I f you want to warm the heart of any minister just say, “That was a good sermon; I appreciated what you said very much.” It would be a far greater compliment if you should say, “I liked your sermon and I am going to try to do the things you talked about.”
This is the real test of any sermon. Not the number of people who comment on it at the close, but the number of lives that are helped and changed, the number of people who resolve to act upon it, to practice what was preached.
Perhaps the greatest weakness of the church in our day is the undisciplined lives the great majority of us live. At our best moments we realize we are not the effective instruments of God we ought to be.
What about you? Do you have a longing to be bigger and better than you are, for your life to count in a more constructive and powerful way for Christ and the kingdom of God? Here are three suggestions for a beginning:
• I will make it a point in my life to be regular in my attendance at church on Sunday. I recognize the importance of corporate worship and I believe if I am too busy to attend church on Sunday I am too busy.
• At the same time I also recognize the value of private devotions. I resolve to make it a point in my life to spend some time each day alone in meditation, Bible reading and prayer. I will keep this time faithfully and allow nothing to crowd it out of my schedule.
• I will spend at least five minutes each day in absolute silence. The “still small voice” can speak only to those who are themselves calm and quiet. I will obey the scriptural suggestion, “Be still and know that I am God.”
• I will do my very best to be of service each day to someone who needs help. If at all possible I will try to render this service with my hands and do it without anyone else knowing.
• I will strive to live life simply. The needs of the world are such today that I dare not be extravagant in the possession of things for my own personal use. I will try to make my life, my influence, my talents and my money a dedicated response to the cause of Jesus Christ.
Someone has said, “Christianity is not so much for beginners as it is for beginners again.” It is never too late to make a new start, and there is no limit to what God can do with dedicated and disciplined lives.
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.