HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.–Matthew 25:21
Fidelity Can Be Anybody’s Virtue
It was very like our Lord to make fidelity the test of life. He was quick to recognise the lowly virtues. Just as He took obscure and lowly men when He wanted to build up a kingdom, so did He take obscure and lowly virtues when He wanted to build up a character, and this not merely because they were obscure, but because they were within the range of all, and He was to be a universal Gospel. There is nothing dazzling infidelity. It is not at all a rare and splendid gift. It has no power to arrest the eyes, nor get itself chronicled in any newspaper. And it is singularly like the Lord, with His passion for undistinguished people, that He should crown a virtue such as that. Some of my readers never can be brilliant. They serve in the great army of the commonplace. But there is one thing within the compass of them all, and that is the steady practice of fidelity. And the inspiring thought is that our Lord should take a thing within the reach of everybody, and make it the criterion of character.
Fidelity Demands Courage
It is like Him, too, to recognise that fidelity demands a certain courage. In the parable from which our text is taken that is very charmingly exhibited. There is one man there who was not faithful. He got his talent and he buried it. And it is a master-touch of a profound psychology that at the end of the day, when the reckoning was taken, that man is made to say I was afraid. His infidelity was fear, and the Lord delights to hint at truth by negatives. There is a courage of the battle-field, which is often a very splendid thing. There is courage needed for every high adventure, whether it be in Africa or Everest. But perhaps the finest courage in the world (in the eyes of God, if not of men) is the quiet and steady courage of fidelity. To do things when you don’t feel like them, to keep on keeping on, to get to duty through a headache and through heartache, to ply the drudgery when birds are calling–there are few things finer in the world. That is not a thing of the rare moment–it is carrying victory into the common day. It does not flash in the country of our dreams–it illuminates the dreary levels. And life is never a victorious business unless our common days are full of victories of which no one ever hears anything at all.
Christ Demonstrated the Courage of Fidelity
I should like to halt a moment to say in passing that this was the courage of our Lord Himself. Sometimes we forget how brave He was. We sing of “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” and we dwell on His exceeding tenderness, nor in a world like this, so full of difficulty, can we ever dwell on His tenderness too much. But if we ignore His courage, we lose one of the appeals of Christ to youth, and to do that is infinitely pitiful. Did it take no courage to come down from heaven and become the tenant of a cottage? Did it take no courage to remain at Nazareth when His heart was burning in His breast? Did it take no courage to resist the devil, offering Him the kingdoms of the world, when the winning of these kingdoms was His passion? To scorn delights and live laborious days, to take the long, long trail that led to Calvary, to set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem, where the Cross was waiting and the crown of thorns–never was finer courage in the world. When we feel that we are missing things (and to feel that means an aching heart), when we are tempted to rebel at drudgery and too long for the wings of a dove to fly away, we must remember Him who never flew away (though white-winged angels were His servitors), but took up His cross, daily, to the end.
Fidelity Is Rewarded by Capacity
Another profound suggestion of our Lord is that fidelity is rewarded by capacity. “Thou hast been faithful over few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” Sometimes an employer of labour says to me, “The young fellow you sent me is no use. He has proved a slacker in his task, and I never can offer him a bigger one.” But sometimes he says to me, “I’ve been watching that lad; he’s doing splendidly; the first bigger thing that offers he will get.” The real reward is not the bigger task. It is the capacity to do the bigger task. Real rewards are never arbitrary; they are vitally related to the toil. The reward of service is greater power to serve. The reward of fidelity is new capacity–added fitness comes through being faithful. To be faithful in the least is to be qualifying for what is greater. To do with the whole heart the lowliest thing is to be getting ready for the higher thing. So live, and whatever the world may have in store, He whose word can never pass away will make you ruler over many things. Life will deepen and be enriched for you, though your home is but a humble lodging. Your will shall be strengthened by those daily victories which, after all, are the victories that count. True wealth is augmented personality, with a corresponding increase of capacity, and the avenue of God to that is faithfulness.
Fidelity Is Associated with Joy
We shall not forget how our Lord associates fidelity with joy. “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Tell me, is not that profoundly true? Here are two men engaged in the same task, both intelligent and skilful workmen. But the one is careless, and he scamps his work; the other is laboriously faithful. At the end of the day, when work is over, and there stretches ahead of the leisure of the evening, which of these two workmen is the happier? “Flowers laugh before thee in their beds,” says Wordsworth of the man who is found faithful. Unfaithfulness moves towards the dark. Fidelity pitches its tent towards the sunrise. Be thou faithful, and when the task is over, and the morning breaks upon the farther shore, thou shalt enter into the joy of thy Lord.