger. What are we going to do?”
Elisha’s response is at first curious as he says, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16
He then turns to God and prays, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17a
A Vision of Strength and Hope
And all of a sudden Elisha’s servant is able to see the surrounding mountains full of horses and chariots of fire. For one brief moment he was privileged to see into the spiritual world as he saw the army of the Lord prepared to fight on their behalf. What confidence this had to bring to this fearful servant! But what a lesson for us all.
What are We Truly Fearing?
Concern turns into worry when it clouds our vision of who God is and what He can do. Much like Elisha’s servant, we need to learn to open our eyes in the midst of our fear and see the hope and strength that is ours. This isn’t because of anything we possess on our own, but because of who God is and what He possesses. When we become fearful, we are typically struggling with one of the following three aspects of God’s character —His sovereignty, His wisdom, or His love.¹ Here are three questions that may help you as you analyze where your struggles with fear may lay.
Do I trust that God is in control and will do what is best for me (sovereignty)?
Do I trust that God always knows what is best for me (wisdom)?
Do I trust that God deeply wants and will give me what is best for me (love)?
I’m sad to admit that in my life, as I look at those questions, I become fearful usually because I am doubting God’s love for me. I know He is ultimately in control and that He is most-wise, but if He truly loved me, I falsely think, then I wouldn’t be dealing with whatever is currently happening in my life. But the very opposite is true.
Open Your Eyes to His Love
He loves me so much that He wants to continue to make me into the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He allows these concerns to come into my life so I can learn how to trust Him more. As I trust Him more, I build up endurance which I so badly need as I continue to walk in this sin-cursed world. That is why James gives us the command that he does:
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
James doesn’t tell us to have joy simply so we have a smile on our face when there is fear or sadness in our hearts. He calls us to joy because as we learn, like Elisha’s servant, to open our eyes to who God is and what He is able to do in the midst of our concerns, we learn to trust Him more and more. And that is something to be joyful about!
Fear doesn’t have to rule our hearts. Open your eyes and bring the sovereign, wise, and loving God into your circumstances. As you do, your fears will diminish. Not because your circumstances will immediately change, although they may. But because they will pale in comparison to the awesome greatness of our God.
¹This concept is discussed in Jerry Bridges book, Trusting God.
This blog was originally posted at CrossPoint Fellowship Church, view the original post here.
He has made everything appropriate in its time.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11, NASB)
My brother Neil says, “Sometimes life is a roller coaster; you just have to strap yourself in and hold on!” Solomon says, “God made everything appropriate in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NASB). You say, “Appropriate to what?” Appropriate to whatever God wants to work out in your life! He’s not developing escape artists; He’s developing overcomers. In times of trouble, God has promised to provide a way out, so that you stand up under it (see 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV). We grow more “under it” than we do “out of it.” In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis tells of Satan warning one of his junior demons, “We are never in greater danger than when they look around and all traces of God have forsaken them, yet they still choose to obey Him!”
When the three Hebrew children of God faced the fiery furnace, they said, “Our God is able to deliver us … and He will … but if not … we will not serve thy gods” (Daniel 3:17–18). There are three levels of faith. The first level is: “Our God is able.” Most of us can manage to believe that. The second level is: “And He will!” A lot of us wish we could believe that, but we’re not sure. The third level is: “But if not.” That’s the highest level of all! It says, “But if not now or in the way I want or if not at all—I’ll still trust God!”
That’s the kind of faith that glorifies Him most. It grows when you live in His Word and in His presence.
 Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 170). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.
Why are we so resistant to the notion of miracles? What presuppositions keep us from inferring the miraculous? What “miraculous” aspects of the universe are commonly accepted even by people who reject the miraculous? In this video from J. Warner’s “Quick Shots: Fast Answers to Hard Questions” series on RightNow Media, J. Warner answers this common concern related to the claims of Christianity.
To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
In Romans 8:16, Paul told the Romans, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Wherever I travel across this country, people ask me, “How can I have assurance of salvation? How can I know that I really belong to Christ?” There are many scriptures to which we can point, but the bottom line is this: If you have the Holy Spirit living within you, that Spirit testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God. It is the inward witness of your faith.
Most of us have had the experience of saying to people, “I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I know I’m a Christian.”
“Well, how do you know?”
“I just know inside.”
We know inside because the Spirit of God is there, witnessing to our assurance. Somewhere within us, a voice whispers, “You are Mine. You are not your own. You belong to Me.”
 Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 178). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.
By Elizabeth Prata
This morning Pastor Josh Buice (@JoshBuice) wrote on Twitter,
Two years ago today, a group of us gathered in Dallas, TX to discuss the most dangerous movement to face Christ’s Church in the last 100+ years—#SocialJustice. Big Eva leaders denied such a movement exists. Nobody is questioning it today. Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel.
I agree. Ostrich-like myopia was the order of the day, with the refusals to see what was in front of them and fervent denials of the problem’s existence. But there thankfully were some who saw what was coming and were unafraid to openly confront it. The men who gathered in Dallas to discuss the issue and formulate the Statement were men like Buice, Justin Peters, John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, James White, Phil Johnson, Tom Buck, Darrell Harrison, Voddie Baucham, Anthony Mathenia, Craig Mitchell, Michael O’Fallon. You know the names. All good and solid men the Lord raised up. They produced a statement of affirmations and denials regarding the encroaching issues of race and social justice, and I thank God for them and the resulting Statement. It was prescient in timing.
Also prescient was the video below.
Again two years ago, while the Statement as still a gleam in the mens’ eyes but fast becoming a reality, a 24 minute video by Todd Friel at Wretched was issued. It is called The Gathering Storm: A Split in the Reformed World.
Early on in the video Friel said that there was an issue just bubbling under the surface, cracking into evangelicalism and making dividing lines. It has the potential to break ugly and cause major issues far and wide. Was this issue women preaching? No. Was it continuationism? No. Was it gay issues in the church? No. What was this huge issue that had the potential to become very ugly?
It is racism.
In the video, Friel lists the groups on opposite sides of the cracks, the problem when compared against the Gospel, and what Marxism is. It sounds dry, but it isn’t. The concepts are very clearly explained. I think this is a good and important start for people to see not only what has happened but what came true. They called it. If you want to know where we are and why, I’d suggest watching this video. The timer says 28 minutes but there are several ads so I’d say 24 minutes of your time will be well worth it.
I’d also suggest reading the Statement on Social Justice and The Gospel. Underneath the statement are articles further explaining each section written by each of the original signers. If you read the Statement, you can come to conclusions as to whether you agree or disagree, to what extent, and formulate your thoughts hopefully within the Bible’s precepts.
For anyone wondering what is going on, these two places are a good start. That the Lord raised up these men and gave them such clear gospel vision that they saw further down the road than most of us is reason number two to delve into them. Reason number 1 of course is the importance of maintaining a clear vision of the plain Gospel, and applying it to our lives rightly. As the Lord lifts His hand of restraint and allows satan ever more latitude to pollute the world with sinful philosophies, it is all the more important we be vigorous to pledge fealty to the Jesus of the Bible, not a made-up version seen through a lens of man-made ideas.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8).
Here is a recent piece to help in understanding the present times thru a biblical lens.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (16:9–13)
The Lord drew three lessons from the parable concerning believers’ attitude toward money: how they view their money in relation to others, themselves, and God.
In relation to others, Jesus exhorted His hearers to make friends for themselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so called because it belongs to this unrighteous, passing world. Unbelievers, like the unrighteous manager, often use money to buy earthly friends. Believers, on the other hand, are to use their money to evangelize and thus purchase heavenly friends. The wealth of unrighteousness, being an element of fallen society’s experience, cannot last past this present life (cf. Luke 12:20). When it fails, the friends believers have gained through investing in gospel preaching will welcome them into the eternal dwellings of heaven. Those friends will be waiting to receive them when they arrive in glory because through their financial sacrifice for reaching the unconverted they heard and believed the gospel.
The Lord calls for Christians to use their money for eternal purposes to produce a heavenly reward. In the familiar words of the Sermon on the Mount, He commanded,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19–21)
Where they invest their money reveals where people’s hearts are. Endless personal accumulation is sinful, wasteful, and robs those who pursue it of eternal blessing.
