Long ago there lived in the land of Egypt an architect named
Cnidius. He was employed by the Pharaoh of that day to build a watch-tower to
warn mariners from certain dangerous rocks upon the coast. When the tower was
nearly finished, Cnidius had his own name engraved on a stone in the wall, and
then covered it with plaster. On the outside of the plaster he inscribed in
golden letters the name of Pharaoh.
The cunning architect knew very well that as the years rolled
by the waves would wash away the plaster, and that then his own name would stand
out before the eyes of men, and be handed down to successive generations. His
motive is apparent. Self–love and the desire for fame were uppermost in his
heart, though carefully veiled under disguise of service to his king.
In the balances of the sanctuary motives weigh very
heavily. Words and deeds are weighed, but motives, secret desires and
intentions, the designs of the heart, outweigh them all; and at the judgment
seat of Christ, when our lives are passed in review under His searching eye, motives
will be of much account. "The fire shall try every man’s work,"
and the Lord will take up the question with His servants as to "how much
every man had gained by trading." But the question will not only be,
"How much?" but, "Of what sort?" (1 Cor. 3:13) The valuation
in that day will be made according to quality as well as quantity. And
the quality depends on the motives.
It is easy to be zealous of works that are called
"good," and to cover our activities with a coat of plaster whereon the
name of "Christ" is inscribed in large letters that all may see. But
what when the plaster covering is washed off? Whose name will then be seen? Will
our own names appear engraved upon the stone that is behind the plaster? In
other words, will our actions, our works, or deeds of service be found, "in
that day," to have sprung from motives that will obtain the commendation of
Christ, or from motives that have self as their object?
These are searching questions, and we shall do well to give
them a place in our thoughts.