Sermon Illustrations

Once upon a time. . . . sorry, folks, I couldn’t resist that one. But it wasn’t that long ago that people paid their bills by writing a check and then mailing said item and bill to the address provided. That was true of car insurance, utility bills, credit card bills, among other things.

Now, one thing that has stayed with me for many years was a bill for the six- month car insurance premium. My salary wasn’t that great in those days so I paid the minimum payment. Wrote the check, stuffed it and the statement in the envelope, stamped it, mailed it, and waited, none too anxiously, for the next statement.

Was I surprised when the next bill came in with an “important message”! I remember thinking, “what’s going on now?” and hoped I hadn’t made a mistake of some kind. Honest, I had no idea what brought this dire warning.

Well, the bill itself didn’t seem any different, and the ads the insurance company supplied didn’t have any kind of red flags or “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” kind of wording. Still baffled, I then looked at the envelope.

And there it was.

On the front was a “Process immediately” message, No problem, I grabbed the check book and promptly wrote out the amount, got ready to stuff it in the envelope—and saw the back side.

“IMPORTANT! TAKE NOTICE! YOU DID NOT DO THIS!” There in bold, red letters, was the message, a dire warning, about something, but what? Just what had I failed to do?

Would you believe the message came about because I hadn’t put my account number on the check itself? Sure, some people will immediately say that it is very important to write the account number because (fill in the blank) and others will, like me, laugh or snort and wonder what all the fuss was about.

There are times when we need a gentle nudge or exhortation to do the right thing. We’re all sinners (and insisting one is not is just one such sin) and every one of us miss the mark of God’s perfection. But we don’t need to give up, just simply get right. For those who don’t, however, God does give some very dire, very serious warnings. Jesus Christ Himself warned people about everlasting fire and torment for those who die without God (Mark 9:42-48 and Luke 16:19-31, for two examples). Believers have the opportunity to earn dazzling rewards (see 1 Corinthians 3) for serving God faithfully, but we also face the risk of having lesser quality works destroyed. The choice is ours.

So, a dire warning because I didn’t write my account number on the face of a check? A mere inconvenience, if you ask me.

But warnings from God about judgment to come?

Those are indeed warnings worth your attention and mine!

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