If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
We must gain our idea of the sense in which the word "true" is to be taken by our knowledge of Christ's use of it. And we know that he used it as distinguishing, not the correct from the incorrect, or the existing from the imaginary, but the valuable from the comparatively unimportant, the substantial from the shadowy, the essential from the accidental, the abiding from the transitory. It is in this sense that he says of himself, "I am the true Light;" i.e. "I am not that which renders the smaller service of revealing outward objects and the outward path, but that which renders the supreme service of making clear Divine and heavenly truth, and the way that leads home to God himself." Thus he speaks also of himself as "the true Bread;" i.e. not the food which sustains for a few hours, but that inward and spiritual nourishment which satisfies the soul and makes it strong for ever. Similarly he declares that he is "the true Vine;" i.e. the Divine Author of the soul's refreshment, strength, and joy. We shall, therefore, find in "the true riches" those treasures which are truly valuable, which permanently endow their possessor, in opposition to those other treasures which are of inferior worth. We glance at -
I. THE INFERIOR CHARACTER OF EARTHLY TREASURE. NO doubt these riches, which are not entitled to be called the "true riches," have a worth of their own which is far from contemptible. Indeed, they render us services which we cannot help calling valuable; they provide us with shelter, with food, with raiment, with instruction, and even (in the sense of ver. 9) with friendship. But they neither supply to us nor secure for us lasting satisfaction.
1. They do not supply it in themselves. The possession of wealth may give, at first, considerable pleasure to the owner of it; but it may be doubted whether there is not more pleasure found in the pursuit than in the possession of it. And it cannot be doubted that the mere fact of ownership soon ceases to give more than a languid satisfaction, often balanced, often indeed quite outweighed, by the burdensome anxiety of disposing of it.
2. They do not ensure it. They can command a large number of pleasant things; but these are not happiness, much less are they well-being. That life must have been short or that experience narrow which has not supplied many instances in which the riches of this world have been held by those whose homes have been wretched, and whose hearts have been aching with unrest or even bleeding with sorrow.
II. THE SUPREME VALUE OF SPIRITUAL GOOD.
1. There are true riches in reverence. To be living in the fear of God; to be worshipping the Holy One; to be walking daily, hourly, continually, with the Divine Father; to have the whole of our life hallowed by sacred intercourse with heaven; - this is to be enriched and ennobled indeed.
2. There is real wealth in love. Our best possession at home is not to be found in any furniture; it is in the love we receive, and in the love we have in our own hearts: "The kind heart is more than all our store." And to be receiving the constant loving favour of a Divine Friend, and to be returning his affection; to be also loving with a true and lasting love those for whom he died; - this is to be really rich.
3. There are true riches in the peace, the joy, the hope, of the gospel of Christ. The peace that passes understanding; the joy that does not pall, and which no man taketh from us - joy in God and in his sacred service; the hope that maketh not ashamed, that is full of immortality; - these are the true riches. To be without them is to be destitute indeed; to hold them is to be rich in the sight of God, in the estimate of heavenly wisdom. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?