Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. TRUE HOSPITALITY SHOULD BE FOR THE SAKE OF THE GUEST, AND NOT THE HOST.
II. EXCESS OF HOSPITALITY MAY ENTAIL INCONVENIENCE AND WRONG UPON OUR GUEST.
III. WHERE HOSPITALITY IS OFFERED FOR SOME EXTRINSIC PURPOSE, IT LOSES ITS TRUE CHARACTER.
IV. CHRIST THE GRAND EXAMPLE OF THE HOST. His moderation; careful calculation as to needs of his guests; fulness of human sympathy; impartation of spiritual grace to the humbler viands. - M.
I. THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN STRANGERS THEMSELVES ARE BEST ABLE TO SYMPATHISE WITH STRANGERS. "He sojourned in Gibeah."
II. THE POOR ARE OFTEN MORE HOSPITABLE THAN THE RICH. Their occupation often introduces them to persons in distress. "What would the poor do if it were not for the poor?" Simplicity of life tends to cultivate true sympathy.
III. THERE IS NO PLACE SO WICKED AND UNLOVING AS TO BE WITHOUT SOME WITNESS TO TRUTH AND GOODNESS. What a hell this Gibeah! Yet in it was one "like unto the Son of man." What judgments he may have averted from its guilty inhabitants! Exceptional piety like this is no accidental thing; still less can it be the product of surrounding social influences. There are many ways in which we nay serve our fellows, if the love of God be in our hearts. Perhaps the people thought him eccentric; many would despise him as poor and a stranger; but he was the one man who did God's work at a time when it sorely needed to be done. Shall not such hospitality be remembered in the kingdom? "I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in," etc. (Matthew 25:35, 40). - M.
I. THOUGH MEN WHO ARE ABANDONED TO SINFUL PLEASURES MAY DELIGHT IN THE SOCIETY OF BOON COMPANIONS, THEY WILL SHOW THEMSELVES WANTING IN THE GENEROSITY OF TRUE HOSPITALITY. The men of Gibeah would unite in seeming friendliness for riotous wickedness; but they were wanting in the almost universal Eastern kindness to the stranger. The intemperate and vicious may appear to be more generous in their boisterous freedom than persons of more strict habits; but they are too selfish for real generosity. Self-indulgence is essentially selfish; vice is naturally morose.
II. WE SHOULD ENDEAVOUR TO DO RIGHT, THOUGH THIS MAY BE CONTRARY TO THE EXAMPLE OF OUR NEIGHBOURS. The old man was shocked at the inhospitality of the men of Gibeah. He was not a native of the place, and though he may have lived there long, he retained the kinder habits of his native home. When at Rome we are not to do as Rome does if this is clearly wrong. Englishmen abroad may find it difficult to resist the bad social influences of foreign towns; but if they are Christians they will feel that the universal prevalence of a bad custom is no justification for their adoption of it. Yet how difficult it is to see our duty when this is contrary to the habits of the society in which we live, and how much more difficult to be independent and firm in performing it!
III. KINDNESS TO STRANGERS IS A DUTY OBLIGATORY UPON ALL OF US. The graphic picture of the old man returning from his work in the fields at even and taking note of the houseless strangers is the one relieving feature in the terrible story of that night's doings. Modern and Western habits may modify the form of our hospitality, but they cannot exonerate us from the duty to show similar kindness under similar circumstances. From the mythical gentleman who excused himself for not saving a drowning man because he had not been introduced to him, to the Yorkshire native, who, seeing a strange face in his hamlet, cried, "Let's heave a brick at him!" how common it is for people to limit their kindness to persons of their acquaintance! The parable of the good Samaritan teaches us that any one who needs our help is our neighbour (Luke 10:29-37).
IV. KINDNESS TO STRANGERS MAY BE REWARDED BY THE DISCOVERY OF UNKNOWN TIES OF FRIENDSHIP. The old man finds that the Levite comes from his own part of the country. Doubtless he was thus able to hear tidings of old acquaintances. The world is not so large as it appears. The stranger is often nearer to us than we suspect. Though true hospitality expects no return (Luke 14:12-14), it may find unlooked-for reward in newly-discovered friendly associations. - A.
I. MONSTROUS WICKEDNESS IS A FRUIT OF SELFISHNESS. The men of Gibeah were abandoned to gross self-indulgence till they utterly ignored the rights and sufferings of others. Nothing is so cruelly selfish as the degradation of that most unselfish affection love. When selfish pleasure is the one motive of conduct, men are blinded in conscience more than by any other influence.
