The Last Farthing

—Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the last farthing.

— St. Matthew 5:26

Let us try to understand what the Lord himself said about his parables, taking St. Matthew 13:14-15. The purport is, that those who by insincerity and falsehood close their deeper eyes, shall not be capable of using the more superficial eyes of their understanding. They shall not see what is not for such as they. It is the punishment of the true Love, and is continually illustrated and fulfilled. This will help to remove the difficulty that the parables are plainly for the teaching of the truth, and yet the Lord speaks of them as for the concealing of it. They are for the understanding of that man only who is practical—who does the thing he knows, who seeks to understand vitally. They reveal to the live conscience, otherwise not to the keenest intellect---though at the same time they may help to rouse the conscience with glimpses of the truth, where the man is on the borders of waking. Ignorance may be at once a punishment and a kindness: all punishment is kindness, and the best of which the man at the time is capable: To say to them certain things so that they could understand, would but harden them more, because they would not do them; they should have but parables—lanterns of the truth, clear to those who will walk in the light, dark to those who will not. “You choose the dark; you shall stay in the dark till the terrors that dwell in the dark frighten you, and cause you to cry out.” God puts a seal upon the will of man; that seal is either his great punishment, or his mighty favor: “Ye love the darkness, abide in the darkness.” “O woman, great is thy faith; be it done unto thee even as thou wilt!”


by James House

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God
— John 7:17

Our Father blesses us with all things that will do us good which we are ready and willing to receive.  All good things come from God, and the receipt of good things always requires action, which brings greater understanding of God's truths. Parables bring truths to the ears of those who are ready to act on them, and that action brings understanding and the blessing of being a participant in God's work.

God's justice makes us accountable for what we know, and his mercy keeps us from knowing too very much more than what we can realistically strive to master.

George MacDonald continually reminds us that obedience is the key to that mastery:

"faith and obedience are one and the same spirit, passing as it were from room to room in the same heart: what in the heart we call faith, in the will we call obedience."

"Our Lord speaks of many coming up to his door confident of admission, whom yet he sends from him. Faith is obedience, not confidence."

"Understanding is the reward of obedience. Peter says 'the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given them that obey him.' Obedience is the key to every door."

"If you do not obey Him, you will not know Him. You will tell me, some of you, that I am always beating that anvil–that obedience to Christ is Christianity. Let me die insisting upon it. For my Lord insists upon it."

"It matters little where a man may be at this moment; the point is whether he is growing. The next point will be, whether he is growing at the ratio given him. The key to the whole thing is obedience , and nothing else."

"If there be truth, that truth must be itself—must exercise its own blessing nature upon the soul which receives it in loyal understanding—that is, in obedience. A man may accept no end of things as facts which are not facts, and his mistakes will not hurt him. He may be unable to receive many facts as facts, and neither they nor his refusal of them will hurt him. He may not a whit the less be living in and by the truth. He may be quite unable to answer the doubts of another, but if, in the progress of his life, those doubts should present themselves to his own soul, then will he be able to meet them: he is in the region where all true answers are gathered. He may be unable to receive this or that embodiment or form of truth, not having yet grown to its level; but it is no matter so long as when he sees a truth he does it: to see and not do would at once place him in eternal danger."

Though I'm grateful for God's mercy in keeping me from being accountable for more truth than I can responsibly use, I am eager for more truth. Perhaps the thing I need most each day is to pray for the strength to obey - to remember the Lord's words during each interaction of the day, and simply live them.  In other words, I need to pray that I may have the ability to develop a true hunger and thirst for righteousness - and a continual remembrance that it is my duty to bring it about.