Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Have you ever thought of faith as busy? Is yours? Will you be the somebody who did it or the anyone could, but…NOT ME!

Anyone Could, but….

Rev. Dan Mahan

James 4:17”Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Darlene and I love to go to thrift stores and flea markets. One day, while at a thrift store, I picked up an old children’s reading book-you know the kind with all of the different stories and poems in it. It was the kind that I hated to read when I was in school, but for some reason I was drawn to the book and began to glance through it. There was a children’s play in the book that caught my eye. The name of the play is “Anyone could, but..” by Bernice Carlson.” The moral of the storyline in the play is one that we need to hear over and over again. Needless to say, I bought the book home and read the story occasionally to my granddaughters. (Book name is Tapestry by Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978).

The story goes like this:

A king has a hole dug in the middle of a road and puts a pot of gold in the hole. When Lord Chamberlain exclaims that the stone is in the way, the king replies that the stone will help him to find someone. The King states that he is worried about his people. They have forgotten how to help themselves and how to help one another. The two hide, as two shepherds pass by. The shepherds see the stone in the middle of the road and are upset that it may be in the way of any sheep going down the path. “I hope someone tells the king about this.”, they say as they walk off. Then two women pass by. They wonder what in the world is coming to, to allow a stone to lie in the middle of a road. They are afraid someone will get hurt. “Where is the king?”, they ask as they walk by. Then two men appear-merchants. The stone, they fear, may get in people’s way and hurt their business. How could the king slip up, to let a stone to stay in the middle of the road? Then, little Greg comes down the road. “Wow. Look at that stone. Lucky I saw it

Before it gets dark. Someone might have been hurt. “Greg pushes on the stone until it is on the side of the road. Then he sees the gold in the hole. He assumes it is the king’s gold, since no one else would have so much money. Because there was too much gold for a little boy to carry, he starts off to tell the king.” That is when Lord Chamberlain and the king come out of hiding. “Wait, lad, I’ve been looking for you.” the king yells. Greg tries to convince the king that he did not steal the gold. The king assures him that he knows he didn’t because he had seen and planned it all.” “I have been looking for someone in my land who thinks of others. I waited all day, lad. “Greg couldn’t believe the king had waited all day. “Why, anyone could move that stone.” He exclaimed. “Anyone could do it, but only you did do it. Thank you, lad. The gold is yours.”

In the play, everyone saw the need, but chose to walk on by. They refused to meet that need. Reminds me of another story. It is a story told by Jesus in Luke 10: 30. You know the story. It is the story of the Good Samaritan. (Tell the story.)

Jesus taught that true discipleship will express itself by serving others in need. That. does not mean that salvation is based on good works. Salvation clearly rests on God’s grace, not on our achievements. Yet real faith expresses itself in humble, sacrificial service to others. Listen to what James says in James 2:15-18: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him “Go, I wish you well, keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical need, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead. But someone will say “You have faith, I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith –HOW?? BY WHAT I DO.” Genuine commitment to Christ compels us to meet the needs of others I once read a quote by Martin Luther which I love: ”Faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, so that it is impossible for it not to be constantly doing what is good. Likewise, faith does not ask if good works are to be done, but before one can ask, faith has already done them and is constantly active” Have you ever thought of faith as busy? Is yours? (Formula of Concord, SD, IV, 10-11 http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=5561

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