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All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits. — Proverbs 16:2
“Occasionally in seasons of collapse and disaster great discoveries are made concerning those who appeared to be commercially sound but turn out to be rotten. Then the whole machinery of financing is laid bare, and things which directors and managers have thought to be right have been seen to be utter robbery. All looked solid and substantial until the inevitable crash came, and then no man felt that he could trust his neighbor. No doubt these schemers thought their ways “clean;’ but the event discovered their dirty hands.
Spiritual failures of like kind occur in the church. Great reputations explode, high professions dissolve. Men readily cajole themselves into the belief that they are right, and are doing right. They misapply Scripture, misinterpret providence, and in general turn things upside down, but the inexorable judgment overtakes them. A weighing time comes, and their professions are exposed. Niagara is at the end of the fatal rapid of self-deception: the self-satisfied pretender descends with a plunge to sure destruction.
Let us practically consider some of the “ways” which appear to be “clean;” but are not so, when the Lord comes to weigh the spirits.
I. THE WAYS OF THE OPENLY WICKED. Many of these are “clean” in their own eyes.
- To effect this self-deception:
- They give pretty names to sin.
- They think ill of others, making them out to be much worse than themselves, and finding in this an excuse for themselves,
- They claim to have many admirable qualities, and fine points.
- They urge that if imperfect they cannot help it.
- They also seriously resolve to amend; but never do so. Men do with themselves as financiers do with companies:
- They put down doubtful assets as certain property.
- They reckon expectations as receipts.
- They tear out pages from the account-book.
- They conceal damaging facts, and ruinous entanglements.
- They cook the accounts in all sorts of ways, and make groundless promises.
- The Lord’s trial will be thorough and decisive. He weighs with accurate balances and weights; and he looks not only to the open way but to the inner spirit.
II. THE WAYS OF THE GODLESS. These often boast that they are better than the religious.
- They pretend that their superior intellects prevent their being believers: they must doubt because they are clever.
- They extol regard to the second table of the Law as being far more important than any service rendered to God himself.
- They will not be held accountable for their creed, or be judged for rejecting a few crabbed dogmas.
But all these shall be weighed in the balances and found wanting.
III. THE WAYS OF THE OUTWARD RELIGIONIST. These seem “clean,”
- His observance of ceremonies.
- His regular attendance at worship
- His open profession of religion.
- His generosity to the cause, and general interest in good things.
Thus ministers, deacons, members, etc., may boast, and yet when the Lord weighs their spirits they may be castaways.
IV. THE WAYS OF THE COVETOUS PROFESSOR. His ways are specially “clean.”
- His greed keeps him from expensive sins, and therefore he gives himself credit for self-denial.
- He stints the cause of God and the poor.
- He oppresses his workmen in their wages.
- He makes hard bargains, drives debtors to extremes, takes undue advantage, and is a skinflint to all around him.
The Lord says of him, “covetousness which is idolatry.”
V. THE WAYS Of THE WORLDLY PROFESSOR. He thinks himself “clean.”
Let him honestly consider whether he is “clean”—
- In his secret life? In his private and hidden indulgences?
- In his pleasures and amusements?
- In his company and conversation?
- In his forsaken closet, forgotten Bible, lukewarm religion, etc.
What a revelation when the weighing of his spirit comes!
VI. THE WAYS OF THE SECURE BACKSLIDER. He dreams that his way is “clean;” when a little observation will show him many miry places:
- Decline in private prayer (Job 15:4).
- Sin gradually getting the upper hand (Jer. 14:10).
- Conversation scantily spiritual (Eph. 5:4)
- Scriptures little read (Hos. 8:12).
- Heart growing hard (Heb. 3:13)
- Religion almost destitute of life (Rev. 3:1).
- Pride cropping up in many directions (Deut. 8:14).
The Lord gives him a weighing in trial and temptation; then there follows an opening up of deceit and hypocrisy.
VII. THE WAYS Of THE DECEIVED MAN. He writes pleasant things for himself, and yet all the while he is a spiritual bankrupt.
- Failed in true faith in Jesus.
