Allegorical Time-Keepers
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.…

On the face of a watch are three workers, and an ignorant man would conclude that the second hand was the most important. But you might remove that, and even the minute hand, and yet be able to tell the time if the steady hour hand were left. So there are diversities of operations in the Church, and we are liable to form wrong conclusions as to their relative value. We have little fussy men, who can turn round sixty times before another man will turn round once, but they are not always the most reliable as to spiritual time, nor are they the most important workers in the Church. What we want is men and women of steady, reliable character, on the dial of whose conduct the true time is always registered. I once went into a clockmaker's at noon, and the clocks were striking the hour. There were "diversities of operations," but "the same spirit" actuated them all, viz., to tell everybody that it was twelve o'clock. It was amusing to hear little clocks tip off the whole twelve before larger ones had got more than nicely begun. But each did its own work, according to its own promptings, and found no fault with others because they had different methods of doing the same thing. The effect of a quarrel would have been loss of time and damage. I learn from this —

1. That all Christians should be busy at their great life-work.

2. That Christian activity must be prompted and controlled from within.

3. That uniformity of method is impossible, and therefore that each should work in his own way, and find no fault with those whose methods may differ.

4. That method is quite secondary. What is the quality of the work done? Let me describe the clocks I saw.

I. THE CLOCK THAT DID NOT STRIKE. A fine-looking clock, which only told the time to the eye, whereas others told it to the ear as well. Now, as a rule, all true Christians are made to strike, but now and then you will come across one who appears to lack the striking weight or the bell; but, in many cases, if you look on the dial of their conduct you will find it unvarying as the sun. I have often lain awake at night wondering what time it was, when suddenly the faithful clock struck off the answer. It is a great blessing to the world, in the midst of its moral darkness, that there are so many Christians who fearlessly publish the time.

II. THE CLOCK THAT MADE ONLY A BUZZING NOISE. It went through all the motions of striking without making one the wiser as to what it was trying to tell. So some well-meaning people go through all the motions of bearing witness for the Master, but no one can understand them. This, however, is in very many instances the result of habit or inconsistency. I knew a most powerful political speaker who, in relating his Christian experience, seemed to be afraid of everybody present; and I know good sisters, whose voices can ring all over the place, who can only mumble their Christian experience.

III. THE CLOCK THAT STRUCK TOO MUCH. There was a clock that appeared to like to hear itself strike, and was little short of a nuisance: yet the bending of a little wire, about the eighth of an inch, would have made it as orderly as any in the room. So those who pray and speak too long in our churches only require a gentle, brotherly suggestion, and the trouble in many cases would be at an end, yet not in all. For, when very highly tempered, the wire sometimes breaks in bending, and then I have known them to sink themselves in ill-natured silence, and scarcely as much as tick in public afterwards. Some of these great talkers are very poor tune-keepers. I have heard them strike off "Twelve o'clock, spiritual noonday here," when the hands on the dial of their conduct scarcely indicated spiritual sunrise.

IV. THE CLOCK THAT NEEDED STARTING. I thought perhaps it was out of gear or not wound up, but the gentleman told me that it was in going order, but that he had forgotten to start it. So there are persons who just need the gentle touch of Christian encouragement to start them in the path of righteousness. And in the Church there are many who would pray in the prayer-meeting, labour in the Sunday-school, or give liberally if they once got started.

V. THE CLOCK THAT WAS NOT PLUMB — which was just in the act of stopping. There was something under it. How many church members are swayed all to one side by things that are inconsistent with the Christian character. While in such an attitude you may ask, but you can receive no spiritual blessings.

VI. THE ONE FEATURE THE CLOCKS ALL HAD IN COMMON. I noticed amid all the "diversities" of size, mechanism, and "operations," that all these clocks had a tendency to run down. So with all Christians. You may be as punctual at church, and as exemplary in your department as usual, and be running down all the time. The pendulum of profession may continue to wag when the mechanism is clogged with the dust of worldliness or forbidden pleasures. No Christian can run on time, if left to himself, for a single hour. What, then, must be the condition of those who live loose from God six days out of seven. Some clocks are so made that they can run for weeks and keep good time; but I never knew a Christian that could do it, and I have known many who gave it a fair trial. Conclusion: I well remember my first watch. Sometimes it would rattle off an hour in fifteen minutes, while at other times it could not make an hour in twenty-four. I spent a good deal of time in finding out the time and giving it to my watch, by turning the hands into proper position. My father at length, to save time I presume, took it to the watchmaker, and I thought my watch was ruined as the man took it to pieces, but when the job was done, it could keep its own hands to the true time without any help from mine. Many in our churches act towards themselves as I did towards that old watch. Their inner mechanism is clogged and deranged by the dust and defilement of sin. When they perform any Christian duties it is all mechanical and outside work with them. You cannot keep time from the outside. You must come under God's cleansing and regulating hand before you can run the way of His commandments.

(T. Kelly.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

WEB: Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

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