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I. By toil, by tears, by sharing in the toil and tears of others, our life is rich in gains. Trophies have fallen to our bow, and to the bow of the nation with which we are one, and to the bow of the Gospel we believe; and we have never roasted what we took in hunting. The gains are wasted; the trophies are unused.
1. I want to run that thought out into various spheres of life; and first, the wasted gains in bodily life. Take speech or sight. Compare the possibilities of sight with what you see. Contrast the possibilities of speech with what you say; and are not speech and sight terribly wasted gains?
2. There are wasted gains in our social life. Take friendship, for example. Think for a moment of the toil it cost to make a single friend. The tragedy is the passing of love's kindness; the sloth that lets us squander what we won; the waste of the sweet gains of golden days.
3. There are wasted gains in our public and our national life. Our privileges were bought for us at a great price. And oh, the pity of it, how we waste them!
There is our restful Sunday, and it was dearly bought. But every country road and country inn on Sunday is thronged with men who never think of God. There is the open Bible, and it was dearly bought, yet now it is every book before the Bible. There is our liberty of worship, and it was dearly bought, yet, come a rainy Sunday, and half the churches in the city are unfilled.
And there is our right of voting too, of moulding public life and sharing in it, and that was dearly bought. And hundreds of men and women are so careless that they will sit at home, or visit, or go to work, and never trouble to record their vote.
II. In our moral and spiritual life there is the same tale of wasted gains. Had we but used all we have learned; had we but held by all that suffering taught us; had we but clung to what we wrestled for, we should be nearer heaven. But we have squandered it like any prodigal, and flung it to the winds, and almost all the lessons are to learn again!
III. Squander your gains, and God will take them from you. Neglect your talents, and God will take your talents back. Misuse your sight, and God will rob you of the power to see. Despise your teachings, and God will not teach you any more.
G. H. Morrison, Sun-Rise, p. 169.
References. XII. 27. Archbishop Benson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 104. XIII. 7. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 163. XIII. 12. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 243. XIII. 13. Ibid. p. 245. XIII. 15. Hugh Black, University Sermons, p. 88. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 247. XIII. 20. T. Barker, Plain Sermons, p. 178. J. Percival, Some Helps for School Life, p. 155. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 155. XIII. 23. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 173; see also Paul's Prayers, p. 287. XIII. 24. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 252. XIII. 32. F. E. Paget, Plain Preaching to Poor People (7th Series), p. 61. XIV. 6. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 258. XIV. 7, 16. Ibid. p. 262. XIV. 8. G. Tyrrell, Oil and Wine, p. 305.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 12". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany