Have you ever known a person you would describe as a saint? I would bet you have. Perhaps it was someone you know who helped feed the hungry or provided resources to resettle refugees or was just quietly there when you needed a shoulder to cry upon. It may be someone like my grandmother, who not only daily prayed for her children and grandchildren, but for many others as well.
Recently our church experienced the loss of one of those dear women many describe as a saint. Like many church members she served on numerous boards and committees over the years; cooked food for church dinners and sang in the choir. But what set this lady apart from many others is that she sent hundreds, if not thousands, of cards to relatives, friends, and church members — recognizing their birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, as well as for holidays.
Now she didn’t do this because she had to, or because she thought that in some way this good deed would earn her salvation, or because she wanted to look good in the eyes of other folks, or because she didn’t have anything else better to do — she sent those cards because she loved her Lord and she loved her neighbor as herself. All of us who knew her thought of her as a saint.
However the way that the word saint is used in the New Testament is different than that colloquial sense of the term. The word is found over 60 times in the New Testament mostly in the Apostle Paul’s letters, but also in the Book of Revelation. In all cases, believers in Jesus Christ are saints. The term does not designate a special class of God’s people. While it is undoubtedly true that some Christians seem to be more faithful following the Bible’s teachings day by day than other Christians — still it would be scripturally wrong to say that they are the saints and others aren’t.
If one believes in their heart that Jesus Christ is their Savior, and confesses with their mouths that Jesus Christ is their Lord, then they are a saint.
But don’t let yourself be deluded into thinking that the colloquial sense of the term saint is not important. Rooted in the Old Testament, sainthood (or holiness) in the New Testament also refers to Christ-likeness. We saints, we Christians, are to be as faithful to God and as compassionate and caring for others as our Lord Jesus was and is. Folks like my late dear friend Betty help to show us the way. May we all be seen as saints when we come to end of our life on earth too!