In light of Junior Seau’s death this week, Pastor Miles encouraged us all to pray for the Seau family and to think about “getting our own houses in order.” Reconcile your relationship with God and resolve the conflicts you have with others. Death inevitably comes to all of us, and we don’t know when, therefore, we should focus on the things that really matter.
We love to see people fail. We love to criticize celebrities, predict their failure, and examine all the aspects of their fiascos. But what does this say about our hearts?
We love to see people fail. We love to criticize celebrities, predict their failure, and examine all the aspects of their fiascos. But what does this say about our hearts? Today marks the beginning of a new series about gossip, called Exposed. This refers not to the exposed failures of people in the media, but the exposed wickedness in our hearts when we judge them.
In Luke 15:11-32, a father has two sons who will one day each inherit part of his fortune. The younger son asks for his inheritance early and when he receives it, he goes out and wastes all his money on wild living until he has nothing left. As he finds himself hungry and feeding pigs in a field, he realizes that his life could be better if he were to go back home, beg the forgiveness of his father, and become a servant in his father’s house. He does return home, but in verses 20-24, while the son is still a long way off, the father comes running to greet him, gives him a robe and a ring and immediately throws a lavish celebration with joy that his son has returned.
Today Pastor Miles focuses not on the sin and repentance of the younger son, nor the loving grace and forgiveness of the father, but rather the judgment of the older brother. Note his reaction to the news of the party to celebrate his younger brother’s return:
“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’” Luke 15: 28-30
The brother’s response is similar to how we might respond in seeing the failure of others. We may exalt ourselves, feel deserving of more that we have, or want to push others down and pronounce their shortcomings.
What are the reasons why we can be so judgmental?
1. We have a PhD in me-ology.
We have an inflated view of ourselves. We think we are smarter than we are and that we understand the motives of others and the reasons for their crisis.
Often, we can hear just one piece of news and we are ready to convict a person, thinking we know the whole story. But see what God’s Word says about this:
He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him…The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:13, 17
We never know the whole story. Therefore, as Pastor Miles says so bluntly, there are times when we just need to shut our mouths. In the case of gossip, we don’t have to know all the facts, come up with a conclusion or judgment, or be involved in it at all. God has not given us the right to judge others. Ask yourself, “Why am I having this conversation? What is the goal? Does it honor God or edify another person?” If not, listen to the Holy Spirit and walk away!
2. We have a brotherly love dysfunction.
God always loves people, even those who hate him. God is love and His quality of love is always the same, but our understanding of that love can be dysfunctional. Hopefully, the longer we walk with God, the more we grow to love as He loves.
Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30-31 that the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbors. We are called to be catalysts of redemption and the message bearers of God’s love and grace, not of condemnation, and certainly not of relishing in the grief and failure of our brothers.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29
3. We have a genie-God relationship.
Is God your genie in a bottle? (“God do this for me, don’t do that for him. Why are you blessing that person? You never bless me like that.”) Let us instead trust God to do His will. Think about each other and how we may encourage one another to obey God and to increase our faith in Him.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Gossip will always be around us. There will always be celebrity and political shortcomings. Friends and enemies alike will sin and make mistakes, as will we (and there will be gossip about us, too!) But we needn’t be concerned with others’ opinions of our shortcomings. We should readily admit our imperfections and focus instead on God’s opinion of us. His is the one that counts!