What Are You Looking For?

We live in cynical times. You may have had someone ask, “How do you know when a politician is lying?” And as you smirk and laugh you answer, “When his lips are moving.” The lies, hypocrisy, and unrighteous actions by our politicians, many religious figures, government bureaucrats, and community leaders is staggering. It is so easy to dismiss most of what they say and just go on with life.

One of issues with cynicism is that it becomes presumptuous. It almost always looks for the worst in people. It is toxic to friendships and causes feelings to be hurt. When we presume too much we think we know why another person, party, or group acts and speaks in the way they do. And yet, it is most often baseless, being void of fact. It happens at work. Why did they do my job for me? Are they trying to get me fired? It happens in marriage. Why did she do that? What does he want? What have they done? And it happens in the church. Why are they doing that? What’s their agenda? What direction are they headed?

What is the problem here? Or, maybe it might be better if we asked, where is the problem? The source lies in our heart as it is the beginning point for all we say and do, Matthew 15.15-20. Somehow we convince ourselves that we think we can read the hearts of other people. The only person who knows what he or she is thinking is them, not you, 1 Corinthians 2.12-13. You can think you know what their motives are, but who are you to make a determination? God has not blessed you with the power to know what someone else is thinking.

What does it say about a person’s heart when they assume the worst? Does it reflect sinful attitudes of jealousy, anger, slander, bitterness, rivalry, and hostility?

How do we keep from acting presumptuously?

Get the Facts. Don’t assume. Ask. Go straight to the source. Don’t “ask advice” from someone else. Search out the facts, Proverbs 25.2.

Don’t assume the worst in people. Love is the identifying mark of the Christian and one of its defining points is how it rejoices in the truth ...believes all things and hopes all things, … 1 Corinthians 13.7. It is sad to see some Christians who actually seem to hope for the worst in their sister congregations, finding any difference in attitude & practice as a "delicious morsel” to share with others. May we be aware of the warning found in Psalm 101.5: I will destroy anyone who secretly slanders his neighbor; I cannot tolerate anyone with haughty eyes or an arrogant heart.

Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Some people are so sensitive that others have to carefully engage with them so as not to offend or upset them. If you are struggling with what someone has said, or what is going on in the church, you have the responsibility to go straight to the other party and get things worked out, Matthew 5.23-24. Jesus says this is even more important than going to worship!

So what do you look for in others? Just because we live in a cynical world does not mean we have to follow in its ways. And just because many of our authority figures, politicians, and leaders are hypocritical doesn’t mean everyone else is. Let’s follow in steps of Jesus who, committed no son, and no deceit was found in his mouth, 1 Peter 2.22.
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Matthew Allen

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