But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them…
Practically, in conduct, in handling your own lives, in dealing with your neighbours, surely this method of God's should be yours also.
1. You are inclined to denounce the wickedness of the world, to despair of human nature, to abandon someone as hopeless, to see nothing in him that you can like or respect. Look again, consider it once more. Is there no place in that man's heart where you may touch him, no point at which he will reveal a good side? It is strange how men we thought to be the very worst surprise us here; constantly we come upon something generous that they do, some touch of loyalty, some sign of tenderness and devotion. There it is; that is the one hope! God need not despair of the man so long as he has one spot left on which to work. One saith: "Destroy it not, for its blessing is in it" — the blessed words of mercy said over the dead trunk of a tree, bare and wasted and burned with fire, a stump charred to the naked ground, yet destroy it not; its seed, its substance is in it! So long as that can be said over a man, strive for him, pray for him, work for him at that spot to rescue it, to enlarge it, to save it.
2. And do the same with yourself when you are despairing, when you review your life and condemn it at every point, when you can see no use whatever in renewing resolutions which you are sure to break, and efforts which already foretell their own disaster. Nevertheless, go back on the holy substance — "Christ is in you, the eternal hope of honour." "Yes," you will say, "all else would have been lost but for that; verily, if God had not left me that seed, I should have been even as Sodom and Gomorrah, but, thanks be to God, it is not so; it never can be so if only I will believe it."
(H. Scott-Holland, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.