Concerning their attitude toward money as it relates to themselves, Christ exhorted believers to be faithful to make eternal investments. His statement, He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much, is axiomatic. Some claim that if they had more money, they would give more. But the truth is that character, not circumstances, determines faithfulness. Some, like the poor widow described in Luke 21:1–4, who have nothing give everything; others who have everything give nothing. The issue is not finances, but integrity and spiritual character. Those who are faithful with the very little they have would be faithful if they had more; those who are unrighteous—selfish, proud, indulgent—in the use of what little they have would be so if they had much. The determining factor is not how much people possess, but how strong their commitment to the gospel of salvation is.
People’s perspective on money and their resulting faithfulness or unfaithfulness has implications for their eternal reward. If you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, Jesus asked, who will entrust the true riches to you? It is foolish to imagine that God will reward those who sinfully waste their opportunity to be faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth in this life. Those who fail to invest their wealth in the work of redemption impoverish themselves forever. Eternal reward comes to those who are faithful.
The Lord’s question, If you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? reveals the importance of stewardship; acknowledging that all we have belongs to God, and we are responsible to manage it to His glory (cf. Matt. 25:14–29).
Finally, Jesus spoke of believers’ attitude toward money as it relates to God, using another obvious, common sense example. No servant can serve two masters; He warned, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. Douleuō (serve) refers to serving as a slave. Slaves, unlike modern workers, did not have the option of working at a second job for a second employer. They were the property of a master who had singular and absolute control over them. That kind of exclusive service could not be rendered to two masters at the same time.
In the same way, a person cannot be both the slave of God and of material wealth. They cannot be co-rulers in the same heart, for as John Calvin notes in his commentary on the parallel passage in Matthew 6:24, “Where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost his authority.” Conflicting demands will inevitably produce conflicting emotions and attitudes. Those who love money will despise and resent what God demands of them regarding it. But those who love Him will choose to honor Him by not making earthly wealth their master. Instead of using it to selfishly gratify their desires, they will seek to manage the money He has entrusted to them for the salvation of souls to the glory of God.
10–13 The theme of stewardship is now discussed in terms of trustworthiness as over against dishonesty (v. 10). “Worldly wealth” (v. 11) appears for the second time (cf. v. 9). The property here is “someone else’s” (v. 12)—presumably God’s—in contrast to the parable’s imagery in which, at least in Fitzmyer’s view, the amount forgiven was the manager’s own commission. Except for the word “servant,” v. 13 appears in precisely the same form in Matthew 6:24. The verse is equally appropriate in each context; here, however, it is connected to the context not only topically but also verbally through the use, for the third time, of mamōnas (cf. “worldly wealth,” GK 3440, vv. 9, 11), this time translated “money” in the NIV. The addition of “servant” stresses the point that though one may have both God and money, one cannot serve them both.
The Rule of Wealth (16:10–13)
10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Wealth.”
Luke provides no textual markers to signal a break between vv 1–9 and 10–13. For purposes of discussion, we have separated vv 10–13 because of their generalizing quality (“Whoever is faithful …”) and because of the important parallelism between vv 4 and 9. Nevertheless, the immediate co-text of these verses is critical for their interpretation—a reality that is underscored both by the lack of any such narrative boundary markers as change of scene or audience and by the impressive sharing of language between vv 1–9 and 10–13. Thus, in spite of the aphoristic appearance of its content, the instruction contained in these verses should not be mistakenly identified as timeless proverbs. Instead, Luke records Jesus’ self-conscious elaboration of motifs raised in the parable, especially stewardship and wealth.
Ver. 10.—He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. This and the next three verses are closely connected with the parable of the unjust steward. Our Lord no doubt continued speaking, and these four verses contain a general rèsumè of what may be called his reflections on the important piece of teaching he had just delivered. We have here the broad rule, upon which God will decide the soul’s future, laid down. If the man has been faithful in his administration of the comparatively unimportant goods of earth, it is clear that he can be entrusted with the far more important things which belong to the world to come. There is, too, in these words a kind of limitation and explanation of the foregoing parable of the unjust steward. The conduct of that steward, regarded in one point of view, was held to be wise, and we, though in a very different way, were advised to imitate it; yet here we are distinctly told that it is fidelity, not unfaithfulness, which will be eventually rewarded—the just, not the unjust steward.
10. He who is faithful in that which is least. Those maxims are proverbs taken from ordinary practice and experience, and it is quite enough if they are generally true. It will sometimes happen, no doubt, that a deceiver, who had disregarded a small gain, shall display his wickedness in a matter of importance. Nay, many persons, by affecting honesty in trifling matters, are only in pursuit of an enormous gain; as that author2 says: “Fraud establishes confidence in itself in small matters, that, when a fit opportunity shall arrive, it may deceive with vast advantage.” And yet the statement of Christ is not inaccurate; for in proverbs, as I have mentioned, we attend only to what usually happens.
Christ, therefore, exhorts his disciples to act faithfully in small matters, in order to prepare themselves for the exercise of fidelity in matters of the highest importance. He next applies this doctrine to the proper stewardship of spiritual graces, which the world, indeed, does not estimate according to their value, but which far surpass, beyond all question, the fading riches of this world. Those persons, he tells us, who act improperly and unfaithfully in things of small value, such as the transitory riches of the world, do not deserve that God should entrust to them the inestimable treasure of the Gospel, and of similar gifts. There is, therefore, in these words an implied threatening, that there is reason to fear lest, on account of our abuse of an earthly stewardship, we fail to obtain heavenly gifts. In this sense, what is true is contrasted with riches, as what is solid and lasting is contrasted with what is shadowy and fading.
10. First the principle is laid down. Faithfulness is no accident: it arises out of what one is through and through. What one does with the small things of life one does also in the big things. Faithfulness or dishonesty appears throughout. Life is a unity.
16:10 If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. Craddock has remarked, “Verses 10–12 contain sayings all of which are framed on what logicians call an argument a fortiori, that is, an argument from the lesser to the greater. The life of a disciple is one of faithful attention to the frequent and familiar tasks of each day, however small and insignificant they may seem” (1990:191).
10–13. Faithful in that which is least.—
On living to God in small things:—1. Notice how little we know concerning the relative importance of events and duties. We use the terms “great” and “small “in speaking of actions, occasions, plans, and duties, only in reference to their mere outward look and first impression. Some of the most latent agents and mean-looking substances in nature are yet the most operative; but yet, when we speak of natural objects, we call them great or small, not according to their operativeness, but according to size, count, report, or show. So it comes to pass when we are classing actions, duties, or occasions, that we call a certain class great and another small, when really the latter are many-fold more important and influential than the former. We are generally ignorant of the real moment of events which we think we understand. 2. It is to be observed that, even as the world judges, small things constitute almost the whole of life. 3. It very much exalts, as well as sanctions this view, that God is so observant of small things. He upholds the sparrow’s wing, clothes the lily with His own beautifying hand, and numbers the hairs of His children. He holds the balancings of the clouds. He maketh small the drops of rain. 4. It is a fact of history and of observation that all efficient men, while they have been men of comprehension, have also been men of detail. Napoleon was the most effective man in modern times—some will say, of all times. The secret of his character was, that while his plans were more vast, more various, and, of course, more difficult than those of other men, he had the talent, at the same time, to fill them up with perfect promptness and precision, in every particular of execution. There must be detail in every great work. 5. It is to be observed that there is more real piety in adorning one small than one great occasion. This may seem paradoxical, but what I intend will be seen by one or two illustrations. I have spoken of the minuteness of God’s works. When I regard the eternal God as engaged in polishing an atom, or elaborating the functions of a mote invisible to the eye, what evidence do I there receive of His desire to perfect His works! No gross and mighty world, however plausibly shaped, would yield a hundredth part the intensity of evidence. An illustration from human things will present a closer parallel. It is perfectly well understood, or if not, it should be, that almost any husband would leap into the sea, or rush into the burning edifice to rescue a perishing wife. But to anticipate the convenience or happiness of a wife in some small matter, the neglect of which would be unobserved, is a more eloquent proof of tenderness. 6. The importance of living to God in ordinary and small things, is seen in the fact that character, which is the end of religion, is in its very nature a growth. Application: 1. Private Christians are here instructed in the true method of Christian progress and usefulness. 2. Our subject enables us to offer some useful suggestions, concerning the manner in which Churches may be made to prosper. 3. Finally, some useful hints are suggested to the ministers of Christ. (H. Bushnell, D.D.)
