The Tramp

Dr. James McGinlay, the Scottish preacher of the last century, tells a long story about a tramp. The story reflects the days in which King George was King of England. This is a fun story with serious applications to our lives.

The Scripture for this morning is taken from Ephesians 2:8-10: “ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Let us suppose that King George of England is walking alone the road one day. He notices by the hedge row a tramp, of whom he becomes enamored, and to whom he makes the following proposition: “My dear man, I have compassion on you. I love you and would like to adopt you into the royal family, and make you one of my sons.”

The tramp, in amazement, looks up and says, “Your majesty how much will this cost me?”

The king replies, “Absolutely nothing, it is all of grace.” So the tramp goes with the king, and in due time they arrive at Buckingham Palace. As the big doors swing open and the tramp swings in, he can hardly believe that all this is for nothing. But he sits down to relax and says, “Your majesty, tell me honestly, once more, are you sure that my new found joy costs me nothing?”

The king says, “For the last time I want you to believe that you are now my son. You are a member of the royal family, a resident of Buckingham Palace, and it is all, so far as you are concerned, on the grounds of grace unmerited, everything for nothing.”

The tramp sits down, stretches his legs, yawns, and says, “Isn’t it marvelous. Yesterday I was a tramp; today I am a prince, and it cost me nothing. King George paid it all; all to him I owe.”

Is that not a picture of what the grace of God has done to us? In spite of our hereditary background, education and cultural acquirements, we were nothing but tramps until Jesus found us. It makes no difference whether your forebears came out on the Mayflower, or came across the Atlantic on a bicycle, you have nothing in which you dare boast apart from the grace of God.
The Scripture says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

But we must get back to the tramp. While he is sitting, exulting in his new found home, a valet approaches him and says, “Excuse me, sir, your bath is ready.”

The tramp says, “I beg your pardon.” “Ah,” the tramp says, “I will be 37 come the first day of June, and I have never had a bath in my life.”

“That may be so,” said the valet, but never until today were you a prince, and it is customary for members of the royal family to take a bath at least once a day.”

As the poor tramp was sitting in the bathtub, frantically and laboriously endeavoring to remove 37 years of grit, he heaved a sign and said to himself, “I might have know there was a catch in it. The King said it was all of grace; it would cost me nothing, and I am not here half a day until I have to do what I never did in my life, take a bath.” And thus he realizes that although it cost him nothing to get in, as long as he stayed in and took his place as a reputable member of the royal household, there was a price to pay.

Friends, if you are satisfied to use Jesus as a fire insurance policy, but have no desire to follow him wheresoever He goes, you have not understood what Jesus calls you to. You may think that there is no need to be particular about your inner life and daily conduct, but if you are going to be a disciple and follow Jesus, you must learn to take a spiritual bath. We cannot live as please and be disciples, for although the grace of God gives us our standing, our conduct decides our fellowship with God. A disciple just cannot do what every pagan goes. A Christian cannot cheat as others do. A Christian cannot dwell upon the sinful delights of the ungodly. A Christian cannot give his body to the use of anything that degrades it whether it be the use of pot, the titillation of pornography or illicit sex. A Christian is the son of a King and we have to walk live befitting that position. In our daily walk with Christ his blood cleanses us from sin. A daily spiritual bath is need as sons of the Most High God.

When the tramp was through with his bath, the valet said to him, “Your suit is ready, sir.”

The tramp said, “My suit!!” and as he looked, there was a dinner suit, velvet lapels on the coat, black braid down the side of the trousers, boiled shirt, gates ajar collar, bow ties, patent leather slippers, and silk socks. In a moment the tramp cried, “Why, where is the suit I had when I came to the palace?”

The valet said, “We put that in the incinerator.” The poor old tramp began to cry, and said, “Oh, my mother gave me that suit 15 years ago, and neither night nor day since have I removed it from my back.” As his weeping reached a pathetic height of grace, he said, “I tell you, there was a lot of sentiment attached to that suit.”

The valet said, “Yes, we notice some of them move; that’s why we burned it.

As the tramp struggled with his boiled shirt and with his bow tie, and other units of his new apparel, he groaned within himself, saying, “The king told me that this would cost me nothing; it was all of grace but I am not here a day until have to take a bath, and part company with a suit my dear old mother gave me.” He realized once more that sonship cost nothing, but to keep in step with the reputable members of the royal family involved a price he had to pay daily.

Friends, the curse of many a Christian’s life today is sentiment. We ought to love our fathers and our mothers and our wives and children and friends, and respect their judgement whenever possible, but when it comes to a testing time between the opinion of our friends and “Thus saith the Lord” we must trample sentiment under our feet and follow God. To do this will demand a price every day of our lives. We become sentimental in church. We want to do things the way they were done 30 years ago, or we are unhappy. We let sentimentalism keep us from witnessing because we are afraid of hurting people. We need to trample unreasonable sentiment
under our feet and begin living for Christ where we are.

We find the tramp is now ready for dinner. Upon his arrival in the dining room he is shown by the butler to his place at the table. As he sits down, to his utter amazement there are 6 knives and forks to the left of him, 6 knives and forks to the right of him, 6 ahead of him, and half a dozen tumblers, plus a linen napkin. To the butler the tramp said, “What is the meaning of this paraphernalia?

The butler replied, “These, sir, are the culinary implements employed with the confines of the palace for the purpose of consuming our daily repast.”

“You mean, in the language of the street,” said the tramp, “that before I can eat around here I have to navigate though all this mess of knives and forks and spoons?”

“Precisely,” said the butler. And as the poor tramp struggled, he heaved another sigh. He remembered the days, when, behind a hedge, with a chunk of bread and perhaps hamburger, he sat down to enjoy a meal, and as he thus meditated, he said, “the King told me this was all of grace, but what a price I have to pay in my endeavor to act like a prince.”

You see, the poor tramp became a child of his majesty without money and without price, but to dignify his position, he had to learn an entirely new set of manners. This, of course, involved a new responsibility such as he had never known before.

We disagree violently with those who say we can be saved by just merely living an ethical and moral life. No matter how ethical a sinner is, his eternal destiny is hell unless he is washed in the blood of the Lamb.

But we also disagree with those who labor under the delusion that because we are saved by grace, we can live in disgrace. The ethical standard of God’s children at its lowest ought to be superior to that of the world at its highest. Christians ought to be most mannerly people, the most honorable and straight forward in all our dealings, so that even the ungodly will be suspicious that we have been with Jesus and have learned of Him.