Circumstances no Index of Character
Matthew 24:40-41
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.…

How powerless and immaterial are circumstances for those two! Every single circumstance of life is identical; together they rise at the same hour; right through the day they grind together; at the same hour they go to the evening meal, and at the same hour they sleep. Everything, year after year, repeats itself. They dress alike; they were paid alike; life passed for both on the same level of low, unchanging poverty. To any one looking on they would be wholly alike — two poor women, of the same class, occupation, education, wage, interest, dress. Nothing from end to end of these earthly circumstances could be found to distinguish the one from the other. At the same mill they had turned and turned, to both the earth had been equally harsh and unkind, and no lights shone in upon them, and no changes ever surprised them. On and on together, hand in hand, and face to face, they had ground at the same mill up to the last; and lo! one is for heaven, and one for hell. Within they are as different as black from white, as good from evil; so dominant, so imperial is human character, so free it is from the control of circumstances. Oh, what wide comfort! What can it matter what our conditions may be? Two grinding at the mill; one taken, and the other left. Is there any one who sinks under the sodden monotony of daily routine, who withers under the pressure of everyday sameness; who finds himself chained into that mean, petty, narrow block of circumstances which he knows to be killing out all spiritual emotions in those about him, and yet he cannot break from it, and he dreads to feel creeping over his soul the same melancholy dryness he sees in others? That which kills another may be life to him, if he will use it. He alone is the master And yet, on the other hand, how powerful is circumstance! It is at the mill, at the grinding — there and nowhere else — that the thing has got to be done, the difference is to be created. There, as they ground and ground together, these two poor women built up bit by bit the wall of their separation. It was out of the doing of the same things that one grew readier for the Lord, and the other darkened down to the slothful servant. At the mill, still grinding, the Lord finds them. No one, then, need leave his mill. In the field where men work, there our drama works itself out. Circumstances are nothing, but they are also everything; and we shall discover our weakness if we attempt to ignore them .... Strength of character lies not in demanding special circumstances, but in mastering and using any that may be given. Our work and daily contact with our fellows form our scene of action, and God blesses with a peculiar blessing the efforts to put to profit, not some self-selected occasion, but the actual conditions in which we find ourselves.

(Canon Scott-Holland.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

WEB: Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left;

The Moral of Accidents
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