For part 1, listen here: Code to Live By Part 1
Code To Live By PART 2
A mixture of morality and wisdom needful – yet oft neglected and overlooked by Christians today.
1. Behavior makes genuine not feelings.
Feelings do not determine whether what we do (in our behavior) is real or legitimate. Our actions stand by themselves as the good or bad. Our feelings do not weigh into God’s moral scales. They are for that reason, the absolute worst way to gauge life (e.g. “I feel close to God or I don’t feel close to God” – 1Jo 3:18-22). As mentioned last time, this is why the bible teaches that the final judgment will be according to our deeds (not our feelings). So, the way I should be assessing whether or not I am good with God is the same way I would with anybody else – by my actions in relation to them (not how I feel). Does it really matter how I feel about you if my actions are rotten toward you? What kind of relationship do you think a married couple would have where the husband cheats on her all the time (yet still has incredible feelings of love for her) – do you think his feelings matter? Does that negate what he has done? Not in the least! And again, the same is true with God. Forget how you feel and focus on what you do. Train your mind to assess yourself and others based on what they do (not how you or they feel) – because as I have said in the past (and the bible teaches over and over)—“you are what you DO – not what you feel” (e.g. tv show Kris and I were watching the other night where this guy says, “I used to be in all kinds of trouble, but I knew that isn’t who I really was.” –God’s answer: YES it was!). Can you imagine how screwed up things would be if that is how things ran in the world? Thankfully (as for now) they operate the same way as God does (and will) on Judgment Day. The world operates according to our deeds. But imagine if they didn’t. HOW MESSED UP would things BE if it were feelings determining these things? (e.g. grades in school, who wins a sporting event, what determines who goes to jail and who doesn’t; reviews at work for raises/bonuses – who gets to be the boss!).
The point NOT to miss: We need to assess everything – even ourselves based on our actions, not how we (or others feel), because THIS is what makes right or wrong, legitimate or illegitimate according to God and His Word. Forget how you feel – our feelings/emotions do not determine truth, righteousness nor sinfulness – hence once more why we will not be judged based on how we felt – good or bad. Feelings are just one of the mechanisms through which we experience life, similar to that of pain or pleasure. They do not determine who we are, only our actions do that. Die therefore to your feelings as that which control how you live (and how you assess yourself or others or things in general – e.g. I must be a good person b/c I feel like a good person; that person must be a good person b/c they make me feel good; that thing must be good b/c it makes me feel good!). Start living putting the highest priority on what you do (and what others do) as the means to assessing all of life – THAT is code to live by if the kind of life you want to live is an abundant one.
2. You lose control when you lose control.
The quickest way to lose control of those under you care or command (even your own life) is by losing control of your emotions (hence why Pro 16:32). What it means to lose control of your emotions = your feelings CONTROL your actions VERSUS righteousness (what is right) CONTROLS what you do (irrespective of how you feel – as we just discussed). This is what makes the difference (for example) between actions expressing righteous anger and anger controlled actions (e.g. Joh 2:13-17; Ecc 7:9; Eph 4:26a – “be angry and do not sin” = anger is an emotion which means as I said earlier, carries no moral value by themselves. So to “be angry” is okay. It is what we do with the energy created by it [again, our behavior], that determines whether we are righteous or sinful. And how God wants us to use that energy is productively – to carry out His commands VERSUS destructively – to carry out sinful acts – that’s when I have lost control; e.g. kids: If you get angry because mom/dad says you can’t have something, then you need to use that anger to fight against yourself [the rebellion that still lives in your heart] NOT your parents. I need to come against myself and fight the sin that it causes me to be tempted to rebel– and not actually rebel against mom and dad). I need to be angry – and “not sin”. This (btw) applies to every emotion not just anger. The question then is do your emotions determine your actions, or is it righteousness (doing the right thing) that CONTROLS what you do (regardless of how you feel)? If it is your feelings/emotions that control/determine your actions, then you are OUT of CONTROL and losing control not only of your life but those under your care or control.
And the end-game in that will be a life filled with constant failure and failed relationships b/c nobody gets anywhere in life (or can lead others) who cannot control their emotions/feelings. The ultimate end-game to this is Hell. Hence why Paul says what he does in (1Co 9:24-27).
