And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.…
My reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. It is related of Daniel Webster, the regality of whose moral endowment no one disputes, that when once asked what was the greatest thought that had ever occupied his mind, he replied, "The fact of my personal accountability to God." And yet this thought is one not frequently present in men's minds, because it is one that is but little welcome. The very phraseology of the text, its several words, seem to point at one and another of the hindrances to the reception! of this thought. As, for example -
I. IS DIFFERENCE. HOW many minds are wrapped up in this! They feel no concern; they are spiritually asleep, as was Jonah literally, though the ship and all in it were nigh to perishing; and though the great day of Christ's award is hastening on. Now, to arouse such as these, the text begins with the startling word, "Behold!" Thus does it "cry aloud."
II. PROCRASTINATION. Many, Felix like, put off to "a more convenient season" the consideration of a fact like this. It was this very fact that Paul reasoned about and at which Felix trembled; but, nevertheless, the consideration of which be, as thousands are ever doing, put off. Now, as if to protest against and to prevent such conduct, Christ says, "Behold, I come quickly." There is no time for delay; "now is the day of salvation."
III. MOTIONS AND IDEAS OF PRIVILEGE. There were, there are, those who counted themselves God's favourites. The Jews did, and, in a very real sense, so they were; but not in such sense as would suffer them to be indifferent to the moral demands of God. They, however, flattered themselves that God would not judge them as he did others. And there are those who have persuaded themselves that they are God's elect, but who pervert the doctrine of God's election to allowance of themselves in evil. Now, as if to meet these, the Lord here makes no difference, but says, "I will give every man according," etc.
IV. ABUSE OF DOCTRINE OF FAITH. The doctrine of justification by faith has come in many minds to mean little more than a mere mental reference to the atonement of Christ. They think that a passport to eternal life. Such people say, "Oh, we believe, we trust in Jesus," and with this their faith ends. But Christ here declares, not only the rewardableness of works, but also that his reward will be according to each man's work. No profession of faith only, Or talking of "casting deadly doing down" - see the well known but mischievous mission hymn - will avail where the question of what our "work" is will be the all important, all decisive one.
V. RELIANCE ON PAST EXPERIENCES. It is said of Cromwell that on his death bed he asked one of his chaplains, "If a man were once in grace, would he be always so?" And his chaplain answered, "Yes, certainly." "Well, then," said Cromwell, "it is well with me, for I know I was once in grace." We presume not to judge him or any man, but these words of the Lord do not countenance any such reliance on the past. For his reward is "according as his work shall be." Not according as it once was, but as it is when the Lord comes. Thus does he beat down these "refuges of lies," and take away "these battlements which are not the Lord's" But our real refuge is to awake now and turn unto the Lord as they who have no hope but in him, and at once to manifest the reality of our repentance and faith by doing those works which he has commanded. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.