The Devil’s Yard Sale
By Alan Tison and James Fifth
One day, the Devil laid out his gleaming, razor-edged tools upon a worn and ancient wooden table. He announced a “fire” sale and carefully marked the price upon each tool: ANGER: $100, RESENTMENT: $400, HATRED: $600, etc.
Each tool sold almost as quickly as it was placed upon the table. Toward the end of the day, a crooked old man in tattered rags approached. The man eyed the tools that remained, but was taken by a certain tool at the end of the table. The tool resembled the two long and bowed fangs of a viper. Its chrome-like pointy tusks caught the sun and sent flashes of blinding light everywhere. With one hand, the old man blocked his eyes from the glare and with the other, he reached for the tool. As he grabbed hold, the tool’s steely, needle tips nearly pierced his hand. This seemed to please the old man. He snatched up the tool and held it to his chest. With a glint in his eye, the man asked the Devil, “How much for this one?”
“I’m sorry, that tool isn’t for sale,” the Devil replied.
Without hesitation, the man said, “But I’ll pay double.”
The Devil narrowed his eyes and hissed, “Sir, I’ve told you, that tool is not for sale, nor will I ever sell it. It is the most useful tool I own and without it, I wouldn’t be half as effective in my work. With that tool alone, I can accomplish my every task. Now good day, sir.”
Dejected, the man looked once more at the shiny tool, then slowly placed it on the table. With almost a whisper, he said to the Devil, “If I can’t buy it, would you, at least tell me its name?”
A slow and wicked grin grew across the Devil’s face. “Of course, old man, its name is… Discouragement.”
Perplexed, the old man wondered out loud , “Why is this tool so important to you?”
The Devil responded, “It’s more useful to me than any of the others. When I can’t bring down my victims with the rest of my tools, I use discouragement, because so few people realize it belongs to me. Nothing paralyzes a person, nothing stops someone in their tracks like discouragement and hopelessness. Discouragement and hopelessness are no respecters of persons. They keep the unemployed unemployed. The homeless homeless. The sick sick. They can even draw the most powerful ministry to its knees. When overcome with discouragement and hopelessness, the person can’t pray, they can’t worship and they become a victim of their environment. Discouragement and hopelessness drains their victims of courage, vision, faith, expectation and the will to make a difference in the kingdom of God . If I can get you discouraged and hopeless, then I have successfully neutralized you. You are left with only enough energy to feel sorry for yourself.”
Steps of Jesus
“And He said to them, Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
Following in the steps of Jesus, we suggests some personal musts for all Christians.
– I must be willing to stand alone if necessary.
– I must be willing to go against public opinion in order to promote truth.
– I must be willing to risk failure in converting most people.
– I must become master of my emotions.
– I must strive to remain above reproach.
– I must be willing to make decisions others don’t want to make.
– I must be willing to say “no” at times, even when I would like to say “yes.”
– I must be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the local church.
– I must never be content with the average, but must strive for excellence.
– I must always place people above possessions.
– I must always be abounding in the work of the Lord.
Not My Student
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Someone was talking to a scholar about a young man. He said, “So and so tells me that he was one of your students.” The teacher answered devastatingly, “He may have attended my lectures, but he was not one of my students.”
There is a world of difference between attending lectures and being a student. One of the supreme handicaps of the Lord’s church today is that there are many distant followers of Jesus and too few real disciples.
“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14).
Brazil is home to a vine plant which forest-dwellers call the “murderer.” At first the murderer’s slender stem creeps along the ground, but once it meets a vigorous tree, it cleaves to it and begins to climb it. As it climbs, it sends out arm-like tentacles that continue to grow larger and clasp tighter. Within time the once lively tree is killed by the murderer which has completely smothered and strangled it. The murderer, from the summit of the strangled tree, as if in triumph, shoots out a huge, flowery head from which it scatters seed to repeat its work of death all over again.
Like the murderer vine, the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life can choke and smother the spiritual life of a Christian. Let us be on guard less we, too, are choked and strangled by the things of this world.
I Cannot Sit Quietly
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). “I’m not ashamed to own my Lord, nor to defend His cause” (From an old familiar hymn).
On one occasion, Frederick the Great invited some notable people to his royal table, including top-ranking generals. One of them by the name of Hans Von Zieten declined the invitation because he wanted to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day. Sometime later, at another banquet, Frederick and his guests mocked the general for his religious scruples and made jokes about the Lord’s Supper. In great peril of his life, the officer stood to his feet and said respectfully to the monarch, “My lord, there is a greater King than you, a King to whom I have sworn allegiance even unto death. I am a Christian, and I cannot sit quietly as the Lord’s name is dishonored and His character belittled.” The guests trembled in silence, knowing that Hans Zieten might be executed. But to their surprise, Frederick grasped the hand of this courageous man, asked his forgiveness, and promised that he would never again allow such a travesty be made of sacred things. (From Bible Illustrator)