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Sermon illustrations

Loyalty

“Divorce? Never, But Murder, Often”

The British actress Sybil Thorndike was married to Sir Lewis Casson, another prolific actor. Their marriage was rather tumultuous at times, and after his death, she was once asked, “Did you ever think of divorce?” “Divorce? Never. But murder often!”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Friends in Peace and in War

Though Jim was just a little older than Phillip and often assumed the role of leader, they did everything together. They even went to high school and college together. After college they decided to join the Marines. By a unique series of circumstances they were sent to Germany together where they fought side by side in one of history’s ugliest wars.

One sweltering day during a fierce battle, amid heavy gunfire, bombing, and close-quarters combat, they were given the command to retreat.

As the men were running back, Jim noticed that Phillip had not returned with the others. Panic gripped his heart. Jim knew if Phillip was not back in another minute or two, then he wouldn’t make it.

Jim begged his commanding officer to let him go after his friend, but the officer forbade the request, saying it would be suicide. Risking his own life, Jim disobeyed and went after Phillip.  His heart pounding, he ran into the gunfire, calling out for Phillip.   A short time later, his platoon saw him hobbling across the field carrying a limp body in his arms.

 Jim’s commanding officer upbraided him, shouting that it was a foolish waste of time and an outrageous risk “Your friend is dead’’ he added, “and there was nothing you could do.’

“No sir, you’re wrong,” Jim replied. “I got there just in time.  Before he died, his last words were “I knew you would come.”

John C. Maxwell and Dan Reiland, The Treasure of a friend.  (J. Countryman Books, 1999) pp. 27-28.

A True Friend

The [true] story is told that Voltaire, the French Enlightenment philosopher, was speaking at the funeral of an aristocrat. In the speech he declared, “He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend — provided, of course, that he really is dead.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

What it Means to Be True to Thine Own Self

I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “To thine own self be true.” The phrase comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet but has been popularized by gurus pushing self-help practices. They declare that the secret to happiness is authenticity—a modern form of nihilism. What’s humorous is they are both wrong and right. We do need to be true to ourselves, but as we’ve seen, our True Self lies under layers of generational proclivities, societal folly, and childhood tragedy

In Hamlet, when Polonius charges Laertes, his son, to be true to himself, he’s not encouraging Laertes to follow his ephemeral fancies, wherever they may take him. His famous words come in the midst of a tirade on prudence and loyalty.

The big idea is Laertes should be true to himself so others can count on what he says and does. Polonius was reminding his son of who he is so he wouldn’t become someone he’s not…Every day we have a choice. Either we can see ourselves as God sees us, through the law of liberty, or we can see ourselves through our False Self.

What’s amazing about God’s gift of salvation is that it comes with everything we need. To say that it doesn’t is to say one could fragment and segment the gospel message and the work of the cross. Such a notion is ludicrous. We receive the Spirit of Christ in full. There’s nothing more we can do—it’s either there or it isn’t.

Addison D. Bevere, Saints: Becoming More Than “Christians,” Revell, 2020.

See also Illustrations on Accountability, Character, Fellowship, Friendship, Integrity