Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable…
Uncertainty and doubt will make themselves felt in the history of all who have the journey of life to accomplish. We cannot wonder, then, that in the present day so many guides should present themselves, all professedly eager to help us in our great uncertainties.
I. THE COUNSEL JESUS GIVES.
1. Jesus counsels us what we are to believe. The faculty of belief is as certainly possessed by man as is the faculty of vision; the one is a physical and the other a mental power, but both are possessed by us, and both are to be exercised. Jesus says, "I counsel thee what to believe." To believe in God, in His perfections, His power, wisdom, justice, grace, mercy, truth, love. In His providence and care over you, to believe in such a way as that we shall revere, obey, and love God. To believe in Jesus — "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me" — that I am what the prophets said I should be, the true Messiah. Believe in the fulness of My love, the sufficiency of My atoning work, My ability and willingness to pardon and cleanse, and in the absolute and unchanging truthfulness of all My words. Believe in the Holy Ghost; in His convincing, converting, renewing, sustaining, and sanctifying energy. Believe in the duties pertaining to personal life and godliness as I have revealed them.
2. I have met with not a few young folks who have been sadly perplexed with the question as to what they shall be. One has solved it by saying, "I shall be a great merchant; my ships shall sail on many seas, and my servants and warehouses shall be exceedingly numerous." Another has said, "Science shall be my study." A third has said, "I will be a physician, and I will try to relieve the poor of their maladies." To all such the Heavenly Counsellor comes, and He does not say to such, "How mistaken you all are, you must all change your decisions." Oh no, but He counsels the farmer as he sows to sow goodness, that when the reaping time comes he may reap the same. To the philosopher He counsels the study of the wisdom which is from on high, and which is full of good works; and to the merchant He says, "Let goodness be the article in which you shall always trade; let it store your warehouses, fill the holds of your ships, and govern all your transactions." To all the Heavenly Counsellor says, "Be good; have a good heart, a good conscience, a good intention, a good life."
3. This Heavenly Counsellor tells us also what we are to do. Activity, under His advice, is always to characterise us. The Lord Jesus knows as no one else the great evils of idleness, and how such evils must afflict and torment all who are slothful; and so against this sin He plainly counsels us. In the cultivation of inward holiness and in the development of righteous principles, in the hope of winning souls for heaven and God, work.
II. CHRIST'S COUNSELS ARE ALL AND ALWAYS GOLDEN. So that not any mixture can be detected; they have all passed through, and been stamped in, the minting house of heaven. But how shall we know that these counsels are all golden?
1. In the first place, because of their genuineness. It matters not the test through which we put them, or the analysis they are subjected to; not all the testing in the world can either detect the least impurity or make them more genuine than they are. Who, I should like to know, seeks the good of every man, woman, boy, and girl, as Jesus does? And whose counsel when adopted has resulted in such untold good to millions of our fellow creatures as His? Yes, look at it how, when, and where you may, ring it as you please, weigh it, measure it, or bring any other test you please to bear upon the counsel offered by Jesus, and its genuineness will be made the more evident.
2. Because of the value of His counsels. All genuine things are not so valuable as gold; a violet is a genuine violet, but we don't part with gold for violets. The paper on which I am writing is genuine paper, but it is not of the value of gold. The counsel Jesus gives is not only as valuable, but more so than gold. Do you ask what the advice Jesus gives will procure? It will procure for us the favour of God, the approval of angels, and the esteem of all good men. It will procure for us peace within and purity without, enable us to live soberly, righteously, and godly here, and then to sit down in the kingdom of God above and to go no more out.
3. Like gold, they must be searched for. The name of the mine is "the Bible," the implements with which we are to work are prayer, patience, and faith. By knee work and ceaseless industry they will be amply recompensed.
4. Because, like gold, they are to be used. Some people who keep a shop hang up His counsels in their parlours and drawing-rooms; it would be better if they would use them in their business. Some look at them when they put on their Sunday clothes, and then say adieu to them when Sabbath attire is laid away. Better if they would walk and move and live in the same all the week through. Then, like gold, if we use Christ's counsels aright, they will increase more and more.
III. NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO EXPECT THIS GOLDEN COUNSEL FOR NOTHING. Men do not part with gold on such terms, nor does Jesus part with His counsels thus, and so He says, "I counsel thee to buy."
1. We are to obtain this counsel in the first place by giving up all our sins. What an exchange I It is dross of the worst for gold of the very best kind. If a man were to come and offer gold and crowns, titles and lands, for old rags and bones, I feel sure there would not be many left in all the houses put together; and yet, whilst Jesus offers the gold of heaven if we will only forsake our evil ways and come to Him, how few are really eager to make the exchange.
2. Then in a sense we purchase the gold of heaven by using aright the quantity already given. It is by use the two talents become five, and the five talents ten. If we walk in the light already given, however faint and feeble it may be, it will conduct us to greater clearness and to more perfect vision.
Parallel VersesKJV: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: