|Gossip! It is the unspoken sin in many churches today. We dress it up as “concerns” for other folks, but many times it is just plain ol’ gossip. And once gossip is set loose, it can’t be stopped. You may have heard the story of the young boy who one day went to a monk and said, “I have said something about my friend that wasn’t true. I thought it was, but it wasn’t and now he is mad. What can I do?”
The monk said, “Take a feather and put it on every step in the neighborhood.”
And so the boy put out a couple of hundred feathers. He went back to the monk and said, “OK. Now what?”
“Now go pick them up.” But when the boy went to pick them up, most of them had been blown away by the wind, to which the monk said, “Once you gossip, it’s nearly impossible to stop it.”
Before you go out and start spreading something around, think about the damage that will be caused by your words. If you wouldn’t want to say it in front of that person, then should you really be saying it? Gossiping is one of the quickest ways you can wound someone deeply. So today, be careful with your words.
A perverse person stirs up conflict,
|I love to hear stories about what God has done in a person’s life. A while back I was talking to a friend who had been on an Emmaus walk. For those of you who have not been on an Emmaus walk it is a 3 day retreat where you are showered by the grace of God. For many, it is one of the most powerful moments in their Christian walk. The friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook and you could just tell the excitement and the realization of what he had just experienced. As he was telling me this, I had to stop and look up and say, “Thanks, God” for what He had done for this man.
As a pastor, I get to hear all kind of stories. Some about tragedies that people have experienced and about struggles they go through. At those moments, I lift a prayer saying, “Help them, God.” And then I get to see God at work. More often than not, those very same people are back in my office telling me what God has done for them through their difficulty. Sometimes it’s where God has performed a healing, or where they were finally able to find a job, but for most it is about they had experienced the love of God in ways they had never before. When I hear that, I look up and “Thank You, God.”
Like Paul, it is great to be able to hear about the faith of others, and what God has done and is doing in their life. It brings so much joy to me and it makes me wonder….Why don’t we talk about it more?
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Not everything is equal. If I go to the store and I pick up a $4 mug and smash it to the ground, I may get in trouble, but no one is calling for my head. But let’s say that I go to that same store and pick up a $50,000 ancient artifact (hey! Walmart is very diverse in what they now sell….), I would have people wanting me to do a life of hard labor after being tarred and feathered. Why? Because one was worth something, but the other was of the utmost value.
Here in our text, God demands that anyone who sheds the blood of a human (whether that is an animal or a man) should have their own blood shed. Now, let’s put on hold how this looks in the justice system (another discussion for another day) and let’s focus on why this is.
Why demand such a high price? The answer is simple. Human Life is sacred. Your life is sacred! You are made in the image of God, and that means that within all of creation you stand out as the unique image bearer of the Creator! Remember that today. You are (although broken and marred) an image bearer of the Creator of Creation.
But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.
Have you ever brushed your teeth and rolled, squeezed, and pressed to get that last pea sized drop of toothpaste out of the tube? You find it to be beyond empty with that sucking vacuum sound. Nothing left in the tube. That happened to me and I remember the next morning I went to brush my teeth and there was nothing to brush them with…except my girl’s toothpaste. At the time, my girls were younger so now this toothpaste was the sparkling bubble gum flavor toothpaste. It is great for kids. But when I brushed my teeth, one word came to mind…. “Yuck!” I felt like I had to brush my teeth again to get the taste of the toothpaste out of my mouth. Now, if I had been about 30 years younger, I would have loved it. But not so much now. I wanted Adult toothpaste, not kids. I had matured so my taste had changed.
The author of Hebrews tells us that as mature Christians we should crave the meat of our faith and not simply stick with milk. We are to grow up in our faith. Part of what the author was dealing with was people who refused to act like a mature Christian. They weren’t living a righteous life. So the author says, “really? By now, I shouldn’t have to be telling you that is not what you are supposed to be doing. You should know better.”
Is there something in our life that we keep doing that we know we really shouldn’t. Is it in the way we act towards others? Is it in how we pout when we don’t get our way? Is it how we gossip about others? It can be a whole list of things. But maybe it’s time that we grow up. As Christians, we are to be constantly growing more like Christ, not more like a 13 year old.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Have you ever watched an animal ready to pounce on something? It is fascinating. They are like a spring that is coiled and ready to explode. And once it explodes from its position, it is hard to stop it. One of the key things to pouncing (or so I have heard from the animal kingdom shows, plus my dog throws me some advice every now and then) is crouching. Crouching is when you are low, unseen, folks are unaware of you, and then you catch at a moment where they are vulnerable and then (and only then) do you pounce.
Isn’t it interesting that God tells Cain that sin is “Crouching” at his door. It is was there waiting on him. It was hiding, waiting to pounce. And sin used the moment of Cain’s jealously of his brother to pounce on Cain. What was causing the “Crouching”? He is was angry. He was downcast. He was wanting to blame someone else for his not doing right. God warned him, but he didn’t listen.
This morning, take an inventory of where you are. Look around you. What attitudes and behaviors are you nursing that is allowing sin to crouch in your life. It desires to have you, but you must master it. How? Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in this world!
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Playdoh. I wish I could say that I was creative with it, but the truth is that I am pushing it to say that I can even make a decent snake from it. But as I sit at the table with a bunch of little kids, I like to imagine all the possibilities that exist within this little lump of colored clayish material. For some reason, I get this image when I read this text of the earth being empty and formless and God hovering over the waters. Think of all the possibilities! God could have made the earth flat but instead made it round (Sorry Kyrie Irving…it is round!). He could have made everything in shades of gray with no color. He could have made everything exactly the same so that the earth looked similar to a 1950’s suburban subdivision with cookie cutter houses. Could you imagine if everything looked like (insert an ugly state name here…I chose to remain silent for fear of hatred remarks from others)? The point is that it was empty and formless but God was right there to make creation into something glorious. Isn’t that also what He does to us? Not that we are formless (though I do wish I had a little less apple form in my waist…that is besides the point…), but that we are often left feeling empty, without really knowing who we are or what we are there for…but there is God hovering right above us ready to fill us with His beauty, His glory, and His life. And He makes such wonderful and beautiful things with us.
So today, think that of all the things God could have made…He made you. Of all the things He could have filled you with…He chose to fill you with His Spirit. You are not empty and formless….you are the image of the Living God!
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.