Sunday, April 10, 2011

By this shall all men know

Continue on with the Heart Preparation questions for the Rockport Baptist Church Grace Camp Meeting:

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another. John 13:35"

Are you secretly pleased over the misfortunes of others?

That sounds so horrible - but yes, I have been happy to see someone "get what they deserve".  Sometimes this is righteous, I guess - glad to see a murderer get his due punishment, for example.  I don't think that is what this means, though.

What about less "extenuating" circumstances - like, being happy to see someone get their comeuppance?  I know I have been guilty of this.  Don't we love to see a braggart fall flat on their face, the person who acts superior make a fool of themselves?  How the demons laugh in delight when we take such an attitude!

Are you secretly annoyed over the accomplishments or advancements of another?

No, not really.  I may be a little envious at times, but I am usually pretty honest with myself.  I can recognize their hard work over my lack of it.

I may get annoyed if they harp on it, but that goes back to the first question!
Are you guilty of any contention or strife?

We discussed this last summer in the family Bible study we attend on Wednesday nights. 

"There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among the brothers." Proverbs 6:16-19 (Emphasis added).

The Lord equates those who sow discord among the brothers with those who shed innocent blood.  Fighting in the church, gossip campaigns, deliberate snubs - oh how we must grieve our God.  There is no wiggle room in here.  These are the things God hates - an abomination.  Not things that annoy him, or may make you lose a little luster on your crown.  An abomination.  Look up "abomination" in your concordance and do a word study, and cross-reference some verses.  See how the Holy God looks upon our after-church conversations. 

I try not to be guilty of this - I know I have a tendency to grouse and criticize, but not as much as I used to.  The Holy Spirit has given me a few (okay, several) slaps upside the head and laid my sin out before me to where I cannot deny or excuse it.  I try to stay out of other peoples' arguments, too.  How many times can we get sucked into sin by someone else?  We need to be aware of that , and also be aware of how our own sin can suck someone else in. 

Do you quarrel, argue, or engage in heated discussions?

Boy, there is one.  I have been known to get in some very heated discussions.  I love to talk about history, politics, doctrine and theology.  That is like the classic brew for heated discussions.  And let's be honest, we can couch that sort of thing in "discussion" all day long, but it is arguing.  Like telling our kids that Mom and Dad are having a very loud discussion.  Yeah, right - and whose kids fall for that? 

I have had to really back down and think about what things are worth fighting over - and really, there are very few.  And so often, I can say that I am just trying to teach someone, or help them out of error, but really?  I like to win.  I hate to leave a fight (and that is what it is) without getting in the last word because then it may appear that I have conceded.  Oh Lord, to get back the hours I have spent online arguing, with my Bible in my lap, while my sons have been plunked down in front the the tv or wii.  What screwed up priorities.

Are you a partaker in any division or party spirit?

I am going to go with "no" on this one.  Having been a member of a church that went through a split a few years ago, I got to witness first-hand what went on - all in God's name, of course.   I felt like one day I was pulled into this group, the next siding with the other - it seemed to consume every conversation I had with friends and with my husband.  I have learned my lesson.

Are there people whom you deliberately slight?

A couple names popped into my head immediately, so I guess it must be true.  Let's be honest - there are some people who can suck the life out of you, can drain you emotionally.  I have found myself trying to be kind, but also trying to keep some distance.  I don't know how I can frame that as "compassion" so let's not even try.  I don't think this is talking about people that really aggravate you (sandpaper people) and avoiding them - I think this is really about looking at others and thinking you are somehow superior to them.  Maybe you've made better choices in life, you hang with a cooler clique, they don't get your jokes - whatever.  I think to define "slight" we could say....if they call, do you try to get off the phone really quickly?  If the only open seat at the fellowship is next to her, will you sit in it?  Do you deliberately not include them?  Do you dismiss them when they speak to you?  Have you judged them and found them unworthy?

"Why do you pass judgment on your brother?  Or you, why do you despise your brother?  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
As I live, says the Lord, every knee
shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess
to God.
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."
Romans 14: 10-12

There are times to make a righteous judgment on sin - we are called to observe the fruit in our brothers' lives, and to encourage and rebuke.  But we are not to judge them simply on whether or not they meet up to OUR own (sinful, personal, worldly) standards. 

A lot to think about on this Sabbath day.  I am home with a sick son, missing the last gathering of our Grace Camp Meeting.  I miss this gathering of the saints, it has been an incredible time of worship.  But maybe it is good, too, to have this time alone, to pull back a bit and examine my own heart.  We all need that.

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