Matthew 10:29

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

~ Matthew 10:29

The verse that now occupies our attention is certainly worthy of our meditation. On first notice, we deem that sparrows are near worthless creatures, (five could be had for a halfpenny according to Luke 12:6), and that God takes notice when even one falls to the ground. From this, we glean that God has knowledge of all His creation, taking notice and interest of the least of His creatures and that He is brought into sympathy with them.

These thoughts are the froth and cream of the verse and not strong meat sufficient to strengthen us for a forty days journey (1 Kings 19:8). There is more here than an incidental omniscience. Here the sovereign power of God is extolled. Let us take a few moments to fix our meditation here and be profited thereby.

In the first place, I wish to consider the context. In this tenth chapter, Christ is preparing His apostles to go out to work. “He gave them power” (Matthew 10:1), and He tells them to “Go… And as ye go, preach… freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6-8). They are going to do the Lord’s work. He said, “Behold, I send you forth” (Matthew 10:16).

Christ further prepares them by giving them a warning, “But beware of men” (Matthew 10:17). He promises that they will suffer persecution. They will be cast out, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). The path of righteousness is attended with hardship and trials for those who tread its narrow way. Christ tells them plainly that they can expect trials. However, in our text, the Lord is encouraging His apostles and makes an appeal to the sovereign power of God.

We have already seen some reasons why this verse contains more than a casual, or even intimate, knowledge of God of His creation. This is further evidenced by reading verse 31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” There is an obvious connection between the two verses. Christ intended the truth proclaimed in verse 29 to allay the fears of the apostles. He said, “Fear ye not therefore.” Just knowing that God had knowledge of them could not sufficiently relieve the fears of the apostles and embolden them for fervent service in the face of difficulties. I believe that Christ gave the apostles two things here, the first, to make them God-centered instead of self-centered, and the second, to increase their faith.

The first truth is about the sovereignty of God in His creation. Sparrows are essentially worthless to humans, but not so to God. Christ said, “And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” It is not just that God takes notice when the least of His creatures die, but He is active throughout the span of their life. He wills their birth and wills their death. Not one sparrow shall die until the time appointed by God. Not only this, but He sustains their life, “your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26). Furthermore, their life, from beginning to end, fulfills His purpose.

There’s not a sparrow, or a worm, But’s found in His decrees;
He raises monarchs to their throne, And sinks them as He please.

We see God seated high upon His throne, ruling and reigning over the least to the greatest of His creation.

Let the whole race of creatures lie Abased before their God;
Whate’er His sovereign voice has formed, He governs with a nod.

The second truth is about the loving-kindness of the benevolent heavenly Father. Notice in our text that Jesus says, “Your Father.” He speaks of the base sparrows and yet says, “Your Father.” He shows God’s hand in feeding the fowls and yet He says, “Your heavenly Father” (Matthew 6:26).

The sparrow fulfills the design of its maker and is dependent upon Him from first to last, but the sparrow’s relationship is only as creature to creator. Not so with the child of God! Jesus declares that He is “your Father.” If the sparrow is in His hands, how much more is His beloved child? God has determined our beginning and end and He will sustain us all the way.

The apostles could take comfort in these truths, especially while serving Him. No matter how fiery was their trial, they could rest in the power of God and His love for them. Their duty was to proclaim His glory. May we receive grace and strength from God to “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Amen.

Matthew 25:18

“But he that had received one
went and digged in the earth,
and hid his lord’s money.”

~ Matthew 25:18

Our text is a part of the parable of the talents. The Lord gave this parable to teach that not all servants have the same abilities. He taught that all servants are expected to work and equal diligence is equally rewarded despite differing gifts and gain. The wise man in the parable distributed his goods to his servants. “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” He administered the goods according to his servants’ ability to manage and use them. Though their amounts were different, they were each responsible for what they possessed. We see a difference in the greatness of the responsibilities, but no difference in the reality of the responsibility to each servant.

The parable tells us that a particular servant received one talent, one-half as much as another received and only one-fifth as much as even another servant received. Upon receiving the goods, the servants each set to work and began to gain. However, the servant in our text “went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” From the judgment of his Lord, his error did not lie in not having as much as the others, but in the fact that he did not use what was entrusted to him, rather he buried it. Now, let us consider the actions of the unfaithful servant in our text and receive instruction from our Lord.

In the first place, we notice that burying the talent was not an impulsive or rash decision. According to verse 19, it was “a long time” before the Lord returned and reckoned with his servants. The servants were given plenty of time to make use of their capital. Even if he went out and buried it at first, he had plenty of opportunity to make good. He could have dug it up and redeemed the time. From his own testimony in verses 24 and 25, we see that he deliberated about his course of action.

He thought to himself, I could never gain five talents as the first servant. Surely, I could not gain two talents like the other servant when I have only one talent to work with. Furthermore, what if my enterprise fails and I lose it all?

He decided that having so little; he had better not risk the loss and displeasure of his Lord. He assumes his Lord will be more angry if he loses all than if he makes no gain. He confesses, “And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth.” He was afraid and ventured nothing.

