Copper Nails

I recently read a story that the preacher Dr. F.E. Marsh used to repeat at some of his meetings. It seems that “a young man, a member of the church, came up to him with a troubled countenance. ‘Pastor,’ he explained, ‘you have put me in a sad fix. I have wronged another, and I am ashamed to confess it or to try to put it right. You see, I am a boat builder and the man I work for is an infidel. I have talked to him often about his need of Christ and urged him to come and hear you preach, but he scoffs and ridicules it all. Now, I have been guilty of something that, if I should acknowledge it to him, will ruin my testimony forever.’"

“He then went on to say that sometime ago he started to build a boat for himself in his own yard. In this work copper nails are used because they do not rust in the water. These nails are quite expensive, and the young man had been carrying home quantities of them to use on the job. He knew it was stealing, but he tried to salve his conscience by telling himself that the master had so many he would never miss them and besides, he was not being paid all that he thought he deserved. But this sermon had brought him to face the fact that he was just a common thief, for whose dishonest actions there was no excuse.”

"‘But’, said he, ‘I cannot go to my boss and tell him what I have done or offer to pay for those I have used and return the rest.’ For weeks the struggle went on. Then one night he came to Dr. Marsh and exclaimed, ‘Pastor, I've settled for the copper nails and my conscience is relieved at last.' ‘What happened when you confessed to your employer what you had done?’ asked the pastor.”

“‘Oh,’ he answered, ‘he looked at me, then exclaimed, ‘George, I always did think you were just a hypocrite, but now I begin to feel there's something in this Christianity after all. Any religion that would make a dishonest workman come back and confess that he had been stealing copper nails and offer to settle for them, must be worth having.’"

Later, Marsh told the story in another city. The next day a lady came up and said, "Doctor, I have had 'copper nails' on my conscience too." "Why, surely, you are not a boat builder!" "No, but I am a booklover and I have stolen a number of books from a friend of mine who gets far more than I could ever afford. I decided last night I must get rid of the 'copper nails,' so I took them all back to her today and confessed my sin. I can't tell you how relieved I am. She forgave me, and God has forgiven me. I am so thankful the 'copper nails' are not digging into my conscience anymore."

And so, the COPPER NAIL story goes on.  In Pastor Jason’s Message from Joshua 7, we learned that Achan had some ‘copper nails’ too. Perhaps some of us do as well.

This week would be a great time to just deal with them. Confess the sin and move on!
Sherry Worel
Sherry Worel is a Bible teacher at heart and lives a life of ministry. She’s been involved at Coast Hills teaching Women’s LIFE, Bible studies, online courses, devotionals, participating in Upstream conversations, and much more. Having a love for education, Sherry has over 50 years of teaching experience with schools, churches, and mission agencies. As well as earning her Master’s at Talbot Seminary, she rounded out her education with 35 years as Head of School at Stoneybrooke Christian School. Sherry is happiest with a book or fishing pole in hand.