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The Christian's Highest Reward
I. I understand the emphatic words to be, 'in the earth'. There never had been any doubt about the final reward of the righteous; but there were evidently some who were beginning to say: 'It must be reserved for another world; this earth of ours is indifferent to moral distinctions'. The writer of this proverb cries, 'No; my reward will be here'. I do not think he meant that it must come in his present life. Remember, the Jew held that he was to come back to this earth again on the Resurrection morning. The whole point of the passage is that, either now or hereafter, either today or tomorrow, the righteous man will see the rectification of things below the crooked made straight, the rough places made plain, the mountains abased and the valleys exalted. I doubt if a son of Israel would have thanked you for the fairest flowers and the loveliest woods in a world divorced from earthly memories; his whole notion of immortality was the future glorifying of his present actions.
II. And I believe that this is also the immortal hope of every Christian. Did you ever ask yourself, what is that recompense which a Christian saint desires? Is it a paradise in the seventh heaven which the tumult of earth will not reach? Is it a flight to regions unknown and at present unknowable? Is it the wearing of foreign purple and the hearing of foreign music and the engagement in foreign embassies? A Christian in the future life may occasionally have all these things; but he will deem none of them his recompense. What he wants is not a redemption from the past but a redemption of the past. He seeks a river clear as crystal; but he seeks it in the muddy haunts of time 'in the midst of the street'. He desires a tree whose leaves are life-giving; but he wants it for 'the healing of the nations'. He craves a song of exquisite melody; but its subject is to be the glory of a human cross 'worthy is the Lamb that was slain'. He searches for a precious emerald; but he does so in a rainbow of earthly tears. He longs to be able to cry, 'Who are these that are arrayed in white robes?' but the answer he would like to receive is this: 'These are they that came out of great tribulation'.
G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p. 153.
References. XII. 1. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 235. XII. 1-15. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 155. XII. 4. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 238. XII. 10, 13. Ibid. p. 240.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 11". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany