In my younger days, I recall being very vindictive. If someone did something to me that I thought was wrong, I wanted to get even right now.
One of the most frequent arenas was the basketball floor. My wife would tell you that I played way too much basketball. I was very young and insensitive in understanding how I needed to stay at home more instead of playing basketball four nights per week, and sometimes with tournaments on the weekends.
If my opponents knew my nature, they could have rendered me very ineffective in my performance. If someone fouled me intentionally and the referee didn’t see it, my goal in life at that time became getting that guy back, with interest, not thinking about winning or losing.
That all changed on Dec. 1, 1961, when I attended a church service at the Bible Center Church, located on Kanawha Boulevard at that time.
Dr. Lee Roberson, President of Tennessee Temple University, came to Charleston on a Friday night. His sermon was called “The Big C,” with the C standing for the Compassion of Christ. He made me understand that I needed Jesus Christ in my life. It was very intimidating to go forward and express my desire to be saved because the church was jam packed and nobody else was responding.
I’m reasonably sure that all of my vindictiveness didn’t disappear immediately, but there was a noticeable change in my behavior. When I went to work on Monday, I didn’t get on a soapbox and tell everyone that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, but before noon my boss was going around and asking the other worker in our construction gang, “What happened to Monk?”
A few days ago, I became surprisingly aware that my attitude has undergone a change of which I was not fully aware. I was reading my Bible very early in the morning and my attention was drawn to II Corinthians 5:11, which says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
The terror of the Lord is that everyone who fails to accept the magnificent gift of Jesus, when He gave His life on Calvary to cover the sins of mankind, will be sentenced to an eternal existence in Hell. Hell is a literal place of unchanging eternal punishment of fire, where the Bible in Mark 9:48 describes as a place where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.
Thinking of the awfulness of Hell is terrible for me because I have some dear friends who have not established a personal relationship with Jesus. It rests on my mind right alongside the detestable thoughts I have when I think of Christ’s beatings by the Roman soldiers and His crucifixion.
I ran a few scenarios through my mind and I surprisingly came to the realization that I personally could not sentence even Adolph Hitler to Hell. To all people who have not established a personal relationship with Jesus, do it today as if your life depends on it, because it does.