ES/PHIL/17 Philippians 2:19–24
IN a small country town there was an infidel blacksmith. He was a hard-headed, well-read man, strong in argument. An old deacon in the town became deeply interested in this infidel blacksmith and determined to lead him to Christ. He studied up as best he could all the infidel arguments and the answers to them. When he thought he had all the infidel arguments and answers at his fingers’ ends, he called on the blacksmith and engaged him in conversation, but the blacksmith was far more than a match for him in argument and in a few moments had fought the old deacon to a standstill. The old deacon knew that he was right, but he could not prove it to the blacksmith. He burst into tears and said, “Well, I cannot argue with you, but I simply want to say, I have a deep spiritual concern for your soul,” and then left the shop.
The deacon made his way home and went in to his wife and said, “I am only a botch on God’s work. God knows I am sincere and that I really do desire the salvation of the blacksmith but I could not meet him in argument. He laid me out cold in five minutes.” Then the deacon went into his own room by himself and knelt down. “Oh, God,” he cried, “I am only a botch on Thy work. Thou knowest that I sincerely desired to lead the blacksmith to Thee, but I could not talk with him. Oh, God, I am only a botch on Thy work.”
But soon after the deacon had left the blacksmith shop, the blacksmith went into the house and said to his wife, “Deacon —— brought up an argument to-day that I never heard before. He said he had a deep spiritual concern for my soul. What did he mean?” His wife was a canny woman and said, “You had better go and ask him.” The blacksmith hung up his apron and went cross lots to the deacon’s home. Just as he stepped on the front porch, through the open window he heard the deacon’s prayer, “Oh, God, I am only a botch on Thy work. Thou knowest that I sincerely desired to lead the blacksmith to Thee but I could not talk with him. Oh, God, I am only a botch on Thy work.” He pushed the door open and went into the room where the deacon was kneeling and said, “Deacon, you are no botch on God’s work. I thought I knew all the arguments for Christianity and could answer them but you brought up an argument I never heard before. You said you had a deep spiritual concern for my soul. Won’t you pray for me?” and the blacksmith broke down and accepted Christ. Real earnestness and love succeed where all argument fails.