I once heard of a cute example of faith. It told of a stubborn husband who had fought the Lord for years. After a revival, he was converted and the neighbors said he was such a changed man, that even their dog could tell the difference!
I was in a conversation a while back with several people who had been around the Amish culture and known some of them personally. Now we all have ideas about certain groups and their beliefs. The Amish are probably one of the groups that most people hold to a higher expectation and standard. Their radical lifestyle suggests that they are set apart on purpose and desire to exhibit a more disciplined and holy lifestyle than most Protestant Christians would ever desire to attempt. But in this particular situation, their neighbors had taken the Amish to task for cruelty to animals, namely the inhumane treatment of their draft horse animals. It was an awkward situation for authorities to deal with.
Now I thought, it was not that people should know other people are watching and do the right thing, so to speak. But what should come out of our heart is still a reflection of what is inside. It should make a difference to your dog, or pet, or children, whether you are a Christian! I could call it kindness. I could call it lots of things. Especially, the little things that give evidence of what we are on the inside. And it is shows itself very clearly when dealing with people or things that cannot take care of themselves or defend themselves. It is what you are when no one is around to watch or when you are far away from home and you think no one would tell. The real issue is not even that God is always watching. The real issue is what is in our heart. Have we been converted? Is the old self and its terrible ways just hiding? Do we spill out our true identity somewhere only to find out there are parts of us that we would rather deny?
The Bible lifts up many attributes for us to measure our inner life; kindness is one of them. Kindness to others, kindness in small things, even kindness when no one is looking, and kindness to the household pets, these are a good measure of the truth.
Does your dog or cat know you are saved? If they could talk, would they testify on your behalf?
Joseph M. Westfall is a bi-vocational minister living in Oak Ridge. Since 1975, his ministry has covered pastoral positions in 17 churches across several denominational lines in six different states. He has special training and experience in interim ministry for churches in transition. He has a biblical style and teaching heart. He encourages honesty and the Holy Spirit. His favorite response to a sermon he has preached? “You make me think!”