Which is Greater

"... whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?" Matthew 23:17

    The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day taught that if a man swore by the Temple, he wasn't necessarily obligated to do what he promised. But if he swore by the gold of the Temple, then that was a different story. He was bound by that oath. They made the same false distinction between swearing by the altar and swearing by the sacrifice on it. The former oath could be broken; the latter was binding.

    The Lord told them that their sense of values was completely twisted. It is the Temple that gives the gold special value, and it is the altar that sets apart the sacrifice in a special way.

    The Temple was the dwelling place of Cod on earth. The highest honor that any gold could have was to be used in that dwelling. Its connection with the House of God set it apart in a unique way. So it was with the altar and the sacrifice on it. The altar was an integral part of the divine service. No animal could be more highly honored than to be sacrificed on the altar. If animals could have ambitions, they would have all aimed for that destiny.

    A tourist bought an inexpensive amber necklace in a second-hand shop in Paris. He became curious when he had to pay heavy customs in New York. He went to a jeweler to have it appraised and was offered $25,000. A second jeweler offered $35,000. When he asked why it was so valuable, the jeweler put it under a magnifying glass. The tourist read, "From Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine." It was the name of Napoleon that made the necklace so valuable.

    The application should be clear. In ourselves we are nothing and can do nothing. It is our association with the Lord and with His service that sets us apart in a special way. As Spurgeon said, "Your connection with Calvary is the most wonderful thing about you."

    You may have an unusually brilliant mind. That is something to be thankful for. But remember this. It is only as that mind is used for the Lord Jesus Christ that it ever reaches its highest destiny. It is Christ that sanctifies your intellect.

    You may have talents for which the world is willing to pay a high price You may even think that the Church is too insignificant forthem. But it is the Church that sanctifies your talents, and not your talents that sanctify the Church.

    You may have bundles of money. You can hoard it, spend it on self-indulgence, or use it for the Kingdom. The greatest use to which it can be put is to spend it in furthering the cause of Christ. It is the Kingdom that sanctifies your wealth, not vice versa.