“I think the sheriff has very little ability and no guts.”

These words were spoken by Major General Milton Foreman about Sheriff Melvin Thaxton of Williamson County, Illinois, back in 1922.

You see, for days, everyone knew tensions were rising in Herrin, IL, then the biggest city in the county.  One of the mines had brought in non-union men (“strikebreakers”) to work during the UMWA strike.  The mine had brought in hired guns as “guards” who terrorized people who drove down the roads that crossed over mine property.  The union miners had robbed stores of guns and ammunition, saying “charge it to the union” as they left.

The governor was receiving telegrams from concerned citizens about the events, but when the Major General of the Illinois National Guard contacted Sheriff Thaxton, the sheriff said, “I have everything well in hand.”  And he added that there was no need for troops to be sent.

Even as June 22, 1922 came, and literally thousands of union miners and sympathizers attacked the mine, took the miners and guards prisoner, dynamited the mine equipment, and led the men at gunpoint to the city, the Sheriff did nothing.  In fact, he was nowhere to be found, having gone to a neighboring county to investigate a shooting (which wasn’t even in his jurisdiction).

Even after reports surfaced of prisoners being dragged from behind cars, shot, stabbed, beaten, and hanged, the Sheriff told the national guard “I have everything under control.”

When Major General Foreman was asked what he thought of the Sheriff’s response, he replied “I think the sheriff has very little ability and no guts.”

See, the Sheriff knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it.  He either supported the actions (my personal guess) or he was to big of a wimp to stop it.

You might wonder at this point why I’m even mentioning all of this.  I’ve noticed (and I’m sure you have too) that there are many Christians who fit this same description.  They have very little ability to fulfill their role as Christ’s messengers and they have no guts.

I don’t say this to sound demeaning towards these people.  I really don’t.  I’m talking about people who have been Christians for years, but who couldn’t tell someone the plan of salvation and prove it from the Bible if their life depended on it.  I’ve heard of preachers who passed out a worksheet to the congregation asking for this exact information.  The overwhelming majority of the congregation couldn’t tell you where the Bible says to hear, or to believe, or repent, or confess, or be baptized.

These Christians have very little ability–because of their own choice.  The writer of Hebrews chastised people like this because they should have been able to teach others–instead, they needed someone to teach them again!

We’d think there was something wrong if a baby was born and 15 years later, he was still a baby, unable to walk, to talk, or to chew food.  But for some reason, we give people a pass when they remain spiritual babies for 5, 10, 15, or more years!  This ought not be!

Another great fault of many Christians is that they have no guts.  Obviously, the ones who don’t know how to even show something as basic as the plan of salvation have good reason to be afraid to engage in spiritual discussions with others.  But what about those who do know the Scriptures?

Have you noticed that in this modern age, many Christians are more concerned about how others will react than they are about their eternal judgment?  We see lost and dying souls everywhere we go, but we don’t want them to think that we’re “religious nuts” or “Jesus freaks.”  We don’t want to potentially hurt their feelings by pointing out that they’re going to hell because they’ve not obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We’ve got the greatest news in the history of mankind, yet we’re more willing to tell someone about low gas prices than we are to tell them about that which can save their soul!

In short, several Christians have no guts when it comes to spreading the gospel.

My friends, we’ve got a job to do.  Whether we feel prepared for it or not, we still have a job to do.  We can either go into the job completely unprepared and fail miserably, or we can prepare ourselves.  If we are unprepared; if we do not cultivate the ability to carry out the work of the Lord, it is our own fault.

It takes guts–it takes courage to show others that they are living in sin and what the consequences of their continued sin will be.  It takes guts to be active in the Lord’s work.  It may not be easy, but it still must be done.

When you stand before the Lord on Judgment Day, will He say “well done, good and faithful servant”?  Or will His words be more like “I think you have very little ability and no guts”?

-Bradley Cobb

Note: The above story is true, and the quotations come from an Associated Press story printed on June 24, 1922 in newspapers across the country.

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