Archives For Philippians

We are continuing a series of how people perceive the church and using Proverbs 6:16-19 (7 Deadly Sins) as a framework for our discussion.

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.

The first phrase we will consider is “haughty eyes.”  What does that even mean?  The Hebrew word is rum (pronounced like “room”) and is used extensively in the Old Testament (used over 190 times!) and has a wide variety of meaning.  The word basically is used to denote literal height (something is high) and can be used metaphorically to exalt or negatively to be proud (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 2132).  In our context it is used with the noun “eyes” so it is referring to something negative as in looking down on someone with a sense of arrogance and pride.  What the proverb writer is saying is that the Lord hates those who think they are better than people by looking down on them.

A New Testament example of this is the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14.  The Pharisee looked down on the tax collector because he thought he was better than him.  “God I thank you that I am not like one of them.”  That is haughty eyes.  Dan Kimball in his book The Like Jesus but Not the Church shares Maya’s story:

Before my friend became a Christian, you could talk to him.  It was normal.  He became a Christian after he met a girl, and then through her got converted.  But after his conversion, you couldn’t talk to him anymore.  Every conversation was about condemning something about my lifestyle.  All he did was keep telling me things I was doing wrong.  I shouldn’t be smoking.  I shouldn’t be drinking.  He didn’t like the way I dressed or the music I listened to.  I was mad at the church for turning him into this kind of very negative person.  (p. 98).

Kimball didn’t say it (at least explicitly) but what she is experiencing is someone who has haughty eyes.  When we see someone who has tattoos, smells like cigarettes and beer and drops an F-bomb in conversation what is our typical response?  “This person is hopelessly lost!”   Our response should be one of compassion, mercy and tender care.  Instead of placing our judgment on them and their actions we should serve them which is a little like what Jesus would do (see John 13 and Phil. 2:5-11).

Instead of “haughty eyes” I advocate we put on “humble eyes.”  Haughty says “I am better than you” while humble says “I am a sinner like you.”  Haughty says, “You have to do this to come to church” while humble says, “we will take you as you come so we can learn about Christianity together.”  Haughty is a position of status while humility is an act of service.

I wonder if the perception people have on the church looks like we have haughty eyes.

Discussion Questions

  1. In what areas in our ministries do we need humility?
  2. Do you think it is fair what Maya said in Kimball’s book?  Why or why not?
  3. How have you had haughty eyes on people in the last few months?
  4. What would it look like for a church to really become agents of humility?
  5. What Scriptures speak to pride and humility?

Finding Balance

March 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

Close up of scalesI was in the airport in Las Vegas when  a man walked by talking to another gentleman and said these words: “We got to ride on a train and see some poverty. It was fun to see what it was like.” My initial reaction to this man was disdain because since when does viewing people barely scraping by become viewing pleasure?  Since when does watching people in economic hardships become akin to watching the nightly news?  I was upset with the man and I wanted to say something to him.  Upon reflection  (and a little Spirit-guidance) I thought about the opposite ends of the spectrum how some people who live and work among the poor often scathe those who are wealthy.  I am not sure that is helpful either.  Then I think about raising my children and how some people brag at how disciplined they are with their children almost running their home like a Ranger Training School.  Then I hear some people who do not have a clue as to what their child does as they let their child run the house as the parents heed to their every demand.  In politics there are some people who say we need God in every aspect of our government then there are people who say God needs to be completely out of the equation.  In youth ministry there are those who say we need to have a missional focus whereas other say it needs to be a family-oriented youth ministry.  In teaching and preaching many say we need to preach the old paths and have a steady diet of doctrine, doctrine and doctrine whereas others opt for a more story-telling/narrative approach to preaching.  On the same line people say that we need to preach more from the Old Testament and then I hear people say we need to preach more from the New Testament.  Some say that youth ministers need to be more relational with kids where as some say we need to teach them more about the bible.     I listen to the commercials on TV and hear people tell me that I can eat whatever I want if I take this little pill and then all my fat will vanish away and then I watch another commercial that advocates a slow, methodical properly-proportioned diet that uses the right foods with healthy exercise.  Some people say we need to go to college to get a degree whereas some people say not everybody needs to go to college.  Which is it?

The lines of dichotomy are not so visible the older I get  I used to believe all things were black and white but now I am not so certain.  It seems the operative word that has kept me going is the word “balance.”  We need balance in everything don’t we?  We need people who are ministering to the poor being place-sharers with them but good grief we need people ministering to the wealthy don’t we?  We need to hear people in politics from both sides of the fence whether you are red or blue.  We need balance in raising our families.  We need balance in preaching the Word.  We need balance in teaching our young folks.  We need balance in our relationships with other people.  We need balance in our approach to discipleship.  We need balance in how we approach college.  We need balance in our relationships with our fellow man.  We need balance in our relationships with our church folk.  We need balance in being the kingdom of God.

