Summary: This sermon addresses how we "put periods where God puts commas".
TEDDY, (one of the least of these)
Text: Matthew 25:31-46
There is a wonderful quotation was given to one Christian lay person from a pastor. It goes like this: “Don’t put a period where God put a comma”. The lay person wanted to know the source of such a profound statement. The pastor’s response was something like “Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by way of the radio”. (Nell W. Mohney. Don’t Put A Period Where God Put A Comma. Nashville: Dimensions For Living, 1993, p. 35). That is what our sermon text is about this morning---putting a period where God has put a comma.
How many times in our lives have we placed a period where God has placed a comma? I can think of several instances from my own life. You can too. Years ago, when I was on the kitchen staff at Camp Thunderbird, (a YMCA summer camp near River Hills) I worked with a twelve year old boy for just five minutes. The kitchen staff counselors were in charge of KP. While doing my duty at managing KP a sizable twelve-year-old boy began to wrestle with me. I thought to myself, “what is this boy trying to prove?” I broke out of his head lock and told him that we were not going to wrestle. But, this boy felt like he had something to prove. I did not know what it was and was not sure that I wanted to take the time. I remember seeing that this young man had been trying to prove this same thing whatever it was to the boys in his cabin also. I had placed a period where God had placed a comma. But, I did not feel right inside. So following the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I began talking to the boy along with another kitchen staff counselor. It turns out that he wanted to be liked and accepted. After finding out where he was, we helped him to understand that in order to have a friend, one must first be a friend to others. For the remainder of his time at summer camp, he had learned how to befriend the boys in his cabin.
Jesus is our friend. And He came to help us with those things that follow the commas. On Friday, I read a poem that talked about someone who once looked at a tomb stone and saw the dates of birth and death that were separated by a dash between them. That poem seemed to point out that there are lots of commas between those dashes. To illustrate that point, there is a story about a young man named Teddy. As you will see, the story speaks for itself. As you hear the story think about where Miss Thompson (his teacher) had placed a period where God had placed a comma.
Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as one of the least. Disinterested in school, musty, wrinkled clothes, hair never combed. A glassy, unfocused stare. When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy he always answered in monosyllables. Unattractive, unmotivated, and distant, he was just plain hard to like. Even though his teacher said she loved all In her class the same,, down inside she wasn’t being completely truthful.
Whenever she marked Teddy’s papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of putting X’s next to the wrong answers and when she put the F’s at the top of the papers, she always did it with a flair. She should have known better, she had Teddy’s records and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit. The records read:
1st Grade: Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.
2nd Grade: Teddy could do better. Mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home.
3rd Grade: Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.
4th Grade: Teddy is very slow. but well-behaved. His father shows no interest.
Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson’s class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents on her desk and crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents there was one from Teddy Stallard. She was surprised that he had brought her a gift. But he had. Teddy’s gift was wrapped In brown paper and was held together with scotch tape. On the paper were written the simple words, “For Miss Thompson From Teddy.” When she opened Teddy’s present, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet, with half the stones missing, and a bottle of used cheap perfume. The other boys and girls began to giggle and smirk over Teddy’s gifts, but MissThompson at least had enough sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet and putting some of the perfume on her wrist Holding her wrist up for the other children to smell, she said. "Doesn’t it smell lovely?" And the children. taking their cue from the teacher, readily agreed wlt.1-- "oo’s" and "ah’s."