Use and Abuse of God's Gifts
Luke 2:34-35
And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel…

Everything that comes from God is naturally fitted and originally intended for good. But His gifts are often perverted, and become, though not the cause, yet the occasion, of evil.

I. IT IS SO WITH COMMON TEMPORAL BLESSINGS. They are all good things in themselves, but they prove advantages or disadvantages according to our use of them.

1. Riches. When properly received and used to the glory of God and good of men, riches are a great blessing; but when coveted, or rested in as the chief good, or abused in extravagance and profligacy, they become the root of all evil, and drown men in destruction.

2. Greatness. In God's hand it is to make great, to give power and honour to men; and those great men who conduct themselves in a manner becoming their exalted station, are honourable and happy indeed; but the more pre-eminent in station men are, the more sinful and ruinous is their misconduct.

3. Learning is justly accounted honourable and valuable; and it actually not only promotes a man's worldly distinction, but proves a blessing in the highest sense of the word, when consecrated to God, and possessed in humility and virtue; but there are few greater curses than learning misapplied, usurping the place of the wisdom which is from above, or co-existing with habits of immorality.

4. Health is a blessing, without which all other earthly blessings are of little avail; and when spent in piety and usefulness, it enables men to rise to a high degree of credit and success, and even moral excellence; but when its stability is presumed on to encourage men to proceed in a career of dissipation, and its vigour wasted on crimes, or on trifles, it becomes the occasion of multiplied evils and of deep degradation.

5. Affliction is kindly sent for the benefit of transgressors; and when its voice is listened to, it recalls them from their wanderings; but when it is unimproved, it only hardens men more and more, and sinks them deeper and deeper in misery.

6. Nor is it otherwise with life itself. "Skin upon skin," one piece of valuable property after another — nay, "all that man hath, will he give for his life." Every man is bound to praise the Almighty Author and Preserver of his life; and the life that now is, when rightly improved, is the means of rising to the happiness of the endless life which is to come; but life spent and closed in nature's guilt and depravity, is to all who so spend it and so close it, the forerunner of the second death, so that it would have been better for them never to have lived at all.

II. THE SAME PRINCIPLE APPLIES WITH RESPECT TO CHRIST'S COMING INTO THE WORLD. He came to bless all mankind; but His coming may only increase our condemnation.

(James Foote, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

WEB: and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against.

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