And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar my own inheritance: redeem you my right to yourself…
Many men mar noble inheritances.
I. The inheritance of PHYSICAL HEALTH. The ancients were right who spoke of a sound mind in a sound body as one of the best gifts of the gods. God has written His will upon the body as truly as upon the pages of the Bible. Every natural motion of the body is a revelation of the will and purpose of the Divine Creator. Ever since Christ was cradled in the manger at Bethlehem the body has been honoured, exalted, glorified. Ever since the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost the body has been the temple of the Third Person of the Trinity. The man who overworks his body sins against God. The man who by intemperance in eating or drinking unfits his body for discharging its normal functions degrades himself and dishonours the Almighty. It is true that many men with broken bodies have accomplished wonderful results in life. The names of John Calvin, Robert Hall, and a score more, suggest themselves as illustrations. Let no man be discouraged who has inherited a weak body. Great souls have often dwelt in frail tenements, until the tired body was laid to its rest and the great soul went up in triumph to God. But let those who have received the inheritance of physical health prize it as one of the great gifts of life, care for it as one of the sacred inheritances of life, and lay it as a willing offering at the feet of the Lord Christ.
II. The inheritance of INTELLECTUAL CAPABILITIES. Of course there are great differences among men in these respects. But in our day ignorance is not simply a misfortune; it is a crime. Christian men must develop all their faculties to their highest possibilities. Every man is bound, by the most sacred obligations, to make the most of himself for time and for eternity. What a man is intellectually here will determine to some degree what he will be intellectually hereafter. The life to come is but the developed results of present conditions and attainments; that life is but the ripened fruit of the intellectual and moral seed sown in this life. Every Christian, because inspired by a sense of loyalty to Jesus Christ, will desire to develop his intellectual powers to their utmost degree. He cannot but wish to possess numerous and varied mental faculties for the salvation of men and for the greater glory of the Lord. Divine love in human hearts puts enlarged brains into human heads. Religion stimulates every noble faculty of the soul. It made John Bunyan the immortal dreamer; it made Samuel Bradburn one of the greatest workers and orators in his Church, a man of whom Dr. Abel Stevens said that "during forty years Samuel Bradburn was esteemed the Demosthenes of Methodism"; it made William Carey a profound scholar, a lofty thinker, a consecrated toiler, and an inspired genius. Christianity adorns culture with true symmetry and highest beauty; and culture, in turn, gives Christianity its fullest beauty and its grandest opportunity. They ought never to be separated. Each sweetly and divinely ministers to the other. Let no young man or woman neglect wide reading, careful study, earnest thought. Young Christians should be model students. They have Jesus Christ for their teacher and the noblest men and women in the world as their fellow-pupils.
III. The inheritance of A WORTHY FAMILY HISTORY. This is a gift above the worth of all mere financial values. A good name is more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold. A good name is the ripe product of years of noble ancestral character. Is there a man who has wandered from his father's and his mother's God? Is there one who has lowered the standard of a noble family life and history? Is there one who is besmirching his name and staining his character by unholy thoughts and impure acts? In the name of that worthy family history, in the name of an ideal family life, in the name of the great God and Father of us all, I beseech him to stop and to stop now. He is marring his own inheritance. It is a blessed thing to be able to give a noble family inheritance to one's children. Let us carefully guard it; let us sacredly preserve it; let us continually honour it; let us never so live that our children shall be ashamed of the name they bear. Let us send it down to them as an honoured inheritance to which they shall add honours from all the generations to come.
IV. The inheritance of RELIGIOUS POSSIBILITIES. Intellectual attainments and religious experiences cannot be transmitted to our children. We can transmit our vices; but, strictly speaking, not our virtues. There is a sense, however, in which we can transmit tendencies toward good and God, or toward evil and the devil. There is a Divine truth in much that is said regarding heredity in our day. It is much for a man to be able to say, "My father's God"; it is vastly easier for such a man to say, "My Lord and my God," after having been taught to say, "My father's God." Children of Christian men and women stand upon a vastly higher plane of possibility than the children of ungodly men and women. The time may come when the natural will be much more like the supernatural than as we now see it. Indeed, there is a sense in which there is no distinction between the natural and supernatural. God is active in all spheres of nature. The possibility of being translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son ought to be realised in early childhood. No man, however far he may go into sin, can shake off entirely the influences of a godly parentage and of early religious training. I once talked with a man who had just recovered from a period of dissipation, and with broken voice and moist eyes, he said, "How could I so far forget myself, so greatly dishonour my sainted parents, and so wickedly disobey my father's God?" Oh! children of God's children, prize your privileges!
(R. S. MacArthur, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.