About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' he asked.
I. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE. Froude says, "Beautiful is old age - beautiful as the slow dropping mellow autumn of a rich and glorious summer. In the old man Nature has fulfilled her work; she loads him with her blessings; she fills him with the fruits of a well spent life; and, surrounded by his children and his children's children, she rocks him away to a grave, to which he is followed with blessings. God forbid we should not call it beautiful! If old age were only beautiful, it would be a power we could ill afford to lose. For all beauty is akin to truth, and all truth is akin to God; and so all beauty is a shadow of him, a message from him, a help towards him. This sin-filled world wants all the truth, all the love, all the beauty it can get, in order to dispel the darkness, the hate, and the ugliness of its evil. We become as the things on which we look, and God keeps old men and women among us in order that we may see, and feel, and be lifted higher by their grace. The aged are kept among us because of the work they can do. One thing - they can check our hurry. Young folk want everything at once. The aged seem to say, "Quietly. One thing at a time. Good things are worth waiting for." And they are kept in order to link together the generations. What a world it would be if the people came and went in complete generations, and there was no blending of one with the other, so that experience might tone ardour! And the aged among us witness for God. They tell us of the God who "fed them all their life long; the God who redeemed them from evil."
II. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR GOD DOES CALL MEN TO HIS SERVICE. He proves the riches of his grace in the conversion of old men and old women. A marvel of grace, indeed, when all the long ten hours of the day of life have been spent in the service of self, A saved old man is the witness that God can "save unto the uttermost."
III. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR IS AN ALMOST HOPELESS TIME FOR BEGINNING A LIFE WORK. It is unsuitable for any beginnings. The sun is in the wrong quarter of the heavens. "The night cometh when no man can work." And the ability is low. The "eleventh hour" is time to be weary, and go to the long rest. - R.T.
Why stand ye here all the day idle?I. THE EVIL CENSURED. Spiritual idleness. Often accompanied with great secular activity, and a flaming profession. Consists in neglect — of life's mission; the souls salvation and sanctification (Philippians 2:12, 13); works for the spiritual benefit of others seeking in order to save them that are lost (1 Corinthians 10:24). This neglect is highly criminal.
1. As injurious to one's self. Deteriorates the moral nature.
2. As injurious to others.
3. As disobedience to the Divine summons, "Go work," etc. Christ came to do the Father's will, and summons us to follow Him.
II. THE CONTINUANCE AND AGGRAVATION OF THE EVIL. "All the day idle," etc. Youth, manhood, age. The reproach increases with the passing months and years.
1. When so much work for yourself and others ought to have been done.
2. When others have been so long labouring.
3. When there has been so much time and opportunity — "eleventh hour" — "market place."
4. When the working day is drawing to a dose.
III. The EXCUSES offered for the evil. "Why stand ye?" asks the Master, and what are the usual replies? —
1. We have not been invited by the minister, etc. Don't wait for such invitations — offer)-our services — "I must work," etc.
2. We lack the necessary qualifications, etc.
3. We lack opportunity, etc.
4. We give money, etc. This will not be accepted by the Master as a substitute for personal service. You cannot do this work by proxy. Work for Christ is personal, and cannot be delegated to others, etc.
IV. The MOTIVES go abandon the evil.
1. The urgency of the work.
2. The activity of Satan and his emissaries.
3. The honour and pleasure of active service. Work in which the Son of Man was employed when on earth. No less happy than honourable.
4. The assurance of Divine help. May be difficulties you fear to meet, but God will strengthen and direct, etc.
5. The brevity of life's golden opportunity. Difficulty increases with delay. You will get accustomed to idleness and it will become chronic. Whether early or late in the day, begin Now.
6. The promise of reward. Present; future — in and for. "Whatsoever is right that shall ye receive." "They that turn," etc.
I. AN IMPLICATION — That there is work to be done.
1. Knowledge to acquire — of God, self, etc.
2. Blessing, to secure. Pardon, etc.
3. Duties to discharge. Notwithstanding, many are idle.
II. AN EXPOSTULATION. Why stand ye who are active, rational, responsible, rewardable creatures? Why stand ye here idle? Here on a theatre of action. In this the day of your probation. In this state of uncertainty. Why stand ye? Standing not working.
III. AN INQUIRY? "Why?" Some are idle because they have no work. Some do not like the master. Some do not love the work. Some imagine themselves unable to work. Some do not like the wages. Some no man hath hired. Does not the Bible, memory, and conscience supply instances in which He would have hired you, but you were unwilling to have your old Master and desert His work, etc.
(T. Brooks.)A busy man is troubled but with one devil, but the idle man with a thousand.
I. To whom the charge of idleness is applicable.
1. It will in a certain sense apply to all unconverted men, who with respect to the highest interests of life, may be said to be always idle.
a. They are content to do nothing at all for God; nothing that He approves, nothing that He will accept,
b. They do nothing for their own souls, any more than for the glory of God.
c. They do nothing for their generation, according to the will of God.
d. They do nothing to any good purpose, or that will turn to account another day.
2. It will apply in too many instances, even to Christians themselves, of whom there are but few who can be applauded for their diligence and fidelity.
II. Point out the inexcusableness of such conduct.
1. The talents committed to our trust require to be occupied. and must be finally accounted for.
2. The want of a capacity to labour in the Lord's vineyard cannot be pleaded with success.
3. We are placed in a situation where our services are expected and required.
4. We have lost too much time already.
(B. Beddome.)not loiterers. — Jacob saw the angels, some ascending, others descending, but none standing still. God hath made Behemoth to play in the water, not so men; they must be doing, that will keep in with God.
(John Trapp.)I. Why? The vineyard is so spacious.
II. The reward is so liberal.
III. The Master is so kind.
IV. The hour of working is so short.
(J. T. Van Osberzee, D. D.)
I. GIFTS TEMPORAL. What a difference in men personally; one is born like Saul, head and shoulders taller than the rest; another like Zaccheus. So in mental gifts; what a difference exists! The differences of men's conditions in this world. God is ruler and shall He not do as He will with His own. Bless God that thou hast more than others, and thank Him also that He has given thee less than others; for thou hast a higher burden.
II. GIFTS SAVING.
1. The fallen angels not redeemed.
2. Note, again, God chose the Israelitish race and left the Gentiles for years in darkness.
3. Why is it that God has sent His word to us, while a multitude of people are still without it.
4. Why do some listen to the truth and others not. Salvation is of the Lord alone.
III. GIFTS HONOURABLE.
1. One man hath the gift of knowledge, another hath little.
IV. GIFTS OF USEFULNESS.
V. GIFT COMFORTABLE.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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