Summary: There are many things that we should be thankful for, but some are more important than others. This sermon examines those.
At the Top of My List
Colossians 1:3, 12-20
Humor: “The Only Prayer I Know”
Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull coming straight toward them. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The raging bull followed in hot pursuit and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make the fence in time to reach safety. Terrified, one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!” John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.” “But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.” “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.”
If I were to ask each of you to write down on a sheet of paper the things that you are most thankful for, it would not be surprising to find out how different our lists would be or what was at the top of the list. Each of us has different ideas about what we should be most thankful for, based largely upon what we value in life.
A third grade teacher asked her class to make such a list and one little boy wrote down for number one, his glasses! Well, needless to say, she was very impressed. Many young people resent wearing glasses. Here. Obviously, was a young man mature enough to appreciate the value of glasses. “Johnny,” she said, “I see that you put your glasses down at the head of the list of things you are most thankful for. Is there any special reason?” “Yes, ma’am. My glasses keep the boys from hitting me and the girls from kissing me.”
Well, most of us are mature enough in our faith to understand that there are certain things in life that are more important than others---and these should be at the top of our lists. For example, I’m thankful for my health, my education, and my citizenship.
These are very important to me but they are not at the top of my list. Why? Because they have to do with this world, this life on earth. They are not eternal. They are temporal.
Let me share with you today, the top three things on my list---the three things that are most important to me. And they are not my family, my church, or my friends. These would probably be number 4, 5, and 6. God has helped me to distinguish between what is important and what is most important. They can be found in our scripture passage. In fact, they can be summed up in three words:
Inheritance (vs. 12-14)
Paul chooses his words very carefully. An inheritance is not pay for a job well done. It is not an award for outstanding merit, is it? It’s not something one earns or deserves or creates.
An inheritance is a gift—a gift of love—a gift that is dependent on someone else’s efforts. You may receive a large inheritance, not because you are smart or energetic, but because you had an uncle or grandfather who was!
Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said he spent a large sum of money to trace his family tree and then he spent twice as much trying to keep his ancestry a secret?
A little baby can come into a large inheritance simply by accident of birth. One of the consequences of the New Birth in Jesus Christ is that we automatically, immediately, at just that moment, become heirs of all that God has in store for His beloved children.
What exactly is this inheritance? It is salvation---the free gift of God to all who will believe. It is deliverance from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and transference to God’s kingdom of light. This inheritance is both present and future. We are in His kingdom right now! We shall live with Him in eternity!
Illus.: “God’s Loving Son”
A certain rich man died and left no heirs. When his household goods were auctioned off, an elderly lady dressed in shabby garments was the only one to bid on the picture of the dead man’s son. It had been greatly cherished by the wealthy father because his only child had died at an early age. But the crowd that had gathered for the sale showed no interest in it. When the woman who bought the portrait was asked why she wanted it, she said she had been the boy’s nurse many years before and had loved him dearly. Later, she examined the picture closely and noticed a bulge in the heavy paper on the back. Making a small cut, she removed an envelope which turned out to be the man’s missing will. The document very clearly stated that he wanted to leave his property to the person who still held dear the memory of his beloved son.