THERE ARE MANY ‘BETTER THINGS’ written of in this rather despised book that will well repay thought, and the above quotation speaks of one of them.
The writer has in view two families, both professing that they fear the God of Israel. One of these homes is bathed in sunlight; its occupants manifest the precious and essential quality of the love of God. Thus, though the daily fare is somewhat frugal, with only a vegetarian meal at the dinner hour, the household is happy.
All this is set in contrast to the second household. This latter seems always to be encompassed in gloom; hatred has estab¬lished itself. But an ox awaits slaughter. Will not the sight of barons of beef be an effective cure presently? I must confess that the prospect of sitting down to a meal in such a bitter atmosphere would unfit me for partaking of it before the occasion arrived, and the actual indulgence would be calculated to choke me! For consider what this house harbours: envy, jealousy, backbiting, a reckless disregard for the empty larders of ‘others in Christ’, a ‘shutting up of the bowels of compassion’, 1 John 3. 17, greed, undisguised covetousness, and many other features from which the spiritual mind recoils in sorrow and grief.
The contrast here is not necessarily between the home of a Christian and the home of an unsaved person. Both homes may belong to believers, but in one the foremost fruit of the Spirit is evident. Love is there with its sweet influence – love which ‘suffereth long and is kind, envieth not … seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked’, 1 Cor. 13. 4, 5.
It is not only in the home that love is needed, however. We sometimes have to mourn the lack of love and her accompani¬ments in the household of faith. An assembly needs not only sound doctrine and scriptural practice, but love which ‘never faileth’. It is probably true that we have saturated ourselves with the many injunctions of the Word ‘to love one another’, and certainly we cannot be too often reminded of this necessity, but joy comes not so much in the hearing of the Word but in the ‘doing of it’.