Summary: A sermon inspired by the book For The Glory by Duncan Hamilton.
Text: Luke 16:10-13
For the Glory, Duncan Hamilton’s biography of Olympic gold medalist and missionary Eric Liddell, tells about an incident that occurred in China in early 1939. This was a time when much of the countryside was a war zone between the Chinese and their Japanese invaders.
Eric Liddell was traveling from a coastal city to Siaochang, the inland village where he worked. On the way, he heard of a Chinese man who had been shot by the Japanese and had lain for five days on a thin mattress in an abandoned temple twenty miles from the mission compound. The man needed medical treatment, but none of the locals dared to cart him to the Siaochang hospital, fearing what the Japanese would do if they found out.
So Liddell decided that he would help the man. First he talked the owner of a cart into helping him transport the man. Then that evening Liddell went ahead to the temple, where he found the injured man and gave the man his sheepskin coat to wear through the night. Together, they waited until dawn, when the man with the cart was supposed to show up.
That night Liddell wrestled with what he was going to do the next day. He knew that Japanese troops were stationed less than a mile away. It was almost impossible to imagine that he could escape their notice in the daylight. And he knew that he could easily be tortured and killed if they determined that he was aiding a Chinese fighter.
Suppose I meet the enemy? Liddell asked himself. What would I say? Should he lie to the Japanese to try to protect himself and the wounded man? Or should he tell the truth and take the consequences?
He reached for his Bible, which fell open to Luke 16. There he read verse 10: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Liddell had found his answer. He was going to be honest and straight with the Japanese if he encountered them. With that decision made, he went to sleep.
The next day, he and his helper loaded the injured man on the cart and headed toward the hospital. Before long, they encountered a man who had been horribly sliced across his face with a Japanese sword but who had somehow survived. Liddell loaded this man on the cart as well.
For another eighteen miles, Liddell and his helper trundled the two men. They saw a Japanese airplane circling overhead and knew that imperial troops were moving nearby, yet miraculously they never encountered a single Japanese soldier on the way to Siaochang.
The first man died before long. The second man, however, lived. Not only the compassion Liddell had shown him, but also the fact that he’d agreed unhesitatingly to cross terrain as perilous as a minefield on his behalf, turned the survivor into a Christian.
This young missionary was determined to be true to God’s ways. He was “faithful in Liddell,” we might say! For example, his willingness to be faithful in the comparatively small way of honoring his convictions about racing on Sunday prepared him to be faithful later when he went to China and faced tests that could have cost him his life.
Like him, we can exercise our muscles of obedience so that they are strong when we face more challenging tests.
I. BE FAITHFUL IN LITTLE
The context of the verse that Liddell read from his Bible that night is money:
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Luke 16:10-13, esv)
All our worldly resources are treasures that God has given us to take care of and use for his purposes. Greed remains an ever-present temptation for all of us. But if we are faithful with our worldly wealth, God will entrust spiritual riches to us.
Maybe you don’t have much in the way of finances. Will you be faithful to God anyway by spending your money in God-honoring ways and giving generously to God’s work?
The principle of being faithful in little so that we may later be entrusted with more applies in other areas as well.