If anything is in short supply right now, it’s peace. But peace is never a product of our circumstances, it’s always a by-product of what we choose to pursue. Join us as we discover six surprising things God calls us to set our sights on that will bring us peace that cannot be stolen by our circumstances.
For most of us amidst the pandemic, or just because of how our life is going, we aren’t feeling a lot of peace. But peace isn’t a product of our current circumstances, it is a product of what (or who) we pursue. We begin a new sermon series with a focus on humility and its counterpart, pride. When we pursue character even in the middle of whatever trials we’re facing, the focus shifts and suddenly peace becomes a real possibility.
Craig: Hey, welcome to Mission Hills. So glad you’re with us, whether you’re joining us in person or online or a Mission Hills Watch Party. So, so good to have you with us. If you are in person, feel free to go ahead and have a seat right now. We’re starting a new sermon series today called “Chasing Peace.” And the reality is that we probably are all facing a bunch of circumstances in which peace seems in pretty short supply. I know, for me, this pandemic has been the longest, hardest season of my life as a church leader. I think I’ve had seasons where the struggles were longer. They went on for longer, but they weren’t nearly as hard, and I’ve also had some seasons where, honestly, the challenges were harder, but they didn’t go on for this long. This is the longest, hardest challenge in my life, and I know a lot of you probably feel that way for a variety of reasons, and for a variety of circumstances. Some of us are experiencing stress and a loss of peace in our lives because we’re worried about whether or not we’re going to keep our jobs, or maybe we’ve already lost our jobs, or maybe you’re worried. You own a business, or you lead a company and you’re worrying that you might have to let people go, or maybe you’ve already had to do that, and that is taking peace out of your life. Or maybe you’re just trying to figure, “How on earth am I supposed to homeschool my kids and do the job that allows me to afford the home in which I’m trying to homeschool the kids?” Right? That’s a little bit stressful. Maybe there’s a relationship crisis or a health crisis.
The reality is, I think, we’re all facing circumstances that don’t seem to be exactly producing peace in our lives, but here’s an interesting truth. We kind of need to get a handle on this at the beginning of this series. Peace is never a product of our circumstances. Peace is never a product of our circumstances. It’s never produced by our circumstances, or circumstances can never actually give us anything like peace. If you think about it, even if the circumstances are perfect, even if you manage to get everything in your life lined up perfectly in that moment, it’s exactly what you always dreamed, it’s all there, it can change, you know, at a moment’s notice, right? And so, even if everything is perfect right now, it won’t stay that way, and the more that we try to get peace out of our circumstances, the less peace that we find that we actually have. But the good news is that peace is still possible. It’s just not a product of our circumstances. The truth of the matter is, is that peace is really, it’s a by-product of other things that we choose to pursue. But here’s the problem. Most of the things we choose to pursue are actually changes in our circumstances. We don’t necessarily think of it that way, but that’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re pursuing, you know, a new job or it’s a degree that will lead to a job, or it’s a promotion inside the job, or maybe it’s a little bit more money, a raise, right? Maybe it’s a possession that we can buy with that more money, or maybe it’s a relationship, right? “If I just had a husband,” “If I just had a boyfriend,” “If I just had a wife,” “If I just had a girlfriend, I would have peace in my life.” But the reality is, speaking to the men here more than the women, having a woman in your life is not necessarily going to bring you peace. I’m going to get in trouble for that one. And the same thing is true, women, right? Having a guy in your life isn’t necessarily going to bring you peace. In fact, the reality is that relationships, while they’re wonderful, often create conflict, right? They leach peace out of our lives.
And so, the reality is that we got to be really careful that what we’re pursuing is not actually just a change in our circumstances hidden under some other label. Here’s what we actually do need to be pursuing now is that peace is a by-product of pursuing godly character. Well, what we’re pursuing is not a change in our circumstances, what we’re pursuing is a change in our character and who we are when we’re pursuing godly character. We actually begin to find that peace comes regardless of our circumstances, and so what we’re going to do in this series is we’re going to talk about what kinds of character God made us for and how it is that we can move in that direction and thereby experience peace. And we’re going to be guided in this series by a very powerful passage from the Book of Proverbs, Proverbs chapter 6, verse 16 says this, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him” Sounds good, right? Everybody excited? I’m excited. “Six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” If you’re the type A person, I’m going to explain why he says six and then seven. There are seven things mentioned, but two of them are lies, actually. He hates lying so much that he mentioned it twice, but there’s six separate things there that he says he hates.
Now, you’re probably asking the question, it’s very natural to ask the question, what does all these things that God hates have to do with me experiencing peace? Very natural question, but it’s the wrong question. The right question is, why does God hate these things? What is it about these things that causes God to detest them? And the answer is this, God hates these things because he loves us. Do you hear me, church? God hates these things because he loves us. And because he loves us and because he knows how much these things and the more of these things are present in our lives, how little good we experience, how little peace we experience because God loves us, he hates these things because of the damage that they do. And so, what we’re going to do in this series is actually we’re going to flip the tables and we’re going to talk about, well, what if we pursued the opposite of each of these things? Because God hates these things because of the damage they do, so maybe God loves the other things because of the good they bring, because of the peace they bring into our lives. And so, we’re going to start today with the opposite of haughty eyes. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that nobody has used the word “haughty” in a sentence in, like, the last 100 years. It’s like an old English word, but basically, it means arrogance. It means pride. He says, “God hates haughty eyes.” He hates prideful, arrogant eyes. He hates eyes that look at the world through a lens of pride because that destroys peace. So, what we’re going to do today is we’re going to talk about how to pursue the opposite of pride, which, of course, would be humility. Humility.
And for that, we’re going to be in the gospel or in the Book of Romans 12 if you want to go and start making your way there, Romans chapter 12, verse 1. Love this passage. It’s become a passage that I go to over, and over, and over again because it’s a roadmap to humility, and in the process of gaining humility, I believe we also come to experience more and more peace. Man, it’s loaded, actually. What we’re going to find today is both an explanation of why it is that pride kills peace and why it is that humility produces peace, but we’re also going to get nine, I kid you not, nine separate humility hacks, nine separate, very practical things that if you do these, or if…honestly, if you just do one of those, and that’s my prayer for you today is that as we go through these, the Holy Spirit would sort of jump into your heart at some moment and go, “That one right there. That’s the one you need to pay attention to. That was the one that will help you to develop and grow in humility, which will ultimately produce peace.” We all have to go in humility. I don’t know if anybody here feels like you got humility nailed. Anybody want to admit that? Of course not, because the moment you think you’ve nailed humility, you’re not so humble, right? And the reality is that humility is not something that comes naturally. We’re not born with it. We have to grow in it.
I’ve been on a 31-year journey, actually, in the process of trying to grow in humility, and I know that because this morning, actually, I got a Facebook message from an old high school friend. She was cleaning out a box and she came to the box that said, “High school stuff,” and she found a picture of this… Can we throw that picture up here? This is a tape of music that I wrote and recorded in 1989. And you catch that one title right there? In 1989, I wrote a song called “Humility” because I realized even at that point in my life that that wasn’t something that I was necessarily experiencing or practicing to the degree that I should, and there was a sense in my heart, even 31 years ago, that I needed to flip the switch on that. I needed to turn things around. I needed to grow in humility, and so I literally have been on a humility search for 31 years, and I wish I could say I’ve made a whole lot more progress in those three decades than I have, but God has taught me a number of things about humility, and a lot of them actually come here from Romans chapter 12. Romans chapter 12, verse 1, Paul is writing to the church at Rome and he says this. He says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.” And it’s such an interesting statement. He says, “I urge you to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,” and what we need to recognize is that’s an oxymoron. The idea of a living sacrifice made no sense in the ancient world because, in the ancient world, worship was defined primarily by killing sacrifices. You put sheep, or goats, or whatever on the altar and you killed them, and that was your primary act of worship. But what Paul is doing here is he’s flipping that. He’s redefining worship, and he can do that because Jesus was the last sacrifice.
Jesus, his life was of infinite value, and so his death was of infinite value. He paid for every sin that could ever be committed, and so we don’t need to sacrifice animals. And so, now what Paul is doing is he’s redefining worship. He’s saying, “Worship is not defined by what you kill on the altar, worship is defined by you offering God your living body.” And do you see that that’s an oxymoron, a living sacrifice? It doesn’t make sense, but he says, “Offer your bodies,” meaning not the body of a cow, not the body of a sheep. You offer yourself as a living sacrifice. And what he’s saying is so important. What he’s saying is that living for God is our truest worship of God. Living for God is our truest worship of God. Our truest worship of God is not defined by how loudly we sing the songs. It’s not defined by whether or not we wave our hands around, or even dance, or any of those kinds of things. You can do that. You can be incredibly passionate in a worship service, but your primary worship is actually how you live for God. Living for God is our truest worship of God is what he’s saying. He’s saying, “Live for God and then you will truly worship him.” Okay. So, how do I do that? How do I live for God? What is God looking for? Well, verse 2, he says this, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Now, let’s break that down. He says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” In other words, he says there’s a kind of a default setting for the world. There’s a way of living, but actually, it’s not a way of living. It’s a way of thinking, okay? There’s a default pattern of thinking that the world engages in, and that’s why he says, “I don’t want you to engage in that pattern of thinking,” but he says, “I want you to be transformed by the renewing of your,” what? “…of your mind.” Because he says, “It’s a pattern of thinking that I’m concerned about. The world thinks this way, but I don’t want you to think that way anymore. I want you to think the way God thinks.” And it’s only when you think the way God thinks that you can begin to understand God’s will for your life. And, by the way, when he says, “Will for your life here,” he’s not talking about your will for this career or that career. He’s not talking about his will for, you know, this degree, or that degree, or that college, or that woman, or that guy. It’s none of that kind of stuff that we often think of. He’s talking about the day-to-day will that involves us living for God. He says, “Hey, true worship now is living for God.” Well, how do you do that?
Well, the first thing that needs to happen is you need to change your thinking. Don’t think in the pattern of this world, think in this new way, in this renewed way. It’s going back to what was originally intended, and only then he says, “Well, you know what it looks like to live for God.” Okay, well, how do we do that then? What is this pattern that we need to break and this new pattern we need to come to? Well, he goes on and explains it. He says this, “For just as each of us has one…” I’m sorry, “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you, ‘Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.'” Here it is. What’s the new pattern of thinking? Don’t think of yourself too highly. In other words, don’t have a bunch of…pride. It’s pride that causes us to think of ourselves too highly, and what he says there is, “That’s the essence of what I’m dealing with.” In other words, pride is the pattern that we’re supposed to break. The pattern of this world is a prideful pattern. It has been ever since Adam and Eve sinned. Honestly, the sin itself was ultimately an issue of pride. You probably heard that old saying, “Pride goes before the fall.” It literally went before the fall. It literally went before the first sin. Doesn’t mean that God made Adam and Eve and everything was perfect. They had new minds, they thought the way they were supposed to think, they were servants of God, they were loving God, worshiping God. They were extending his influence in creation. That was the way they were supposed to think, but then the devil came in and he convinced Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
We talked about this before, but just in case you’re new, I want to make sure you understand. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that phrase, knowing good from evil, in the ancient Near East, that was a euphemism for deciding for yourself. When a young person got to a certain age, they would say, “Well, now you know good from evil.” In other words, you’re responsible for your own decisions. You call your own shots. That’s what the tree represented. When they ate from the fruit of that tree, they were basically deciding for themselves because God said don’t, but they said, “I think I’ll decide for myself. I think I will,” right? They said, “God, I appreciate the life, and the breath, and all those other things, but I think I’ll take it from here. I think I’ll decide what’s good for me. I think I’ll decide what’s bad for me. I don’t really need to listen to you. I’ll call the shots from here on out.” That’s pride, and what did it do? It created chaos, right? The reality is that pride creates conflict. Pride creates conflict. Pride created conflict between human beings and God, right? You know the story. Instead of running to God when God came into the garden after they ate from the tree, they ran from God. That’s conflict, right? And it makes sense. If you think about it, you know how magnets…you got to have opposites to attract. Well, God’s the big “G” God, but when we decided to call our own shots, we tried to make ourselves into little “g” gods, that’s the same pole. And what happens when the same kind of pole try to get together? They repel. Creates conflict. It created conflict between us and God. It created conflict between each other as well, right? Because when God said, “Hey, you guys didn’t eat from that tree, did you?” The man stepped up and took charge. He led his family and he blamed the woman. “It was her that you put here, actually. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but, you know, whatever, you’re God, right?” And then she blames the snake, and then their kids kill each other, right? That’s conflict, right? Pride creates conflict, and ultimately, it creates conflict between us and all of creation itself.
The Book of Romans earlier says, “All creation groans under our sin.” All the bad things we experience, the pandemics, the hurricanes. All that stuff that happens in creation, it happens because of our sin. Pride creates conflict, but humility produces peace. Humility produces peace. It’s humility that allows us to accept what God did for us. He loved us so much, He sent his own Son to die. Jesus died, and on the cross, by his blood, he purchased forgiveness that we could never earn on our own. We could never be good enough to have a relationship with God anymore, but God loves us so much that Jesus died in order to provide that forgiveness if we’re humble enough to accept it. But as long as we stay prideful, “No, I can do it. I can be better. I can get there,” we’ll never be able to experience peace with God. But humility brings peace with God. Humility brings peace with other people, right? Humility says, “I don’t need to be right as much as I need for us to be right. I don’t need to be the one who gets it as long as we’re able to move forward together. Let’s figure out how to do that together. I’m willing to set down my agenda, or my preferences, or whatever so that we can make progress together.” That creates peace. And then, ultimately, when Jesus returns, humility produces a peace, even between us and all of creation. We get to experience it again one day where it was intended to be. Pride creates conflict, but humility produces peace. This is all about peace because it’s all about humility, which produces it. Okay.
So, we’re not supposed to think too highly of ourselves. We’re not supposed to think pridefully. Instead, he says, “But rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” That’s a good word. “Sober” is a good word there. A great translation because “sober,” of course, means undistorted by something. Something that shouldn’t be in there that’s affecting the way that we see things. Something that shouldn’t be in there that’s affecting the way that we see the world, right? I mean, that’s what alcohol does. It distorts the way that we see ourselves. Its’s what drugs do, they distort the way that we see ourselves. And in the same way, he says, “There’s something that if you allow it in there, and if you allow yourself to look at the world through this thing, it will distort your view of the world. It will distort your view of yourself,” and what is that thing that distorts? It is pride. He says, “Instead of thinking too highly or so pridefully, think of yourself with sober judgment,” and the word there really basically means you need to be able to think realistically about yourself. See, some of you have this idea that humble people are the ones that are going around going, “I’m terrible. I’m so bad at everything. I have nothing of value to offer. There’s nothing good in me. No, I’m sorry.” That’s Eeyore. That’s not humility.
What Paul says here is, “Think of yourself soberly. Think of yourself realistically, undistorted by pride.” Listen, humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking realistically about yourself. Okay. What does that mean? What does it mean to think about myself realistically? He goes on and he says this, “Think of yourself with sober judgment, realistically in accordance with the faith that God has distributed to each of you.” And that seems like kind of a confusing sentence, and I know it is because there have been a lot of debate between scholars, and Bible teachers, and pastors about what exactly does that mean that God’s distributed faith? But honestly, a lot of the confusion comes from the way that we translate it. Let me give you what I think is a pretty literal translation which I think clarifies what God is saying here. What he’s really saying is, “But rather, don’t think of yourself too highly, but with sober judgment realistically since God has distributed to each of you a part of that which comes from faith.” God has given each of us a part of that which comes from faith. And his point is, whatever part you have, it’s not the whole picture. You’re not all that and a bag of chips. At best, you’re all that, but somebody else has the bag of chips, okay? The point is, you’ve only got part of the whole thing. Now, what is this “that which comes from faith”? What is it that I have a part, and you have a part, and you have a part, and everybody out there has a part? What is it? And the answer is, he’s talking here about spiritual gifts. He’s talking about gifts that God has given us. Here’s what he says next. He says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, as followers of Jesus, though many, we, as many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.” Together, we make up the church.
Now, by the way, if that language sounded a little familiar or if you feel like “I’ve heard that language very similar to it somewhere else,” the answer is you find it in the Book of 1 Corinthians chapter 12, where Paul is talking about spiritual gifts. We did an extended teaching on that last year, and if you want to dive into this a little bit more, you can go back there and listen to those messages. But Paul uses very similar language here because he’s talking about spiritual gifts. Look, he goes on. He says, ‘We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith. If it is serving, then serve and if it’s teaching, then teach. If it is to encourage, then give encouragement. If it is giving, then give generously. If it is to lead, do it diligently. If it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” He says, “Whatever gift that God has given you, I want you to use it,” but notice what he says, “I want you to use it as it’s intended. I want you to use it to do,” what? “I want you to use it to bless other people. I want you to use it to serve other people,” all those gifts that he lists, and then he says, “Go ahead and do that,” they’re all about helping other people. They’re always about focusing on other people, lifting them up, blessing them, serving them. And what he’s really saying, ultimately, is humility hack number one, okay? Remember I said there’s going to be nine humility hacks today, and your job is to find that one that God is speaking to you to go and…”That’s the one I need to grab ahold of, put into place in my life so I can grow in humility and ultimately in peace.” Humility hack number one is this, he’s saying, “Humility comes from seeing our gifts as a way to serve others,” okay? And that’s true whether we’re talking spiritual gifts, which come from faith, right? That’s why he says, “You’ve got a part of that which comes from faith,” because spiritual gifts are the gifts that God gives us when we put our faith in Jesus, but we only get one of them. Sometimes you might have two or three, but the point is, you don’t have all of them.
Other people together have the whole package, and that’s why we can make up the church together, okay? So, we’re talking spiritual gifts, but it’s also true of learned gifts, those gifts that we develop over time through experience. It’s also true of natural gifts. Things that we’re born able to do. Every gift that God has given has been given to you so that you can serve other people. And that’s the first humility hack. If you want to grow in humility and therefore peace, recognize that it comes from seeing our gifts as a way to serve other people. Everything you have is a gift intended to help you serve other people. Then he goes on, and we’re going to move pretty quickly through these. You’re looking for one of them, though. You’re looking for the one that the Holy Spirit says, “That’s the one.” He says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” You see the humility in that, right? You see the lack of pride, how we’re changing the lens. He says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” He says, “Be more concerned about other people’s honor than yours.” And that’s humility hack number two. Humility comes from prioritizing the honor of others. It means when somebody compliments you for something, says, “You did a great job. You’re really good at that,” instead of going, “You’re right. I am,” what you want to do is you want to move that honor to somebody else, you want to point out the team that helped you succeed. You want to point out the family that is behind you, supporting you, enabling you to do those kinds of things. You want to take the honor that comes your way and you want to repurpose it, okay? It’s not that you deny a compliment. You just repurpose it to honor somebody else who’s contributed to your success. He says, “Honor others above yourself.” That’s humility hack number two. It comes…humility comes from prioritizing the honor of others. And he says this, verse 11, he says, “Never be lacking in zeal, in passion, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.” He says be passionate. Be zealous, but be zealous about serving the Lord, right?
He says, “Humility comes,” this is hack number three, “Humility comes from being more passionate about God’s reputation than ours.” Be more passionate about God’s reputation than ours. Some of you may know because I learned this from somebody that I’ve been looking to to teach me humility for 30 some-odd years. Some of you may know that if you ever say to me, “Hey, that was a great sermon,” my standard response is, “I’m really glad God used it.” And I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good sermon. I hope it was. I work hard at that, but I want God’s reputation to be polished more than mine. And I learned that from somebody. It’s one of the ways that I practice developing and pursuing humility. It’s about figuring out how do I polish God’s reputation rather than mine? Be zealous for God’s reputation. He says, “Be joyful,” this is verse 12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” And that one is hard because the only reason you have to have those things is because your circumstances aren’t great, right? He says, “Be joyful in hope.” You have to hope still because your circumstances still aren’t quite what you’re hoping for. You have to be patient in affliction because you’re in difficult circumstances, there’s pain that’s coming, there is persecution that’s coming, there’s difficulty coming, but you’re supposed to be patient. You’re supposed to be faithful in prayer, asking God to move and change your circumstances rather than taking charge of changing it all yourself under your own timetable. And here’s humility hack number four. Humility comes from learning to trust God’s timing, to be willing to sit even in difficult circumstances sometimes because it may very well be that God has something profound that he wants to teach you or something even more profound he wants to do in you and through you because of that circumstance.
I hate this pandemic. I have been praying for the end of this pandemic. How many of you have been praying for the end of this pandemic? That is not enough hands, which might be part of the problem. That’s a whole different message, though. I have been praying for the end of this pandemic, but I’ve also been praying, “God, would you teach me what I need to learn in the midst of this, and would you give me the patience to trust in your timing?” And that’s a humility issue, okay? Humility comes from learning to trust God’s timing, especially in circumstances we’re not thrilled about. He says, verse 13, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” In other words, humility comes from being generous. When we use our resources to bless those who have need, what we’re doing is we’re using our resource for what they’re intended for, which is to bless others, to serve others. We’re reminding ourselves, not only the purpose of those resources, but of our purpose in life. It’s to serve others.
Verse 14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” That one’s tough, but what he’s saying, humility hack number six, is that humility comes from asking how we can help even those who have hurt us. You find the person in your life that has caused you the most pain, and maybe this week you sit down, and you don’t pray for vengeance. You don’t even pray for peace. What if you pray, “Lord, how could I bless that person?” That takes humility, but in the process of doing that, it actually begins to grow humility in us. Humility comes from asking how we can help even those that have hurt us. Says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. That’s empathy. It means we take our eyes off of our circumstances, we take our eyes off of our pains, and we put them on to other people, and we rejoice with them in their circumstances that are good. We mourn with them in their circumstances that are painful. And I want to be honest with you, some of the people in my life who have blessed me the most during difficult times, I came to find out afterwards they were going through times that were much more difficult than mine. And yet, somehow, they listened to that verse and they came alongside me. They blessed me. They were present with me. They helped me. They served me. And from those people, I see, and have learned humility. Humility comes from practicing empathy. Put your eyes off your circumstances. Look at somebody else’s and either rejoice or mourn with them because of their circumstances. It will build humility, and with humility, peace.
He says, “Live in harmony with one another.” Live in harmony with one another. Here’s what I think this means. It means that humility comes from drawing bigger circles. What I mean by that is that, you know, we’re always kind of thinking in terms of us versus them, right? We draw circles and we go, like, “These are my people, and those are those people,” and then, of course, we find somebody in our circle, right? “These are my people, but wait, like, you don’t agree with me on that one? I thought we were on the same page in everything.” You have a slightly different theology, you have a slightly different view of politics, whatever it is. I’m… Just hang on a second, I’m gonna draw a little bit smaller circle. “These are my people. You’re not actually…you’re part of those people.” And we do that so much, right? We draw these ever-smaller circles, but humility comes from drawing the bigger ones to go, “Hey, you and I disagree with that, but you know what? We’re still both believers. We still both follow Jesus, even though we have some substantial disagreements.” Oh, I’m going to draw a little bit bigger circle because it turns out that we’re both followers of Jesus even though we have really different politics, but we’re still followers of Jesus, and I want to pay attention to what we have in common, not just what we have in conflict, you know. And the biggest circle you can draw is you can look at somebody that you disagree with on every single thing they think, and yet they were still made in the image of God, just like you. We’re both made as the image of God, which means that we are in a circle together.
Humility comes from drawing bigger circles, from focusing on what we have in common, not just what we have in conflict. And he says, “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.” And the Greek word for “low position” is also the Greek word for “humble.” He says, “Be willing to associate with humble people,” because humility hack number nine is that humility comes from the company that we keep. When we keep company with humble people, we become humble. When we keep company with prideful people, they leach it out of us. When we listen to prideful people, when we subscribe to their Twitter feed or their YouTube channel, we’re constantly looking what they’re doing on social media, prideful people leach humility out of us, too. Humility comes from the company we keep. I’ve been on a humility journey for 31 years, but there’s still people in my life that are there primarily because they’re humble. There’s a guy in my life, in particular, he’s on my speed dial on my phone that I call, and I call him to go, “Hey, here’s a situation. Here’s what I did. I’m really curious. How would you have handled that?” See, I’m not as far along as I’d like to be. If I were really far along, I would call him before I handle it, but I’m still working on it. But sometimes I call him and I go, “Here’s what I did. What do you think?” And then every single time he says, “Well, you know, gosh, I mean, if I had to be in it, it’s a difficult situation, but if I had to, I guess I’d probably do this or this.” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s better. That’s more humble. That is more godly.” He’s in my life because of that, because I need that example in my life. We all need those examples. Humility comes from the company we keep. And then finally he brings it home. He says, “Do not be conceited.” That’s where he started, right? “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.” Living for God is your greatest act of worship of God, and how do you do it? By breaking the pattern, not thinking about the world the way the world thinks about the world but thinking about everything the way God thinks about everything. Not thinking too highly of ourselves, not, here, he says, being conceited. And that’s not just a bunch of hacks to make you humble. It is a bunch of practices that will bring you peace.
Peace is a by-product of the pursuit of humility. I hope you see why that is. And so, I just have one question for you today. Which of those humility hacks will I focus on this week? My prayer is that the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about one of those, maybe two, but don’t do more than two. You try to do all of them, you’ll end up doing none of them. But one of them. Pursue it. If you need the list, you can find that. We’ll post it on the website. It will be on the app. Peace is a by-product of the pursuit of humility. So, which one of those humility hacks are you going to work on this week? Would you pray with me? God, we just confessed to you that we are not as humble as we should be. In spite of the fact that we know that you’re an awesome God and you’re God and we’re totally not, we often get it wrong. We act like we are little “g” gods and it creates conflict between us and you. It creates conflict between us and others, puts us into conflict with your creation itself. We recognize that pride kills peace, creates conflict. We accept the truth from your Word that humility produces peace, so Lord, we submit ourselves to you and ask that you teach us how to pursue humility and therefore to experience peace, which is its by-product.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you begin praying for those listening, watching, gathered around the world that don’t have a relationship with God. They don’t have faith in Jesus. And if that’s you, I just need to speak to you for a moment, and I need you to understand that humility is going to produce peace in your life. It’s the only thing that can truly produce peace because it takes humility to say to God, “I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry.” And it’s humility that allows us to take hold of God’s gift for us. God loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you. You can’t earn his grace. You can’t earn his love. You can’t earn his forgiveness. It’s not possible, but God made it possible. His own Son died to pay for your sins, and he offers you forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, a relationship with him. He offers all of that simply by accepting his gift. But it takes humility to accept from God what we could never produce on our own. And if there’s something stirring in your heart right now that says, “It’s time to humble yourself. It’s time to receive a gift that God wants to give you,” here’s how you do it wherever you are. You’re just going to have this conversation. “Hey, God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve been prideful. I’ve tried to do it on my own, and I’ve sinned. It has not worked out well. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying for me. God, thank you for raising your Son from the dead and offering me forgiveness by faith. Jesus, I’m ready to humble myself now to receive your gift of forgiveness, your gift of life, eternal life. Jesus, I’m humbling myself, and I choose to follow you. I’m saying yes to faith in you. Jesus, I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.”
