What Qualifies a Saint?
To be included in a church’s list of saints, a person must meet certain qualifications, including having performed a miracle. In church tradition being canonized as a saint is more complicated and rarer than becoming the most valuable player of the Super Bowl. That is one way to look at sainthood.
Jesus considers all who profess faith in Him to be saints. Revelation 14:12 says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Technically, according to Jesus’ definition, there are numerous saints. I’ve been thinking of the definition of a saint recently as I have lost a sweet friend who has been called a saint. Those who mention her as a saint are referring to her numerous deeds of kindness—little acts that not everyone knows about but that have been frequent and many. In fact, someone I know who became acquainted with my friend Sara Foxworth commented to me after meeting her, Your friend Sara is a saint. I smiled and agreed. This was long before her body was attacked by cancer for which her three year fight was certainly considered a courageous and saintly battle. These words were spoken about her just by getting to know her and learning her perspectives about life. Making acquaintances with Sara led this person to think of her as a saint.
Since she is Baptist and her church does not canonize saints as a practice, she will never be considered for sainthood on this earth. But her simple acts of kindness made her a saint to many. Sara’s life demonstrates that it is the little things that add up. Her memorial service was attended by at least 1,500 people—a full church. Although her life was shortened by disease, she wasted no time in turning her volunteer efforts and faithful service to supporting the cause to fight cancer.
If I were to make Sara the saint of something, I think I would make her the saint of invitations. I first met her when she invited me to sit with her at church on the first day I attended her adult Bible study class. She invited my family to join hers at their ranch. She invited me to dinners and luncheons to support the many charities she believed in. She invited me to lunch to talk. She invited me to play tennis—which I declined. The invitations never stopped, even if I couldn’t make it. Perhaps one of the sweetest invitations I received was to the luncheon where she received the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Heart of Gold Award. I couldn’t think of a better award for Sara than one named “Heart of Gold.”
To those who knew Sara it was easy to think of her as a saint. But you and I are saints too. We become saints when we believe in Jesus Christ and exchange His righteousness for our inability to make things right. The questions we can each ask ourselves are, Would anyone ever call me a saint? Do I have beliefs and deeds that would indicate that I am more like Christ than like myself?
Thinking of sainthood has reminded me of this prayer of Paul for the church at Ephesus. I think I will pray it more so that I can live like the saint that I am.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:15-22).
Live like the saint you are!