3. Envy Driven Malice (EDM) is a dangerous sin.
IOW: If you dislike, desire the failure of – or rejoice in the failure of someone b/c you can’t stand their success or all the attention they get or b/c of their success, then you are guilty of the same sin that caused the Jews to slander – and ultimately murder Jesus, the sin of envy driven malice. A very dangerous sin!
Which means (according to Rom 1), you possess a very debased mind and are acting as a hater of God (since you are hating his design for success in creation). And given the nation we currently live in, it would be very easy to fall into this – especially in those areas where we think it doesn’t apply—things like sports.
And as a means to shoring up some confusion and problems experienced from this teaching last week, I want to change my sports example up a bit…
Imagine I said that the Denver Broncos’ success is due to the fact that they are the NFL’s number one cheaters (e.g. the salary cap scandal for 97 & 98 SB’s with Elway and the PED scandal involving Derek Wolfe and Von Miller in 2013).
Would those of you who are Broncos’ fans be okay with that? What would you say? Would that be truth – they won all those times ONLY b/c they cheated? Or would that be slander? Slander!
The truth is, though they may have cheated, it was their performance on the field of play which included many players and coaches who were not cheating and challenges that could only be overcome through hard work, grit, execution and perseverance (as coaches and players like to say in the NFL, “players over schemes” or “players win games not coaches”). What else then must be true if I continue to speak such lies against them IS THAT I am guilty of envy- driven malice. IOW: I want to destroy them because they are successful and I don’t like them.
Okay, so the Broncos fans among us would be offended by such talk (right)?
But here’s the question, would you be offended b/c it is unrighteous or because they are your team? You see the difference? Jesus says you need to be offended with such talk whether it is your team – or the team you consider your enemy – because we are to love (be righteous to) not only our friends (plug in favorite team), but also our enemies. And envy-driven malice (once more) does not do that. It is unloving and very, very sinful. Now, why then did I use the Pats and not the Broncos last week for my example? Because they are my favorite team? NO! Because they are currently the team where this particular sin is happening on a national scale! They are therefore one of the most relevant examples (whether I like them or not)!!
Couple additional texts to consider: (Psa 15:1-5 = not slandering people is the key to a stable life on God’s holy hill; Jam 4:11-12; 1Co 4:5; Heb 4:12; Rom 13:7 = the Pats were the super bowl champs and have been the winningest team in pro football over the last two decades – they deserve honor and respect for that; the eagles beat them and won the super bowl this year – they deserve honor and respect as the world champions. If you choose then not to give such honor and respect to any team when they accomplish these things– [not bc they are Christians] but instead entertain slanderous things as a means to justifying your lack of respect, then you are being malicious and sinful. PERIOD. And most likely bc of envy; Deu 19:16-21 = if you are malicious against another person YOU WB punished according to the sins you falsely claimed they were guilty of. That’s what God’s Word says. E.G. you accuse me of false teaching. If you are found to have been wrong, then you wb charged w/the punishment associated with that crime – idolatry, – which is a capital crime! 1Co 9:24-27 = athletes used by Paul as examples of self-control/discipline unto victory – not b/c of their morality. We can/should do the same – even though those individuals are not Christians or examples of morality; the military or a soldier is another example we should use bc it is used in Scripture – but again, not bc they are Christians or morally righteous people – but due to their commitment to authority and self-discipline.).
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong”
– Abraham Lincoln
Point not to miss = envy driven malice is serious sin and it will show up on Judgment Day if its in your life now. As such, we need to be extra careful and honest with ourselves as to why we don’t like something or someone (rather than making excuses). Judgment Day is coming –get rid of it before its too late.
4. You pay for what you say.
4.1. Though it is true that “talk is cheap” where there is no follow thru in actions, that doesn’t mean what we say doesn’t matter. As we already saw, it can have devastating consequences (Deu 19 – malicious witness).
4.2. This includes even the little stuff. According to Jesus, every careless, stupid, emotionally-driven, irrational word that comes out of our mouth (whether we meant it or not) will also be judged by God. IOW: we wb held accountable for it. It will be a part of what determines where we spend eternity (Mat 12:36-37).
4.3. Our speech – all of it, will make up the picture that determines whether our life was one of faithfulness or unfaithfulness. We will not be able to excuse our words away w/ statements like, “I didn’t mean it”, or “I wasn’t thinking when I said it” or “I acted on emotions”. Hence the reason for (Pro 13:3, 15:28; Ecc 5:1-7).