Can we just take a moment to celebrate those who’ve made that decision for the first time today? So fantastic. And if you made that decision, we would love to know. We’d love to get some truth into your hands to help you figure out what it looks like to follow Jesus wherever you happen to be. If you’re watching online, there’s going to be a button that appears that says something like, “I committed my life to Jesus,” or, “I said yes to following Jesus.” Click that button. Let us know you made that decision today. If you’re watching online, you can just do this, text the word “Jesus” to 888111. Whichever way you do it, you’re going to get back a link. It’s going to tell you several things, five things that are true about you now, that you said yes to faith in Jesus, five things that you need to know as you begin following him. God bless. We’ll see you next week.
Deception pushed peace out of the world and invited conflict in, but we can work to invite peace back in by creating a foundation of truth. Without truth, grace cannot be extended by God or other humans.
Craig: Hey, welcome to Mission Hill, so glad to have you with us, whether you’re joining us online, in-person, or our Mission Hills Watch Party. So good to have you with us. We’re in the midst of a series called “Chasing Peace,” and here’s what we know so far. We know that peace is never a product of our circumstances. Even if you get your circumstances perfect, which never happens, right? But even if you do, you’re gonna be worried that they’re gonna change, and so there’s not peace in the midst of those circumstances. The other thing we know though is that peace is always a byproduct of the pursuit of godly character. Peace isn’t a product of our circumstances, it’s a product of who we are in the midst of our circumstances. And as we are pursuing godly character, as we’re moving forward and becoming like Jesus and joining him on mission, we actually find that we experience peace even when our circumstances aren’t exactly peace-producing. And so our guide in the series for pursuing godly character is actually found in the Book of Proverbs chapter 6, where God says this, Proverbs 6:16, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” We said last week that the reason God hates these things so much is because he loves us, and he knows the damage that these things do in our lives and how much these things push peace out rather than inviting it in.
So what we’re doing in this series is we’re pursuing the opposite of each of these things. Last week, we talked about experiencing peace by pursuing humility. This week, we’re gonna tackle experiencing peace by pursuing truth. And we know this is a big deal because, in a list of seven things, God actually takes two of the seven to talk about lies, right? Lying tongues and a false witness who pours out, spills out lies. Okay, so clearly, this is a big deal to God, and we’re gonna see why that is today. Because the reality is that truth telling invites peace, but when we go the other direction, we actually kill peace. Lies kill peace. And we’re actually gonna go to the invention of lying to explore that reality. And so if you wanna grab a Bible, and start making your way to the Book of Genesis, we’re gonna talk about the invention of lying, which is in Genesis chapter 3, if you’re gonna start making your way there. And while you’re making your way there, let me just go ahead and tell you a couple of things about today. First, I just want you to know that we’re gonna be talking today about truth in a very practical way. We’re not gonna be talking philosophically, okay? So, we’re not gonna ask tough philosophical questions like, what is truth, right? We’re not gonna be talking about, you know, my truth and your truth. We’re not gonna talk about moral relativism. We’re not gonna ask what…My all-time favorite question I ever got when I was living on college campus, there was a knock at my door late at night, there was a guy standing there kind of waving, I think he’d been smoking some stuff, and he goes, “Hey, dude, how do I know the color blue to me is the same color as it is to you?” I was like, “I don’t know, check the crayon box.” Like, we’re not gonna have those kinds of conversations today. Okay?
We’re talking about truth in a very practical way. We’re talking about lies in a very practical way. Here’s the practical side of it. A lie, that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. A lie is a deliberate distortion of reality to serve a personal agenda. Simple. Okay, there’s reality. Actually, we’re gonna talk just a little philosophically. Reality gets to define truth, right? If you say something that matches up with reality, that’s a true thing. If you say something that doesn’t match up with reality, if you distort it, especially for a personal agenda, then that’s a lie. So a lie is a deliberate distortion of reality to pursue a personal purpose, for some personal agenda you’re trying to advance. And you flip that around then, the truth is an accurate description of reality, even when it’s personally painful, accurately describing the way things really are, even when that it may be costly to do. But by the way, it’s interesting to me that we talk about a lie but we always talk about the truth in English, don’t we? And that’s interesting because really the thing is there’s thousands of ways to distort reality, there are thousands of ways to lie but there’s only one way to tell the truth because it’s whatever is accurately describing the way reality actually is. Okay? So we have lots of lies, but we only have one truth. So that’s kind of our practical approach to this. Okay? And really, what we’re looking to do today is three things. My hope today, my prayer has been that three things are gonna happen, number one, that we’re gonna walk out today with a better understanding what it looks like to follow Jesus. Okay? And help you follow Jesus better today by raising the truth level in your life.
I think the reality is we’re all gonna find that the truth level in our lives is not quite as high as it could be. So we’re gonna follow Jesus better by raising the truth level in our lives, and in that way, also experiencing greater peace. Okay? So if you feel like you could use a little bit more peace right now, I’m gonna give you a very practical way to do that, which is to raise the truth level in your life. Another thing I wanna tell you before we get into the story is, I’m not gonna talk about politics today. And I know that, you’re like, “How can you not talk about politics when you’re talking about truth-telling,” right? It’s such easy fruit. It’s low hanging fruit, right? I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna ask, like, cheesy questions like, how do you know when a politician is lying? And don’t yell out the answer because we’re not gonna do that. Okay? It’s too easy. It’s too cheap. It’s too cliche. I’m not gonna call out specific candidates and show examples of ways they have lied. Okay, we’re just not gonna talk about politics with one exception. Here’s the exception. If you’re not registered to vote, get registered to vote, got an important election coming up. If you’re not registered, get registered and then vote, and vote as a Christian. Okay? A vote is influenced, we’re gonna be responsible to Jesus for how we used our influence on earth. So, vote as a Christian. Vote as a Christian first. Think about the candidates. Think about the issues through the lens of your following Jesus, your faith, okay? And then cast your votes accordingly. That’s it. I know some of you are disappointed. You’re like, “Oh, there’s so many things you could have done there.” I know. As a pastor friend of mine once said, “My job as a pastor is to try not to disappoint you faster than you can stand.” Okay?
So, if you’re disappointed in me, I hope you’ll forgive me but we’re just not gonna go that direction. We’re gonna be practical. Learn how to follow Jesus better by raising the truth level and in that way, also raising the peace level in our lives. And we’re gonna do that by going to Genesis chapter 3. Now, Genesis chapter 3 takes place right after the creation and it’s where we understand that God has made everything and at this point, everything is good. Everything is perfect. Everything is at peace. Okay? The only thing that wasn’t perfect exactly was when God made Adam, the first man. And then he said, “Hey, it’s not good for him to be alone.” He made Eve and they have a perfect relationship with each other. They have a perfect relationship with God. They have a perfect relationship with the creation that they’re called to take care of. And so peace is the defining characteristic of the world up to this point. And then Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” First thing you need to understand is the serpent is not just a sneaky snake, okay? There’s more going on there. In fact, we know that this serpent is actually Satan. Okay? We know that because throughout the Bible, Satan is often described metaphorically as a serpent. Revelation 12:9 says this, “The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent,” ancient meaning all the way back to the very beginning, the first few pages of Scripture, “that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Okay? So, it’s not just a sneaky snake, this is the devil. Now, I don’t know if this was Satan possessing a snake. I don’t know if it was Satan sort of manifesting in the shape of a snake, or I don’t know if it’s just Satan being described metaphorically as a snake.I don’t know exactly what’s going on.
I don’t think it matters. The important thing to understand is this is a historical event. Okay? Adam and Eve, historical figures, Satan, an actual historical being, and they had an actual historical conversation here. And in that conversation, the serpent introduces deception into the world. He invents lying. But before we talk about his invention of lying, I want you to notice one of the things about that first verse. It says that the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. And you might even underline that word “Lord.” It’s gonna be incredibly important in just a moment. See, what’s going on there is God is being described not just as a person, but he’s being described in terms of his position, okay? He is not just God, he is the sovereign King of Creation. He’s the Lord. He’s the one who gets to call the shots. He’s the one who gets to decide what’s what, okay? It’s very, very important because look what happens next. The serpent, he, Satan, said to the woman, “Did God…?” We’ll just stop there for a second. Do you notice something missing? It’s not the Lord God, it’s just God. The title has been omitted. And that’s actually not an insignificant thing. It’s actually a pretty significant thing because what Satan’s doing there is he’s omitting a detail that’s a little bit inconvenient for him. He’s omitting the title because acknowledging that God is the Sovereign Lord over creation doesn’t really fit his agenda. It doesn’t fit the purpose that he’s trying to accomplish as he talks to Eve. What he’s trying to do actually is get Eve to think differently about God. And one of the ways he does that is by simply omitting his title. And I don’t want you to miss this. The very first lie was an omission. The very first lie was an omission.
