Note to the reader: These devotionals are from Evenings with Jesus – A series of devotional readings for the closet and the family. Taken from the late Reverend William Jay.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness” ~ Hebrews 13:5
The Gospel is a system of benevolence. Every thing in the gospel shows the value of this principle.
1. How it enjoins it! “As we have opportunity let us do good to all men.” (See Galatians 6:10, ESV) “Be not weary in well-doing.” (See 2 Thessalonians 3:13 KJV). And in our present motto, “Let your conversation (that is, your habitual behaviour and course of action) be without covetousness.”
2. How it commends this principle! “Faith, hope, and charity, and the greatest of these is charity.” (See 1 Corinthians 13:13, ESV). “Charity which is the bond of perfectness.” (See Colossians 3:14, ESV) “And we know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” (See 1 John 3:14, ESV). And, saith the Apostle James, “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.” (See James 2:13, ESV). Here, let us refer to the scenes of the judgment of the last day. “Then shall the King say to them on his left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels’ ” (See Matthew 25:41 (25:31-46 in context), ESV). But what had they done? Were they robbers of temples, murderers of fathers, or murderers of mothers? Were they blasphemers, that they are thus accursed? No. No, they were hard-hearted, covetous, and closed fisted. They are those whose eyes and hearts never bewailed suffering and misery. “I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Forasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me.” These, these, “THESE shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”
Nothing, therefore can be so unbecoming the gospel, or so unworthy those who profess the gospel, as a selfish temper, as a grasping, sordid disposition; because persons of this disposition love in word only, and not in deed and in truth, and have no charity. They say, “go in peace; be ye warmed, and be ye filled.” (See James 2:16, ESV) But it is all in vain, inasmuch as they give nothing to alleviate the miseries or satisfy the wants of these sufferers. They sow only for this world’s ends. The man who seeth his brother in sin and suffering, who seeth him in want, and yet “shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (See, 1 John 3:17, ESV). Such men commonly give less – not only comparatively, but absolutely – much less than many of their poorer brethren. They give much less now than they did formerly. The good and the evil that men do live after them; and if shame and sorrow could enter heaven, how much would the covetous professor of the gospel have to suffer, if such persons do go to heaven, for which there seems no necessity, if they could look down and witness, and see the immediate result of their scrapings and their hoardings; whilst others, who have been constrained from love to Christ, and to do good to the souls and bodies of their fellow-creatures, will be able to look down and see how they are still making the widow’s heart to sing for joy; how they are dropping the balm of comfort to those who are ready to perish; and how “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings” they are bringing forth praise.
The benevolence of the Gospel has no limits, it is of necessity subject to no exclusiveness. But it has its preferences, and ought to “abound in all wisdom and prudence.” Charity to the soul is the soul of charity. The greatest evil – and the greatest blessing we can bestow upon a fellow-creature is godliness because “godliness is profitable to all things,” saith the apostle, “having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” While the tendency of the gospel is to minister relief to every kind of misery, its chief blessings are “spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” What is the body compared to the soul? What is time compared to eternity?