Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle: 365 Sermons - Thursday, February 20, 2014
The centurion: or, an exhortation to the virtuous
‘They came to Jesus…saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: for he…hath built us a synagogue…; the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:…but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed…When Jesus heard these things, he…said…I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.’ Luke 7:4–9
This centurion certainly had a high reputation. Two features of character blend in him which do not often meet in such graceful harmony. He won the high opinion of others and yet he held a low estimation of himself. There are some who think little of themselves; and they are quite correct in their feelings, as all the world would endorse the estimate of their littleness. Others there are who think great things of themselves; but the more they are known, the less they are praised. Nor is it unusual for men to think great things of themselves because the world commends or flatters them; so they robe themselves with pride and cloak themselves with vanity, because they have by some means, either rightly or wrongly, won the good opinion of others. There are very few who have the happy combination of the text. The elders say of the centurion, that he is worthy; but he says of himself, ‘Lord, I am not worthy!’ They commend him for building God a house; but he thinks that he is not worthy that Christ should come under the roof of his house. They plead his merit; but he pleads his demerit. Thus he appeals to the power of Christ, apart from anything that he felt in himself or thought of himself. O that you and I might have this blessed combination in ourselves; to win the high opinion of others, so far as it can be gained by integrity, by uprightness, and by decision of character, and yet at the same time to walk humbly with our God!
For meditation: A good reputation amongst outsiders and an absence of pride are characteristics which must be true of those appointed as church leaders (1 Timothy 3:6–7). They should also be amongst the aims of every believer (Matthew 5:3,16).