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Archive for November 12th, 2012

Not fueling the fire

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have opportunities to make people look bad;  we hear rumors, things that we don’t know for sure are true, but it’s tempting to repeat them.  it’s not that we’re a bad person, we’re just telling what we heard. or maybe we know something about a person that is true, they made a mistake, they had a failure;  it’s easy to justify telling that because it’s the truth. but there are a lot of things that are true that we don’t need to tell;  we should do our best to never show people in an unflattering light

1 Peter 3:10 (MSG)

Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful;

we live in a society that’s filled with rumors, gossip, innuendos.  there’s a lot of chatter these days, people talking on the internet, at work, at school;  they’re nosy, busybodies, they love to get things stirred up, they have no problem repeating things they know are only half-true, on purpose they’ll leave out certain details just to prove their point.  if we’re not careful, we’ll get pulled in and become carriers of their poison.  “did you hear what I heard?  I got some big news, juicy information.”  I read a quote that I like:  “have you heard a word against your neighbor?  then let it die within you.”  have you heard any gossip lately, have you read something juicy on the internet, has a friend told you some inside information about a person?  it’s true, it’s hot off the press;  they lied, cheated.  here’s what you’re to do:  don’t go to the phone, don’t get on the internet and expose them, God says, “let it die within you, don’t say a word about it.” every person carries a bucket of gasoline and a bucket a water;  when you hear a rumors, gossip, juicy information, you can either pour your gasoline on it, add fuel to the fire, and make it worse, or you can do what God says and pour water on it, help to try to put it out.  too many people are using their gasoline;  they try to justify it, saying it’s the truth, they were wrong, I’m just stating the facts.  they may be guilty, but the scripture says love covers a fault:

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

love doesn’t expose, tell 5 friends, get on Facebook and add fuel to the fire.  love says, “they made a mistake, but God can restore them.  they messed up, but God has a new beginning.  they did wrong, but I’m not gonna add to their pain by talkin’ about them, makin’ them look bad, I’m gonna show mercy and let it die within me.”  when you know something negative about a person, you could easily show them in an unflattering light.  that is a test;  how you respond will determine how high you will go. if you add fuel to the fire, tell all your friends, get everything stirred up, that will keep you stuck where you are, because God will not promote a gossip, busybody, faultfinder.  but if you’ll get your bucket of water and help put the fire out, don’t say anything about it, cover that fault, then you’ll pass the test;  that’s the kind of people that God promotes

when we hear juicy information, when it’s hot off the press, will we use our discipline to let it die within us?  human nature wants to tell it, it’s very tempting to just throw a little fuel on the fire;  when you protect a reputation, you are sowing a seed for God to protect your own reputation.  we need to ask ourselves:  do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is really true, or have I heard it 3rd or 4th hand?  and, even if it IS true, is it absolutely necessary, do I really need to tell it, or do I just WANT to tell it?  a lot of times we think, “well, I’m just gonna tell this one friend, that’s not gonna hurt anything,” but that person will tell another person, that person another, on and on, and no matter how they retell it, it won’t be the same;  things will be exaggerated, blown out of proportion, what’s big will get bigger, what’s bad will get worse.

if you’re hearing things 3rd or 4th hand, you should take it with a grain of salt;  it can be so tainted, so misconstrued, that very little of it is true.  don’t believe it ’til you hear it from the real source.  don’t believe everything you hear, don’t let the internet, and people that are jealous, and people that can’t handle success, poison your opinion of somebody else.  you shouldn’t let people fill you with a bunch of trash;  somebody wants to talk bad about a person, gossip, put them down, don’t sit there and take it all in, tell them, “no thanks, my ears are not garbage cans, I don’t wanna hear that trash.  if you want to talk bad about them, gossip, judge them, stir up strife, that’s your choice, but you’re gonna have to find somebody else to do it with.”  you gotta put your foot down and not allow people to poison your life.  you shouldn’t go to lunch every day at the office and sit with people that gossip, badmouth the boss, complain about the company, trash your friends;  that’s sowing discord, that’s one of the things that God hates:

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

I would rather be lonely and not poisoned than to let that trash go into me.  do you know;  spirits are transferable:

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NLT)

24 Don’t befriend angry people
    or associate with hot-tempered people,
25 or you will learn to be like them
    and endanger your soul.

you hang around gossipers, and you will become a gossip.  you hang around faultfinders, you’ll become a faultfinder. you hang out with nosy busybodies, and that nosy, busybody spirit will get off on you.  be careful who you associate with;  your time is too valuable to be poisoned.  we all know people that mind everybody’s business except their own.  they’re nosy, prying into people’s affairs, trying to get the latest scoop, “lemme tell you what I heard, you won’t believe what I found out,” they’re busybodies, they’re always spreading rumors, they’ve got an opinion about everything, and they’re gonna give it to you whether you want it or not.  they try to run everybody else’s life;  the truth is, they can’t even run their own life.  be kind, be respectful, but don’t associate with a busybody.  if they’ll talk about somebody else in front of you, don’t be fooled, they’ll talk about you in front of somebody else.  we have to realize it is just as wrong to listen to gossip as it is to tell it.  it takes 2 to gossip, the mouth and the ears, the seed and the soil.

Proverbs 11:13 (TLB)

A gossip goes around spreading rumors, while a trustworthy man tries to quiet them

a gossip has the gasoline, but when you’re an honorable person you’ve got the water;  you defend, show mercy, cover.  if somebody starts gossiping around you, starts talking bad about a person, you can say, “I just realized I’ve gotta go make a telephone call, I’m gonna have to step out.”  you can politely excuse yourself.  if you want to be more bold, you can say, “hey, instead of talking about them, why don’t we pray for them.”  if we would spend the same amount of time praying for people as we do talking about them, then they would change.  when you’re a person of honor, you stick up for your family, defend your friends, you cover their weaknesses.  if I hear somebody talking about you, and I know you’re a part of the Lakewood family, I’m going to do everything I can to take up for you.  I’m not gonna pour gasoline, I’m gonna pour water.  that’s the way you need to be with the people in your life.  defend them, stick up for them.  somebody starts gossiping, badmouthing, your attitude should be, “you’re messing with the wrong person, that’s my family, they’re a part of my church, they’re my friend.”

you have a responsibility to help stop that gossip.  you should be especially loyal to your own family;  you may not always agree with them, they may get on your nerves from time to time, they may be a little bit different;  it doesn’t matter, if somebody starts talking about your family, it’s your duty to put a stop to it.  that’s your blood, that’s who God has chosen you to be with.  I’ve seen people, somebody starts talking about a family member, they jump on the bandwagon;  no, put a stop to it.  they may not be perfect, but you can say, “I know they’re a little different, they’ve got some issues, but you know what, they’re growing, changing, deep down they’re a good person.  that’s my family, I love them.”  be loyal, stick up for them.  “you don’t know what they’ve done, my brother borrowed $ from everybody in the family, hasn’t paid us back, my dad ran off with somebody else, messed up our family”;  that’s unfortunate, but it’s still your family.  it’s easy to kick people when they’re down, to be judgmental, say I told you so, but the honorable thing to do is stay on the high road and help restore them, help bring peace back to your family.  they got enough people trying to push them down, they should be able to count on you as family to help lift them up.  if we can’t count on our family, who can we count on?

Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)

17 A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for adversity.

that’s saying, your friends are great, we all need them, but there’s something about your family, they were born for adversity, and in the tough times your family needs you more than ever.  too often we let strife, jealousy, competition, division, pull us apart;  rise above that, get over the petty differences, quit arguing over things that don’t matter.  in a little while, we’re all going to be gone;  your relatives need you.  stick up for your family, defend them, cover their faults.   the book of Genesis says that Noah got drunk, and was lying on the floor of his tent, passed out, totally naked;  his youngest son, Ham, came in, saw his father lying there drunk and naked.  Ham ran out and started telling everybody;  instead of covering his father’s fault, he exposed it, he added fuel to the fire.  the other 2 sons did just the opposite;  they went to Noah’s tent, turned around, refused to look at their father, got blankets, backed into the tent, never looking at their father in that shame, and covered Noah up.  they were saying by their actions that although Noah was wrong, “he made poor choices, but we’re not gonna do like Ham and expose him, we got this water, we’re gonna cover his fault.”