It seems to me that any point we look at someone else and say, “I am better than you” from any theological, political, practical or foundational position it seems to only come from a perspective of pride.  Balance gives us perspective on how we deal with mankind and the events put in front of us by God almighty.

Again Philippians 4:10-13 is on my mind…

10 I am very happy in the Lord that you have shown your care for me again. You continued to care about me, but there was no way for you to show it.11 I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens.12 I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough.13 I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.  (New Century Version)

Paul was a man of balance…

Silencing the Haters

July 26, 2010 — 4 Comments

Last night the youth group and I had an excellent period of worship at our monthly teen devotional.  I directed our thoughts from Philippians 1:27-30 and it seemed to be a good grounding point for the challenging next few weeks for the teenagers.  The Philippian church was not without her faults as apparently there were some preachers who were selfish in their desire to proclaim the gospel (1:15-17).  This must have been frustrating for Paul to see men proclaim a gospel yet only do so for selfish interests and personal gain.  Then Paul addressed something in Philippians 1:27-30 that caught my attention:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have (NIV). 

“Whatever happens” is a bit of an understatement when you see the difficulties Paul himself faced (e.g. 2 Cor. 11:16-32).  He told them to act like citizens who are worthy of the death of Christ which is the gospel of Christ.  But he told them to not be alarmed by those who oppose you (ESV “opponents”).  We all have our “haters” don’t we?  Haters come in all shapes and sizes.  Haters are those who poke fun at the fact that you are a Christian and do things differently than they do.  Haters like to belittle your church participation and often are cynical at what you are trying to do.  Haters look at the church and are quick to point out her flaws, her inconsistencies and her hypocrisies.  Haters do not recognize the good that comes out of the church only the bad aspects.  Haters try to stifle, stymie, stall and cause the church to stalemate.  Haters, like the Devil, are equal opportunity destroyers lurking about seeking ways to bring the church down.  Haters are outside the church but often you will find some haters who are inside the church.     

What do we do about them?  Paul says to not be afraid of them and to keep on acting in a manner worthy of the gospel.  In the words of Nehemiah we need to say:

 “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down” (6:3). 

Paul said that these haters will eventually go away because doing the right thing as a Christian is a sign of their destruction.  So may I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing—yea—do what you are doing with even more zeal and let God and the gospel take care of the haters.

My wife made fun of me when we first watched the Transformers movie that came out in 2007.  Why?  In the scene where all of the autobots came from space and then met, I started getting chills.  She did not notice it at the time but I knew what was about to happen…In came this massive semi-truck and then transformed and then said these words, “I am Optimus Prime!”  I pumped my fist and said, “Yes!”  My wife looked at me and said (and I quote), “You’re an idiot!”  Who cares what she thinks because back in the day when Transformers first came out it was the cool thing to do to have them.  And everybody who was anybody had, as their action figure hero, Optimus Prime who was the champion of bravery and the victor of defense against evil. 

I know…I am a dork.  But why don’t you let some of your weird action figures come out of the closet and then we can see who is a dork.

I laughed at that and think to myself how silly I was to be like that in the past.  I look at history as sort of an accomplished fact, something I have pressed on from.  On a serious note many of us look at our past and see just how messed-up and jaded it really is.  Many of us have recovered from alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex, violence, etc. and we look back and think, “I sure am glad I have moved on from that crap!”  So we fold our pasts into a neat little box and then we put that box into a container that is specially designed for that box.  Then we put a lock on the container with a special password (which we forget) to access the container which holds the box that holds our deepest, darkest, most painful secrets. 

Philippians 3:4-6

Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. 

Does that sound like hiding things in a box?  Does that sound like looking at your past and forgetting about it (especially confusing considering Phil. 3:12-14)?  What if, during the assembly this Sunday, a person walked up to you and you introduced yourself and he said, “Hi, I am John Doe.  I was an alcoholic and used to have sex as much as I wanted with whoever but now I am in Christ and life is amazing!”? 

You probably would look at him, turn around and say, “FREAK!!!”  But what is wrong with that?  In a tabooistic setting (like formal, congregational worship) it is not looked at as acceptable to do such things?  Why?  Because (catch my irony here) we have it all figured out and good Christians are supposed to be strong, holy and spotless.  Paul is encouraging his joyful brethren (who brought him joy) with stories of his tainted past and to be spotless means to embrace your past as part of the redeeming story of Christ in your life! 

This brings a whole new meaning to pressing on.  So there is you.  What do you have locked in a secret compartment waiting to get out?  How can we, as a body of Christ take the message of reconciliation to you to allow Christ in to your life so you can press on. 

Want more?  Come here at the Main Street Church in Springfield, TN. 

I know…shameless, irresponsible plug.  What can I say?