Friday, March 15, 2013
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Watch out for ceiling fans, Friend.
I had the opportunity yesterday to think about ceiling fans. For Judy and I “It’s the ceiling fans” has become a code phrase for anyone who gets mad about something that seems trivial. You know they are not telling you the real issue. Years ago we had in our church a lovely lady who left us because, she said, “The ceiling fans bother me.” She had been part of our church for several years, and the ceiling fans were there the whole time. We had been to her home to minister healing, fielded calls in the middle of the night, and treated here with respect. She had been miraculously healed, served in the church, and been an avid fan of our ministry. It simply couldn’t be the fans that cause her to leave the church family where God had set her. The real story was that she had become offended many months before. She disagreed with a decision I made about funding for a youth mission. She thought I was too generous. (I hope that is my biggest fault!) She shared her opinion about the sluggardly ways of modern youth and my plan to encourage their delinquency. I thought about it and disagreed. I was the Pastor, so we did it my way! She was offended. She nurtured here offence. Her bitterness became so palpable that the very touch of the breeze from the fans that used to cool her now gave her discomfort.
That pattern is oft-repeated. The writer of Hebrews warns that bitterness can poison us and cause damage to those around us (Heb 12:15) In that case the bitterness was a result of stern correction from spiritual authority. Paul warns husbands to avoid becoming bitter against their wives (Col 3:19). Men who expect wives (or anyone, for that matter) to perfectly meet their needs are doomed to bitterness. Hannah had bitterness of soul because she thought God had not answered her prayer in a timely fashion (1 Sam 1:10). Peter saw bitterness in Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:23). His bitterness arose out of envy for the way God used others. Offence always comes in a church where the Word is being taught. Jesus said it was one of the ways the Word gets stolen (Mk 4:17). Offence nurtured produces bitterness of heart, and that is poison. The ceiling fans are a great way to diagnose a poisoned attitude: Am I irritated by things that used to bless me? Do I begrudge the time for things that used to bring me joy? Am I avoiding someone I use to look forward to seeing? Have I become cynical when the offering time comes around? Do I find myself making snide comments about leaders I once revered? If so, I need a good dose of the blood of Jesus to remove what Hebrews calls the “root of bitterness.”
Somebody Said: Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Harry Emerson Fosdick
Scripture Reading Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)
Offence that festers is a dangerous thing. Don’t let it steal the blessing God has for you in the place He has planted you. Correction is to be welcomed even if it is uncomfortable, it is a manifestation of love. God may not dance to your tune all the time. The gifts in others are to be celebrated, not resented. People can’t salve your pain or meet your needs, don’t expect them to. It is always a mistake to poison yourself because of the perceived failures of others.
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