The value of little things:—“Who has despised the day of small things?” Not the sagacious men of the world, to whom experience has taught the necessity of husbanding the minutes that make up days, and the pence that grow to pounds.
- Our lives for the most part are made up of little things, and by these our principle is to be tested. There are very few who have to take a prominent place in the great conflicts of their age, and to play their part in the arena of public life. The vast majority must dwell in humbler scenes, and be content to do a much meaner work. The conflicts which a Christian has to maintain, either against the evil in his own soul, or in the narrow circle where alone his influence is felt, appear to be very trivial and unimportant, yet are they to him the battle of life and for life, and true heroism is to be shown here as well as in those grander struggles in which some may win the leader’s fame, or even the martyr’s crown. It will stimulate us to faithfulness in such little things if we bear in mind the way in which the Master regards the humblest works that are done, and the poorest sacrifices that are made from a pure feeling of love to Him. He can recognize and bless the martyr-spirit even though it be shown in other ways than the endurance of bonds, or the suffering of death. There is not a tear of sympathy with the sorrows of others which we shed that falls without His knowledge. His presence is with us to encourage and strengthen us in these little as in the greater trials, and faithfulness here will have its own reward.
- Little defects weaken the influence of many virtues. “One sinner” (the wise man tells us) “destroyeth much good,” and then following out the principle he proceeds to show by an expressive illustration how a little sin or even folly in a good man may rob him of much of the power that otherwise he would possess for good. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” The world is always on the watch for the faults of Christians. But the point on which we wish chiefly to insist is that men’s estimate of our character is regulated chiefly by their observation of little things.
III. Little things contribute materially to the formation of character. Under the operation of varied causes, of whose power over us we are hardly conscious, we are continually growing in holiness or sinking lower and lower in sin, by a process so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible. Conversion may be sudden, but not sanctification. Our power of resistance is to grow by constant exercise; our love, fed by the ministry of Providence and grace, is to burn with an ever brighter and purer flame; our path is to be like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Thus, by listening to every voice of instruction, by using every opportunity, by watchfulness in the least things, are we to attain spiritual increase. There is a part of our Lancashire coast on which the sea is making steady encroachments. Those who have long been familiar with its scenery can point you to places over which the tide now rolls its waters, where a few short years ago they wandered along the grassy cliff, and stood to watch the play of the wild waves beneath. From year to year the observer may note continued alteration—fresh portions of the cliff swept away, and the bed of the ocean becoming ever wider. Were he to ask for an account of these changes, some would tell him that during a terrible tempest the sea had rolled in with more than its usual violence and carried away great fragments of solid earth—and fancy that thus they had told the whole story. His own eyes, however, gave him fuller information. He sees around him preparations for the desolations of the coming winter. Other places are now menaced with the fate of their predecessors, and the work is already being done—the process may be gradual, but sure—every tide of more than ordinary power is contributing something towards it—“by little and little” the work advances, and all is making ready for the fiercer storm which shall put the final stroke to what may seem to be the work of a night, but is in reality that of weeks and months. This is a picture but too true of incidents in the spiritual life of man. Sometimes the successive steps of the process are all hidden, and we see only the sad result; in others its advances may be more distinctly marked. (J. G. Guinness, B.A.)
Gradual attainment of holiness:—Holiness of character is not a thing into which we can jump in a moment, and just when we please. It is not like a mushroom, the growth of an hour. It cannot be attained without great watchfulness, earnest effort, much prayer, and a very close walk with Jesus. Like the coral reef which grows by little daily additions until it is strong enough to resist the mighty waves of the ocean, so is a holy character made up of what may be called littles, though in truth each of those littles is of vast importance. Little duties prayerfully discharged; little temptations earnestly resisted in the strength which God supplies out of the fulness which He has made to dwell in Jesus Christ for His people; little sins avoided, or crucified; these all together help to form that holy character which, in the hour of need, will be, under God, such a sure defence to the Christian. (A. C. Price, B.A.)
Fidelity in little things:—In every thought, word, and act of an intelligent agent, there is a moral principle involved. 1. Fidelity in little things commends itself to us, when we consider our inability to estimate the prospective value, power, and influence of the smallest things. 2. Fidelity in little things commends itself when we consider that it is only by attention to small things that we can hope to be faithful in great. Great events often turn on little hinges. Chemists say, one grain of iodine will impart its colour to seven thousand times its weight in water. So, often, a little deed containing a great moral principle will impart its nature to many hearts and lives. 3. Attention to small things is important, as it relates to our individual character. Its effect is subjective as well as objective. A beautiful character reaches its climax by progressive development. You cannot paint it on the life. It must be inwrought. 4. The example given us by Christ, our great prototype, should prompt us to fidelity in little things. 5. We should exercise the strictest fidelity in all things, small and great, because we are to be judged in view of these things. (J. W. Bledsoe.)
On religious principle:—Consider the excellence of religious principle—1. In the energy of its operation. (1) Promptness in decision. (2) Determination to do one’s duty. (3) Courage. (4) Self-denial. 2. In the uniformity of its effects. 3. In the extent of its influence. It prompts to the discharge of every duty, and to the avoidance of every sin. 4. The simplicity of its character. 5. The perpetuity of its existence. Undecaying and immortal. (Essex Remembrancer.)
Faithful in little, faithful in much:—Now let us look, for a moment or two, at these three principles.
- From the highest point of view, true faithfulness knows no distinction between great and small duties. From the highest point of view—that is, from God’s point of view—to Him, nothing is great, nothing small, as we measure it. The worth and the quality of an action depends on its motive only, and not at all on its prominence, or on any other of the accidents which we are always apt to adopt as the tests of the greatness of our deeds. The largeness of the consequences of anything that we do is no measure of the true greatness or true value of it. So it is in regard to God Himself, and His doings. What can be little to the making of which there goes the force of a soul that can know God, and must abide for evermore? Nothing is small that a spirit can do. Nothing is small that can be done from a mighty motive. Faithfulness measures acts as God measures them. “Large” or “small” are not words for the vocabulary of conscience. It knows only two words—right and wrong. The circle that is in a gnat’s eye is as true a circle as the one that holds within its sweep all the stars; and the sphere that a dew-drop makes is as perfect a sphere as that of the world. All duties are the same which are done from the same motive; all acts which are not so done are alike sins. Faithfulness is one in every region. Large or small is of no account to the Sovereign eye. “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward,” because though not gifted with the prophet’s tongue, he has the prophet’s spirit, and does his small act of hospitality from the very same prophet-impulse which in another, who is more loftily endowed, leads to burning words and mighty deeds. Faithfulness is faithfulness, on whatsoever scale it be set forth! II. Then—in another point of view, faithfulness in small duties is even greater than faithfulness in great. Great things that are great because they seem to have very wide-reaching consequences, and seem to be lifted up upon a pinnacle of splendour; or great things that are great because there was severe resistance that had to be overcome before we did them, and sore temptations that were dragging us down on our way to the performance of them—are really great and lofty. Only, the little duties that had no mighty consequences, no glittering splendour about them, and the little duties that had not much strife with temptation before they were done, may be as great, as great in God’s eye, as great perhaps in their consequences, as great in their rewards, as in the other. Ah, my brother, it is a far harder thing, and it is a far higher proof of a thorough-going persistent Christian principle woven into the very texture of my soul, to go on plodding and patient, never taken by surprise by any small temptation, than to gather into myself the strength which God has given me, and, expecting some great storm to come down upon me, to stand fast and let it rage. It is a great deal easier to die once for Christ than to live always for Him. It is a great deal easier to do some single mighty act of self-surrender, than daily—unnoticed, patiently—to “crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts.” Let us neither repine at our narrow spheres, nor fancy that we can afford to live carelessly in them because they are narrow. The smallest duties are often harder—because of their apparent insignificance, because of their constant recurrence—harder than the great ones. But do not let us forget that if harder, they are on the whole more needful. The world has more need of a great number of Christian people doing little things like Christians, than it has need of one apostle preaching like an apostle, or one martyr dying like a martyr. The mass of trifles makes magnitude. The little things are greater than the great, because of their number. They are more efficacious than the single lofty acts. Like the air which in the lungs needs to be broken up into small particles, and diffused ere it parts with its vitalizing principle to the blood, so the minute acts of obedience, and the exhibition of the power of the gospel in the thousand trifles of Christian lives, permeating everywhere, will vitalize the world and will preach the gospel in such a fashion as never can be done by any single and occasional, though it may seem to be more lofty and more worthy, agency. Honour the trifles, and you will find yourself right about the great things! Lastly: Faithfulness in that which is least is the preparation for, and secures our having a wider sphere in which to obey God. Of course, it is quite easy to see how, if once we are doing, what I have already said is the harder task—habitually doing the little things wisely and well, for the love of Christ and in the fear of God—we shall be fitted for the sorest sudden temptations, and shall be made able to perform far larger and far more apparently splendid acts. Every power strengthens by exercise. Every act of obedience smoothes the road for all that shall come after. And, on the other side, the same process exactly goes on to make men, by slow degrees, unfaithful in all. Tampering with a trifle; saying, Oh, it is a small matter, and I can venture it; or, It is a little thing, too little for mighty motives to be brought to bear upon it—that ends in this—“unjust also in much.” My brother, life is all great. Life is great because it is the aggregation of littles. As the chalk cliffs in the South, that rear themselves hundreds of feet above the crawling sea beneath, are all made up of the minute skeletons of microscopic animalculæ; so life, mighty and awful as having eternal consequences, life that towers beetling over the sea of eternity, is made up of these minute incidents, of these trifling duties, of these small tasks; and if thou art not “faithful in that which is least,” thou art unfaithful in the whole. He only is faithful that is full of faith. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Guilt not to be estimated by gain:—I. The great principle of the text is, that he who has sinned, though to a small amount in respect of the fruit of his transgression—provided he has done so by passing over a forbidden limit which was distinctly known to him, has, in the act of doing so, incurred a full condemnation in respect of the principle of his transgression. In one word, that the gain of it may be small, while the guilt of it may be great; that the latter ought not to be measured by the former; but that he who is unfaithful in the least shall be dealt with, in respect of the offence he has given to God, in the same way as if he had been unfaithful in much. 1. The first reason which we would assign in vindication of this is, that, by a small act of injustice, the line which separates the right from the wrong is just as effectually broken over as by a great act of injustice. There is no shading off at the margin of guilt, but a clear and vigorous delineation. It is not by a gentle transition that a man steps over from honesty to dishonesty. There is between them a wall rising up unto heaven; and the high authority of heaven must be stormed ere one inch of entrance can be made into the region of iniquity. The morality of the Saviour never leads him to gloss over beginnings of crime. 2. The second reason why he who is unfaithful in the least has incurred the condemnation of him who is unfaithful in much, is, that the littleness of the gain, so far from giving a littleness to the guilt, is in fact a circumstance of aggravation. There is just this difference. He who has committed injustice for the sake of a less advantage has done it on the impulse of a less temptation. Nay, by the second reason, this may serve to aggravate the wrath of the Divinity against him. It proves how small the price is which he sets upon his eternity, and how cheaply he can bargain the favour of God away from him, and how low he rates the good of an inheritance with Him, and for what a trifle he can dispose of all interest in His kingdom and in His promises. It is at the precise limit between the right and the wrong that the flaming sword of God’s law is placed. It is there that “Thus saith the Lord” presents itself, in legible characters, to our view. It is there where the operation of His commandment begins; and not at any of those higher gradations where a man’s dishonesty first appals himself by the chance of its detection, or appals others by the mischief and insecurity which it brings upon social life.
- Let us now attempt to unfold a few of the practical consequences that may be drawn from the principle of the text, both in respect to our general relation with God, and in respect to the particular lesson of faithfulness which may be deduced from it. 1. There cannot be a stronger possible illustration of our argument than the very first act of retribution that occurred in the history of our species. What is it that invests the eating of a solitary apple with a grandeur so momentous? How came an action, in itself so minute, to be the germ of such mighty consequences? We may not be able to answer all these questions; but we may at least learn what a thing of danger it is, under the government of a holy and inflexible God, to tamper with the limits of obedience. 2. Let us, therefore, urge the spirit and the practice of this lesson upon your observation. It is evangelizing human life by impregnating its minutest transactions with the spirit of the gospel. It is strengthening the wall of partition between sin and obedience. It is the teacher of righteousness taking his stand at the outpost of that territory which he is appointed to defend, and warning his hearers of the danger that lies in a single footstep of encroachment. It is letting them know that it is in the act of stepping over the limit that the sinner throws the gauntlet of his defiance against the authority of God. It may appear a very little thing, when you are told to be honest in little matters; when the servant is told to keep her hand from every one article about which there is not an express or understood allowance on the part of her superiors; when the dealer is told to lop off the excesses of that minuter fraudulency which is so currently practised in the humble walks of merchandise; when the workman is told to abstain from those petty reservations of the material of his work for which he is said to have such snug and ample opportunity; and when, without pronouncing on the actual extent of these transgressions, all are told to be faithful in that which is least, else, if there be truth in our text, they incur the guilt of being unfaithful in much. It may be thought, that because such dishonesties as these are scarcely noticeable, they are therefore not worthy of notice. But it is just in the proportion of their being unnoticeable by the human eye, that it is religious to refrain from them. These are the cases in which it will be seen, whether the control of the omniscience of God makes up for the control of human observation—in which the sentiment, that “Thou God seest me!” should carry a preponderance through all the secret places of a man’s history—in which, when every earthly check of an earthly morality is withdrawn, it should be felt that the eye of God is upon him, and that the judgment of God is in reserve for him. (T. Chalmers, D.D.)
Faithfulness in little things:—In our text the Master declares that fidelity, which is an element of conscience, must be thorough. It must not be an optional thing, chosen when we see that it will be better than any other instrument to secure a desired end. It must belong to every part of life, pervading it. It must belong to the least things as much as to the highest. It is not a declaration that little things are as important as great things. It is not a declaration that the conscience is to regard all duties as of one magnitude and of one importance. It is a declaration that the habit of violating conscience, even in the least things, produces mischief that at last invalidate it for the greatest, and that is a truth that scarcely can have contradiction. I propose to illustrate this truth in some of its relations to life. In the first place, I shall speak of the heedlessness and unconscientiousness with which men take up opinions and form judgments, on every side and of every kind, in daily life. In regard to events, men seldom make it a matter of conscience to see things as they are, and hear things as they really report themselves. They follow their curiosity, their sense of wonder, their temper, their interests, or their prejudices, instead of their judgment and their conscience. There are few men who make it a point to know just what things do happen of which they are called to speak, and just how they happen. How many men were there round the corner? “Twenty,” says the man, quickly. There were seven. How long did you have to wait? “Two hours, at least.” It was just three-quarters of an hour by the watch. So, in a thousand things that happen every day, one man repeats what his imagination reported to him, and another man what his impatient, irritable feelings said to him. There are very few men that make it a matter of deliberate conscience to see things as they are, and report them as they happen. This becomes a great hindrance to business, clogs it, keeps men under the necessity of revising their false impressions; expends time and work; puts men on false tracks and in wrong directions; multiplies the burdens of life. But its worse effect is seen in the judgments and prejudices which men are liable to entertain about their fellow-men, and the false sentences which they are accustomed to issue, either by word of mouth or by thoughts and feelings. In thousands of men, the mind, if unveiled, would be found to be a Star-chamber filled with false witnesses and cruel judgments. The effect in each case may be small, but if you consider the sum-totals of a man’s life, and the grand amount of the endless scenes of false impressions, of wicked judgments, of causeless prejudices, they will be found to be enormous. This, however, is the least evil. It is the entire untrustworthiness of a moral sense which has been so dealt with that is most to be deplored. The conscience ought to be like a perfect mirror. It ought to reflect exactly the image that falls upon it. A man’s judgment that is kept clear by commerce with conscience ought to reveal things as they are, facts as they exist, and conduct as it occurs. Now it is not necessary to break a mirror to pieces in order to make it worthless. Let one go behind it with a pencil, or with a needle of the finest point, and, with delicate touch, make the smallest line through the silver coating of the back; the next day let him make another line at right angles to that; and the third day let him make still another line parallel to the first one; and the next day let him make another line parallel to the second, and so continue to do day by day, and one year shall not have passed away before that mirror will be so scratched that it will be good for nothing. It is not necessary to deal it a hard blow to destroy its power; these delicate touches will do it, little by little. It is not necessary to be a murderer or a burglar in order to destroy the moral sense; but ah! these million little infelicities, as they are called, these scratchings and raspings, take the silver off from the back of the conscience—take the tone and temper out of the moral sense. Nay, we do not need even such mechanical force as this; just let the apartment be uncleansed in which the mirror stands: let particles of dust, and the little flocculent parts of smoke, settle film by film, flake by flake, speck by speck, upon the surface of the mirror, and its function is destroyed, so that it will reflect neither the image of yourself nor of anything else. Its function is as much destroyed as if it were dashed to pieces. Not even is this needed; only let one come so near to it that his warm breath falling on its cold face is condensed to vapour, and then it can make no report. Now there are comparatively few men who destroy their moral sense by a dash and a blow, but there is many a man whose conscience is seared as with a hot iron. The effect of this is not merely to teach us the moral lesson that man is fallible; it is to diminish the trust of man in man. And what is the effect of diminishing that? It is to introduce an element which dissevers society, which drives men away from one another, and takes away our strength. Faith in man, trust in man, is the great law of cohesion in human society. And so this infidelity in little things and little duties works both inwardly as well as outwardly. It deteriorates the moral sense; it makes men unreliable; it makes man stand in doubt of man; it loosens the ties that bind society together, and make it strong; it is the very counteracting agent of that divine love which was meant to bring men together in power. The same truth, yet more apparently, and with more melancholy results, is seen in the untrustworthiness and infidelity of men in matters of honesty and dishonesty. The man that steals one penny is—just as great a transgressor as if he stole a thousand dollars? No, not that. The man that steals one single penny is—as great a transgressor against the laws of society as if he stole a thousand dollars? No, not exactly that. The man that steals one penny is—just as great a transgressor against the commercial interests of men as if he stole a thousand dollars? No, not that. The man that steals a penny is just as great a transgressor against the purity of his own conscience as if he stole a million of dollars. The danger of these little things is veiled under a false impression. You will hear a man say of his boy, “Though he may tell a little lie, he would not tell a big one; though he may practise a little deceit, he would not practise a big one; though he may commit a little dishonesty, he would not commit a big one.” But these little things are the ones that destroy the honour, and the moral sense, and throw down the fence, and let a whole herd of buffaloes of temptation drive right through you. Criminals that die on the gallows; miserable creatures that end their days in poorhouses; wretched beings that hide themselves in loathsome places in cities; men that are driven as exiles across the sea and over the world—these are the ends of little things, the beginnings of which were thought to be safe. It is these little things that constitute your peculiar temptation and your worst danger. (H. W. Beecher.)
Little things tests of character:—Can you discover a man’s character more accurately by his public, extraordinary acts, than by his ordinary, everyday conduct and spirit? Which is the true Marlborough—the general in the field winning brilliant victories, or the peculator in his chamber manipulating papers for defrauding the public treasury? Which is the real man—Lord Bacon on the bench, or Lord Bacon with open palm behind his back feeling for bribes? Which is the true woman—the lady in the parlour courteously receiving her guests, or the termagant rendering home wretched by everyday exactions and scoldings? Jesus teaches that the little things of everyday life reveal true character, and show the man as he is in himself, by referring to the ordinary tempers by which he is governed. Is it not plain, when simply announced, that general conduct in little things is a truer test of a man’s real character than occasional isolated acts could be? 1. Little things make up the vast universe. The clouds gather up the rains in moisture, and part with them in drops. The stars do not leap fitfully along their orbits, but measure with equal movement each consecutive mile. All the analogies of nature point to the minute as essential to the harmony, glory, and utility of the whole. And little things are as necessary in their places in the moral, as in the physical world. 2. Jehovah is observant of little things. Sparrows. Lilies. Jehovah neglects nothing. Nothing is so little as to be beneath His notice. His providence regards with equal distinctness a worm and a world, a unit and a universe. You are unlike your God and Saviour if you neglect little things. 3. Little things engross the most of life. Great events are only occasional. Frequency and regularity would take away from their greatness, by rendering them common. We shall find little to do, if we save our energies for great occasions. If we preserve our piety for prominent services, we shall seldom find place for its exercise. Piety is not something for show, but something for use; not the gay steed in the curricle, but the plough-horse in the furrow; not jewellery for adornment, but calico for home wear and apron for the kitchen. 4. Attention to little things is essential to efficiency and success in accomplishing great things. Letters are little things, but he who scouts the alphabet will never read David’s psalms. The mechanic must know how to sharpen his plane, if he would make a moulding; the artist must mix colours, if he would paint landscapes. In every direction the great is reached through the little. He will never rise to great services who will not pass through the little, and train his spiritual nature, and educate his spiritual capabilities. Through faithfulness in the least he rises to faithfulness in the much, and not otherwise. 5. Little things are causes of great events, springs of large influences. To know whether a thing is really small or great, you must trace its results. Xerxes led millions to the borders of Greece. It looked to the world like a big thing. The whole vast array accomplished nothing. It turned out a very small business. The turning of a tiny needle steadily toward a fixed point is a little common thing, but it guides navies along safe and sure paths, over unmarked oceans. So a magnetic word has guided a soul through a stormy world to a peaceful haven. A simple, secret prayer has pierced and opened clouds to pour down showers of spiritual blessings upon a city or state. 6. Conscientiousness in little things is the best evidence of sincere piety. 7. Faithfulness in little things is essential to true piety. The principle of obedience is simply doing what the Lord requires because He requires it. There is nothing little if God requires it. The veriest trifle becomes a great thing if the alternative of obedience or rebellion is involved in it. Microscopic holiness is the perfection of excellence. To live by the day, and to watch each step, is the true pilgrimage method. (J. L. Burrows, D.D.)
Trial of fidelity:—Here are two great truths suggested to us. 1. That we are here in this world merely on trial, and serving our apprenticeship. 2. That it is our fidelity that is tried, not so much whether we have done great or little things, but whether we have shown the spirit which above all else a steward should show—fidelity to the interests entrusted to him. The two verses following, in which this is applied, may best be illustrated by familiar figures. “If,” says our Lord, “ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust that which is real?” He considers us all in this world as children busy with mere playthings and toys, though so profoundly in earnest. But, looking at children so engaged, you can perfectly see the character of each. Although the actual things they are doing are of no moment or reality; although, with a frankness and penetration not given to their elders, they know they are but playing, yet each is exhibiting the very qualities which will afterwards make or mar him, the selfish greed and fraud of one child being as patent as the guileless open-handedness of the other. To the watchful parents these games that are forgotten in the night’s sleep, these buildings which as soon as complete are swept away to make room for others, are as thorough a revelation of the character of the child as affairs of state and complicated transactions are of the grown man. And if the parent sees a grasping selfishness in his child, or a domineering inconsiderateness of every one but himself, as he plays at buying and selling, building and visiting, he knows that these same qualities will come out in the real work of life, and will unfit their possessor for the best work, and prevent him from honourable and generous conduct, and all the highest functions and duties of life. So our Lord, observant of the dispositions we are showing as we deal with the shadowy objects and passing events of this seeming substantial world, marks us off as fit or unfit to be entrusted with what is real and abiding. If this man shows such greed for the gold he knows he must in a few years leave, will he not show a keener, intenser selfishness in regard to what is abiding? If he can trample on other people’s rights for the sake of a pound or two, how can he be trusted to deal with what is infinitely more valuable? If here in a world where mistakes are not final, and which is destined to be burned up with all the traces of evil that are in it—if in a world which, after all, is a mere card-house, or in which we are apprentices learning the use of our tools, and busy with work which, if we spoil, we do no irreparable harm—if here we display incorrigible negligence and incapacity to keep a high aim and a good model before us, who would be so foolish as to let us loose among eternal matters, things of abiding importance, and in which mistake and carelessness and infidelity are irreparable? (Marcus Dods, D.D.)
We are being watched:—A merchant sees among his clerks one whose look and bearing are prepossessing, and he thinks that by and by this lad might possibly make a good partner; he watches him, but he finds him gradually degenerating into slipshod ways of doing his work, coming down late in the mornings, and showing no zeal for the growth of the business; and so the thought grows in his mind, “If he is not faithful in that which is another man’s, how can I give him the business as his own? I can’t hand over my business to one who will squander what I have spent my life in accumulating; to one who has not sufficient liking for work to give himself heartily to it, or sufficient sense of honour to do it heartily whether he likes it or no. Much as I should like to lift him out of a subordinate situation, I cannot do so.” Thus are determined the commercial and social prospects of many an unconscious youth, and thus are determined the eternal prospects of many a heedless servant of God, who little thinks that the Master’s eye is upon him, and that by hasting to be rich he is making himself eternally poor, and by slackness in God’s service is ruining his own future. (Ibid.)
Influence of little things:—A jest led to a war between two great nations. The presence of a comma in a deed lost to the owner of an estate one thousand pounds a month for eight months. The battle of Corunna, in 1809, is said to have been fought, and the life of that noble officer Sir John Moore sacrificed, through a dragoon stopping to drink while bearing despatches. A man lighting a fire on the sea-shore led to the Rev. John Newton’s honoured labours and life of usefulness.
Little kindnesses:—We sin by omitting cheap acts of beneficence in our daily walk and among our early companionship. The web of a merciful life is made up of these slender threads. (J. W. Alexander, D.D.)
Little sins:—A man who was hung at Carlisle for housebreaking declared that his first step to ruin was taking a halfpenny out of his mother’s pocket while she was asleep. Another offender, convicted of housebreaking at Chester, said at the gallows, “You are come to see a man die. Oh! take warning by me. The first beginning of my ruin was Sabbath-breaking. It led me into bad company, and from bad company to robbing orchards and gardens, and then to housebreaking, and that has brought me to this place.”
Faithfulness shown in restitution of wrongful gains:—A brother in the ministry took occasion to preach on the passage, “He that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” The theme was, “that men who take advantage of others in small things have the very element of character to wrong the community and individuals in great things, where the prospect of escaping detection or censure is as little to be dreaded.” The preacher exposed the various ways by which people wrong others; such as borrowing, by mistakes in making change, by errors in accounts, by escaping taxes and custom-house duties, by managing to escape postage, by finding articles and never seeking owners, and by injuring articles borrowed, and never making the fact known to the owner when returned. One lady the next day met her pastor, and said, “I have been to rectify an error made in giving me change a few weeks ago, for I felt bitterly your reproof yesterday.” Another individual went to Boston to pay for an article not in her bill, which she noticed was not charged when she paid it. A man going home from meeting said to his companion, “I do not believe there was a man in the meeting-house to-day who did not feel condemned.” After applying the sermon to a score or more of his acquaintances, he continued, “Did not the pastor utter something about finding a pair of wheels?” “I believe not, neighbour A. He spoke of keeping little things which had been found.” “Well, I thought he said something about finding a pair of wheels, and supposed he meant me. I found a pair down in my lot a while ago.” “Do you,” said his companion, “know who they belong to? Mr. B. lost them a short time ago.” The owner was soon in the possession of his wheels. (Vermont Chronicle.)
Unfaithfulness in little:—A king appointed one servant over his gold treasure, another over his straw. The latter’s honesty being suspected, he was angry because the gold had not been trusted to him. The king said, “Thou fool, if thou couldst not be trusted with straw, how can any one trust thee with gold?” (Archbishop Trench.)
Momentary unfaithfulness to be avoided:—A Corsican gentleman, who had been taken prisoner by the Genoese, was thrown into a dark dungeon, where he was chained to the ground. While he was in this dismal situation the Genoese sent a message to him, that if he would accept of a commission in their service, he might have it. “No,” said he; “were I to accept your offer, it would be with a determined purpose to take the first opportunity of returning to the service of my country. But I would not have my countrymen even suspect that I could be one moment unfaithful.” Ye cannot serve God and mammon.—
The crime of avarice:—
- Reasons why avarice should be guarded against. 1. The avaricious man usually leads a miserable life, making no use of his wealth. 2. Avarice takes away a man’s peace of mind. (1) The avaricious man is in constant disquietude—(a) Through terror of losing his possessions. (b) Through envy of others, and the craving to possess their property. (c) Through desire to accumulate more wealth. (2) The avaricious man is inconsolable at the loss of his riches. 2. Avarice is a base vice, and the source of many other vices. 3. Avarice almost inevitably leads to eternal ruin.
- Means to be adopted for guarding against avarice. 1. Endeavour to know yourself, your inclinations, passions, desires; and examine yourself in order to ascertain whether you cannot find some symptom of avarice within yourself. Such symptoms are—(1) A greater confidence in temporal goods than in Almighty God (Psa. 52:7). (2) Unscrupulousness in the manner of acquiring temporal goods. (3) Excessive grief at the loss of temporal goods. (4) If you do not use temporal goods for the glory of God, nor for your own and your neighbours’ needs. 2. Strive to keep from your soul the vice of avarice. (1) By continual struggle against the concupiscence of money and riches (Psa. 62:10). (2) By the exercise of opposite virtues, especially that of Christian charity. You will experience the joys earned by these virtues. (3) By supplication for the removal of the temptation. (Chevassu.) The two masters:—“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). In one point of view, this sounds very strangely; for nothing is more certain than that we can serve two masters. Every child that is dutifully reared serves two masters—its father and its mother; and it is quite possible for one to be a servant of a whole family of masters. But in order that this may take place, it is indispensably necessary that the masters should be alike in feeling, and identical in interest. But if masters are antagonistic the one to the other, if their interests are not only different but conflicting, if to serve one of necessity puts you in opposition to the other, then it is impossible to serve two. And the more you look at it the plainer it becomes. Suppose one man represents perfect honour, and another represents perfect meanness, and you undertake to serve both of them, what sort of success will you have? Suppose one man be called Truth, and another be called Falsehood, and you attempt to serve both of them, is it not plain that you will either hate the one and love the other, or else hold to the one and despise the other? You cannot serve both at the same time. No man can serve purity and lust at the same time. No man can serve good nature and anger at the same time. Are God and mammon, then, antagonistic? And what are the ways in which man is looked at from the two spheres—the Divine and the earthly? Mammon regards man as a creature of time and this world, and thinks of him, plans for him, educates him, and uses him, as if, like the beast of the field, he only had existence here, and as if his existence was only related to the comforts that belong to this state of being. But God looks upon man as a creature of eternal duration, passing through this world. The chief end and interest of men are also viewed antagonistically. In short, man in his immediate and visible good, is that which mammon regards. On the other hand, God regards not indifferently the interests of our body; but more He regards the interests of our being. Mammon builds men in the finer traits which they possess in common with animals. God would build men in those traits which they have in common with Him. One builds for this world exclusively. The other builds for this world and the next. There is nothing more certain than that a man’s character depends upon his ruling purpose. Let us look at it. A man may be a thoroughly worldly man—that is, all his ruling aims, and desires, and expectations, may make him worldly; and yet he may be observant of external religious services. A man is not to be supposed to be less a worldly man because when the Sabbath day comes round he knows it. He may be, also, a believer in the gospel, and in the most evangelical and orthodox type of doctrine—as an idea. It is quite possible for a man to be supremely worldly, and yet to have strong religious feelings. There is nothing more common than instances which go to show that we like as a sentiment things that we do not like as an ethical rule. Nay, it is possible for a man to go further, and yet be a thoroughly worldly man. And here it is that the distinction comes in. Although a man may be a servant of mammon, and may serve him with heart and soul; yet, externally, there may be a great many appearances that look as though he was serving God. And men really seem to think that they can serve God and mammon! 1. There is reason to believe that the morality of multitudes of men, though they are good in some degree, leaves out that which alone can make it a ground of complacence and trust. A man may be a moral man, and leave out the whole of the life to come. The Greeks were moral men, many of them. The Romans were moral men, many of them. 2. There is reason to fear that the religion of multitudes of professors of religion is but a form of church-morality. You may tell me that this is a misjudgment. I hope it is. But what sort of lives are we living, when it is possible to misinterpret them? What if I should have occasion to say the same things about your allegiance to the government that I have said about your religion? There is not a man of any note in the community about whose allegiance you have any doubt. If I point to one man, you say, “He is not true to his country.” If I point to another man, you say, “He is loyal”; and you state facts to prove it. You say, “When his personal interest came in collision with the interest of the country, and one or the other had to be given up, he gave up his personal interest.” But when God’s claims come in collision with your personal interests, God’s claims go down, and your personal interests go up. Now, there ought to be no cause for doubt that you are Christians. A man is bound to live towards his country so that there shall be no mistake about his patriotism. And God says, “You are bound to live towards Me so that in some way men shall see that you are My children.” You are bound to live in everything as you do in some things. You are attempting, partly through ignorance, partly by reason of carelessness, and partly on account of too low an estimate of the sacredness of your religious obligations, to serve God with your right hand, and mammon with your left; and men see it, and they doubt you; and that is not the worst of it—they doubt God, they doubt Christ, they doubt the reality of religion. And to be the occasion of doubt concerning matters of such grave importance, is culpable. No man, therefore, has a right to allow any mistake to exist in the matter of his Christian character. There is need, Christian brethren, of severe tests in this particular. You need to settle these questions: “Where is my allegiance? Am I with God, and for God supremely?” (H. W. Beecher.) The two contrary masters, or the inconsistency of the service of God and the world:—For the opening and prosecuting of which words, consider—1. What these two masters are. 2. What it is to serve them. 3. How none can serve them both. 4. Why none can serve them both. 5. The use and application. For the first of these, these two masters are God and the world, but with much difference, as we may see severally. God is a Lord and Master absolutely, properly, and by good right in Himself; being in His own nature most holy, most mighty, most infinite in glory and sovereignty over all His creatures. Again, He is a Lord and Master in relation to us: and not only by right of creation and preservation as we are men and creatures, but also by right of redemption and sanctification, as new men and new creatures. 1. He hath made a covenant with us, first of works, and then of grace. 2. He hath appointed our work. 3. He hath as a Master appointed us liberal wages, even a merciful reward of eternal life. Thus is God a Lord and Master. Now, on the other side, the world is called a master or lord, not by any right in itself, or over us, but—1. By usurpation. 2. By man’s corruption, and defection from the true God. 3. By the world’s general estimation, and acceptation of the wealth and mammon, as a lord and great commander; which appeareth—(1) By subjecting themselves to the basest services of wealth for wealth. (2) By affecting wealth as the chief good. (3) By depending (as servants on their masters) on their wealth. Concerning the service of these masters, we must mark, that our Saviour saith not, A man cannot serve God that hath riches, but, He cannot serve God and riches. For he that cannot distinguish between having the world, and serving the world, cannot understand this text and conclusion of Jesus Christ. Our Lord well knew it was lawful both to have, and to seek, and to use the world holily and humbly. But how may we conceive that one cannot be servant to two masters, or to these two? In these conditions: 1. Not at the same time. 2. Not in their proper commands; for as they are contrary lords, so they command contrary things, and draw to contrary courses. One calls to works of mercy, charity, compassion, liberality, and the like; the other to cruelty, and unmercifulness, to shut our eyes from beholding our own flesh, to shut our ear from the cry of the poor, to shut our purse and hand from the charitable relief of Christ’s poor members. And how can one man obey both these in their contrary commands? 3. No man can serve two masters in sovereignty, unless they be subordinate one to the other, and so their commands concur in order one to another, and cross not one another. The reasons whereof are these: 1. A servant is the possession of his master; and one possession can have but one owner and possessor at once. 2. The servant of the world sets up his wealth as an idol in his heart; by which the worldling forsakes the true God, and turns to most gross idolatry. So of the second reason. 3. The apostle (Rom. 6:16) asks thus, “Know ye not, that to whomsoever ye give yourselves as servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye do obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” But the distinction implies that they cannot obey both together. 4. No man can serve these two masters, because a man cannot divide his heart between God and the world; and if he could, God will have no part of a divided heart, as Elijah said in that case (1 Kings 18:20). How may I know what master I serve? 1. Whom hast thou covenanted withal? God or the world? To whom hast thou wholly resigned thyself? Is thy strength become God’s? Is thy time His? thy labour His? 2. Every servant is commanded by his master. God’s servant knows his Lord’s mind and pleasure, and readily attempts it, even in most difficult commandments. 3. Every servant receives wages of his own master, and thrives by his service. Of whom doest thou receive wages? 4. Which of these two masters lovest thou best? He that is thy master, thy affection must cleave to him, as is said of the prodigal. 5. If thou beest the servant of God, thy wealth is His servant as well as thyself. (T. Taylor, D.D.)
Oneness of service:—What we all want is unity of character. We are, most of us, too many characters folded up into one. This want of unity of character is the chief secret of almost all our weakness. No life can be a strong life which has not a fixed focus. Another consequence of this uncertainty of aim and this divided allegiance is that we really are missing the goodness and happiness of everything. We have too much religion thoroughly to enjoy the world, and too much of the world thoroughly to enjoy religion. Our convictions haunt us in the world, and our worldliness follows us even to our knees. But there is a worse consequence than this. The Holy Spirit is grieved in us, and Christ is wounded, and the Father is dishonoured. For, which is worse, to be half loved or not to be loved at all? Where you have a right to all, is not partial love a mockery and an insult? The question, the all-important question is, What is the remedy? But first, before I speak of that, let me draw your attention to a distinction which is not without its force. The word “masters” in the text does not actually carry the meaning of “masters “and “servants” in the ordinary acceptation of the phrases. It might be literally translated, according to the root of the word, “proprietors” or “lords.” “No one can serve two proprietors.” This emphasizes the sentence. God has a property, all property, in you. By right you are His. The world is not your proprietor. You are not made to be the world’s. But now I return to the question, “How can we best attain to serve one lord?” I should answer first, without hesitation, by making that one Master, or Proprietor, or Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. And more than this. God has given the government and the sovereignty of this world till the day of judgment, to Jesus Christ. Therefore He is our Proprietor and our Master. Therefore I say, begin with believing that you are forgiven. Let Jesus—as your own dear Saviour—occupy His right place in your heart. The rest is quite sure. You will want no other Master. All life is service. The happiness or the unhappiness of the service depends on who is the master. If self is the master, the service will be a failure! If the world is the master, the service will soon become drudgery! If Christ is the master, the service will be liberty; the law will be love, and the wages life, life for ever. If self, and the world, and Christ, be all masters, the diluted service will be nothing worth. There will be no “service” at all. Self will go to the top, and self will be disappointed. But if the “Master” be one, and that one God, that concentration will give force to every good thing within you. Life will be a great success. The service will be sweet. (J. Vaughan, M.A.)
Impossible to serve God and mammon:—We cannot possibly serve both God and mammon. “When you see a dog following two men,” says Ralph Erskine, “you know not to which of them he belongs while they walk together; but let them come to a parting-road, and one go one way, and the other another way, then will you know which is the dog’s master. So while a man may have the world and a religious profession too, we cannot tell which is the man’s master, God or the world; but stay till the man come to a parting-road. God calls him this way, and the world calls him that way. Well, if God be his master, he follows truth and righteousness, and lets the world go; but if the world be his master, then he follows the flesh and the lusts thereof, and lets God and conscience go.” It is always so. The lukewarm can never be trusted, but the heartily-loving are ever loyal.
Probably to prevent the very misunderstanding that still persists, as if Jesus were praising dishonesty, he now continues: 10. He who is trustworthy in a very small matter is also trustworthy in an important one; and he who is untrustworthy in a very small matter is also untrustworthy in an important one.
It is clear from these words that Jesus did not approve of, did not even excuse, dishonesty, unfaithfulness. If a person can be trusted in handling a matter of small importance, he can also be trusted with important matters; if he cannot be depended on in connection with the first, it would not be safe either to entrust to him the second. Everything depends on the quality of the person’s invisible being, call it his soul or whatever you wish. That soul is not divided.