In the second place, we take notice of where the servant hid the talent. He “digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” He was not totally inactive. He went to great trouble to bury the talent. He “digged,” showing that he had some capacity to labor and “in the earth” was where he chose to bury his money. He chose the earth as a fit hiding place. I imagine that after the talent was “in the earth” for “a long time,” that it could not have been returned in the same condition in which it was given. It must have been stained with dirt and smelled earthy.

This language is very suggestive and symbolic of many Christians. The servant had been given a gift, which he was expected to use in his master’s service. He figured that his gift was small and there were plenty of others with more ability than he that would labor in the master’s cause. He gave himself a pass on greater responsibilities and hid his talent in the earth. How many Christians hide their talents in the earth? How many give their abilities to business, sales, recreation, acquiring possessions, houses and lands, instead of seeking to advance the cause of Christ? Just like the servants talent, they are sullied by the dirt of the world and smell earthy. Their works will not stand the test of fire, but will be burnt up. They themselves “shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). Peter warned, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). I pray to God that we may be ready when our Master comes.

Lastly, we see that it is not enough to simply maintain what we have. We must seek to utilize what we have been given and gain and improve it for the glory of the Lord. The Lord explained that we must never be satisfied with the present portion. At the very least, “Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury” (Matthew 25:27). If we try to just maintain and not to enlarge the Lord’s work, then we will waste the Lord’s substance. “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster” (Proverbs 18:9).

We must not be satisfied to only hold the truth. Many make their boast of being sound, “but in works they deny him.” Jesus denounced the Pharisees because “they say, and do not.” We must be careful lest we “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” If we have received the truth, let us be thankful and careful to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10). Our conversation should “be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). We adorn the truth with godly, holy lives, and we shall be judged for our faithfulness and diligence.

Acts 13:36

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God,
fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption”

~ Acts 13:36

The verse before us is part of the message that Paul preached in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. He makes an almost incidental statement saying that David, “after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers.” Paul was demonstrating the fact that David’s prophecy in the Psalms was not of himself since he had died and seen corruption. His intention was to prove that Jesus was the Christ, as is seen in the very next verse.

He further preached Christ to them showing how that he fulfilled that prophecy by His resurrection. Verse 36 seems as merely supplementary evidence to support Paul’s argument, so we may pass by quickly. While it certainly serves that purpose, this verse is worthy of our attention for greater instruction. Charles Spurgeon preached a great sermon from this text where he expounded the idea that David “had served his own generation.” Many felt that Spurgeon preached his own funeral sermon in that message. I shall endeavor to bring some thoughts to light after this same manner.

We need only appeal “To the law and to the testimony” to learn that David was a great man. But what made him great? Our text furnishes some clues. This verse further confirms what Jesus taught His disciples that true greatness is only found in service. “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44). Our text declares that David “served his own generation” and that “by the will of God.” Potential greatness is no greatness at all. Your gifts and abilities matter little if they are “kept laid up in a napkin.” David did not hide his light. He placed it on the lamp stand and gave light to all that were in the house. No one asked him, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” He “served his own generation” and then “fell on sleep.”

A call to greatness is a call to service. One does not achieve greatness by pursuing it, but rather by serving “his own generation.” Few are willing to answer the door when that opportunity knocks. They would rather come into greatness “some other way.” Service leads to greatness and humility leads to service for “before honour is humility.” Many are far too proud to be of much service.

We notice that David served “his own generation.” In that sense he was like the woman that anointed the Lord for His burial. Christ said, “She hath wrought a good work on me . . . She hath done what she could.” David was not permitted to choose his time. He could only choose to rise above the mediocrity and instead of being a man of the times, be the man for the times.

You will notice in the book of Daniel that of all the Hebrews in captivity only a few “certain” ones refused to defile themselves with the King’s portion. Like those faithful Hebrews and like Esther, we must ponder whether we “art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” We have been placed in a generation of the Lord’s choosing. That generation beckons a servant. We cannot call on David, Solomon, Elijah, Daniel, The Baptist, Peter or Paul. “Who will go for us?” Pray the Lord that some Isaiah today will say, “Here am I; send me.”

We further observe that David’s time was fixed to his own generation and then he “fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers.” David was a great man but he could not go beyond that appointed time. There is “a time to be born, and a time to die.” The very greatest of men must finish their course and depart this life. History has supplied us with many great men. We look back and believe that “there were giants in the earth in those days,” great men “of whom the world was not worthy.” They are a great “cloud of witnesses” to whom we are greatly indebted.

The past saints served their own generations. They have all now finished their course and departed to great rejoicing in heaven. But, what about our time? What about our generation? We might almost feel as the Psalmist who cried, “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men” (Psalm 12:1). But let us not sit down under Elijah’s Juniper tree just yet. Let us all be in double earnest and seek a double portion of our brethren’s spirit that we might serve our own generation. Let us trust in the Lord with all assuredness, knowing that God always has a man. He has not left “himself without witness.” Whatever time we have, may it all be for the glory of God. Amen.

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