Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect to the recompense of the reward.
I. CONSIDER THAT ONWARD LOOK, WHICH TURNS UPSIDE DOWN THE WORLD'S ESTIMATES OF GOOD AND EVIL. Christian faith should dwell in the future. True! that onward look is secondary, and not primary. We look forward simply because God has told us what that future is to be, and we are to trust Him. Our conceptions of the future must always be limited by, as well as founded exclusively on, the revelation which God has made. And that is the distinction between the wholesome and ennobling anticipation of the future which is proper to Christianity, and should be familiar to all professing Christians, and every other forecast of possibilities or probabilities to come beyond the grave. The one is mist, the other is solid earth. The one is a torturing, though it sometimes be an attractive peradventure; the other loots itself upon a "Verily! verily! I say unto thee." Then, further, note here how this onward look should reverse the world's estimate of good and evil. As long as the theatre is only lit by artificial light, the tawdry Dutch metal upon the cotton velvet robes, and the glass jewels upon the paltry crowns of the strutting pretenders to royalty and wealth look genuine, solid, and rich. Let the daylight in, and how shabby and seamy and poor they all look. If we want to know what the world's wealth is, let us only lift our eyes unto, and keep them fixed upon, that realm of light to which Christ invites us, and then these have no glory at all "by reason of the glory that excelleth." As a candle against the sun, so is the "abundance" that a man "possesses" as contrasted with the durable riches and righteousness to which the Christian soul hastens. Nothing that can be stripped from us is truly ours. Only that which is incorporated with the very substance of the soul belongs to me; and the only true wealth is the wealth of a Christ-love in my heart, and a Christ-truth in my understanding, and a Christ-spirit in my life, and a Christ the law of my will. He that hath these is rich, and he that looks for the perfecting of these things in the perfect world beyond has a charm which turns all the fairy-gold by which men are deceived in the dark into the bundle of rotting leaves which, according to the old legend, it truly is. And then there is the other side of the world's fascinations, which equally are stripped of their masquerading pomp by the eye that looks onwards to the recompense of reward. "The pleasures for a season" come to be known for the poor paltry things that they are when they are set by the side of the calm "pleasures for evermore " which await us if we will. We never realise the true transiency of the transient until we measure it against the eternity of the eternal. "For a season"; "for evermore." Who will compare these two? Then, further, let me remind you how the analysis of our text shows us that this estimate made by faith, and reversing the world's judgment, ought to lead to a deliberate surrender. There are miserable multitudes of Christian men and women, good enough kind of people in their way, and with some reality of Christian faith towards that great Lord, who have no doubt whatever, if you come to put the question to them, that this world's goods are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. And yet there is a fatal schism between judgment and choice; and a paralysis, as it were, of the powers that would carry the estimate into action. How comes this to be? You and I are not called to surrender in the fashion of the heroic renunciation of our text, but we are called upon to use the lower in subordination to the higher. And unless our faith has in it an onward look that truly estimates the relative worth of the things seen and temporal and the things eternal, and that impels by that estimate to a deliberate choice which we carry out in action, we have little right to say that we are soldiers in this great army, the heroes of which are marshalled in the roll-call of this chapter.
II. CONSIDER THE UPWARD LOOK, WHICH DELIVERS FROM FEAR, AND NERVES FOR SERVICE. I am prepared to maintain that the knowledge which a believing heart has of God is as valid, and more so, than the evidence of sense; and that the sight of faith is better, truer, deeper, more to be relied upon as giving us verities than the sight of these senses that may be befooled and diseased and deceive us. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father," and he that hath trusted hath seen God revealed in Christ. But, then, mark how this vision of the invisible, which is the bliss of the Christian life, and without which no faith worth calling by the name is possible, should have in it a power of steadying us for persistent endurance of difficulty and continuance in duty. When soldiers pass the saluting-point where the commander-in-chief sits, they dress up their ranks and pull themselves together. If we realised that we were ever in the presence of that great Lord, that lie was ever there before us, how the world would change its aspect, and life and its difficulties would become easy! The great white throne dims everything else. And then, further, this upward look should bring glad courage. Soldiers tell us that the bravest man has a spasm of terror when he goes into the battle; and courage is but the rebound of the heart from fear. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." "I will trust and not be afraid." Whoso has the recompense of reward, and Him that is invisible who is the "exceeding great reward," clear before him, is delivered from all other fear, and through fear is driven to God, whose presence drives it out.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.