Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
John 9:16), and would rather have the work not done than done thus (cf. Numbers 11:28; Mark 9:38). Contrast the spirit of St. Paul (Philippians 1:18). Examples of this: unwillingness to rejoice in good done by some other communion, or some other party than our own; inclination to look at points of difference rather than at those held in common; the work of others doubted, criticized, or ignored; eagerness to warn against this or that. Self lies at the root of this. Perhaps the harvest of another seems to diminish ours. Perhaps our own thoughts are to us the measure of God's plans (cf. Mark 14:4). Men see the outside of others' work, and judge as if they knew both the motives and the full results. Yet with this there may be much real zeal and love for the Lord. The failure lies in the want of complete acceptance of his will. To rejoice in work for Christ, by whomsoever done, is not inconsistent with decided views as to the objects to be aimed at, and the means to be used (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
1. We are called to enlarge the household of God; to be the means of making enemies into children (cf. Psalm 87:4, 5) through producing faith (cf. John 1:12). Each responsible for the faithful use of the powers given to us, and bidden to examine ourselves as to sincerity. But the visible results are as God pleases. Here a test of singleness of mind. Can we rejoice in success of a work in which we have no share, or when another's success appears greater than ours? (Galatians 5:26).
2. As an exercise of unselfishness, be careful not to provoke envy by parading distinctive peculiarities (Romans 12:18) or exalting our own work.
3. Be not discouraged that work of others seems more blessed (John 4:36, 37). Faithfulness is within the power of all. It is that which God regards (Matthew 25:21). The result we cannot judge of here. The fruit delayed may prove a greater blessing. - M.
I. The birth of Joseph a REWARD OF FAITH AND ANSWER TO PRAYER. God remembers, though we think he forgets. Reproach may lie awhile on the true believer, but is taken away at last. Syrophenician woman; seeming neglect calls out stronger expression of faith. Pray without ceasing.
II. BLESSINGS WAITED FOR are the more appreciated and the richer WHEN THEY COME. "Joseph a type of him who, though he was sent after many prophets and long tarrying, was greater than all his brethren. The Rachel, the true beloved, the chosen bride, the Church in whom the true Jacob finds special delight, waits and prays. When God shall show that he has remembered and hearkened, the elect one shall be abundantly satisfied. God hath taken away my reproach."
III. All experience of Divine faithfulness is a great help, in looking forward, to cherish expectation. "The Lord shall add to me another son," We ask for more when we know that our prayer is heard. - R.
I. The PROMISE TO GUIDE, protect, and bless fulfilled in connection with the employment of ordinary faculties and instrumentalities. Jacob's craft partly natural, but in this instance specially assisted that he might be helped in an emergency. The "supplanter" in this case represented the better cause.
II. HUMAN DEVICES only apparently, and not really, thwart the purposes of God. Jacob represents the people of God. The victory is appointed them. Their interests must be served by the kingdoms of this world, though for a season the advantage appears on the side of the mere calculating, selfish policy. The true wisdom is that which cometh from above.
III. INCREASE in the best sense is God's promise. It will be sent as he wills and when he wills, but will be found the true answer to prayer and the true manifestation of love. On all that belongs to us the blessing rests. Spiritual prosperity carries with it all other. Though the individual may be called to suffer for the sake of the community, the promise to the Church must be fulfilled. "It is our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom." "The meek shall inherit the earth." - R.