Sermon Illustrations

Foot In Mouth Disease! (07.20.05--Pride--John 7:51)

Open mouth, insert foot! There are few times in life more embarrassing than when we say something we didn’t mean to say or let something slip that should not have been said.

On the occasion of a recent birthday in our household, I was given the task of disguising our daughter’s gift (because of its bulk) until such time as it could be presented to her as a surprise. Dutifully, I stowed the box away in my garage and moved items in front of it so as to conceal it amidst the usual mess inhabiting that domain. Looking back at it I could see that it would never be spied by my daughter and I felt satisfied that I had done my job well.

Later that week, several days prior to the event, we got to talking around the dinner table. The conversation turned toward prowess in one thing or another. Finally it focused in on one’s ability to straighten out a mess when called upon to do so. As most of these conversations go, the focus finally turned to the topic of dad’s messy garage. I complained that it was unfair to pick on dad and dad alone. “Why, look at your bedroom and how about dishes on the counter. Besides, sometimes my messes serve a good purpose. If it hadn’t been for the current mess in my garage there would have been any place to hide your . . .” It was too late. The cat was out of the bag and I was embarrassed. I had been so focused on vindicating my abilities that I had totally overlooked the fact that in my zeal I had become the fool.

“Ronald Reagan, recalling an occasion when he was governor of California and made a speech in Mexico City: ‘After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish -- which I didn’t understand -- and he was being applauded about every paragraph. To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.’” (Quoted by Gerald Gardner in All the Presidents’ Wits (Morrow), in Reader’s Digest.)

When we are too quick to save face, our best defense can sometimes prove to be our worst offense. The Bible gives us many examples of “egg on the face” actions that resulted from individuals too quick on the trigger when it came to defending their own, usually inadequate, actions. When we as Christians allow our pride to dictate our actions, we are often likely to end up less “defended” than when we began to defend ourselves in the first place. Sometimes the best way of keeping feet out of mouth is to make sure our mouths aren’t open wide enough to receive them.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)

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