ACCEPTANCE OF THE LITTLE
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"She did what she could." Mark 14:8
"Faithful with a few things." Matthew 25:21
"Each with his assigned task." Mark 13:34
How many earnest souls there are who give themselves
unrest—render themselves unhappy, with the reflection how little they
have done—how little—with limited means and resources, material and
intellectual—they can do, in the shape of substantial service for the
cause of God and His Christ. They have all the desire to do. Their
very rest—constrained and unwilling inaction—gives them weariness. They feel
like log-bound vessels lazily sleeping on their shadows in the harbor, when
others are out nobly wrestling with the storm, conveying priceless stores to
There is an Elim-Palm for such. Both the measure of your
ability, and your place and position in life are appointed by God. The
Christian poet represents those angels in heaven who "only stand and wait"
as "serving"—doing their Lord's will—as truly as the swift-winged messengers
who carry to and fro the biddings of His pleasure: and of the Church
militant on earth, "Thus says Jehovah," by the mouth of His prophet, "In
returning and rest shall you be saved: in quietness and in
confidence shall be your strength."
We can serve God, 'in rest and in quietness'—in the
noiseless tenor of a lowly lot, an uneventful existence—as well as in the
feverish bustle or prominent position of an active one; drawing water from
the wells under Elim-palm trees, as well as in grappling with the hosts of
Pharaoh or Amalek. No, we believe we have abundant warrant for the
assertion, that those most glorify God who, without the often false
stimulus of outward or secondary motives, perform gladly that
class of humble, unpretentious deeds, which, requiring no intellectual
effort, no brilliant gifts, are unacknowledged by the world's approval—unapplauded
by the world's hosannahs. Such assuredly will not be unowned or rejected by
the Great Recompenser, because they have nothing better or costlier to
offer. While it is said of "the mountains" (the Church's great ones), that
they shall "bring peace to the people;" the "little hills" (the Church's
humble, unknown, obscure ones), are to do so also "by righteousness" (Ps.
Let none, then, be coveting opportunity for the execution
of burdensome labors, or for occupying noticeable positions, as if these
enjoyed a monopoly in the divine favor and approval. We repeat, the hewer of
wood, or trimmer of lamps in the Temple—if (what might be deemed) his
drudgery, were performed from a principle of obedience and lowly
faithfulness—served the God of Israel as much as the High Priest with his
breastplate gleaming with the Urim and Thummin.
MOTIVE is everything with the Omniscient Heart Searcher;
and He is satisfied, if we fulfill, with a good conscience, our appointed
place and destiny, whatever that may be. The little fire-fly illuminating
the darkness in the balmy plains of the South, is one of the tiniest lamps
in God's magnificent Temple of night—a mere glimmering spark compared with
other and nobler altar-fires of sun and stars in the same great sanctuary.
But that insect does not refuse to rise on its wings of flame, because
unable to emit a greater amount of light; it is content to shine with the
luster assigned to it in its humble place in the material economy, and the
Creator is glorified thereby.
The insignificant "nameless rill" does not refuse to sing
its way to the ocean, because, on the opposite side of the mountain or
valley, a mightier torrent is thundering along, and bearing in its course a
larger and wealthier volume. It carries its appointed tribute to the sea;
and He who "sends forth the springs into the valleys which run among the
hills" expects from it no more. "She has done what she could," is the Divine
payment of commendation. The one lowly talent, conscientiously traded on,
will receive its own with interest. The widow's mite and the cup
of cold water are accepted, and the intention and desire
would be accepted, if there were no mite and no cup to give. See how
graciously God owned the unfulfilled purpose of His servant David regarding
the erection of the Temple on Zion!—"Because it was in your heart to build a
temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart" (1 Kings
"Some eager hearts—some souls of fire,
Who pant to toil for God and man,
View, with a look of keen desire,
The upland way of toil and pain:
Almost with scorn, they think of rest,
Of holy calm, of tranquil breast.
On others, lowlier tasks are laid,
With love to make the labor light;
And all their efforts may be shed
On quiet homes and lost to sight."
Wordsworth, in one of his minor poems, speaks beautifully
of "That best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless,
unremembered acts of kindness and of love."
In our Lord's parable of the Talents just referred to,
the varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities. The
master gave his servants "each according to his ability." God, in the
dispensing of these sacred trusts, does not act without reason; He
distributes the talents according to the known powers and capacities of His
servants. He gives equitably, and He expects a corresponding repayment.
Some, from peculiar outward circumstances—from their position in the Church
and the world—will be able to invest a large capital, and draw in a large
return: these are the five talented servants. Others move in a humbler and
less influential sphere: they have only two talents, and from them, as the
result of trading, their Lord expects no more. In either case, they have
done their duty up to the measure of their responsibility; the amount
entrusted to them has been doubled; and their fidelity being thus tested and
proved, their Master is satisfied.
The Church of Christ is made up of "vessels of large and
small quantity;" but the Lord does not unreasonably expect the smaller
vessel to hold the contents of the large one. The Church is a garden adorned
with trees and plants and flowers; but He does not expect the hyssop to
assume the dimensions of the cedar, nor the olive tree to attain the height
of the palm tree, nor the myrtle to be laden with the fruit of the vine, nor
the lily to waft the perfume of the rose. He does not expect the lowly
unlettered Christian to fight like the champion of the faith. He does not
expect from poverty the alms it has not to bestow, nor from the
sick-bed sufferer the active energies which bodily prostration
Let none needlessly mourn that they cannot glorify God by
talents He never gave them, and for which, therefore, they are not
accountable. Let none say, 'Had I been in another position in life, I might
have invested a larger capital for my Lord.' Though you are narrowed and
restricted where you are, to the one talent, use it well, and God will
accept "according to what a man has, not according to what he has not."
What a noble program and directory of duty is that given
by the great Apostle in his great Epistle: "We have different gifts,
according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use
it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is
teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is
contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is
leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it
cheerfully." (Rom. 12:6-8).
"Last of the laborers, Your feet I gain.
Lord of the harvest! And my spirit grieves
That I am burdened, not so much with grain
As with a heaviness of heart and brain!
Master, behold my sheaves!
"Few, light, and worthless—yet their trifling weight
Through all my frame a weary aching leaves;
For long I struggled with my hapless fate,
And staid and toiled until it was dark and late,
Yet these are all my sheaves!
"Full well I know I have more tares than wheat.
Brambles and flowers, dry stalks, and withered leaves,
Why I blush and weep, as at Your feet
I kneel down reverently, and repeat,
'Master, behold my sheaves!'
"But I shall gather strength and hope anew,
For well I know Your patient love perceives
Not what I did, but what I strove to do,
And though the full ripe ears be sadly few,
You will accept my sheaves!"
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one the of
least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me."