The Living Thief


The story is told of a man who was asked, “Are you a believer in the Christian religion?”

“Oh, certainly!”

“You are a member of some church, then, I suppose?”

“Member of a church? No, indeed. Why should I be a member of a church? It is quite unnecessary; the dying thief wasn’t a member of a church, and he went to Heaven.”

“But of course you have been baptized; you know the command—”

“Been baptized? Oh, no; that is another needless ceremony! I am as safe as the dying thief was, and he never was baptized.”

“But surely, since you will not join a church or be baptized, you will do something in acknowledgment of your faith. You will give of your means—you will help the cause in some way?”

“No, sir; I do nothing of the kind. The dying thief—”

“Let me remark, my friend, before you go any further, that you seem to be on pretty intimate terms with the dying thief. You seem to derive a great deal of consolation from his career. But, mind you, there is one important difference between you and him. He was a dying thief—and you are a living one.”[1]

Apostle Paul writing to the Romans instructed that no debt be owed except the debt of love. I believe what this means is that by virtue of the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross, we become debtors of forgiveness. We now owe a duty to love like Christ loves. We must now bear the yoke of living out our role in God’s global plan without any selfish interests and empty ambitions.

American essayist, lecturer, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson once quipped that “the purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” I agree. There must be more to life than to just eat and drink. If this is not so, how can we claim to be different from animals and those who have crossed into the world of the dead?

So this week, I want to challenge you to think about why you are here. How will you make a difference with your lifetime? What will you be known for? What will be your unique contribution to the advancement of God’s Kingdom on this side of eternity? What will you do with all your limitless potentials? Will you lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of you? Will you be useful, honourable and compassionate or will you be another living thief?

Blessed? Let me hear your thoughts. Leave a comment.

You matter to me always.

[1] Source: The Sword and the Trowel, Charles Spurgeon.


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