16:10–11. The disciples dismissed this parable as not applicable to them. They had no worldly resources, so the message of this parable did not apply to them. Jesus disagreed. No matter how few resources you have, be trustworthy with them, he said. Only as you get in the habit of generous, trustworthy use of resources can you be trusted with more. That habit will lead you to continue to be trustworthy, no matter how high the value of your resources. Look out for the other side of this truth. You may think that it does not make much difference how you handle the little that you have. You can cheat and mislead and squander such resources. After all, it is just unrighteous money, not worth anything. Again, Jesus emphasized, the habit you form now stays with you. Be faithful in little; you will be faithful in much. Be unfaithful in little, you will be unfaithful and unrighteous if you get the opportunity to manage many resources. If you are unfaithful in unrighteous worldly goods, no one will trust you with heavenly goods.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, pp. 179–180). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Trites, A. A., William J. Larkin. (2006). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 12: The Gospel of Luke and Acts (p. 223). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
How could God allow such an awful thing to happen?
How does it fit into his divine plan?
There are no easy answers, but we struggle to find them. Students of human behavior call it our “search for meaning.” Faced by a great evil like racism—brought to the fore when Floyd was killed—we can at least resolve to work to right that wrong in the future, and that can provide the comfort of knowing we have done what we could.
But natural events like Hurricane Katrina or the pandemic are particularly hard to explain because there is no human cause other than living in a fallen world.
Is it God’s judgment?
Some Christians have interpreted the pandemic as a sign of the coming end times and God’s judgment, but theologians such as Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, disagree.
“There is nobody who can say, with any authority, that this is God’s judgment against our country or our world,” Jeffress said. “Any pastor or so-called prophet who says that the coronavirus is God’s judgment on America is either a crank or a crook.”
But when the Air Force Academy established a place of worship in 2010 for Wiccans, Druids, and members of other religions, Jeffress said that our nation would be judged because of it. In other words, we know we bring on God’s judgment when we break his laws, but we won’t know this side of heaven why he does certain things or allows them to happen.
Is it ‘a brute fact of nature’?
Sam Ben-Meir, a professor of philosophy and world religions at Mercy College in New York, mused in a recent article: “What is the temptation to view a catastrophe like the plague as divine punishment as opposed to a brute fact of nature? Surely at least one reason we are tempted to do so is because, if it is heavenly retribution, then the hardship still has some meaning; we still live in a world with an underlying moral structure. Indeed, to many, the idea that such a great calamity is nothing more than a brute act of nature is far more painful to contemplate than an account by which God cares enough about us to punish us.”
If we can’t explain why something terrible happened, we don’t know how to prevent it from happening again, which makes it even more frightening. “With the pandemic, there is a lot we do not understand,” University of Texas psychology professor Dr. Arthur Markman said. “That makes it hard to predict the future and to know what we are supposed to do to make things better.”
Is it Bill Gates?
In the face of events like the pandemic, conspiracy theories flourish.
One of the more bizarre ones involves billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation has pledged more than $250 million to help fight the pandemic. Yet a poll in May found that 28 percent of Americans believed that Gates would use a vaccine to plant microchips in people to track their whereabouts.
“Conspiracy theories are deeply attractive to people who have a hard time making sense of a complicated world and who have no patience for less dramatic explanations,” Tom Nichols wrote in The Death of Expertise. “Such theories also appeal to a strong streak of narcissism: there are people who would choose to believe in complicated nonsense rather than accept that their own circumstances are incomprehensible, the result of issues beyond their intellectual capacity to understand, or even their own fault.
“Conspiracy theories are also a way for people to give context and meaning to events that frighten them. Without a coherent explanation for why terrible things happen to innocent people, they would have to accept such occurrences as nothing more than the random cruelty either of an uncaring universe or an incomprehensible deity.”
Nichols noted that conspiracy theories spike after traumatic events like the assassination of President Kennedy and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In these cases, it may seem easier to believe an outlandish theory than the terrible reality.
Is it someone else’s fault?
People also like to play the blame game.
“One reason we like to have something to blame is that it makes us feel a bit more in control of the situation,” Markman, the Texas professor, said. “Now I know that this person or object was the root cause of the problem. Another reason . . . is that bad events (particularly big bad ones like the pandemic) create a lot of energy in the form of anxiety. We want to be able to direct that energy at something. By having something to blame, we can take out our frustration on the source of that blame. That is why we see some people in the US taking out their anger on people from China and others taking it out on President Trump. They are looking for someone to blame. And, of course, God has always been a place where people could direct their anger.”
Is it known only to God?
Theologian N. T. Wright doesn’t think that we are meant to understand the “dark power that from the start has tried to destroy God’s good handiwork” in instances like the pandemic.
“We are simply to know that when we are caught up in awful circumstances, apparent gross injustices, terrible plagues—or when we are accused of wicked things of which we are innocent, suffering strange sicknesses with no apparent reason, let alone cure—at those points we are to lament, we are to complain, we are to state the case, and leave it with God,” he wrote in God and the Pandemic.
We are called to be faithful, much like Job was, even when we don’t understand why bad things happen. We are called to be loving even though “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12) and can’t clearly see God’s plan.
We are called to care for the sick and encourage the brokenhearted, as Christians have done for thousands of years, giving meaning to apparently senseless tragedy. In a year when we’ve witnessed an impeachment trial, a coronavirus pandemic, massive unemployment, and racial strife, we can find some comfort and purpose in that.
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise.—Psalm 57:7.
My soul! here is a delightful subject proposed for thine evening meditation, in the fixedness of the heart: the only possible way of really “singing and giving praise to the Lord” with the heart, is when the Lord hath fixed thine heart to the service. Many rush to ordinances, as the unthinking horse rusheth to the battle. Not so, my soul, be thy practice. See to it, that he, who alone can give a fixedness to the heart, hath fixed thine; for then, when the view of a God in Christ is brought home by the Holy Ghost to thy warmest and most devout affections, then, and not before, will there be a going forth of those affections, awakened and led by the same almighty Spirit, upon the glorious person of thy Lord, and faith will be in lively exercise, in a way of praise, and love, and obedience, and joy. Then thou wilt sing and give praise “with the spirit, and with the understanding also.” Sit down now, in the coolness of this sweet summer evening, and wait upon thy Jesus in silence and in meditation before him, until the Lord hath given thee this fixedness of affection on his person and righteousness; and then thou wilt find a fitness for devotion, and a fitness in devotion, from the sweet influences of God the Holy Ghost. Oh! how blessed is it to retire from every eye but his, who seeth in secret; and to remember, that while thine eye is looking upon him, he is ever looking upon thee! Such a thought as this begins to give a fixedness to the heart: for the whole current and stream of the affections are directed, and therefore pour in, to this one channel; so that, like a river not divided, nothing of it runs another way. Think when the full tide of thine affections is thus tending to the person of Jesus, shall not such a fixedness of thought make thee cry out, as David: “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise?” It is this state of the heart, which makes all the difference between the gracious and the carnal. Both may use closet duties, both may read, yea, study the word, yea, become proficients in the outer understanding of the word; the meditation may furnish the head, but not feed the heart, but it is the gracious soul that enjoys. It is a solemn consideration, how many are employed, from year to year, in spiritual things, whose hearts all the while remain carnal. But where there is a fixedness of the heart, by the Spirit of the living God, upon the person, offices, and character of the Lord Jesus Christ, the meditation doth not settle for the mere discharge of a duty, but for the joy of the soul. “Oh! how I love thy law!” is then the language of the fixed heart; “it is my meditation all the day!” My soul! dost thou know these things by heartfelt testimony? Doth God the Holy Ghost shine in upon thee with his light, to give thee sweet views, engaging views, soul-arresting views of Jesus? Are thine eyes, I mean the whole affections of thy soul, fixing themselves on Jesus, as a longing woman fixeth upon the one object of her desire, which nothing beside can satisfy? Oh! it is blessed to have this fixedness of mind at all times upon the person of Jesus. For this is to enter into the closet, and to shut to the door, (as Christ expresseth it,) by shutting out all thoughts besides, and then looking in every direction for Jesus, and finding him in all, and upon all. His word, his grace, his secret whispers, his communications, are like so many rich cabinets of jewels, which the soul turns over, and finds Jesus in every one. O thou dear Lord Jesus! grant me this happy frame of mind, that I may say, with David, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise!”