It’s not fair!

no fair

“It’s not FAIR!”

How many times we who are parents have heard these words from our children! As much as we try, they still find inequity, and they can be quick to let us know.

Not only children, but adults can also be prone to voice the same complaint. Using more mature terminology, of course, but just reading the news we find an abundance of discontent due to people’s perception of injustice done to them. Righteous or not, many causes are fueled by people’s feelings of entitlement. We have rights, you know!

The process of human maturity is simply our learning that we are not the center of the universe. A baby is born with no consciousness of others’ needs. As we grow physically, hopefully we will also mature emotionally and socially. Some children progress rapidly in their ability to respond to the needs of others, but unfortunately many adults have a hard time leaving selfishness behind.

I used to think that true maturity and unselfishness would be to accept the fact that life isn’t fair, and be able to bear a reasonable amount of unfairness toward us without acting out like a two-year-old. But I can see now that maturity goes a step further; “not fair” does have a place in our unselfish vocabulary.

  • It’s not fair that I have so much comfort when others around me have so little.
  • It’s not fair that children should be deprived of their childhood and education to help support their families.
  • It’s not fair that young girls suffer abuse that changes the course of their lives by becoming adolescent mothers.
  • It’s not fair that I should enjoy a right relationship with God when others have not even had the opportunity to meet Him.

And the list goes on.

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the needy. Open your mouth, judge righteousness, and defend the poor and needy. (Prov. 31:8-9)

True maturity and unselfishness is more than just turning the other cheek when we are wronged.  May we grow in willingness to sacrifice some of our comfort to bring comfort to others.

Advertisements

So why should the church meet together?

build up

“I don’t go to church for the people. I only go for the Word of God!”

Somehow when my friend made that statement the other night in my home group it troubled me. She sounded so pleased that her motives were correct; she was sure that her priorities were in order.

I know what she was referring to; she has been hurt by people gossiping and judging one another in church meetings. She meant that she doesn’t go for appearance, or to make an impression on others. As she elaborated on her comment, I could see that she often goes in spite of the other people there.

However, I couldn’t help but think about what Word of God says about our reasons for meeting together. The principles in that same Word (that she was making her only priority in congregating) mention many other reasons than just listening to preaching. (Actually, I have found that when preaching is mentioned in the New Testament, it generally refers to sharing the Gospel outside of the believers’ meetings!)

For example:

  • And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • …be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:18-19)
  • Then how is it, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be for building up. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
  • And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful.
    Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:15-16)

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t include good, solid Bible teaching in our priorities for meeting together. Certainly God desires to unify and build us up as a body through the teaching of His Word. But I have found that many people who put that reason on top of the list do so because they have not developed the habit of digging into God’s Word on their own at home. I can understand that if a person didn’t eat at home they would be starved for a good spiritual meal once a week! But God’s best is for us to seek Him daily, and from the overflow of what He speaks to us we can build each other up when we gather together.

What has your experience been?

How can we encourage people to build each other up?

 

No longer orphans

Afghan orphan child

As we sat around the table, all at once I could feel a hush

as they considered what I had just said. 

Every week, I lead a Bible study group at a local shelter for battered women and their children. I had felt strongly that I needed to begin teaching about the fatherhood of God, as many of these women had had poor examples of a father, which influenced their view of God the Father. We were all reading from John 14, where Jesus describes his relationship with his Father. Until now the ladies had been interacting, commenting to one another on different details of the study.

But then I read verse 18, and all of us felt the truth of it sink in:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

I had prefaced the passage by asking them about their fathers. Of about a dozen, a couple of them never knew their father, several commented that their fathers had been violent and abusive. Only a couple had grown up with a loving, secure relationship with their father.

Reading this verse brought to the surface the deep feelings in most of them that they had been in fact fatherless, and gave them new hope in deepening this relationship with their heavenly Father. I saw a few tears as I shared about the differences between the father that they had experienced and the One that they were now learning about.

The same way that we can feel alone in a crowd, we can feel abandoned in the midst of relationships. No human relationship can even come close to supplying the need we have for God, but when we are in touch with His love, guidance and provision all our other relationships can come into focus.

We have Jesus’ promise: “I will not leave you as orphans.” He goes on to say, “…you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” That’s real intimacy.

Have you entered into this deep fellowship with our Father and His intense love for you?

Running on empty

Image

We don’t get too far on empty, unless we want to push the car.

1 Corinthians 13: http://tinyurl.com/nojtbd

If we love, it will be expressed in actions. We know what some of those actions will be; we know what love looks like in practice.

But it is so easy to fall into doing the works, without evaluating if we are motivated by love, or only wanting to “do what is right”. Apparently, from reading the passage above, it is possible to do all of the visible works that could be an expression of love, but do them without love: prophecy, sacrifice, speaking in tongues, mountain-moving faith and the rest.

All of these things can be empty, void of the most important ingredient. We do them as part of our routine, and run the risk of falling into self-righteousness. I see so many Christians get burned out, fall into discouragement and want to quit as a result of running on empty.

We can evaluate our “love level” by observing our complaints and frustrations:

  • Do we get frustrated if our efforts aren’t appreciated?
  • Are we becoming weary of doing what we are expected to do?
  • Does it bother us when situations seem unfair to us?
  • Is it irritating to us when others don’t do their part to help us in our work?
  • Do we complain about other people’s attitudes?

I’m not saying that if we love others that all these problems will disappear, but at least we will be able to deal with the source.

But if we do find that our love has cooled off somewhat toward those that we help, what can we do to rekindle it? I believe that as we focus on God’s love for us and for others, we will find that our love will grow. Considering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and his unconditional love that is our source of love, we can tap into it and be renewed.

And as with many problems, when we realize that we have the problem we are halfway to the solution. 

What are your symptoms of burnout and how have you dealt with them?