February Sermon Illustrations

February 04, 2010

"A Man Must Live"

"A man must live," the world said to Daniel when he read the proclamation of the king, Darius, that for thirty days no prayer should be offered save to Darius himself. "You need not pray at the open window where your enemies will see you; you can say your prayers, Daniel, in your secret chamber. Thus you will escape the lion's den." Such was the worldly counsel.

But Daniel said, "The man of faith and prayer must live within me"; and three times, as his wont was, Daniel opened his window toward Jerusalem and knelt down and prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

"A man must live," the world might have said to John the Baptist when he was confronted with the enormous transgression of Herod and Herodias. "Limit your strictures on immoral conduct to vague general principles," the world might have advised John. But John invaded the king's palace and, standing before Herod and Herodias, said to him, "It is not lawful for thee to have her!" (Matt. 14:4.)

"A man must live," said the world to John the Baptist.

But John answered, "No, a man must not live. A man may have to die in order that the true, the high, the spiritual, in him—the man of God—shall live."

And here on a silver charger is John's head—to please the whim of a half-naked dancing girl, to satisfy the vengeance of a bad woman! John died; yet in the highest sense John lived—and lives—and the mention of his name today is like an army with banners.

"A man must live," the world said to John Bunyan when he was arrested under Charles II. If John Bunyan had signed a paper saying he would not preach in public he could have escaped prison; and if at any time during his twelve years' imprisonment he had been willing to say that, he would have been released.

"A man must live," the world said to Bunyan, "especially a man with a dependent wife and little children, and especially when one of those children is blind, like your poor girl, Mary." In the dungeon, Bunyan thought of that. He said that his heart was like to break when he thought of his poor family, and especially when he thought of his poor blind girl. "Oh, my poor blind one," he would say to himself, "what sorrows thou art likely to have in this life! How thou must go naked and hungry, and beg on the streets, and be beaten and starved; and now I cannot so much as endure the thought that the winds should blow upon thee!" Yes, a man must live, and a man's family must live; but John Bunyan remained in the dungeon, and gave over his concerns, blind Mary and all, to the keeping of God. Toward the end of his imprisonment he wrote that glorious passage in which he said, "Unless I am willing to make of my conscience a continual slaughter shop and butchery; unless I am willing to pluck out my eyes and let the blind lead me, then God Almighty being my witness and my defense—if it shall please him to let frail life last that long—the moss shall grow upon these eyebrows before I surrender my principles or violate my conscience."

Subjects: Conscience

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