Summary: Are you living the life of a saint?
Story: In a small country village in Sicily, there were two brothers, renowned members of the local Mafia.
They were mean, bad and very rich.
No one had a good word to say about them. Indeed, everyone seemed to have a story about how they had either been cheated or maligned by the brothers.
One day, one of the brothers, Giovanni died.
The surviving brother, Luigi - with a rare touch of conscience felt that something nice should be said about his brother Giovanni at the funeral.
So he went to the local vicar and said:
I know that folk in the village hate us, you don’t know the half of what we have been up to.
However, I want you to say something nice about at his funeral.
I want you to say that Giovanni was a saint when you preach at his funeral.
If you agree to do that, I‘ll show my gratitude by giving 100,000 Euros towards the repair of the church. And here’s the cheque for the amount.
If you don’t, you’ll be in big trouble with me!
The vicar thought about it for a minute, agreed and cashed the cheque for 100 thousand Euro.
Word soon got out about the deal.
And a week later, the whole village turned out for the funeral, because everyone wondered what the vicar would say.
After the opening hymns had been sung and the readings had been read, the vicar climbed up into the pulpit and delivered his sermon.
Eyeing Luigi, sitting in the front row, the vicar said how evil the pair of them had been.
He went on to say how Giovanni had cheated, not only in business but on his wife, how he had lied and how had had no concern for anyone but himself.
In fact he went on to say what a downright scoundrel Giovanni had been.
After ten minutes of preaching in this vein, the vicar, being a man of his word, ended his sermon by simply saying
"But compared to his brother, Luigi - Giovanni was a saint.
In his letters St Paul referred to followers of Christ – those who received Jesus as their Saviour and Lord - as saints.
Have you ever thought what the term “saint” means?
Did you realise that St. Paul uses the term “saint” a lot in his letters. For example in Romans 1:7 we read:
“To all who in Rome, who are loved by God and called to be saints, Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So what is a saint?
Well, the term “saint” has a number of meanings.
1. Someone who is long suffering is called a saint. I am sure you have heard the expression;
“She was a saint to put up with him so long. “
For some reason the personal pronoun associated with this expression is always female
2. Others see it as the church’s Victoria Cross – for people who have done something special.
For example, St Thomas a Beckett who was martyred for his faith.
3. But Saint is a biblical term.
The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary gives the biblical definition of the term “saint” as being One of God’s chosen people, a member of the Christian church.
A saint is someone who is a Christian.
He is someone who has received Jesus (to use Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:40)
The Bible Commentator RT France makes the telling point when he said that “in Jewish thought a man’s agent is like himself” (Matthew R.T. France p.190)
What a privilege it is that we are called to be “saints”.
But what a responsibility because Christ is judged on what people see of his disciples
The etymology of the word “Saint” derives from the word “sanctified” – that is set apart for God.
Receiving Christ means more than simply acknowledging that Jesus exists or that he is divine
It means leading a life that is Christ centred
This morning’s epistle reading from Romans 6 goes to the heart of Christian living.
St Paul writes: “ do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires”.
What is the effect of sin in our lives.
St Paul in our epistle reading answers it directly and contrasts it with God’s gift to us.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Christian message is not simply about becoming a Christian. It is continuing to the end.
St Paul, in his last letter, writes this to Timothy
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.