I think that’s really important to recognize because the truth of the matter is, we all do this all the time. But we don’t call it lying, do we? Have you ever omitted something and somebody called you and said, “Hey, you lied.” And you’re like, “No, I didn’t. I just left something out. I left out an inconvenient detail. I left out something that I really did not really want to have to admit, and so I just omitted it.” Right? And that’s not lying, but the reality is, it is a distortion of reality. It’s deliberate distortion of reality. And the very first lie was an omission. And it’s actually one of the most common ways that we lower the truth level in our lives because we’re willing to omit things. You know, it’s the high school student whose parents come back after a week, and they’re like, “Hey, how was your weekend? What did you do?” “I just hung out at home.” Failing to admit that, well, yeah, there were 40 people here last night, and they kind of trashed the place. And actually, that was Saturday night, and I did hang out at home on Sunday because I was hungover. I didn’t lie. I just didn’t tell you everything, right? Yeah, yeah. But that’s a deliberate distortion of the truth. And we have to come to grips with this fact. Listen, when we omit something because it doesn’t assist our agenda, we lie. And we need to call it what it is. Because until we call it what it is, we’re never gonna be able to deal with it in the way that we need to deal with it. Okay? The very first lie was an omission. We do it all the time, but we often don’t call it lies. So, Satan said, “Did God…?” Omitting that title. By the way, interesting way we follow that exact thing is, I noticed this in the press. When there’s a president that whoever’s writing about or talking about that they don’t like, they suddenly become Mr. Notice that?
The press that doesn’t like President Trump, he’s not President Trump, he’s Mr. Trump. You go back a few years ago, people who didn’t like Obama, it wasn’t President Obama, it’s Mr. Obama. Little omission, a little downgrade because they’re trying to get us to change the way that we think about the person that they’re talking about. And so, omission serves a particular purpose. And so, Satan said, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” And it’s interesting, in the original Hebrew, this written in the word really is actually front-loaded into the question. So, it’s not so much is it really true? He goes, “Really? Really? Did God say you can’t eat from any tree in the garden?” And understand, he’s not trying to clarify the facts, he’s actually trying to create a feeling. He’s trying to get Eve to go, “Yeah, what’s that guy’s problem?” Satan goes, “Really? God said you can’t eat from any of the trees in the garden?” Which, of course, is not what God said. Do you want to go back or scroll up a little bit on your device. Genesis 2:16, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But when you eat from it, you will certainly die.'” In other words, what God said was you can eat from all the trees, there’s just one tree you can’t eat from. Satan flipped that around and actually go a little bit farther than that and go, “You’re not allowed to eat from any of the trees?” He’s twisting what God said. And it’s interesting to me, he’s exaggerating what God has prohibited, and he’s minimizing what God has permitted. And I think that’s interesting because I actually think that’s still one of his favorite tactics, and sometimes he even gets Christians to do that.
Sometimes Christians come across as though we’re so focused on what we’re not allowed to do that we miss out on what it is that God has to say about the freedom that we have in Christ, or the freedom with all these things that God’s given us to enjoy them in the ways that God intended. And so much of God’s prohibition is really just going, “Hey, this is a good thing, but it needs to be used in this way to be able to experience it in the way that it was intended.” But we often focus on what God’s prohibited and undermine what he’s permitted. Sometimes I feel like Christians come across like we got born against, rather than born again. Like, “Oh, God doesn’t like that. I don’t like that. He definitely doesn’t like that. He’s definitely against that. I didn’t even know that existed. But now that I know it, I definitely don’t like it. Because I’m pretty sure God doesn’t…” It’s an interesting kind of reality. But you understand what’s happening here is that Satan has shown us essentially the second lie. And here it is. The second lie was an exaggeration. The second lie was an exaggeration. He took something that was partly true but then he blew it up out of proportion to something it was never intended to be. The second lie was an exaggeration. And that’s another one that I think we do quite a bit, but we don’t necessarily call it lying. Right? We say, “You know, okay. Yes, he might not have said it quite that way. She didn’t maybe say it quite that way or she didn’t do that quite as often,” but we tend to do this, right? I mean, tell me, am I the only one who does this? Somebody irritates me, somebody did something that irritated me, and I think to myself, “They always do it?” Anybody else? Or the other side of that. She never… Right? Here’s the problem with exaggeration. Here’s why it’s so dangerous. Exaggeration doesn’t just distort facts. it distorts feelings. Hear me, church?
Exaggeration doesn’t just distort the facts, it distorts our feelings. It changes the way that we think about somebody. And actually, I experienced it in my own life just recently, somebody irritated me, probably it’s illegitimate. I think when I look back at it objectively, “Yeah, okay, that shouldn’t have happened.” Okay. But what I found myself saying in my own head was. “They always do this.” And when the moment I said that, I could feel my irritation, my anger ramp up. I was distorting the facts and it was distorting my feelings. It happens when we talk about other people, right? “You know, well, they always do this, they never do this.” And it ramps up feelings. In fact, here’s a quick relationship hack. If you feel like in your relationships, you have as much peace as possible, you can just ignore this. But if you’d like a little bit more peace in your relationship, your friendships, your political relationships, your church relationships, your neighbor relationships, your marriage, or your kids, whatever, okay? If you want just a little bit more peace, here’s the relationship hack. Remove the words always and never from your vocabulary. Stop saying that, right? Because how does that go, right? “Honey, you always do this. Well, that’s just because you never…” Right? And there’s no peace, right? Remove always and never from your vocabulary, and you’re gonna find you’re gonna have more peace in your relationships because exaggeration doesn’t just distort the facts, it distorts our feelings. And that’s what Satan’s trying to do. He’s trying to distort Eve’s feelings about God. Okay, does it work? Verse 2, the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat from the trees in the garden.” Okay? So she identifies the lie. She identifies the distortion. She identifies exaggeration, and she corrects it, right? She goes, “No, that’s not accurate.” So far, so good. But then watch what happens next.
“But God did say…” Do you notice something missing there? It’s not the Lord God. Satan’s omission has become her omission. And that’s the first indication that there’s a shift in the way that she’s thinking about God. She says, “But God did say…” And I don’t think so much that she’s clarifying for Satan. She’s actually kind of working this in her head and she goes, “But God did say, huh? Yeah, he did say, you must not eat fruit from the tree that’s in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die.” Did God say that? Not in my Bible. Eve did that. It’s interesting. Eve has actually joined Satan in exaggerating. And in that, I think in the loss of the Lord God and the change of title, and that omission, and also in this exaggeration, what you see in Eve is she’s changing the way that she’s thinking about God. She’s beginning to go, “Yeah, what is the deal with that? Why is he against this?” And in her exaggeration, in her omission, she’s abandoned the rock-solid safety of truth. Okay? You need to understand, truth is safe. Truth is sometimes very hard, but it is always safe and so much safer than lies. But in this moment, by omitting and by exaggerating, Eve has left the rock-solid safety of pure truth and that’s what Satan was looking for. And so now he introduces the third lie. And it’s interesting. In these three lies, we see the same three lies that we all struggle with. There’s basically three kinds of lies. Every specific life fits into one of these three categories. We’ve got omission, we’ve got exaggeration, and then finally we have what we call fabrication. The third lie was a fabrication. He just made it up. But he held this one until he knew that he was kind of on safe ground because Eve was no longer on safe ground of truth. And so he said this, he said, “‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be open and you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.'”
He just fabricates that. So actually, there’s three separate fabrications here. The first fabrication was that sin doesn’t lead to death. He said, “Oh, God told you if you sinned, you’ll die, if you disobey, you’ll die? That’s not gonna happen. It’s just not true. The wages of sin isn’t death. Sin’s really not that big a deal.” I’ve actually heard people say, “Well, wait a minute, wasn’t he right?” Because they didn’t die on the spot. They didn’t like, you know, drop-dead to the ground mid-chew, right? So isn’t Satan right? No, he’s not. And the problem is that we think about death from such a modern sort of scientific biological basis. In the modern world, we think about death primarily as biological cessation. Okay? We think about death is that things stop working biologically. So the heart stops beating. The activity in the brain ceases to be, you know, it flatlines. Okay, that’s what death is. In the ancient world, that’s not how they thought about death. In the ancient world, death wasn’t about biological cessation. It was about relational separation. The most significant aspect of death was that you were cut off from your people, you were no longer in relationship with your family, with your community. And when we begin to understand that, we realize that what God said was 100% true because the moment that they sinned, their relationships were destroyed. They died. Maybe you know the story, maybe you don’t, I’ll just summarize it real quickly. Eve ate, she gave some of this fruit to her husband, they ate. And then God came into the garden, and for the first time ever, instead of running to God, they ran away from God because their relationship was now broken. It was dead. And, as we talked about last week, they turned on each other. They cast blame on each other. Their children murdered each other. And so, their relationship between themselves and other human beings is broken, dead.
And God came along and said, “Now because you’ve sinned, the creation that you’re supposed to be caretakers of, you’re supposed to be advocates for creation, now creation is an adversary of you. You’re gonna plow and plant. You’re gonna work hard, but all you’re gonna get is thorn and thistles, and barely you make a living because the reality is that creation is now your enemy. The relationship with creation itself was broken. And so, three incredibly important relationships that define us as human beings destroyed the moment that they sinned. And so God spoke the absolute 100% truth from the ancient perspective of what made something death. But also even from a modern perspective, they began to die…In fact, literally what God says was, “The moment you eat of it, dying you will die.” It’s the literal Hebrew. And his point is the moment you eat of it, your death, even your biological death becomes an absolute certainty. Because when we unplug from God, who’s the author and the source of life, our light dims into darkness and death. And that happened the moment they died as well. And so, Satan’s just lying. He’s just making stuff up. No, no, sin doesn’t lead to death, the wages of sin isn’t death. Sin’s not a big deal. Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Second fabrication, what he said here is that the power to make his own decisions is all that makes God God. It’s a little bit subtle, but what is he saying? He says, “Hey, you know, God just doesn’t want you to do this because if you do this, if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” as we’ve talked about before, that’s kind of a euphemism for deciding for yourself, making your own calls, deciding for yourself what’s good for you and what’s bad for you when you call your own shots. He says, “When you do that, you’re going to be like God.”
The implication being that that’s really all that makes God God is he gets to decide for himself. He gets to call the shots. And as soon as you call the shots in your own life, then you and God, you’re basically on the same level. Really? Is the ability to make the decisions, to call the shots, is that the only thing that makes God God? I mean, there’s a couple of little other things, right? I mean, He’s eternal. He’s always existed. He’s all powerful. He’s all wise. He’s all good. He’s omnipresent. He’s present everywhere. I mean, there’s just a couple of little things that make God God, apart from his ability to call the shots. That’s like saying that my old beat up Isuzu Rodeo is the same thing as a Porsche. They both got wheels. What else do you want, right? Yeah, there’s a little bit more to it than that. And yet Satan lies and goes, “Hey, if you do this, if you start calling the shots in your own life, you decide for yourself, you and God, you’re basically on equal footing from here on out. You’re like God.” That’s a lie. There’s so much more to God. And then the third fabrication was that God is motivated by fear. And that’s the implication there, right? He says, “The reason God doesn’t want you to do this, because once you do this, you’re gonna be like him and he’s gonna lose out, right? He’s gonna lose his power of you. He’s gonna lose his control over you. He’s gonna lose something that’s important to him. And that power, it’s so important. That control, it’s so important. His ability to dominate you, that’s so important.” And he’s implying that God is somehow motivated by fear of what he’ll lose out if we start making our own decisions about what’s good and bad. Unfortunately, that’s a lie that we continue to deal with. I think it’s a lie that permeates our society.
But listen, God’s not motivated by fear. And we know that because he sent his own Son, right? God sent his own Son to pay the penalty of our sin, with his death, he paid the wages of our sin, which is death, right? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him…” He’s made it as easy as possible. That whoever believes in him puts their faith in him will not perish but have eternal life. That’s not that God was motivated by fear. It’s a God who is motivated by love. But that’s not something that Satan wants Eve to understand. Satan doesn’t want Eve to understand that God’s motivation is actually for her good. And then what God prohibits and what he permits, it’s all for our good because God is motivated by love. That’s the third fabrication. Truth is that God is motivated by love, not fear. Unfortunately, the lie did its work, right? Adam and Eve, they ate from the fruit, and immediately peace departed. So he says, their relationship with God broken, dead. There’s conflict where there used to be peace. Their relationship with each other, there’s conflict rather than peace. Their relationship with creation, conflict rather than peace. That’s what lies do. That’s what deception does. It kills peace. And the question that we wanna ask today is just this. Is it a coincidence the departure of peace from the world coincided with the arrival of deception? Is it a coincidence that piece departed the very moment that deception arrived? It’s not a coincidence. It’s the inevitable consequence of deception. Lies kill peace. But if we flip that around, we recognize that truth telling actually begins to invite peace back in. I mean, a couple of reasons why I say that, number one, is that truth produces peace by creating solid ground. Truth creates peace by creating solid ground.
See, the problem with fabricating things, is we’re saying, “Oh, that’s real. That’s solid ground. You could stand on it.” But we all know the whole time, well, you actually can’t stand. It’s not really there, right? Years ago, I was teaching at a seminary, this was old school days, where you actually had to turn in physical papers on paper, you know, made from trees and everything. Beginning of class, the paper was due and everybody was putting their papers down, and then that guy came up and said, “Hey, my printer was broken, and I wasn’t able to print it off.” I said, “That’s no problem. You got it on your laptop there?” “Yeah.” “Just go ahead and email it to me right now.” And he got this look on his face, and I was like, “Oh, you just lied, didn’t you? You just told me that it was done. And now I asked you to stand on that, and you know you can’t.” And the thing is, when we fabricate things, we live in constant fear that that fabrication will be found out. We live in constant fear that somebody’s gonna ask us to stand on that ground that we know cannot hold us up. You know, it’s the guy who lies on his resume, says, “Oh, yeah, I’m familiar with how to do this or that and that,” and then spends most of his time in that company afraid that somebody is going to ask him to do what he said he knows how to do when in fact he doesn’t know how to do it, right? “Oh yeah, I’m great at PowerPoint. Super proficient.” “Great. Hey, you’re proficient at PowerPoint, the boss needs a PowerPoint, and we’ve only got about an hour or so, would you get to it?” We live in fear that our falsehoods will be found out, right? We live in fear that our fabrications will be discovered. And because of that, there’s no peace from it. But, the truth, even when it’s hard, the truth produces peace by creating solid ground.
So maybe you’re afraid you won’t get the job if you don’t say that you know how to do PowerPoint. Okay? Maybe you don’t get the job. But if you do, you don’t ever have to live in fear and anxiety that your lie is gonna be found out. Second, truth produces peace by minimizing drama. Remember, exaggeration doesn’t just distort facts, it distorts feelings, and brings drama into our lives. And I don’t know about you, I don’t need any more drama in my life. Anybody here feel like they need more drama in their relationships? If you do, feel free to keep exaggerating because you’ll keep bringing drama in.
I did this once. I messed up. I got a gift from my in-laws for Christmas, it was a brick of cheese. It’s not that big. And it was good. I liked it. But I exaggerated how much I liked. I always felt like, “Yeah, I don’t feel like I have as close a relationship with my in-laws as I like so I’m gonna kind of go over the top.” And I was like, “It’s awesome. It’s so great. I love this cheese so much.” I totally exaggerated how much I liked that cheese. Next Christmas, another block of cheese. The problem is, I had only eaten about that much of the other block of cheese. Now I had two blocks of cheese in my freezer. And the next Christmas, another block of cheese. And it kept coming. And it wasn’t like I could throw it away. So, you know, I had basically a brick wall of cheese in my freezer, and then it became came like every time they came for Thanksgiving and for Christmas, I was like, “Hey, we can’t let her, we can’t let your mom, Coletta we can’t let your mom go to the freezer in the garage because she’s gonna see the wall of cheese. And she’s gonna…” So we gotta somehow figure out how we can make sure that she never goes out to do there. Like, “Oh she said…Hey, what can I get for you,” right? It’s just drama. What I should have said was, “I liked this. Thank you.” And if I got another one the next year, “I liked this, but not that much.” If you want drama in your life, feel free to tell your spouse the next time you’re irritated with them, “You always,” and they’ll come back with, “Well that’s because you never,” and now you got some fun happening. Right? But if you want some peace, try not exaggerating. Try telling the truth.
Third reason is that truth produces peace by inviting grace. The problem is that the things that we omit are usually the things that require us to admit that we need grace. Right? We omit the things that require us to admit that we have done wrong. And the problem is that, without repentance, without confession, without admitting we’ve done wrong, there’s no forgiveness. God says very clearly, if you confess your sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive you. If you confess your sins. Without confession, there’s no forgiveness. Without admission, there’s no confession. And so without being willing to admit and stop omitting the things that we’ve done that are wrong in our relationship with each other, in our relationship with God, we never get the opportunity to experience grace. But when we are willing to stop omitting, and start admitting, that we’ve done wrong, that we’ve sinned, that we’re not perfect, that we messed up, that we did this wrong and we didn’t handle this right, and we just screwed up. Until we do that, we’re not gonna experience grace. But when we do that, with God at least, I can’t promise that it’s always gonna be that way with every human relationship. But at least you won’t live in the fear that they’re gonna find out what you’ve done wrong. And it’ll be so much worse, right? But with God, with absolute 100% certainty, that if you’ll confess, you can be forgiven. So truth produces peace because it invites grace.
So, bottom line. It’s pretty simple. Raising the truth level in our lives also raises the peace level. Right? Raising the truth level in our lives also raises the peace level. Assuming one very important thing, that is assuming that you’re combining truth with love. That’s what God says. “Tell the truth,” but he says tell the truth with love. Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth to one another in love.” And I gotta say this because I know that there’s some people in here going, “This is awesome. Pastor told me I gotta tell more truth. Honey, buckle up. I need to tell you some stuff I think about your family. I’ve got some stuff to say about your friends,” right? No, no I’m not talking about that. Listen to me. This is important to understand. Love without truth is weak. But truth without love is a weapon. And this isn’t supposed to be a weapon. This is supposed to be an instrument of peace, okay? Love without truth, it’s weak. Okay? We claim that we love people, but if we’re not willing to tell them the truth, we don’t actually have the power to bless. We don’t have the power to love them well. This is a cool weekend for me. I got a note on Thursday. I got a text message from a former student of mine. I discipled him all through high school, all through college. He’s a Marine Corps pilot. And he’s in seminary right now. And he wrote me on Thursday to say, “Hey, I’m preaching my very first sermon this weekend.” I was like, “Oh, that’s awesome. I’m proud of you.” And he said, “Hey, would you be willing to give me some feedback?” And I said, “Yeah, but honestly, feedback before is better than feedback afterwards. So why don’t you send me your notes?” So he sent me his notes. And I looked at them, and said, “This is really good. There’s some great truth there. I love this.” But I thought, it’s a little inaccessible. It’s a little…Sounds like it was written by a seminary student, honestly.
I was like, “It’s got a lot of Latin phrases.” Like, so I wanted to say, “Well, maybe use less Latin, not no Latin, obviously, but maybe a little bit less Latin. Maybe not use words like synoptics and ontological in your message.” Now, see, I love him, but if I didn’t combine that truth, and if I wasn’t willing to give him a little bit of that feedback in love, my love would have been pretty ineffectual. It wouldn’t have accomplished much in his life and his development or in his ability to bless the people that God had give him an opportunity to influence. And so, see love without some truth is actually pretty weak. If you got somebody in your life that struggling with an addiction, if you really love them, you’re gonna tell the truth and call them out on that addiction. You’re gonna call out sin in their lives because love without truth is weak. But the truth without love, that’s a weapon. And we’re not called to use truth as a weapon. It’s supposed to be an instrument of grace, and mercy, and peace. I think pretty frequently of a billboard, it’s on the way between Columbus, Ohio and Edon, Ohio, which is where my parents live. And we fly to Columbus and we’re driving to Edon, and there’s a billboard, it’s all bright orange and flamed, and it says, “Without Jesus, you will burn in hell forever.” 1-800 something or other. And every time I see that, I think, you know, that’s true. It’s truth. The Bible is pretty clear about that. But where’s the love? And I wonder how much traffic that 1-800 number gets. People call me, “Please tell me about Jesus and his love.” Truth without love can be a weapon. But truth with love, that’s an instrument of peace, between us and God, between us and one another. And so, the more we raise our level of truth, the more we raise the level of peace in our lives.
A couple of quick questions for you. Number one, am I more prone to omission, exaggeration, or fabrication? Identify the one that you’re most prone to. And do yourself a favor, call it what it is. Confess it, be forgiven of it, and then ask for the Holy Spirit’s power to begin changing in that area of your life, to raising the truth level in your life in that area where you’re most tempted to not embrace truth fully. The second question is just this. Some of you need to ask this, am I missing out on peace in my life because I’m living a lie that needs to be replaced with truth? My guess is there’s somebody listening to this right now who’s living with no peace in their lives because you’re living in constant fear and anxiety that there’s a lie that’s gonna be discovered. And I’m not gonna lie to you, speaking the truth may not be easy. And I can’t promise that every human being will respond with grace. I can promise you Jesus will. But if you’re living with that lack of peace in your life because there’s a presence of a lie, it’s time to replace the lie with truth.
Would you pray with me? God, thank you for your grace. We confess as your people, as followers of Jesus, that we follow the devil’s example far too often. We omit, we exaggerate, we fabricate. We push peace out. But, Lord, we’re calling for your Holy Spirit to do a work in us so we can reverse that trend. Make us people of truth and raise the truth level in our lives. And as we do that, Lord, we long the experience a raising of the peace level as well. So do your work in us. Call us to the courage. Give us the courage to embrace truth, and so to experience peace. If you’re a follower of Jesus, we just begin praying right now for the people listening to this message that aren’t followers of Jesus. And if that’s you, let me just speak to you for a moment.
You know, my hope is that in this, you’ve heard something incredibly important, and it’s basically just this, no matter what you may have heard, no matter what you may have thought, no matter what, honestly, satan may have deceived you into believing, God is not motivated by fear. He’s not motivated by anger. He’s not motivated by wrath. He’s not motivated by power. He’s motivated by love. He loves you so much, that in spite of the fact that your sin is serious, that it does lead to death, he was willing to pay the price for your sin with his own Son’s death. God loves you so much he sent his own Son, Jesus, Son of God. He lived a perfect life, he died on the cross as a payment for your sin, for my sin. Three days later, he rose from the dead. And now he offers us salvation. He offers us forgiveness. He offers us peace with God, simply by putting our trust in Jesus, by saying yes to following Jesus. And if you don’t have that peace with God and you long for it, and there’s something in your heart saying, “It’s time. I need it.” Here’s how you do it. Wherever you are, just have this conversation with God, say, “Hey, God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m admitting it. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead and I believe you’re offering me forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, and peace with God. I’m ready to receive that. Jesus, I’m saying yes to following you. I’m putting my trust in you. Jesus, I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.”
I bet a number of people make that decision, I’m sure we did even just in this moment. Can we just celebrate that decision to find peace with God?
We’re so excited for you. If you made that decision, we so wanna know about it. We would love to know about it. A couple of ways you can do it. If you’re watching online, your host is gonna put up a button that says, “I committed my life to Jesus, or I said yes to following Jesus.” You can write that in the comments. Or, if you’re in a place where you don’t see a button like that, what you can do is you can text the word Jesus to 888111. Either way, what’s going to happen is you’re gonna get back a link, that link is gonna take you to five truths we want you to know because those are the things that are true about you now that you have peace with God. We want you to embrace those truths and begin living them out. So, please let us know so we can celebrate with you. God Bless. We’ll see you soon.
Compassion is the act of suffering with someone, showing kindness even to those who do not deserve it. Peace then follows compassion by killing hostility. Join us for a retelling of how Jesus describes compassion in action.
Craig: Hey, welcome to Mission Hills, so good to have you with us today. We’re in the midst of a series called Chasing Peace. And here’s what we know so far. Thank you. We know that peace is never a product of our circumstances. Even if our circumstances are perfect, we become afraid they’re not gonna stay that way, and so we don’t have peace even in the midst of perfect circumstances as though that actually ever happened anyway, right? What we do know, however, is that peace is always a byproduct of our pursuit of godly character. So, when our eyes are fixed and becoming like Jesus and joining him on mission, as we become transformed into the people God designed us to be, we actually can find that we look around and realize that we’re experiencing peace in spite of difficult circumstances. So, peace is a product, it’s a byproduct of the pursuit of godly character.
And our guide in our pursuit of godly character for the series is found in Proverbs 6:16. Says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” And we know that God hates these things because he loves us. He hates these things because he knows the damage that these things do in our lives. And when these characteristics are part of our lives, he knows the damage that we do to others as well. He knows these things are piece killers. And so, what we’re doing in this series is we’re pursuing godly character by pursuing the opposite of each of these things.
And today what we’re gonna dig into is pursuing the opposite of hands that shed innocent blood. And the question is, what exactly is the opposite of hands that shed innocent blood? Well, here’s what I felt like the Lord laid on my heart, the opposite of hands that shed innocent blood are hands that show compassion to the guilty. That’s the opposite. Its hands show compassion to the guilty. Now, compassion is kind of an interesting word. I think we use the word compassion as though it were a synonym for kindness, but it’s not exactly kindness. It’s more than that. In fact, the Latin word that compassion comes from literally means to suffer with. It doesn’t just mean to be nice in a sort of an inexpensive way. It means to show a costly kindness that actually almost causes us to suffer. So, it’s not just, you know, smiling at somebody or, you know, pulling down the mask so they can see that we’re smiling at them, right? It’s not just a kind word. It’s actually, it’s being kind to them in a way that actually costs us something. It’s a sacrificial, even a suffering kind of kindness.
The other thing that’s interesting about compassion is it’s not just kindness shown to anybody. Its kindness shown to a particular group of people, particularly those who don’t really deserve it. I love this description of God himself. It’s found that Exodus chapter 34, verse 6. It says, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” What I want you to notice there is how closely compassion, the compassion of God is connected to his willingness to forgive wickedness, rebellion and sin. None of those things deserve forgiveness. None of those things deserve kindness, but that’s what it means for God to be compassionate. He gives this costly kindness to those who don’t deserve it. That’s just who God is. That’s a description of God we find throughout Scripture.
I love the story that Jesus tells, the story of what we call the prodigal son. And maybe you’re familiar with the story. If not, I’ll just kind of give you the basics of it. Basically, it’s a story of a young man who went to his father and he basically said to him, “Hey old man, I’m really getting tired of waiting for you to die.” It’s a rough translation of the original Greek, trust me on that. And he said, “I want you to give me my inheritance now.” And his father did, his father gave him his portion of the inheritance. And then he left. He abandoned his family, which is a terrible thing in the ancient world. He abandoned his family, he went to a far country and then he just, he wasted his inheritance on wild living. Eventually, ended up feeding pigs. And as he fed the pigs, he looked at the slop he was giving him, and he thought if only I could eat that. He was being in a terrible place. And so, he hatched this plan, he’s gonna go home and admit to his father, I’ve sinned against you and against heaven. You don’t deserve me as a son. I don’t deserve you to receive me as a son. So how about this? How about I just become a servant in your house? And then Jesus, as he was telling the story, he wrote this, he said, “And so he got up and he went to his father, but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. And he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” And it’s such beautiful picture of God, the Father. He’s a compassionate God. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Instead, He gives us kindness, a costly kindness that we don’t deserve. And that’s what compassion is, costly kindness that is shown to those who’ve hurt us, who have sinned against us, who have wounded us. That’s what compassion is.
