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12. Warnings and Encouragement

1In the mean time, when the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together, insomuch that they trod one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2But there is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 3Wherefore whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pence? and not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God. 7But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not: ye are of more value than many sparrows. 8And I say unto you, Every one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: 9but he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God. 10And every one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven. 11And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say. 13And one out of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me. 14But he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17and he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. 20But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. 23For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment. 24Consider the ravens, that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life? 26If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God doth so clothe the grass in the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more shall he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: but your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. 32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell that which ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning; 36and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him. 37Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them. 38And if he shall come in the second watch, and if in the third, and find them so blessed are those servants. 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not have left his house to be broken through. 40Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh. 41And Peter said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all? 42And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44Of a truth I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath. 45But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. 47And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; 48but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. 49I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled? 50But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! 51Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52for there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law. 54And he said to the multitudes also, When ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it cometh to pass. 55And when ye see a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat; and it cometh to pass. 56Ye hypocrites, ye know how to interpret the face of the earth and the heaven; but how is it that ye know not how to interpret this time? 57And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58For as thou art going with thine adversary before the magistrate, on the way give diligence to be quit of him; lest haply he drag thee unto the judge, and the judge shall deliver thee to the officer, and the officer shall cast thee into prison. 59I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the very last mite.

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Inordinate Care Reproved.

22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.   23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.   24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?   25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?   26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?   27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.   28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?   29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.   30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.   31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.   32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.   33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.   34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.   35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;   36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.   37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.   38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.   39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.   40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Our Lord Jesus is here inculcating some needful useful lessons upon his disciples, which he had before taught them, and had occasion afterwards to press upon them; for they need to have precept upon precept, and line upon line: "Therefore, because there are so many that are ruined by covetousness, and an inordinate affection to the wealth of this world, I say unto you, my disciples, take heed of it." Thou, O man of God, flee these things, as well as thou, O man of the world, 1 Tim. vi. 11.

I. He charges them not to afflict themselves with disquieting perplexing cares about the necessary supports of life: Take no thought for your life, v. 22. In the foregoing parable he had given us warning against that branch of covetousness of which rich people are most in danger; and that is, a sensual complacency in the abundance of this world's goods. Now his disciples might think they were in no danger of this, for they had no plenty or variety to glory in; and therefore he here warns them against another branch of covetousness, which they are most in temptation to that have but a little of this world, which was the case of the disciples at best and much more now that they had left all to follow Christ, and that was, an anxious solicitude about the necessary supports of life: "Take no thought for your life, either for the preservation of it, if it be in danger, or for the provision that is to be made for it, either of food or clothing, what ye shall eat or what ye shall put on." This is the caution he had largely insisted upon, Matt. vi. 25, &c.; and the arguments here used are much the same, designed for our encouragement to cast all our care upon God, which is the right way to ease ourselves of it. Consider then,

1. God, who has done the greater for us, may be depended upon to do the less. He has, without any care or forecast of our own, given us life and a body, and therefore we may cheerfully leave it to him to provide meat for the support of that life, and raiment for the defence of that body.

2. God, who provides for the inferior creatures, may be depended upon to provide for good Christians. "Trust God for meat, for he feeds the ravens (v. 24); they neither sow nor reap, they take neither care nor pains beforehand to provide for themselves, and yet they are fed, and never perish for want. Now consider how much better ye are than the fowls, than the ravens. Trust God for clothing, for he clothes the lilies (v. 27, 28); they make no preparation for their own clothing, they toil not, they spin not, the root in the ground is a naked thing, and without ornament, and yet, as the flower grows up, it appears wonderfully beautified. Now, if God has so clothed the flowers, which are fading perishing things, shall he not much more clothe you with such clothing as is fit for you, and with clothing suited to your nature, as theirs is?" When God fed Israel with manna in the wilderness, he also took care for their clothing; for though he did not furnish them with new clothes, yet (which came all to one) he provided that those they had should not wax old upon them, Deut. viii. 4. Thus will he clothe his spiritual Israel; but then let them not be of little faith. Note, Our inordinate cares are owing to the weakness of our faith; for a powerful practical belief of the all-sufficiency of God, his covenant-relation to us as a Father, and especially his precious promises, relating both to this life and that to come, would be mighty, through God, to the pulling down of the strong holds of these disquieting perplexing imaginations.

3. Our cares are fruitless, vain, and insignificant, and therefore it is folly to indulge them. They will not gain us our wishes, and therefore ought not to hinder our repose (v. 25): "Which of you by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit, or one inch, can add to his age one year or one hour? Now if ye be not able to do that which is least, if it be not in your power to alter your statures, why should you perplex yourselves about other things, which are as much out of your power, and about which it is necessary that we refer ourselves to the providence of God?" Note, As in our stature, so in our state, it is our wisdom to take it as it is, and make the best of it; for fretting and vexing, carping and caring, will not mend it.

4. An inordinate anxious pursuit of the things of this world, even necessary things, very ill becomes the disciples of Christ (v. 29, 30): "Whatever others do, seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; do not you afflict yourselves with perplexing cares, nor weary yourselves with constant toils; do not hurry hither and thither with enquiries what you shall eat or drink, as David's enemies, that wandered up and down for meat (Ps. lix. 15), or as the eagle that seeks the prey afar off, Job xxxix. 29. Let not the disciples of Christ thus seek their food, but ask it of God day by day; let them not be of doubtful mind; me meteorizestheBe not as meteors in the air, that are blown hither and thither with every wind; do not, like them, rise and fall, but maintain a consistency with yourselves; be even and steady, and have your hearts fixed; live not in careful suspense; let not your minds be continually perplexed between hope and fear, ever upon the rack." Let not the children of God make themselves uneasy; for,

(1.) This is to make themselves like the children of this world: "All these things do the nations of the world seek after, v. 30. They that take care for the body only, and not for the soul, for this world only, and not for the other, look no further than what they shall eat and drink; and, having no all-sufficient God to seek to and confide in, they burden themselves with anxious cares about those things. But it ill becomes you to do so. You, who are called out of the world, ought not to be thus conformed to the world, and to walk in the way of this people," Isa. viii. 11, 12. When inordinate cares prevail over us, we should think, "What am I, a Christian or a heathen? Baptized or not baptized? If a Christian, if baptized, shall I rank myself with Gentiles, and join with them in their pursuits?"

(2.) It is needless for them to disquiet themselves with care about the necessary supports of life; for they have a Father in heaven who does and will take care for them: "Your Father knows that you have need of these things, and considers it, and will supply your needs according to his riches in glory; for he is your Father, who made you subject to these necessities, and therefore will suit his compassions to them: your Father, who maintains you, educates you, and designs an inheritance for you, and therefore will take care that you want no good thing."

(3.) They have better things to mind and pursue (v. 31): "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God, and mind this, you, my disciples, who are to preach the kingdom of God; let your hearts be upon your work, and your great care how to do that well, and this will effectually divert your thoughts from inordinate care about things of the world. And let all that have souls to save seek the kingdom of God, in which only they can be safe. Seek admission into it, seek advancement in it; seek the kingdom of grace, to be subjects in that; the kingdom of glory, to be princes in that; and then all these things shall be added to you. Mind the affairs of your souls with diligence and care, and then trust God with all your other affairs."

(4.) They have better things to expect and hope for: Fear not, little flock, v. 32. For the banishing of inordinate cares, it is necessary that fears should be suppressed. When we frighten ourselves with an apprehension of evil to come, we put ourselves upon the stretch of care how to avoid it, when after all perhaps it is but the creature of our own imagination. Therefore fear not, little flock, but hope to the end; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. This comfortable word we had not in Matthew. Note, [1.] Christ's flock in this world is a little flock; his sheep are but few and feeble. The church is a vineyard, a garden, a small spot, compared with the wilderness of this world; as Israel (1 Kings xx. 27), who were like two little flocks of kids, when the Syrians filled the country. [2.] Though it be a little flock, quite over-numbered, and therefore in danger of being overpowered, by its enemies, yet it is the will of Christ that they should not be afraid: "Fear not, little flock, but see yourselves safe under the protection and conduct of the great and good Shepherd, and lie easy." [3.] God has a kingdom in store for all that belong to Christ's little flock, a crown of glory (1 Pet. v. 4), a throne of power (Rev. iii. 21), unsearchable riches, far exceeding the peculiar treasures of kings and provinces. The sheep on the right hand are called to come and inherit the kingdom; it is theirs for ever; a kingdom for each. [4.] The kingdom is given according to the good pleasure of the Father; It is your Father's good pleasure; it is given not of debt, but of grace, free grace, sovereign grace; even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee. The kingdom is his; and may he not do what he will with his own? [5.] The believing hopes and prospects of the kingdom should silence and suppress the fears of Christ's little flock in this world. "Fear no trouble; for, though it should come, it shall not come between you and the kingdom, that is sure, it is near." (That is not an evil worth trembling at the thought of which cannot separate us from the love of God). "Fear not the want of any thing that is good for you; for, if it be your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom, you need not question but he will bear your charges thither."

II. He charged them to make sure work for their souls, by laying up their treasure in heaven, v. 33, 34. Those who have done this may be very easy as to all the events of time.

1. "Sit loose to this world, and to all your possessions in it: Sell that ye have, and give alms," that is, "rather than want wherewith to relieve those that are truly necessitous, sell what you have that is superfluous, all that you can spare from the support of yourselves and families, and give it to the poor. Sell what you have, if you find it a hindrance from, or incumbrance in, the service of Christ. Do not think yourselves undone, if by being fined, imprisoned, or banished, for the testimony of Jesus, you be forced to sell your estates, thought they be the inheritance of your fathers. Do not sell to hoard up the money, or because you can make more of it by usury, but sell and give alms; what is given in alms, in a right manner, is put out to the best interest, upon the best security."

