the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Keep thy heart with all diligence.”
Our Lord in his Sermon on the Mount further said:
Whatever we make to be our treasure will be sure to become the attraction of our heart. If we accumulate earthly riches, our hearts will by degrees be tied up in our money-bags; and, on the other hand, if our chief possessions are in heavenly things, our hearts will rise into the higher and more spiritual region. The position of the heart is sure to be affected by the place where the treasure is laid up. Shall sons of God give their hearts away to passing joys, which decay if they remain ours, and are liable at any moment to be taken from us?
Matthew 6:22 , Matthew 6:23
A heart professedly set upon heaven but held in bondage to earth is like an eye blinded by the intrusion of a foreign substance, involving the unfortunate owner of it in darkness. There is no such thing as seeing spiritual things while the soul’s windows are fastened up with shutters of worldliness.
Two leading principles cannot rule in one heart; they cannot both be master. Either sin or grace will engross the whole heart; neither will submit to compromise.
Yet are we all too ready to condemn others and to be lenient to ourselves. It will be wise to act upon the precisely opposite principle, making every excuse for others, and accepting none for ourselves.
Prayer is thus urgently recommended to us; we are asking of a Father, not of a tyrant, and that Father will employ all his wisdom and judgment not in repelling our pleas, but in doing for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think.
This last verse is the golden rule, and those who follow it will live truly noble lives.
What enchants you, gain or pleasure?
Pluck right eyes, with right hands part;
Ask your conscience, where’s your treasure?
For, be certain, there’s your heart.
God and Mammon? O be wiser.
Serve them both? It cannot be;
Ease in warfare, saint and miser,
These will never well agree.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate.”
Choose not your religion because it is easy, and is patronised by the multitude, for the evil way is that which has charms for the crowd, since it is prepared by the Evil One so as to be pleasant to flesh and blood.
Perhaps few absolutely, certainly few comparatively take the right road. If we would be saved we must swim against the stream, we must bear the cross and deny ourselves: this is not the popular course and never will be, but gracious souls choose it.
Judge religious teachers not by their claims to apostolical descent, or episcopal ordination, but by their doctrines and actions. He who glorifies God by gracious preaching and holy living has the best certificate of ordination in the world; while he who promulgates error, or lives unrighteously, is no servant of the Lord, however loud his pretensions may be.
Religion must be practical, or it will prove worthless at the last.
Matthew 7:24 , Matthew 7:25
Even to the doer of the word trial will come, rains of affliction will fall from above, floods of persecution or trouble will arise from the earth, and mysterious winds of spiritual temptation will beat upon him from all quarters; but he has a good foundation of real, vital, practical faith, and therefore he survives every test. Not so the mere hearer of the word, his case comes to a very different end.
Matthew 7:26 , Matthew 7:27
He endured no severer trials than the righteous; but for lack of foundation he could not sustain the shock; his great profession only made his ruin the more remarkable. Oh, to be on the rock, that is the main matter! Vital godliness outlives all mere imitations of grace.
Matthew 7:28 , Matthew 7:29
He was no doctor of doubts, no questioner and quibbler; he spake boldly, for he spake the truth. We need greatly in these days a ministry of the same kind. Send it, good Lord, we beseech thee.
Strait the gate, the way is narrow,
To the realms of endless bliss;
Sinful men and vain professors,
Self-deceived, the passage miss;
Down they sink the dread abyss.
Thou who art thy people’s guardian,
Condescend my guide to be;
By thy Spirit’s light unerring,
Let me thy salvation see:
May I never
Miss the way that leads to thee.