Vol.VI No.XII Pg.3
February 1970

Applauding The Practice

Robert F. Turner

Long ago at the Olympic Games in Athens, it is said a feeble old man came in late. No seats were left. As he passed their seats, the Athenians laughed at him. Then he passed two Spartans. Quickly they rose to offer him a seat, for they had been trained to be modest and courteous. When the Athenians saw this, they cheered the Spartans. Ah, said the old man, The Athenians admire what is right; the Spartans practice it. (Story courtesy of that prolific writer, brother Selected).

A godly man died suddenly. People were shocked — stunned by the unexpected. Brethren in Christ felt keenly the loss of a dependable worker and companion. Men of all classes and persuasions gathered in small groups to sadly shake their heads, recall the past, and applaud a good man.

He was sure a hard worker — always tried to do more than was expected. That was true. He exemplified Pauls admonition: ... let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth (Eph. 4:28). It was not the statement that was amazing but who said it — a lazy fellow who did nothing he could get out of.

Another added, He was surely honest — as honest as the day is long. A thought flashes to mind: Provide things honest in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17). No one disagreed, but these words of praise fell from lips skilled in lies wherever a dollar is at stake.

The applause continues: He was a church going man. Surely if there was ever a Christian, he was one. Heads nod agreement, but neither they nor the speaker are accustomed to filling a pew when people gather to worship. They are more in the habit of walking roughshod over the principles of Christianity than in keeping them.

A preacher spoke to mourners of his dead friend and the Bible he lived by. What a beautiful eulogy. Yet many who were impressed by the words spoken refuse to live so that such can honestly be said of them.

When the applause subsides, an observer is compelled to add a final word — Go, and do thou likewise (Lk. 10: 37). No greater tribute can be paid a good man than to imitate his devotion to good. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).

I cant help thinking as a result of listening and observing:

Many people pay little attention in life to the things that are so important when it comes time to die.

We are so prone to compliment others for the very virtues which we carefully avoid cultivating in ourselves.

A godly man commands the admiration of all — even the vile and irreligious.

There are far more people willing to applaud a good life that are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to live one.

Some folk are content with the office of spectator — applauding good but not practicing it. Joe Fitch.