In the washroom of his London club, British newspaper publisher and politician William Beverbrook happened to meet Edward Heath, then a young member of Parliament, about whom Beverbrook had printed an insulting editorial a few days earlier. "My dear chap," said the publisher, embarrassed by the encounter. "I've been thinking it over, and I was wrong. Here and now, I wish to apologize." "Very well," grunted Heath. "But the next time, I wish you'd insult me in the washroom and apologize in your newspaper."
Today in the Word, October 1, 1993.
Prussian king Frederick the Great was once touring a Berlin prison. The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence -- except for one man, who remained silent. Frederick called to him, "Why are you here?" "Armed robbery, Your Majesty," was the reply. "And are you guilty?" "Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment." Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, "Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it."
Today in the Word, December 4, 1992.
In 1884 Grover Cleveland was running against James G. Blaine for the presidency of the U.S. Blaine supporters discovered that Cleveland, who was a bachelor at the time, had fathered a son by Mrs. Maria Crofts Halpin, an attractive widow who had been on friendly terms with several politicians. Subsequently, Republicans tried to pin an immorality tag on Democrat Cleveland by distributing handbills showing an infant labeled "One more vote for Cleveland" and by having paraders chant, "Ma, Ma, where's my pa? Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha!" The move, however, backfired badly. Rather than deny the story, Cleveland decided to tell the truth and admit the intimacy. This candor helped defuse the issue, and Cleveland was elected president.
From the Book of Lists, #2, p. 35.
Being general director of the New York opera took a toll on Beverly Sills; she ballooned into obesity. "It made me sick to look at myself. I'd reached the point where I didn't want to have my clothes made anymore. It was too embarrassing. So I ordered everything from catalogues." Eventually Sills was forced to face the problem. "I woke up one day and realized I was really ill." She went to see a specialist. "He put me on the scales. They read 215 pounds. 'I cannot possibly weigh that much!' I gasped. And the doctor said, 'Please look down. Are those two fat feet on the scale yours or mine?'" Beverly smiled. "Once I accepted the problem, I was on my way."
Phyllis Battelle in Ladies Home Journal, quoted in Reader's Digest, June 1986.
"When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long" (Psa. 32:3).
There is nothing that so takes the joy out of life like unconfessed sin on the conscience.
I once heard the late Dr. F.E. Marsh tell that on one occasion he was preaching on this question and urging upon his hearers the importance of confession of sin and wherever possible of restitution for wrong done to others.
At the close a young man, a member of the church, came up to him with a troubled countenance. "Pastor," he explained, "you have put me in a sad fix. I have wronged another and I am ashamed to confess it or to try to put it right. You see, I am a boat builder and the man I work for is an infidel. I have talked to him often about his need of Christ and urged him to come and hear you preach, but he scoffs and ridicules it all. Now, I have been guilty of something that, if I should acknowledge it to him, will ruin my testimony forever."
He then went on to say that sometime ago he started to build a boat for himself in his own yard. In this work copper nails are used because they do not rust in the water. These nails are quite expensive and the young man had been carrying home quantities of them to use on the job. He knew it was stealing, but he tried to salve his conscience be telling himself that the master had so many he would never miss them and besides he was not being paid all that he thought he deserved. But this sermon had brought him to face the fact that he was just a common thief, for whose dishonest actions there was no excuse.
"But," said he, "I cannot go to my boss and tell him what I have done or offer to pay for those I have used and return the rest. If I do he will think I am just a hypocrite. And yet those copper nails are digging into my conscience and I know I shall never have peace until I put this matter right." For weeks the struggle went on. Then one night he came to Dr. Marsh and exclaimed, "Pastor, I've settled for the copper nails and my conscience is relieved at last."
"What happened when you confessed to your employer what you had done?" asked the pastor.
"Oh," he answered, "he looked queerly at me, then exclaimed, 'George, I always did think you were just a hypocrite, but now I begin to feel there's something in this Christianity after all. Any religion that would make a dishonest workman come back and confess that he had been stealing copper nails and offer to settle for them, must be worth having.'"
Dr. Marsh asked if he might use the story, and was granted permission.
Sometime afterwards, he told it in another city. The next day a lady came up and said, "Doctor, I have had 'copper nails' on my conscience too." "Why, surely, you are not a boat builder!" "No, but I am a book-lover and I have stolen a number of books from a friend of mine who gets far more than I could ever afford. I decided last night I must get rid of the 'copper nails,' so I took them all back to her today and confessed my sin. I can't tell you how relieved I am. She forgave me, and God has forgiven me. I am so thankful the 'copper mails' are not digging into my conscience any more."
I have told this story many times and almost invariably people have come to me afterwards telling of "copper nails" in one form or another that they had to get rid of. On one occasion, I told it at a High School chapel service. The next day the principal saw me and said, "As a result of that 'copper nails' story, ever so many stolen fountain pens and other things have been returned to their rightful owners."
Reformation and restitution do not save. But where one is truly repentant and has come to God in sincere confession, he will want to the best of his ability to put things right with others.
H.A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth, 1945, Moody Press, pp. 104-106.
A lady in the north of England said that every time she got down before God to pray, five bottles of wine came up before her mind. She had taken them wrongfully one time when she was a housekeeper, and had not been able to pray since. She was advised to make restitution.
"But the person is dead,"
"Are not some of the heirs living?"
"Yes, a son."
"Then go to that son and pay him back."
"Well," she said, "I want to see the face of God, but I could not think of doing a thing like that. My reputation is at stake." She went away, and came back the next day to ask if it would not do just as well to put that money in the treasury of the Lord. "No," she was told, "God doesn't want any stolen money. The only thing is to make restitution." She carried that burden for several days, but finally went into the country, saw that son, made a full confession and offered him a five-pound note. He said he didn't want the money, but she finally persuaded him to take it, and came back with a joy and peace that made her face radiant. She became a magnificent worker for souls, and led many into the light. My dear friends, get these stumbling stones out of the way. God does not want a man to shout "Hallelujah" who doesn't pay his debts. Many of our prayer meetings are killed by men trying to pray who cannot pray because their lives are not right. Sin builds up a great wall between us and God. A man may stand high in the community and may be a member of some church "in good standing," but the question is, how does he stand in the sight of God? If there is anything wrong in you life, make it right.
Moody's Anecdotes, pp. 49-50.
Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, "Our people come to us and pour out their hears, confess certain sins and needs. Let's do the same. Confession is good for the soul." In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak off when away from his church. The second confessed to liking to smoke cigars and the third one confessed to liking to play cards. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn't confess. The others pressed him saying, "Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?" Finally he answered, "It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here."
Because the younger children at our parochial school often forgot their sins when they entered my confessional, I suggested that teachers have the students make lists. The next week when one child came to confession, I could hear him unfolding paper. The youngster began, "I lied to my parents. I disobeyed my mom. I fought with my brothers and..." There was a long pause. Then a small angry voice said, "Hey, this isn't my list!"
Rev. Douglas F. Fortner in Reader's Digest.