Look not on me, because I am black, because the sun has looked on me: my mother's children were angry with me…
Men have put into their charge responsibilities concerning others, and these they may to some extent worthily observe. They may promote the interest of their family, the comfort of their household and dependants. They may even give time and money to advance schemes of benevolence and religion. But the question suggested by the language of the text is this - What are they the better for regarding the welfare of others if they neglect their own? if, being guardians of vineyards, they must acknowledge in all sincerity that their own vineyard they have not kept?
I. OUR RELIGION IS LIKELY TO CONSIST, TO A VERY LARGE EXTENT, IN A SENSE OF OUR PROPER RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WELFARE OF OUR FELLOW MEN.
1. The very position of Britain among the nations of the world favours this view. Our range of influence is immense, our power is vast, our work of colonizing and of governing is heavy and serious. How can we serve our generation according to the will of God?
2. Add to this, the efforts which are called for on behalf of the ignorant and irreligious millions around us, and which seem to demand all the attention and zealous energies of the Church of Christ.
3. Hence a conception of the Christian life as one of constant activity and progressive usefulness.
II. THIS VERY SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WELFARE OF OUR FELLOW MEN MAY OCCASION THE NEGLECT OF PERSONAL DEVOUTNESS AND SPIRITUALITY. To explain the action of this principle it may be remarked:
1. When we care for others, we naturally take it for granted that all is well with ourselves. In any work and enterprise, if we are engaged in teaching and in leading others, it is natural that we should overlook the importance of examining our own qualifications.
2. The opinion of others acts as an auxiliary in bringing about this state of feeling. Not only do we take it for granted that all is well with ourselves; others do the same, and their attitude encourages us in our good opinion of ourselves.
3. Time and thought may be so taken up in the service in which we are engaged, that attention is drawn away from our own condition, our own obligation to ourselves. A man may awaken to the fact of his own foolish and sinful neglect of his own spiritual state, and may cry aloud, in anguish and remorse, "They made me keeper of the vineyards, and mine own vineyard have I not kept!"
III. YET THERE IS NO NECESSARY CONNECTION BETWEEN USEFULNESS TO OTHERS AND NEGLECT OF ONE'S OWN SPIRITUAL SAFETY AND GROWTH. One duty does not conflict with another. It is in the cultivation of our own hearts that we gain strength and wisdom to be of benefit and service to others. Works of Christian benevolence are to be undertaken, not under the influence of superficial excitement, not under the contagion of enthusiastic example, but from sober conviction, and with a clear understanding of the law that only those who themselves have received can to any purpose give to others. APPLICATION. Let those whose position is described in the text bestir themselves at once, apply with diligence to their proper work, restore the hedges, dig about the vine roots, take the "foxes that spoil the grapes," and climb the watch tower, that they may discern the approach and resist the incursions of their foes. Then shall they be privileged to present, even from their own vineyard, some fruit which shall be acceptable to the Divine Master and Lord, to whom all must at last give in their great account. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.