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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

     A friend of mine asked me the other day where I get my inspiration to write these articles (on this blog) and my response was that I believe the Holy Spirit quickens to remembrance certain scripture as I move about throughout the day.
     Some times (I added) the message is inspired by the most innocuous incidents that should not have any bearing on the greater issues of life, such as ‘wars, rumors of wars and earthquakes in diverse places.” Nor about our bad economy, environmental crisis’ like the BP oil spill, the government’s lack of wisdom gone wild, and our own personal battle with societal demons such as the immigration fears that occupy many people’s hearts.
     Meaningless incidents that happen to most of us, such as (believe it or not) the way we greet each other. I notice this quite a bit as I hear the first comments that come out of a person’s mouth. Like when Laura and Judy greeted each other after not seeing one another for over six months:
     Laura, excited about seeing her old schoolmate at Wal-Mart the other day, said with an excited glow in her heart, “Hi Judy! How are you?”
     “Great,” Judy responded, which she followed up immediately with a pithy remark, “How is your diet coming along?”
     Laura, stunned by the comment, silently thought to herself “Well, thank you for putting me down!”
     Now, some of you may feel that Laura was being too sensitive about Judy’s stinging remark; probably because Laura has been struggling with a weight problem for over a year. Although Laura is a beautiful woman and was the envy of her classmates throughout her high school days, having four kids since she got married six years ago, has not helped her maintain the bikini figure she was known for before her marriage to Tom, the school’s most popular guy, he a former star quarterback who now runs a successful real estate company.
     Why do folks like Judy make such stinging remarks?
     Cattish?
     Mean-spirited?
     Jealousy?
     Resentful?
     It could be all of the above! But, let’s look at ‘resentment.’
      Herbert Schlossberg, in his great book, Idols for Destruction, made a great point about “resentment” stating:
     "Resentment has its origin in the tendency to make comparisons between the attributes of another and one’s own attributes: wealth, possessions, intelligence, personality, friends, and children. Any perceived difference is enough to set the pathology in motion. Resentment whispers continually: “I can forgive everything, but not that you are – that you are what you are – that I am not what you are – indeed that I am not you.”"
     For whatever reason resentment becomes a person’s failing, this is an attribute that needs to be addressed in each of our lives, because it is not only destructive to those we manifest it towards, but it can hinder our walk with Christ, primarily because it is the sin of “Idolatry!” This sin is probably the biggest obstacle we (disciples) have to be concerned with (and should always be aware of) because it not only represents the major reason why mankind has drifted away from God, it also happens to be the biggest sin that Christians commit on a daily basis.
     What is Idolatry? Idolatry is anything or anyone (such as husband, wife, children, friends, community, jobs and careers, civic and governmental leaders) even religion, that comes between you and God. Yes Religion!
     Timothy Keller in his wonderful book, Counterfeit Gods, said:

     "An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace. The sign that you have slipped into this form of self-justification is that you become what the book of proverbs call a “scoffer.” Scoffers always show contempt and disdain for opponents rather than graciousness. This is a sign that they do not see themselves as sinners saved by grace. Instead, their trust in the rightness of their views makes them feel superior."

     I must confess this has happened to me on many occasions. When I see it coming, I quickly get on my knees and ask God’s forgiveness, to keep reminding me that any knowledge or wisdom I share with the public is none of my own creative concoctions, but rather what He has revealed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Having been exposed to the celebrity and glory received through my secular involvement with media and politics, I, most of all should know that ego and smug self-righteousness is one of the devil’s greatest tools he uses to help us build our own temples of idolatry.
     Sadly, Idolatry manifests itself primarily in its obvious judgmental form, where we disciples of Christ often find ourselves pointing at other people’s faults instead of being grateful that God has forgiven us for all our past indiscretions. And He asks us to do the same.

     All sins (Gr. harmatia-missing the mark) are mankind’s shortcomings and their failure to meet God’s standards. God is not only omniscient and omnipotent, all-knowing and all powerful, He cannot abdicate His nature or standards because we disobeyed Him and fell out of Grace (due to the disobedience of our parents, Adam and Eve). But, thank God that He transported Himself to earth in the form of the flesh man Jesus and sacrificed His life in order for us to re-establish a relationship with Him as was His intention from the beginning of time. Based on our own individual shortcomings (and we all KNOW what they are) there is no reason whatsoever for us to be judgmental (or point fingers at others) for what we perceive are their shortcomings when ours are as blatantly evident as well:
1"Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

2"For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

3"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

4"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?

5"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye, (Matthew 7:1-5)

     We may not realize how often we do this to others, including our own spouses, friends and co-workers, but even with those we see and greet in the street. We may not even realize that our initial greeting could very well set the stage (or the attitude) we carry throughout the day. This (judging) act injures, ever so deeply; when instead, our sincere loving, smiling, gentle and uplifting greeting could make the difference in how others treat those they come in contact with throughout their day.

     Therefore, when you greet someone (husband, wife, sons and daughters, all your relatives, friends and neighbors and co-workers, and even that odd-looking stranger in our path), from now on, greet them with a loving heart, joyously and peacefully, knowing that we are all sinners and come short of the Glory of God.
     Many folks may not realize it, but the sincere (or insincere) manner in which we greet people, the moment we open our mouth, is more evident and discernable than we realize, and can say more about what may lay inside of our respective souls. Do you know what is truly inside your heart?
     Be careful! Don’t just smile and wink at them and say "Hi" and then walk away, maybe commenting to your self, “Boy! It’s a good thing I’m not like him or her!”
     Guess what? We all are!
                                                   ~~~
For more information about this blog, the author’s books, or how to make contact, please click here Joe Ortiz.
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