Thanksgiving Thursday, Did He Really Say That??

My daily devotions has taken me recently through the book of Daniel. From the first chapter to the last, I am reminded how very little the book – and every other book of the Bible, for that matter – holds to a quote that is mistakenly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:

St Francis Misquote

The fact is that St. Francis never actually said these words, but instead lived within the tension between declaration and representation of the Gospel. He was himself a preacher, known for both compassion and severity. An early biographer wrote, “He denounced evil wherever he found it, and made no effort to palliate it; from him a life of sin was met with outspoken rebuke, not support.” The Gospel Coalition says of the often used misquote, “While there’s a nice and good sentiment in the statement…the notion as it is typically presented is neither practical, nor faithful to the Gospel of Christ. It does not align with St. Francis’ own practice.”

Still, those who are uncomfortable with overt or proactive proclamation of the Gospel are all too happy to use this idea to affirm their hesitant position. But from Noah to Moses to Esther to David to Nehemiah to Daniel to Malachi to Jesus to Paul to Peter to Timothy to John – and many in between – we see that this philosophy is entirely umbilbical.

The last verses of the last chapter in Matthew tell us, “Then Jesus came to them and said,…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

The translation of this passage implies aggressive teaching and instruction, not timid lip-zipping. Likewise, when Jude instructs believers to “earnestly contend for the faith,” he refers to contention by argument, reasoning, and holding fast to the principles of religion; to maintaining truth by living a steady life and speaking with a steady voice. The Gospel is a message, it is news, and how can anyone believe in One of whom they have not heard and how can they hear unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14)

It is important to make a distinction between speaking truth and antagonistic rudeness. All words ought to be spoken in love and in the spirit of the Gospel. John MacArthur says that “Love of conflict is no less sinful than craven cowardice.” Passion and zeal for truth must always be tempered with grace and gentleness.

But one good look through the life and words of Jesus and the other biblical characters mentioned above will show that they didn’t seem to suffer from the angst which causes many people today to set aside linguistic diligence to the truth. The manner in which these people of God dealt with their knowledge of the holy is a serious rebuke to many of this generation who maintain that words ought to be a last resort when proclaiming the Gospel.

Learning once again from John MacArthur, “We need to pay more careful attention to how Jesus dealt with false teachers, what He thought of religious error, how He defended the truth, whom He commended and whom He condemned – and how little He actually fit the gentle stereotype that is so often imposed on Him today.”

Certainly we must not give verbal allegiance to our faith, then act and live in a way that betrays our words. But St. Francis, along with biblical examples of hearers, doers, and proclaimers of the Word, stand as a challenge to Christians today to boldly live and speak in a way that proclaims the worthiness of the Christ we follow.

While quite the departure from the usual Thanksgiving Thursday post, this is what was on my heart. As one writer has said, “…hesitancy to share the Gospel verbally simply will not do if you even remotely consider yourself to be a biblical Christian.” My friends, my prayer is that you not only live the life of thanksgiving and gratitude for the Good News of Jesus Christ, but that you proclaim it loud!

My Thanksgiving List 1/17/13

705. Reading the Bible to Peanut every morning during her breakfast

709. Standing with Hobby Lobby….and getting great deals while I’m at it!

714. The discipline of the Holy Spirit

740. Gingerbread Kahlua

746. That because of His great and startling mercy, we are not consumed

719. A balmy winter walk with Peanut

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720. A table FULL of groceries

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731. Peanut’s new red toy box

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723. Date night with my hot husband

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What are you thankful for

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4 comments on “Thanksgiving Thursday, Did He Really Say That??

  1. Richard says:

    Unfortunately, the FactChecker got the facts wrong on St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis’ original rule reads: “…let them show their love by the works they do for each other, according as the Apostle says: ‘let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.'”

    So St. Francis is definitely on the action over words side.

    As well, it can be argued that Jesus emphasized action over words: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matt 5:14-16

    Personally, I always take it as being more along the lines of: “Practice what you preach”, since there are many who preaching can be best summed up as “do what I say, not what I do”.

    • Thank you for stopping by to read my blog!

      The fact is, while St. Francis did indeed value actions, and perhaps may have even believed actions were of more importance than words, he did not utter the words commonly attributed to him. So the FactChecker is correct on that point.

      I do not disagree with you in any way that St. Francis and Jesus placed high priority on actions, as should we. To say otherwise would be ignorant, and was certainly not my point. I believe that people in general, and perhaps Christians most of all, have a real problem maintaining balance. The tension between actions and words must be maintained. You will not find a place in this particular post or any other of my blog where I place words above actions, or vice versa.

      The point of this post was to point out that our words are of great value and importance too. We never find a place in the Bible where Jesus performed a miracle, healed a body, or forgave sin without also articulating what He was about – He wasn’t exactly the quiet type :). He was about His Father’s business in words and deeds. I wonder if perhaps you, too, missed the idea of balance that I was trying to get across?

      Respectful dialogue is always welcome, and, I believe, necessary! Thanks again for stopping by!

      • Richard says:

        I probably did miss the balance. Your closing quote, “…hesitancy to share the Gospel verbally simply will not do if you even remotely consider yourself to be a biblical Christian.” gave the impression of leaning more one way than the other.

        My main point, though, was that FactChecker erred in sourcing the original St. Francis quote (actually a lot of people have), instead using the tule of the Orthodox Order of Friars – who based theirs on St. Francis’ original rule o 1221.

        The original rule (actually Rules) can be found here.

        In order to be Christian, we must be so in word, deed, and faith.

        Thank you for replying to my comment.

      • And I firmly believe in the closing quote. Just the same as I firmly believe that one cannot, if they even remotely consider themselves to be a biblical Christian, live and act in a way that disgraces or displeases God, or shows hatred or anything less than servant-hood for our fellow image-bearers, I also believe that we must not remain silent or give in to hesitancy to share the Gospel. I like what you said: “…in word, deed, and faith.” Amen!

        I do understand your main point, though, and thank you for posting the original rule. The post, and thus, perhaps, understanding of the post, was lacking without it.

        I do hope you continue to stop by to read the blog, and I heartily welcome all comments and respectful discussions! Thanks again!

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