Life’s Little Lessons XXIII
Only One Citizen
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The King of Abyssinia once took a British subject named Cameron prisoner and incarcerated him in the high fortress of Magdala. No cause was assigned for his confinement. When Great Britain found out, she demanded an immediate release for her citizen. King Theodore refused.
Within ten days after the refusal was received, ten thousand British soldiers were sailing down the coast headed for Magdala. Then marching across an unfriendly country for seven hundred miles, they went up the mountains to where the prisoner was being held. They gave battle, tearing the gates of the fortress down and reached the depths of the dungeon. They lifted that one British subject out, placed him on their shoulders and carried him down the mountains to the coast where a big ocean vessel soon sped him safely home. That expedition took several months and cost the English government twenty-five million dollars. The entire resources of the government were made available in the rescue of only one citizen. (From Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, by Paul Lee Tan)
Every child of God has manifold privileges and blessings in the kingdom of Christ. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11)
“Let Candles be Brought”
“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately… Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:35-36, 40).
During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the window, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.”
Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful till Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we’re to be lights as we watch and wait. (From Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, p. 212)
Moving His Chair
“So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:7-11).
A wealthy, but wise, king once invited many honored guests for a feast. His own chair, richly decorated, was placed at one end of the long table. While he was away, each guest seated himself according to his own esteem of his position. After all had been seated, the king came into the room, picked up his chair, and moved it to the other end of the table. Evidently, the king was acquainted with the Lord’s teaching. Let us learn to always take the lowest seats and associate with the humble.
“Hypocrites in the Church”
“But they all with one accord began to make excuses…” (Luke 14:18). Some say they won’t become Christians because there are hypocrites in the church. Others say they can’t be faithful because they are discouraged by the hypocrites in the church. There is no sound reasoning to this excuse. Certainly, there are hypocrites in the church, but there are more out of the church! If one needed a job, and was offered one in a factory, he wouldn’t say, “I won’t work there because there are hypocrites there.” Or, if he needed some groceries, and had the money to buy them, he wouldn’t say, “I won’t go to the store because there are hypocrites there.”
The “hypocrites in the church” excuse will be a very weak one in the day of judgment. Does one expect to be given heaven because of the wickedness of others? Will he say, “Lord, I didn’t serve you because of the hypocrites and therefore I deserve heaven?” It is far better to put up with a few hypocrites in the church for a little time than to dwell with all hypocrites forever!
Just One Tract
“Then the master said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). There is a story of a man who distributed tracts for many years on a street corner. Finally, seeing no visible results, he gave up. When he returned to the same spot two years later, he saw another individual handing out gospel leaflets as he had done. Striking up a conversation, he discovered that the man had become a Christian through a tract given him on that corner about two years earlier. The convert added, “Many times I’ve come back here to find that earnest worker and thank him, but he never returned. I decided he must have died, and so I’ve taken his place!” To make a long story short, there are now two Christians handing out tracts on that street corner. Let us preach the word in season and out of season with all long-suffering and teaching.
A skeptic was speaking derisively of the Bible and said that it was impossible in these enlightened times to believe in any book whose authorship is in dispute. A Christian asked him if the compiler of the multiplication table was known. “No,” the skeptic replied. “Then of course, you don’t believe in it?” the Christian asked.
“Oh yes,” the unbeliever said, “I believe it because it works.”
“So does the Bible,” said the Christian. The skeptic had no reply.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one last thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Viktor Frankl)