II. MONSTROUS WICKEDNESS IS ATTAINED THROUGH SUCCESSIVE DEGREES OF DEPRAVITY. NO man suddenly falls from innocence to gross licentiousness and heartless cruelty. The first step is slight; each following step seems but a small increase of sin, till the bottom of the very pit of iniquity is reached almost unconsciously. If the wicked man could have foreseen the depth of his fall from the first he would not have believed it possible. Men should beware of the first step downward.
III. MONSTROUS WICKEDNESS IS MOST ADVANCED IN THE SOCIETY OF MANY BAD MEN. As fire burns most when drawn together, vice is most inflamed when men are companions in wickedness. Each tempts the rest by his example. Guilt appears to be lessened by being shared. Men excuse their conduct by comparing it with that of their neighbours. Thus the greatest depravity is most often seen in cities - in the concourse of many men. In the excitement of a mob men will commit excesses from which they would shrink in solitary action. Yet responsibility is still individual, and each man must ultimately answer for his own sins.
IV. MONSTROUS WICKEDNESS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE VERY GREATNESS OF MAN'S NATURE. Human nature has a wide range of capacities. Man can rise infinitely above the brute, and he can fall infinitely below the brute. He can rise to the angelic, he can fall to the devilish. His originality of imagination, power of inventiveness, and freedom of will open to him avenues of evil as well as pathways of good which are closed to the more dull life of the animal world. The greater the capacity of the instrument, the more horrible is the discord which results from its getting out of tune. Those men who have the highest genius have the faculty for the worst sin. So tremendous is the capacity of the soul both for good and for evil, that the wise and humble man, fearing to trust it alone to the temptations of life, will learn to "commit it to the keeping of a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19). - A.
I. PERSONAL MEDITATION. "Consider it. In all its relations; our own as well as others. Let it show us the measure of public declension in morals and religion. Ask what neglect in the matter of education, social fellowship, or religious teaching and influence will account for it. How far am I as an individual in sympathy with the ideas, customs, and whole cast of public life in my time? How far am I my brother's keeper? Can anything be done to rouse the public conscience to a keener and more influential activity? How easy or how difficult would a similar clime be to myself? Prayers that I may be kept from such a thing, and may lead others into a better way.
II. CONSULTATION. Not at random, but of persons qualified to advise. The deliberations of the Prisoners' Aid Society" would furnish a model for practical discussion. But "statistics" will never solve the problem. It is a question of human depravity, and a general repentance and alarmed attention is needed.
III. JUDGMENT. A careful, mature, well-informed and advised opinion; but, as being the opinion of the nation, it must be carried into effect. Something must be done, as well as thought. How valuable and influential such a judgment! It carries within itself the seeds of reformation and the conditions of recovery. - M.
I. IT IS WRONG FOR THE CHURCH TO IGNORE THE WICKEDNESS OF THE WORLD. The Church is not at liberty to enjoy the flowers and fruits of her "little garden walled around" to the neglect of the waste howling wilderness outside. She has no right to shut her eyes to the world's sin while she dreams fair dreams of the ultimate perfection of mankind. A good deal of foolish optimism is talked by people who will not take the trouble to inquire into the real state of society. That is a false fastidiousness which refuses to take note of dark subjects because they are revolting and contaminating. True purity will be shocked not simply at the knowledge of evil, but more at the existence of it, and will find expression not merely in shunning the sight of it, but in actively overcoming it. Such action, however, can only be taken after the evil has been recognised. It is, therefore, the work of the Church to consider seriously the fearful evils of profligacy, intemperance, and social corruption generally. The duty of contemplating heavenly things is no excuse for ignoring the evil of the world, which it is our express duty to enlighten and purify by means of the gospel of Christ.
II. MONSTROUS WICKEDNESS SHOULD EXCITE DEEP AND SERIOUS CONSIDERATION. It is easy to be indignant. But the hasty passion of indignation may do more harm than good. It may strike in the wrong place; it may only touch superficial symptoms and leave the root of the evil; and it is likely to die down as quickly as it springs up. Great sins should be visited not with the rage of vindictiveness, but with grave, severe justice. We should "consider and take advice," reflect, consult, discuss the cause and the remedy. Undisciplined human nature will express horror and seek revenge at the revelation of a great crime. It wants Christian thoughtfulness and a deep, sad conviction of duty to practise self-restraint in the moment of indignation, and to investigate the painful subject with care after the interest of a temporary excitement has flagged.
III. IT IS OUR DUTY TO SPEAK OUT AND TAKE ACTION IN RELATION TO PAINFUL SUBJECTS WHEN ANYTHING CAN BE DONE TO EFFECT AN IMPROVEMENT. Evils are allowed to go unchecked because a false modesty dreads to speak of them. The men and women who overcome this and bravely advocate unpopular questions should be treated with all honour by the Christian Church. If the Christian does nothing to check the vicious practices and corrupt institutions which surround him, he becomes responsible for their continued existence. - A.