We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Vengeance

Life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Recently I experienced a twist while delivering an important gift to our son who had just graduated from college. We were giving him our Acura. We had just spent $3500 to have it restored to almost new condition. It was an investment worth making and a gift that was greatly needed…that is, until our car was maliciously destroyed in a parking lot!

What type of person would have such disregard for another’s property? I was about to find out. There was a note on my car with the offender’s phone number. Unexpectedly the offender answered and acknowledged that he was the one who ripped out the undercarriage, bumper, and back quarter panel of my car in order to get to his trailer out of a parking place that he shouldn’t have been in!

Later, when I told him how much it would cost to fix the damages, he said it was more than he was willing to pay! I was irate…he was in no position to bargain. There was a burning fire of retribution within. I’ll sue him…have him arrested! I was going to make him pay and pay good for this ridiculous, egregious offense.

And then I began to see that I had failed the test. Vengeance belongs to God but for a few days it possessed and controlled me. So I prayed, called my insurance company and a week later I received a check-though not for the total cost of the damages, it was sufficient…as was His grace, and as His strength is made perfect in our weakness…not in our vengeance.

In Proverbs 20:22 Solomon writes: “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” If you have tendency toward retribution, I recommend a 19th century story you’ll not soon forget, titled Sweet Revenge.

Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Biblically Ashamed

In our culture, shame is rarely thought of as a desirable feeling or quality. Even in the church, the word is associated primarily with sin and guilt. Author Neil Postman, however, uses the much-maligned term in a very different way. In his eyes, shame plays a vital role in preserving the innocence of childhood and the civility of our society.

In his book The Disappearance of Childhood, Postman teaches that shame derives its power “from the mystery and awe that surround various acts.” In other words, human impulses such as sexuality or violence must be treated with the highest caution and respect. Just as we shelter our children from these harsh realities, so we must be careful to control them in ourselves. Postman further argues, “Civilization cannot exist without the control of impulses; particularly, the impulse toward aggression and immediate gratification. We are in constant danger of being possessed by barbarism, of being overrun by violence, promiscuity, self gratification and pleasure centered self-centeredness. Shame is the mechanism by which barbarism is held at bay.”

As Christians, we have special insight into the problems Postman observed in our culture. Proverbs 25 teaches us, “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own glory. Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Postman knew the dangers; the Bible knows the solution. Only by cultivating an appropriate attitude of shame towards the sin of human nature and controlling our own impulses can we reform the excesses of our modern culture.

As children of God, we have responsibilities. One of them is to study the Word to show ourselves approved unto God. Another is to read books like Disappearance of Childhood. Though written in the 1960’s, you will think it was written today.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment