Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, “Look, I’m going to leave. And while I’m gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I’m away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip.” Everyone agrees. He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess–weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, “What happened? Didn’t you get my letters?” You say, “Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We’ve even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have ‘letter study’ every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters.” I think the president would then ask, “But what did you do about my instructions?” And, no doubt the employees would respond, “Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one of them!” ( Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it!)
Obedience is Humbling
The End of the Log
A pastor took up a new position in the small country town or Scio, Oregon, dependent for its income of timber milling. Walking by the river one day he noticed some of the men from his congregation standing atop logs floating down the river. This was the way the logs were transported from the forest to the mill. He admired the skill of the men in standing upon the moving logs and sawing a meter or two off the end of each as they floated downstream. But his admiration turned to horror when he saw the branding on the logs. They came from an opposition sawmill. The men were stealing the ends of the logs and rebranding them as their own.
The following Sunday the newly arrived pastor stood up to preach. He chose as the title for his sermon, “Thou shalt not steal”. Afterward he was congratulated by the loggers on a fine sermon. Pleased that they had got the point he took another walk by the river the following day. But to his utter astonishment there were the men cutting off the end of the opposition’s logs once more. Clearly they had not appreciated the point.
The following Sunday the pastor stood up to preach once more. This week’s sermon title: “Thou shalt not cut off the end of thy neighbor’s logs.” The next week the minister was fired.
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