By Dr. James R. Miller
“He will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff.” -Matthew
The illustration which the preacher of the desert here uses is very striking. The wheat-sheaves were gathered on the threshing-floor and trodden over by oxen to free the grains from the chaff. Then came the process of winnowing, when the chaff was blown away and the wheat left on the floor ready for use. After that the wheat was carried to the garner, and the chaff was swept up and burned. God’s penitent, believing ones are wheat, and the finally impenitent and unbelieving are chaff. Christ’s gospel has a stern side. The same breath that cleanses the wheat drives away the chaff. Which are we wheat or chaff? Very evidently our eternal destiny will depend on which we are, and we ought to be very sure of it ourselves.
There is a great difference between wheat and chaff. Wheat has life in it; wheat-grains dropped into the earth grow and yield a harvest. Wheat is food; it makes bread and satisfies hunger. Wheat is precious; it is highly prized in the market. Chaff has no life in it; it does not grow, and only rots in the ground. It is not food; it satisfies no hunger. It is not of any value; and it is good only to throw away or to burn. Which of these descriptions best fits our lives?
What sadder thing is there in this world than a human life, made to be golden wheat, to feed men’s hunger, yet proving only worthless chaff? Apart from the doom of impenitence, who, with an immortal soul and almost infinite possibilities of usefulness and blessedness, should be content to be worthless chaff? Made to be children of God and heirs of glory, and to live in blessedness in heaven for ever, shall we tear ourselves away from our high destiny, and, by our own unbelief and folly, doom ourselves to be swept by the divine wrath into unquenchable fire?