Look not on me, because I am black, because the sun has looked on me: my mother's children were angry with me…
We are all pretty ready at complaining, especially of other people. Not much good comes of picking holes in other men's characters; and yet many spend hours in that unprofitable occupation. It will be well for us, at this time, to let our complaint, like that of the text, deal with ourselves.
I. First, then, let me begin with THE CHRISTIAN MAN WHO HAS FORGOTTEN HIS HIGH AND HEAVENLY CALLING. In the day when you and I were born again, we were born for God. In the day when we were quickened by the Holy Ghost into newness of life, that life was bound to be a consecrated one. This you will not deny. Christian, you admit that you have a high, holy and heavenly calling! Now let us look back. We have not spent our life idly: we have been forced to be keepers of the vineyards. Even in Paradise man was bidden to dress the garden. There is something to be done by each man, and specially by each Christian man. Ask yourself, "Am I an earnest labourer together with God, or am I, after all, only a laborious trifler, an industrious doer of nothing, working hard to accomplish no purpose of the sort for which I ought to work, since I ought to live unto my Lord alone?" to a very large degree we have not been true to our professions; our highest work has been neglected, we have not kept our own vineyards. In looking back, how little time has been spent by us in communion with God! How little a part of our thoughts has been occupied with meditation, contemplation, adoration, and other acts of devotion! How little have we surveyed the beauties of Christ, His person, His work, His sufferings, His glory! Think of our neglect of our God, and see whether it is not true that we have treated Him very ill. We have been in the shop, we have been on the exchange, we have been at the markets, we have been in the fields, we have been in the public libraries, we have been in the lecture-room, we have been in the forum of debate; but our own closets and studies, our walk with God, and our fellowship with Jesus, we have far too much neglected. Moreover, the vineyard of holy service for God we have too much left to go to ruin. I would ask you — How about the work your God has called you to do? Men are dying; are you saving them? Might not many a man among you say to himself, "I have been a tailor," or "I have been a shopkeeper," or "I have been a mechanic," or "I have been a merchant," or "I have been a physician, and I have attended to these callings; but mine own vineyard, which was my Master's, which I was bound to look to first of all, I have not kept"? Well, now, what is the remedy for this? It is that you follow up the next verse to my text. Get to your Lord, and in Him you will find recovery from your neglects. Ask Him where He feeds His flock, and go with Him. They have warm hearts who commune with Christ. They are prompt in duty who enjoy His fellowship. Hasten to your Lord, and you will soon begin to keep your vineyard; for in the Song you will see a happy change effected. The spouse began to keep her vineyard directly, and to do it in the best fashion. Within a very short time you find her saying, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines." See, she is hunting out her sins and her follies. Farther on you find her with her Lord in the vineyard, crying, "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.!" She is evidently keeping her garden, and asking for heavenly influences to make the spices and flowers yield their perfume. She went down to see whether the vines flourished, and the pomegranates budded. Anon, with her Beloved, she rises early to go to the vineyard, and watch the growth of the plants. Farther on you find her talking about all manner of fruits that she has ]aid up for her Beloved. Thus you see that to walk with Christ is the way to keep your vineyard, and serve your Lord.
II. Now I turn to THE MAN WHO IN ANY PLACE HAS TAKEN OTHER WORK AND NEGLECTED HIS OWN. He can use the words of the text — "They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept." There is a vineyard that a great many neglect, and that is their own heart. It is well to have talent; it is well to have influence; but it is better to be right within yourself. What is your character, and do you seek to cultivate it? Do you ever use the hoe upon those weeds which arc so plentiful in us all? Do you water those tiny plants of goodness which have begun to grow? Do you watch them to keep away the little foxes which would destroy them? Now think of another vineyard. Are not some people neglecting their families? Next to our hearts, our households arc the vineyards which we are most bound to cultivate. It is shocking to find men and women speaking fluently about religion, and yet their houses are a disgrace to Christianity. Besides that, every man who knows the Lord should feel that his vineyard lies also around about his own house. If God has saved your children, then try to do something for your neighbours, for your workpeople, for those with whom you associate in daily labour.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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.