Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
I. THE RARITY OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP. (Ver. 6.) Many are ready to promise, few willing to perform. Many eager to say, "Lord, Lord!" comparatively few to do the will of the Father in heaven. There is no want of good notions in the world; but, according to the Italian proverb, many are so good that they are good for nothing. The spirit may be willing, the flesh is weak. Inclination to good needs to be fortified by faith in God.
II. THE JUST AND GOOD MAN. (Ver. 7.) We cannot but feel that he is an ideal character. Poets and preachers have delighted to describe him, have surrounded him with a halo, depicted the safety and blessedness of his life. But how seldom does he appear on the actual scene! Our being is a struggle and a series of failures. The one thing needful is to have a lofty ideal before us, and never to despair of approaching a little nearer to it with every right effort.
III. THE IMPARTIAL JUDGE. (Ver. 8.) The earthly judge upon his seat reminds us of the mixed state of human nature - of the need of a process of sifting, trial, purification, ever going on. Judgment is an ever-present fact, a constant process. We are being tried, in a sense, every day, and "must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Let us "labour that we may be accepted of him."
IV. THE CLEAN CONSCIENCE. (Ver. 9.) This pointed question silences our boasting, and checks the disposition to excuse ourselves. By unwise comparison with others we may seem to stand well; but in the light of his own mere standard of right and duty, who is not self-condemned? "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8, 9).
V. EQUITABLE CONDUCT. (Ver. 10.) How common are the tricks and evasions of trade! And there is something more in this than mere desire for gain. The general experience of the world is so strong against dishonesty, as seen in common proverbs, as "bad policy," that we must look to a deeper cause of its existence, viz. the perversity of man's heart.
VI. EARLY SYMPTOMS OF CHARACTER. (Ver. 11) Tendencies of evil and (never let us omit to acknowledge) tendencies of good are seen very early in children. The Germans have a quaint proverb, "What a thorn will become may easily be guessed." How much depends on Christian culture; for "as the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined." - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?