Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 25 April 2019

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.  2 Timothy 2:16 (NIV).

Sorry ahead of time:  another rant.   I get into many debates online, standing up for what I believe in (just as those who are on the opposite side do the same).   I wish I could get back the countless hours and words I’ve expended online because I don’t think it has made much of a difference.   It’s a good thing to let others know that you support them, that they have allies.   Beyond that, I don’t see how my debating done much good.   Indeed, I’m ashamed of many things I’ve said; many words were unkind at best, contrary to this faith I profess here.   Hypocrisy:   I’m guilty.   Here endeth this rant as well.

We spend so much of our time these days talking about things that don’t really matter.   Our news is comprised of celebrities, meaningless sports, banal entertainment, and opinions disguised as facts.   Even worse, we gossip online; what else is social media but a new way of saying “look at me” or “did you hear about so & so?”  Even worse still, we thrive on ‘the chew’ in person.   Don’t believe me?   Try breaking into a clique the next time you go to church.  They’re there, just as exclusive as any schoolyard clique.   And they talk.   Boy do they talk!   I mean…boy, do WE talk!

Welcome to the fallen world.   It’s a world of godless chatter, of ancient tendencies and mis-behaviors given new life in person and online.   The more we indulge in it, the more we sully the good words of Jesus, who is still alive in us, who rose and is still King of Kings, here in the fallen world.   The more we do it, the more ungodly we become.   We become hypocrites.

Paul’s advice?   Avoid it.   Stop it if it starts with us, or passes through us.   But if we can’t effect it for good, then avoid it.   Stop the gossip chain with you, or me.   Gory TV?   Switch channels.   Political arguing?   Back out of it.   Better yet, pray for the other guy, and their candidate, and for our overall peace.   Part of a clique?   Go introduce yourself to the new guy.   Maybe give him a cup of that free church coffee and a donut.

It was good advice in the time of Paul, when true persecution really happened quite often.   It’s good advice here in the land of plenty, where we’re far from that kind of physical persecution…at least for now.  Let that be on our list of things to do in our fallen world now that winter has come (and gone), and we’re in a fresh season of growing.

For further reading: 1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 2:17.

Lord, help me to avoid godless chatter, changing my ways for Your good purpose.   Forgive me the ways I’ve failed You.

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Daily Proverbial, from James, 7 September 2013

But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?  James 2, verses 6-7.

Hello, friends.   I’ve been away for awhile.   Last time we chatted was the week before a book signing in southern Indiana.   My family and I took a whirlwind trip, met hundreds of wonderful people, sold a few books, and, hopefully, got to share Jesus with a few folks we hadn’t known before.   Our writing business is brand new for my wife and I; this is our first book.  Like any business, we hope to make a lot of money and do some extraordinary things.   Here at the start, though, it’s good to ask a gut-check question:

Are we dishonoring the poor?  Are we exploiting anyone?

You see, you could interpret this verse in the obvious monetary way.   We could go all class-conscious and, if we’re careful to avoid class-envy, surmise that James is saying rich people oppress poor people.  That those who do such things are blaspheming the name of the Jesus who died to save them.   There’s truth in this.

I think we could also talk about those who are cannier than the rest of us.   For a long time, I was one of those snarky know-it-all’s who seemed to lord things over other people.   It’s an ugly trait, and I’m guilty of having lived it.   The verse could have been talking about me when it implied that I dishonored Jesus by snarking over those who I didn’t think were very bright, or very good.  When you boil it down, it’s really a kind of bullying. 

There could be truth in that too.

It could be talking about the politicians, elitists, dilettantes, intellectuals, or celebrities who seem to exude superiority over those of us who, it would seem (to them), don’t quite measure up.   There’s truth in this as well.

James could be talking about the folks in church, good Christians all of us, who seem to play “I’ve Got a Secret” with the Gospel that was never meant to be hidden behind false fronts or opaque traditions.  No wonder so many people feel uncomfortable with practicing faith when we, who are entrusted with growing it, fail to be Jesus to them.

Yet, perhaps, James is talking about all these things.   It’s why I go back to my original question.   With all those new people I met last week, was I Jesus’ ambassador or was I the rich person oppressing the poor man, or the snarky know it all, or the elitist, or the hypocrite in a choir robe?  James’ verses hold up a mirror.  Who do you see in it?

Lord, help me to always represent you with faith and trust, not agendas, secrets, or sarcasm.   Forgive me when I fail; strengthen me to do Your will.

 

Who are you to people:  a person of faith or just some person?

Have you ever oppressed someone?   If so, what did you do to change?

What’s your story of how Jesus pulled you out of that?