“A Little That A Righteous Man Hath”


“Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” Now this is rather striking language, isn’t it? It almost startles us. Five words spoken with the understanding or five words received in the heart with the understanding better than ten thousand words that are not understood and that are in an unknown tongue. Five words graciously understood better than ten thousand words that are not understood. Now what a comparison and what a contrast! And one point is made transparently clear here: it is not how much religion we have; it is whether it is real. Better to have five words sealed in our conscience by the Holy Ghost than to be able to recite the whole Bible through from Genesis to Revelation. One of the old English preachers used to ask this question: he used to say, “How big is your Bible?” Now I think you know what he meant. All of us have the same Bible in our hands and in our homes. He meant how much of the Bible was there that we possess by a gracious understanding in our hearts. How big is our Bible?
And you see, it fits in with the wise man: “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.” (Psalm 37:16)

Oh, to have a little that is real, a little that God has given us, a little of the Holy Ghost’s work in our hearts, a little desire, a little prayer, a little of the tender fear of God, a little humility, a little hope, a little repentance, a little love. Someone said, “This big ‘little.’” To possess something, however little, that is real, rather than to have an abundance and to find at last it is completely worthless. For beloved friends, the one thing that really matters is this: to have a religion that will take us to heaven at last. Oh, to have that “little that the righteous man hath.” Oh, to have those five words spoken with the understanding because the Holy Ghost has sealed them home in our hearts! For that solemn day hastens on when the Lord will “sift the house of Israel … like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” (Amos 9:9)

Satan has his sieve. God has His sieve. The difference is that Satan tries to get rid of the good grain in his sieve; God seeks to get rid of the chaff. When the Lord has done His sifting work in our heart, in our conscience, in our experience, oh to have that little left, those five words left, that one grain of vital godliness that can never fall to the ground.


B.A. Ramsbottom

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