10.He who is faithful in that which is least. Those maxims are proverbs taken from ordinary practice and experience, and it is quite enough if they are generally true. It will sometimes happen, no doubt, that a deceiver, who had disregarded a small gain, shall display his wickedness in a matter of importance. Nay, many persons, by affecting honesty in trifling matters, are only in pursuit of an enormous gain; (298) as that author (299) says: “Fraud establishes confidence in itself in small matters, that, when a fit opportunity shall arrive, it may deceive with vast advantage.” And yet the statement of Christ is not inaccurate; for in proverbs, as I have mentioned, we attend only to what usually happens.
Christ, therefore, exhorts his disciples to act faithfully in small matters, in order to prepare themselves for the exercise of fidelity in matters of the highest importance. He next applies this doctrine to the proper stewardship of spiritual graces, which the world, indeed, does not estimate according to their value, but which far surpass, beyond all question, the fading riches of this world. Those persons, he tells us, who act improperly and unfaithfully in things of small value, such as the transitory riches of the world, do not deserve that God should entrust to them the inestimable treasure of the Gospel, and of similar gifts. There is, therefore, in these words an implied threatening, that there is reason to fear lest, on account of our abuse of an earthly stewardship, we fail to obtain heavenly gifts. In this sense, what is true is contrasted with riches, as what is solid and lasting is contrasted with what is shadowy and fading. (300)