2. "Set your hearts upon the other world, and your expectations from that world. Provide yourselves bags that wax not old, that wax not empty, not of gold, but of grace in the heart and good works in the life; these are the bags that will last." Grace will go with us into another world, for it is woven in the soul; and our good works will follow us, for God is not unrighteous to forget them. These will be treasures in heaven, that will enrich us to eternity. (1.) It is treasure that will not be exhausted; we may spend upon it to eternity, and it will not be at all the less; there is no danger of seeing the bottom of it. (2.) It is treasure that we are in no danger of being robbed of, for no thief approaches near it; what is laid up in heaven is out of reach of enemies. (3.) It is treasure that will not spoil with keeping, any more than it will waste with spending; the moth does not corrupt it, as it does our garments which we now wear. Now by this it appears that we have laid up our treasure in heaven if our hearts be there while we are here (v. 34), if we think much of heaven and keep our eye upon it, if we quicken ourselves with the hopes of it and keep ourselves in awe with the fear of falling short of it. But, if your hearts be set upon the earth and the things of it, it is to be feared that you have your treasure and portion in it, and are undone when you leave it.

III. He charges them to get ready, and to keep in a readiness for Christ's coming, when all those who have laid up their treasure in heaven shall enter upon the enjoyment of it, v. 35, &c.

1. Christ is our Master, and we are his servants, not only working servants, but waiting servants, servants that are to do him honour, in waiting on him, and attending his motions: If any man serve me, let him follow me. Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. But that is not all: they must do him honour in waiting for him, and expecting his return. We must be as men that wait for their Lord, that sit up late while he stays out late, to be ready to receive him.

2. Christ our Master, though now gone from us, will return again, return from the wedding, from solemnizing the nuptials abroad, to complete them at home. Christ's servants are now in a state of expectation, looking for their Master's glorious appearing, and doing every thing with an eye to that, and in order to that. He will come to take cognizance of his servants, and, that being a critical day, they shall either stay with him or be turned out of doors, according as they are found in that day.

3. The time of our Master's return is uncertain; it will be in the night, it will be far in the night, when he has long deferred his coming, and when many have done looking for him; in the second watch, just before midnight, or in the third watch, next after midnight, v. 38. His coming to us, at our death, is uncertain, and to many it will be a great surprise; for the Son of Man cometh at an hour that ye think not (v. 40), without giving notice beforehand. This bespeaks not only the uncertainty of the time of his coming, but the prevailing security of the greatest part of men, who are unthinking, and altogether regardless of the notices given them, so that, whenever he comes, it is in an hour that they think not.

4. That which he expects and requires from his servants is that they be ready to open to him immediately, whenever he comes (v. 36), that is, that they be in a frame fit to receive him, or rather to be received by him; that they be found as his servants, in the posture that becomes them, with their loins girded about, alluding to the servants that are ready to go whither their master sends them, and do what their master bids them, having their long garments tucked up (which otherwise would hang about them, and hinder them), and their lights burning, with which to light their master into the house, and up to his chamber.

5. Those servants will be happy who shall be found ready, and in a good frame, when their Lord shall come (v. 37): Blessed are those servants who, after having waited long, continue in a waiting frame, until the hour that their Lord comes, and are then found awake and aware of his first approach, of his first knock; and again (v. 38): Blessed are those servants, for then will be the time of their preferment. Here is such an instance of honour done them as is scarcely to be found among men: He will make them sit down to meat, and will serve them. For the bridegroom to wait upon his bride at table is not uncommon, but to wait upon his servants is not the manner of men; yet Jesus Christ was among his disciples as one that served, and did once, to show his condescension, gird himself, and serve them, when he washed their feet (John xiii. 4, 5); it signified the joy with which they shall be received into the other world by the Lord Jesus, who is gone before, to prepare for them, and has told them that his Father will honour them, John xii. 26.

6. We are therefore kept at uncertainty concerning the precise time of his coming that we may be always ready; for it is no thanks to a man to be ready for an attack, if he know beforehand just the time when it will be made: The good man of the house, if he had known what hour the thief would have come, though he were ever so careless a man, would yet have watched, and have frightened away the thieves, v. 39. But we do not know at what hour the alarm will be given us, and therefore are concerned to watch at all tines, and never to be off our guard. Or this may intimate the miserable case of those who are careless and unbelieving in this great matter. If the good man of the house had had notice of his danger of being robbed such a night, he would have sat up, and saved his house; but we have notice of the day of the Lord's coming, as a thief in the night, to the confusion and ruin of all secure sinners, and yet do not thus watch. If men will take such care of their houses, O let us be thus wise for our souls: Be ye therefore ready also, as ready as the good man of the house would be if he knew what hour the thief would come.