‘Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come…inherit the kingdom…for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.’ Matthew 25:34–36
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 6:32–36
The Duke of Burgundy was waited upon by a very loyal subject, who brought him a very large root which he had grown. He was a very poor man indeed, but simply as a loyal offering he brought to his prince the largest his little garden produced. The prince was so pleased with the man’s evident loyalty and affection that he gave him a very large sum. The steward thought, ‘Well, I see this pays; this man has got fifty pounds for his large root, I think I shall make the duke a present.’ So he bought a horse, and he presented it: the duke, like a wise man, quietly accepted the horse, and gave the greedy steward nothing. So you say, ‘Well, here is a Christian, and he gets rewarded. He has been giving to the poor, helping the Lord’s church, and see he is saved; the thing pays, I shall make a little investment.’ Yes, but you see the steward gave the horse out of very great love to himself, and therefore had no return; and if you perform deeds of charity with the idea of getting to heaven by them, it is yourself that you are feeding and clothing; all your virtue is not virtue, it is rank selfishness, and Christ will never accept it; you will never hear him say, ‘Thank you’ for it. You served yourself, and no reward is due. You must first come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and look to him to save you; you will for ever renounce all idea of doing anything to save yourself, and being saved, you will be able to give to the poor without selfishness mixing with your motive.
For meditation: There is great gain in godliness with contentment, but regarding godliness as a means towards gain and gain as a motive for being godly is a sure mark of ungodliness (1 Timothy 6:5–6).
Sermon no. 671
21 January (1866)