‘He found nothing but leaves.’ Mark 11:13
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 14:4–13
Some you meet with have a censorious tongue. What good people they must be; they can see the faults of other people so plainly! This church is not right, and the other is not right, and yonder preacher—well some people think him a very good man, but they do not. They can see the deficiencies in the various denominations, and they observe that very few really carry out Scripture as it should be carried out. They complain of want of love, and are the very people who create that want. Now if you will watch these very censorious people, the very faults they indicate in others, they are indulging in themselves; and while they are seeking to find out the mote in their brother’s eye, they have a beam in their own. These are the people who are indicated by this fig tree, for they ought, according to their own showing, taking them on their own ground, to be better than other people. If what they say be true, they are bright particular stars, and they ought to give special light to the world. They are such that even Jesus Christ himself might expect to receive fruit from them, but they are nothing but deceivers, with these high soarings and proud boastings; they are nothing after all but pretenders. Like Jezebel with her paint, which made her all the uglier, they would seem to be what they are not. As old Adam says, ‘They are candles with big wicks and no tallow, and when they go out they make a foul and nauseous smell.’ ‘They have summer sweating on their brow, and winter freezing in their hearts.’ You would think them the land of Goshen, but prove them the wilderness of sin. Let us search ourselves, lest such be the case with us.
For meditation: How would you react to hearing a tape-recording of yourself in full flow? God takes note of evil speech and the judging of others (Exodus 20:7; Matthew 7:1–2; 12:33–37; Romans 2:1–3). Colossians 4:6 tells us what the speech of a Christian should be like.
Sermon no. 555
21 February (1864)