4.4. One of the easiest ways to be guilty of careless (sinful) speech (even slander) is GOSSIP = acting like you know what you don’t know (iow: it is not based on “2 or 3 witnesses” – i.e. sound evidence; Rom 1:29 = those considered God-haters and possessing a debased mind are identified also as gossips; e.g. Diet soda causes cancer; artificial sweetners cause cancer; Tom Brady deflated footballs and is a cheater! = For all of those things there is no evidence demonstrating those statements to be fact. So to treat it as fact in what we say would be acting like we know what we don’t and therefore gossip.).
4.5. The important thing not to get confused on as it relates to gossip: what you are communicating may in fact be true (or proven true one day). It doesn’t mean because we don’t know now – that it won’t be revealed to be true in the future. It means that God doesn’t want us speaking as though something is fact until He reveals it to be that. IOW: until it is revealed to be fact, don’t act like it is – or speak about it that way since what you wb guilty of – is the sin of gossip or careless speech.
And this kind of speech (according to Jesus) will ONCE MORE become a part of our final assessment on Judgment Day. What a crummy reason for ending up in Hell – b/c I couldn’t refrain from being a gossip – from careless, unsubstantiated speech! BTW, gossip that is hurtful to others’ reputation or life is also slander. Another reason we need (then) to be careful. You WILL PAY for what YOU SAY.
5. Don’t build bombs.
5.1. When things blow up in a relationship – and all of sudden you have two (or more) people sinning in very serious ways against each other (or one against the other) through malicious/slanderous words, what we have to keep in mind is this very simple (yet profound) fact, that there has never been (in the entire history of the world) a bomb that blew up – that someone didn’t (first) build.”
5.2. IOW: It takes building a bomb before you can blow one up. So the way to avoid these kinds of relationship wrecking explosions that results in heavy spiritual causalities and a lot of slander-filled shrapnel, is to keep yourself (and those you care about) from building the bombs that cause it.
5.3. If we don’t (however) know what to look for, then chances are, they will be something we and others ARE building (because this is a big part of our sin nature – we are by nature, sin-bomb builders).
5.4. This bomb-building action is however subtle, and on the surface, doesn’t seem to be that dangerous. And so the tendency is to ignore it – or to continue to practice it thinking nothing bad will ever come of it. Scripture however teaches otherwise. Which means it is only a matter of time, before the cache of this action is big enough to become a bomb just waiting for someone to light the fuse.
5.5. How (then) to we keep from building bombs? What is the bomb-building action I am talking about? What is it that we need to be always mindful and on the alert to get rid of before something goes “kaboom!” and we have severely damaged those we love?
5.6. The answer: (Eph 4:26-27) –“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” = “give no opportunity to the devil” – (opportunity = “topos” ~ topography – i.e. geographic place to build something on. In this case an anger-fueled sin-bomb).
5.7. I believe that what Paul is alluding to in these verses is Leviticus 19 and the obligation we have as Christians to love our covenant brothers and sisters through immediately seeking to see that all offenses against are resolved rather than allowing them to linger (which in turn not only obstructs justice for them but leads to unjust actions in us) –which according to this text and others is what happens when we don’t resolve a situation quickly by going to that brother or sister or to the elders, but allow it to “stew and brew”. This is the idea behind the figure of speech, “do let the sun go down”. It means that the matter is to be dealt with sooner than later.
5.8. As we discussed, the God-given energy generated by anger is to be used (and now we are learning that the timeframe for using it is in the short-term) – otherwise (as stated) it begins to build which will eventually become a bomb of sinful, malicious destruction (Lev 19:16-18; Jud 23; Mat 18:15). It makes sense that Paul would attribute such activity to Satan since his specialty is slanderous behavior (Rev 20:10 – he accuses God’s people thru speaking “lies” = He is a slanderer).
5.9. So how do stop bomb building? BY dealing with stuff ASAP. The stronger the anger or vexing the situation, the sooner you should be seeking to resolve it. God has not made us to suppress such feelings or problems. That’s not loving to the other person nor healthy for us or our relationships. It ends in bombs going off with a blast radius much larger than it would have been if it had been dealt with in short fashion.
5.10. Code to live by (then), don’t build bombs – instead (once more) seek to resolve the problems you have with someone else immediately – ASAP.