1. A strange dog came to a preacher's house, and his three sons soon became quite fond of it. It so happened that there were three white hairs in the animal's tail. One day an advertisement was seen in the newspaper about a lost dog which fitted that description perfectly. "In the presence of my three boys," said the minister, "we carefully separated the three white hairs and removed them." The real owner discovered where the straying canine had found a home and came to claim him. The dog showed every sign of recognition, so the man was ready to take him away. Quickly the minister spoke up, "Didn't you say the dog would be known by three white hairs in its tail?" The owner, unable to find the identifying feature, was forced to leave. The minister said later, "We kept the dog, but I lost my three boys for Christ." His sons no longer had confidence in what their father professed. He hadn't practised what he preached!
2. We have been looking at how we are to present Christ to the world. We have just celebrated Christmas and for many it is now easy to forget about the message of Christ’s birth, to forget about Christ Himself.
3. But we, as His followers, have been given the task to present Christ at all times of the year. We have seen how we are to do this by clothing ourselves in the righteousness of Christ - by having His character - the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We present Him by forgiving one another and by letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.
4. Today we see how we present Christ by living a consistent life. When we fail to do be consistent we confuse those around us, just as the preacher did to his three sons.
1. We know that consistency is important in raising our children. If one day we tell them they can do something but the next day we get mad at them for doing the same thing, they get confused as to what they are allowed to do. Experts tell us to make sure we tell our children what we expect of them and to stick with those expectations. If one day we hug our children and the next day we reject their affection, they get confused about how to express their love. And if we say one thing but do the opposite, they soon wonder if we really mean what we say, if we really believe what we say, if we really love the Lord. Parents, our children are watching us, our every move. They learn much more from what they see in us than what we teach them by words. We can present Christ to them, or we can confuse them about what it means to be a Christian.
2. But it is not just our children who watch us. So do the guys at the coffee shop, the girls on the line, or the people who live next door. They watch closely to see if we are consistent. If we really believe what we say we believe.
3. And the biggest complaint I hear about Christians by those who are not, is that we are hypocrites. A bunch of phonies. You should hear that elder’s language at work, she cheats me at the store and then says praise the Lord as she leaves. That farmer says he trusts God but he is the biggest worrier around. These are things I have heard, not about you, but about others.