- Failed in real regeneration.
- Failed in heart-work and soul-service for the Lord.
Failed for ever. Will our hearer do this?
How beautiful all things look when winter has bleached them! What a royal bed is to be seen in yonder corner! The coverlet is whiter than any fuller on earth could white it! Here might an angel take his rest, and rise as pure as when he reclined upon it. Pshaw! It is a dunghill, and nothing more.
All the ships that came into the harbor were claimed by one person in the city. He walked the quay with a right royal air, talked largely about owning a navy, and swaggered quite sufficiently had it been so. How came he to be so wealthy? Listen, he is a madman. He has persuaded himself into this folly, but in truth he has not a tub to call his own. What absurdity! Are not many the victims of even worse self-deception? They are rich and increased in goods according to their own notion; yet they are naked, and poor, and miserable.
“This must be the right way, see how smooth it is! How many feet have trodden it!” Alas, that is precisely the mark of the broad road which leadeth to destruction.
“But see how it winds about, and what a variety of directions it takes! It is no bigot’s unbending line.” Just so; therein it proves itself to be the wrong road; for truth is one, and unchanging.
“But I like it so much.” This also is suspicious; for what an unrenewed man is so fond of is probably an evil thing. Hearts go after that which is like themselves, and graceless men love graceless ways
“Would you have me go that narrow and rough road?” Yes, we would; for it leadeth unto life; and though few there be that find it, yet those who do so declare that it is a way of pleasantness. It is better to follow a rough road to heaven than a smooth road to hell.” -C.H. Spurgeon
Me:I found this very convicting! I find myself guilty in not having the right motives all too often.
I thought Spurgeon’s quote at the very end so true!! (“It is better to follow a rough road to heaven than a smooth road to hell.”) Well I hope you found some thoughts here useful. Have a blessed day!
P.S. Somehow the text changed color, and I couldn’t change back…
“Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” -James 4:11-17
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:
“Our lips must be governed by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice. Christians are brethren. And to break God’s commands, is to speak evil of them, and to judge them, as if they laid too great a restraint upon us. We have the law of God, which is a rule to all; let us not presume to set up our own notions and opinions as a rule to those about us, and let us be careful that we be not condemned of the Lord. Go to now, is a call to any one to consider his conduct as being wrong. How apt worldly and contriving men are to leave God out of their plans! How vain it is to look for any thing good without God’s blessing and guidance! The frailty, shortness, and uncertainty of life, ought to check the vanity and presumptuous confidence of all projects for futurity. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun’s rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapour being scattered. So short, unreal, and fading is human life, and all the prosperity or enjoyment that attends it; though bliss or woe for ever must be according to our conduct during this fleeting moment. We are always to depend on the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands, but at the disposal of God. Our heads may be filled with cares and contrivances for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but Providence often throws our plans into confusion. All we design, and all we do, should be with submissive dependence on God. It is foolish, and it is hurtful, to boast of worldly things and aspiring projects; it will bring great disappointment, and will prove destruction in the end. Omissions are sins which will be brought into judgment, as well as commissions. He that does not the good he knows should be done, as well as he who does the evil he knows should not be done, will be condemned. Oh that we were as careful not to omit prayer, and not to neglect to meditate and examine our consciences, as we are not to commit gross outward vices against light!”
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” -James 2:12-13
These verses spoke to me this morning, while reading James 2. I’ll attempt some, by no means wise, comments on this.
Being judgmental has always been something I’ve struggled with. So this morning, when I saw this verses, they just popped out. The fact that we are not shown mercy if we show none to others, was very thought provoking! Often, we are so set in our ways that when we see someone doing things differently, we judge them for it. It’s not in our place to judge. It’s God’s! If we want to be shown mercy, we must show it to others! Even if someone is actually in the wrong, though it is good to show accountability and encourage fellow Christians, sometimes the best we can do is pray and not pass judgement. You never know what’s going on in their lives.
Well, I hope this little blurb was at least a little stimulating on this Sunday morning! I most definitely was convicted by these verses. And I pray I will start showing others more mercy, because without God’s mercy I would be lost!