Listen to a parable I call, "The parable of the tools."

It is a parable about two carpenters. One carpenter loved tools. Nothing gave him more pleasure than going to a huge hardware store and looking at the tools. A new tool always fascinated him. He was intrigued by the jobs each new tool could do.

He purchased every tool he could afford. He proudly displayed his tools in a special work room. They were displayed neatly with a specific order with special lighting. He invested major money in his tools, and each tool was of the finest quality. He knew each tool well, and he could tell anyone every job that the tool could perform.

Though he was a carpenter, he never used any of his tools. He owned his tools to look a them, not to use them. He never built anything.

The second carpenter loved to build things. He could never afford new tools, and he never had many tools. Rarely did he ever build anything when he had the tools that he needed. What tools he used were old and worn, and did not always work well.

But build he did. He was always building something, and he did excellent work. Everyone who hired him was blessed by his skill and his work.

In the parable of the tools there is a tragedy and a regret. The tragedy: the carpenter who loved to build never had the tools of the carpenter who loved tools.

The regret: the carpenter who loved to build would have been a blessing to so many more people if only he had better tools.

You and I are carpenters. We are apprentices of the greatest carpenter that ever lived. Jesus built lives. He taught us the importance of building lives. We understand that physical buildings are only tools.

May God deliver us. May we never love tools. May we never love buildings for the sake of having buildings. May we never measure who we are or what we are doing by a our buildings.

May God give us wisdom. May we allow Jesus to teach us how to build lives. With fine tools or with poor tools, may we build lives. As God blesses us with better tools, may we in Christ build lives as we have never built lives before.

James 1:22-27
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 30 August 1998

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