when Noah found out what had happened, he told Ham that his children and grandchildren would always struggle, that there’d be a curse on his descendants because he had dishonored him;  he told the other sons that they and their descendants would always be blessed, they would prosper, rule over cities, “you will have God’s favor because you showed me honor even when I deserved dishonor.”  when we make the choice to make people look bad, to say things to damage a reputation, to show them in an unfavorable light, that puts us on Ham’s side instead of the 2 brothers’ side.  but when you show honor even when honor is not due, maybe what the person is doing is wrong, they deserve shame, but because you choose to cover the fault, because you choose to stick up for your father, because you defend your brother, cousin, relative, God says to you, “you will be blessed, prosper, be in a position of honor.”  make sure you stay on the 2 brothers’ side.  now let’s take this beyond our biological family:  how about our church family, if they fall, make a mistake, are you going to cover them?  how about that coworker that blew it;  they were wrong, are you going to expose them, blow it up bigger, after all, it’s true?  no, just because it’s true doesn’t give us the right to repeat it.  “they’re guilty, they were wrong”;  yes, but only the guilty need mercy.  Paul said:

Galatians 6:1 (NIV1984)

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

(The Amplified Bible has a more complete, more thought-provoking translation:

Galatians 6:1 (AMP)

6 Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.)

notice he didn’t say to expose them, tell everybody, make sure they feel embarrassed and ashamed, he said to gently restore them.   if you will cover people when they fall, cover their weaknesses, God will make sure somebody will always be there to cover you.  but it’s easy to expose, want to be critical, judgmental, but remember this;  the same amount of mercy you show others is the amount of mercy God will show you.  when you protect a reputation, you are sowing a seed, not only for your life, but for your children.  the scripture talks about how we can store up mercy for future generations:

Deuteronomy 7:9 (KJV)

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations

when you cover that fault, you may not receive the mercy;  it may go to one of your children in their time of need.  I’m going to be generous with my mercy;  I’m not going to be a faultfinder, I’m going to be a protector.  there’s nothing you can do that will cause me to expose you.  if you fall, I’m going to cover you.  if you blow it, I’m gonna protect your reputation. if somebody’s talkin’ about you, I’m gonna defend you.  if you drop out, I’m gonna help restore you.  I’m going to be a friend you can count on, someone that will stick with you through thick and thin, to protect you, to defend you, to cover you.  we live in a society that likes to kick people when they’re down.  a lot of people jump on the bandwagon, “wow, they’re wrong,” critical, judgmental, no, don’t be a fair-weather friend, stick with people;  your family, friends, they need you more in the tough times than they do the good times.

where are the people that will defend their family?  that will say, “yes, my cousin may have fallen, but don’t you dare talk about them, that’s my family.  he may be down, he’s not stayin’ down, he’s comin’ back again. this is not the end, it’s a bump in the road, he’s gonna come out stronger than before.”  “yeah, but I don’t see how he coulda made that mistake, what was he thinking?”  just ask them, “have you ever made a mistake?  have you ever done something that you’re not proud of?  if not, you can throw the first stone.  but if you have, you need to zip it up, because you’re talkin’ about my family, and these ears are not garbage cans, I don’t wanna hear that trash.”  defend your family.  stick up for your friends.  put an end to that gossip.  do what you can to cover a fault.  when we choose to expose, to run out and tell everybody, that’s just like Ham not covering for his father Noah.  when somebody has done wrong, when they’re at fault, you could say that situation is contagious, like a virus, you’ve been exposed;  now how you handle it is going to determine whether or not you come down with it.  what’s going to protect you is if you have a flu shot;  the vaccination will keep you from getting it.  when you’ve been exposed to somebody that’s done wrong, they’re contagious;  you can catch the exact same thing that they have.  here’s the key;  mercy is your vaccine.  covering the fault is the equivalent of taking a flu shot.  that’s what’s going to keep you from being infected.  but if you’re hard, you show no mercy, you let them have it, the very thing that you’re critical about, because they’re contagious, it can some right back to you.

we all face situations where we could be judgmental;  it’s much better to say, “I’ve been exposed to something that I don’t want, now I know the secret, I’m going to show mercy. I’m not gonna do like Ham, run out tellin’ everybody,” no, be a person of honor and cover it, show mercy, that’s what’s going to keep you from doing the exact same thing somewhere down the road.  when you stick up for one of God’s children, when you defend them, help restore them, protect a reputation, there’s nothing that God won’t do for you.  when you are generous with your mercy, you will always have God’s favor.  mercy sets the tone for blessing.  when you hear a word against your neighbor, against your family, your friend, be disciplined to let it die within you.  if you will be a person of honor, not let people gossip around you, cover those faults, then because you choose the water and not the gasoline, you will be blessed, prosper, succeed, and become everything God’s created you to be

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