"We write to taste life twice - once in the moment and in introspection."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Poison of the Sidelong Glances - Monday Musing (a day late)

Often on Mondays I'm still musing over our pastor's sermon, and his sermon on the transfiguration and it's gloriousness and the way it was eclipsed by the glory of the resurrection is still in my mind, but I want to share thoughts from another sermon today.

Since our son is now member of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, I took advantage their offer to recive on CD their sermons. Not only do they help keep us connected spiritually to The Guinea Pig, but they are an excellent way for us to grow through using them in our family worship especially when my Huggy is gone.

Just a couple of days ago we listened to a sermon by Ben Merkle (author of The White Horse King, about Alfred the Great) entitled "The Poison of the Sidelong Glances". Ooh, was it convicting! The text was Matthew 20:1-16 about workers being hired to work in a vineyard, some hired for a denarius at daybreak, others being hired for "whatever is right" later throughout the day. Though those who had worked all day were paid what they'd agreed on, they began to complain as they cast a sidelong glance and saw how the others were getting as much as they though the latter crews had worked less.  But the owner of the vineyard pointed out to them that the first bunch were getting what they had contracted for.

"If we look at the horizontal/subjective standard, they appear to have been wronged. But according to the vertical/objective standard, they were done no wrong. This is a sidelong glance. It is the preferring to evaluate your own circumstances relatively rather than objectively. Not only that, it is preferring the most negative relative evaluation out of all the possible comparisons. It can become such an all consuming vice that we begin to evaluate our own lot based entirely on how much we are currently inspriring this kind of jealousy in others. We look to the side just to see if others are looking sideways at us."

Mr. Merkle then went on to point out that mostly these thoughts are petty little thoughts, but they add up and become a great poison. "And all the reasons are so petty that we can't point to any one thing (because it would be so stupid) so that we just point to the whole person and say I can't stand him." Of course, this is sin and leads to broken relationships within the body of Christ and within our homes.

To combat the sidelong glance of jealousy, he suggests the following things:
1) An upward gaze - "An infinite God does not have a divided attention when he regards you. Your story is your story, lived out before God."
2) Remember that we are not in the resurrection yet. "Your current circumstances are not your final inheritance. These circumstances are merely your assignment...The circumstances are not the comparison. It's waht you do with your circumstances that matters."
3) Grace is grace. "Sideways glances depend on us getting convinced that we are owed something." God owes us nothing and yet He gives us so much.
4) Confess the petty. Be brutally honest with yourself regularly. "What are you fussing about? What is eating you? Who can you not stand to hear from? Nothing is too petty to be addressed. Confess it. Get rid of it. Don't let the cancer grow."

Of course, he fleshed this all out so well and gave probing examples and word pictures. It made me think about the things that annoy me about other people just might have their roots in jealousy. That snappy retort from junior high days, "You're just jealous" might have a ring of truth in it. More to the point, admitting that "I'm just jealous" and need to confess my sin, would cause an awful lot of growth in me and in my relationship with that person.

This was such a good thought provoking, get-to-the-heart-of-the-matter sermon, that I know we're going to listen to it quite a few more times and I highly recommend that you look up http://www.canonpress.com/ and see how you can request the sermon from February 27, 2011 sermon number 1606.

This one sin, left to grow, has brought down many a church and family. If dealt with humbly and truthfully, I see great growth for the cause of Christ in our hearts and nations.

A sinner, saved by grace, I

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