Brethren Archive

A Free Gift

by Inglis Fleming

Some years since there lived in different parts of the city of Glasgow two sisters who earned their living by working embroidery.

Mary, the younger of the two, had just received from her employer a piece of work to be finished by a certain date, according to a pattern given, and the amount to be paid was agreed upon between them.

Gladly she carried the work home, intending to carry out the instructions, and complete it within the time given. But hardly had it been commenced when she fell ill and had to keep her bed, becoming worse and worse as days passed.

As she lay on the sick-bed, sad and sorrowful, her elder sister, hearing that she was ill, came round, and finding her very low-spirited, clasped her hand, saying—

“Mary, I am sorry to see you so weak; but anything a sister can do shall be done.”

Mary owned that the piece of embroidery was troubling her; that she feared if it were not completed by the time arranged she would lose her employment.

Her sister at once undertook to do it.

In the evenings, when her own work was finished, with—I doubt not—sore eyes and tired fingers, she toiled on, until at length the last stitches were made and the work complete.

Then, with joyous steps, she hastened to her sister’s home, and with a glad smile said—

“There is the work, sister, and you may have it as a present, and get the wages as if you had done the whole yourself.”

Thankfully it was accepted—accepted as a free gift. Her thanks and kisses were the only reward Mary was allowed to give.

When sufficiently recovered to go out, Mary took the embroidery to the manufacturer, who examined it, turning it over again and again, with evident satisfaction. “Did you do this yourself?” he asked.

Her face flushed crimson, as she answered—

“No, sir. I have been ill, and my elder sister did it for me.”

“Oh, no matter! It is all beautifully done, within the time, and according to the pattern. There is the amount I promised you.”

Now her thought was how to repay the kindness her sister had shown.

And should not this be the one desire of all who are Christ’s—to repay Him in some little measure for the love and kindness He has shown?

When we ponder all that the Lord Jesus passed through in His love for us—how He who was rich became poor, that we, through His poverty, might be rich; of the work, the finished work, which He accomplished upon that cross of shame—well may our hearts rise in praise and worship to Himself. Like Mary, we were “without strength”; powerless to do anything suited to the holiness of God, unable to earn our own salvation. But then,


Christ died for the ungodly!

God’s glory and our salvation and blessing all rest upon the finished work of our Lord Jesus on the cross.

The work which has satisfied God is surely of sufficient value to satisfy us.

Anxious, yet believing one, look out from all your vain strivings—from all your useless efforts; look out to the glorified Christ, now at the right hand of God! He is there, because the work is finished!

“You can never make atonement,

That is fully made!

You can never pay the ransom:

He has paid!”

Yes, Christ must have all the glory of our salvation; none of it can ever be ours. Mary began the work, putting the first few stitches to it herself; and then had to cease, her sister doing all the rest. The sinner cannot even do so much as that. Not one stitch in the garment of salvation could the sinner make. The Lord Jesus had to do all and so to Him all the praise belongs.


Scattered Seed 1901, p. 165

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