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High Sounding Words and Sermons That Can Be Seen

Two thousand years ago the apostle John admonished church members, But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:17-18). These words bring to mind the familiar saying — "your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks." It is still true that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Acts 11:29 tells us that when Christians at ancient Antioch of Syria heard about a coming famine in Judea, "Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea." The next verse says, "This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." Those Christians remind us there are times when we preach powerful sermons without ever saying a word! In 1775 Abigail Adams, living outside Boston in Braintree, Massachusetts, wrote her husband John while he was serving as a member of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. She spurred her husband on in his patriotic service with these words: "You cannot be, nor do I wish to see you, an inactive spectator. We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail's words take on new meaning when we understand that John's actions would be counted as treason against the King of England and exposed him to danger or even death' as the colonies prepared to declare independence from England (from page 21 of John Adams by David McCullough). Abigail's words can be applied to Christians, There are times when high-sounding words must be fleshed out in down-to-earth ways that require involvement, inconvenient and costly as that may prove to be. 

Several years ago the following lines were contained in "Glad Tidings of Good Things" (published by the Jacksonville, AL, church of Christ). Leslie Flynn in Dare to Care Like Jesus told the following story. A Christian baroness in Nairobi, Kenya, told of a young national she employed as a houseboy. After three months, he asked the baroness to give him a letter of reference to a friendly sheik living miles away. The baroness did not want the houseboy to leave just when he had learned the routine of the household, so she offered to increase his pay. The lad replied he was not leaving for higher pay. tie told her he had decided to become either a Christian or a Mohammedan and that he had come to work for her for three months to see how Christians acted. Now he wanted to work for the sheik for three months to observe the ways of the Mohammedans and see how they lived. Then he would decide which way of life he would follow. The baroness was stunned as she recalled her many blemishes in dealing with the houseboy. Familiar words from Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16 remind us people are watching our daily actions as much or more than they are listening to our high-sounding sermons --- "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). Remember: not all sermons are preached on Sundays. Do you preach only with high-sounding words, or can your sermons also be seen?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