And what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna talk about why it is that compassion is so foundational to the experience of peace in our lives. And I think the best place to do that is actually in another teaching of Jesus. And so if you wanna grab a Bible and join me, we’re gonna be spending most of our time today in Luke chapter 10, starting in verse 25. Jesus is teaching and in the midst of his teaching, something kind of interesting happens. Luke 10:25 says, “On one occasion, an expert in the Law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” Now seen as the Jesus is teaching has got a crowd of people and suddenly out of the crowd of people, this one guy stands up, everybody kind of like what’s gonna happen here, right? And he’s called an expert in the Law and make sure we understand that that means he was a religious expert. In the ancient world, an expert in the Law wasn’t an expert in tax law or codes, he wasn’t expert in commercial law, he wasn’t an expert in criminal law. He was an expert in what we would call the Old Testament of the Bible. He was an expert in the religious teachings of the Bible. And so this is a religious expert. He’s a religious leader. And it says he stood up to test Jesus, that’s an interesting word. The original Greek word that’s used there is the same word that Jesus used when he speaking to the devil. And he said to the devil, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And by using that word, what Luke is saying, Luke who wrote this account is saying hey, he wasn’t standing up there to learn something from Jesus. He was actually standing up there to try to get Jesus, to say something that he could pounce on. A few weeks ago, we talked about the difference between listening to learn information and the difference of listening to gain ammunition, right? Listening for info versus ammo. This is definitely an ammo seeking guy. He’s looking for something he can pounce on something he can use against Jesus. In spite of that, he asks a really good question. He said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
And I want you to pay attention to the way he said that. He said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He didn’t say, what do I have to do to earn eternal life? He said, what must I do to inherit it? That’s really important statement. In spite of the fact that his motives were kinda messed up, his question is actually excellent because it clearly indicates that he understands something that is so important that we understand, which is that eternal life isn’t the result, it isn’t earned by our behavior. It’s the natural result of a right relationship with God, right? He says, what do I have to do to inherit? He understands that he can’t do enough good things to overcome his sin. He can’t do enough things to earn God’s favor. Instead, he has to be in a right relationship with God, because that’s what it means to inherit something, right? You inherit something not because you’ve earned it, but because you have a relationship with the person. Now, not just any relationship, it’s gotta be a right relationship. Anybody here ever been written out of a will? No? Okay, good. Just because you are related to somebody doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll inherit anything from them. You gotta have a good relation. It’s gotta be a right relationship. And that man understands that principle. And so, he’s going, basically he’s saying, how can I be confident that I’m in a right relationship with God? That’s the real question. How can I be confident that I am in a right relationship with God? How do I know that I have peace with God? How do I know that I’m in a position to inherit eternal life from my Father? How can I be confident I’m in a right relationship with God? That’s the question he’s asking. And Jesus answers. He said, well, what is written in the Law? “What is written in the Law? he replied, how do you read it?” In other words, well, you’re a religious expert. You know the content of Scripture; you have a lot of knowledge. You tell me, how do you read it? And it’s interesting shift there. He goes from, you know, what does the Bible say to how do you read it, which really means how do you understand it? And I love that because here’s the truth. Listen, knowledge is good. Understanding is better. Does that make sense? He says, you know, it’s one thing to have knowledge of Scripture. It’s one thing to have a grasp of the content, but I’m really interested in how you understand it. Do you understand what it means? You know what God said, but do you understand what it means and how it’s supposed to be put into practice in our lives? Here’s the reality. Sometimes having knowledge without understanding is actually dangerous. Do you know that?
Several years ago, we hadn’t been married very long, Coletta and I went and we visited my grandparents in Mississippi and we went to church with them and I heard a sermon, I can’t believe that this was done in a house of God, but the pastor basically preached about the sin of interracial marriage. That if a black man and a white woman married each other, it’s an abomination to God. It’s a sin to God. And he used a passage from the Book of Deuteronomy and it just, it completely abused the meaning of that. Yeah, he quoted this verse. He knew what the verse said, but he clearly didn’t understand what it meant. And I just remember, I was just so frustrated by that. And I expressed that to people and they said, “Well, you know, that’s the culture down there.” I was like, “What does that have to do with anything? We can’t allow culture to be an excuse for sin.” And then a couple years later, I was visiting my parents and my grandmother was there. And something came up about an interracial marriage. I think it was a black woman and a white man. And she said something about like what a disgrace that was. And I just, I couldn’t help it. I challenged my grandma. I said, “Hey Grandmother.” I was as respectful as possible. I said, “That’s just really racist.” And she said, “What are you talking about? It’s in the Bible.” She said, “Deuteronomy 7:3.” And I said, “Grandmother, that verse, it’s telling that God commanded his people, the Israelites, not to marry the other people in the nations around them because they didn’t follow God. They followed false gods and he knew that if their sons or the daughters married those people, then it would lead his people to stop worshiping him.” I said, “If there’s any equivalent to that in the New Testament, it’s the Apostle Paul saying, “Don’t be unequally yoked with a nonbeliever.” You know, yoke, meaning, you know, the yoke that comes down on two oxen as they pull something forward. He says, “Don’t be unequally yoked.” If you’re getting married, for instance, to a nonbeliever, you’re unequally yoked, you don’t share the same beliefs and you can’t move your family forward in the way that God intends. That’s the closest equivalent. It’s about a religious thing. It’s not about a race thing, it’s not black and white.” And she stared at me and I was like, how much trouble am I in right now? And then she said, the strangest thing, she said, “I’ve been going to church for 80 some odd years and I’ve never understood that.” That’s what she was taught. She was taught content without understanding, right? She was taught knowledge without understanding, quote the verses, but that’s not what they understood. And that’s why I say it can be dangerous. There is such thing…listen to me, there is such a thing as a well-informed ignorance and it’s dangerous.
And so, Jesus speaking to this religious expert, he says, “I know you understand the content, but I wanna know, do you understand what it means? How do you read it?” And he answered, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” Now, understand that’s almost identical to what Jesus himself said. At one point he was asked, hey Teacher, what are the…of all the commandments in the Old Testament, what are the greatest commandment? What is the greatest commandment? And Jesus said, “Well, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, your God, with all that you are with all that you have.” And then he said it and the second commandment is like it, which is to love your neighbor as yourself, directly from the Book of Leviticus. And understand what this man says here is almost identical. It’s almost word for word to what Jesus said. And it could be that he had been listening to Jesus and he was quoting back. But it’s not necessary because honestly what this man says here, what Jesus said was actually a pretty common understanding among the rabbis of the first century. The rabbis in the first century understood that there were 613 commandments in the Old Testament, but they all boil down to basically 2 categories, which was love God with everything that you are and love your neighbor as yourself. That was a very common understanding.
And so, this man says that, and Jesus looks at him, verse 28 says, “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” He gets a big attaboy. He said, you got it right. Do this and you’ll live. And I think that’s interesting too because he’s moved from knowledge to understanding and now he’s moved to action, right? Listen, knowledge is good, understanding is better, action is best. It’s one thing to know what the Word of God says, it’s another thing, it’s a better thing to understand what it means. And more importantly is that you put it into practice in your life. So, he says, “Do this and you’ll live.” Live in this way and you can be confident that you’re at peace with God. You can be confident you’re in a right relationship with God and that you will inherit eternal life.
But he wanted to justify himself. And so, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” It’s interesting. It’s kind of an interesting translation thing there. Almost every English translation says it the same way, he wanted to justify himself, wanting to justify himself. In the original Greek though, literally what Luke who wrote this account says is the one wanting to justify himself. It’s how he identifies the man. The man is the one wanting to justify himself. And what he’s doing is reminding us, this man isn’t looking for info. He’s looking for ammo. He’s not looking to learn from Jesus. He’s still trying to catch Jesus in something that he says that he can use it against him. And so far, Jesus hasn’t given him any ammunition, so he asks a loaded question and this question and who is my neighbor, it is a loaded question. See, when the verse was first given in Leviticus to love your neighbor as yourself, everybody kinda understood, well, my neighbor is everybody living in Israel. All of Israel, all of the people of Israel, that’s my neighbor because they were all Jewish, right? Everybody living in Israel at that time was all Jewish. And so, it basically is everybody who lives near me. That’s my neighbor. But then over time, what happened was the Greek Empire conquered this part of the world, then the Roman Empire. And there were a lot of different people who’d kind of moved in. And so, it wasn’t necessarily true that everybody living within Israel was Jewish anymore. You had some Greeks living there and some Romans living there. And so, you could no longer define your neighbor as, you know, those who live near me. And so, what they were doing is they were starting to draw smaller circles, started out everybody lives near me, and then it became, well, everybody who looks like me and lives near me. In other words, you know, we can exclude the Greeks and the Romans, but, you know, all the Jewish people who live near me and look like me. But then Judaism itself was kind of fractured at this point. It wasn’t just Judaism. There were different factions within it. And so maybe you’ve heard of the Pharisees, that was one school of thought. There was the Sadducees, that was another school of thought. And then there was also the Essenes and the Zealots, kind of like denominations for Christians. And so, they were kind of, the Pharisees were like, you know, okay, well, they gotta live near me and look like me and think like me. They gotta think like I do too. That’s who my neighbor is. They were drawing smaller and smaller circles.
And the thing is that the Jesus had a tendency to draw larger circles and show love and compassion to people that most of the religious experts didn’t want anything to do with. So, he knew that this is a loaded question. When he asked who is my neighbor, he knew Jesus was probably gonna define his neighbor circle in a way that not everybody’s gonna agree with and that would give him something he could use against Jesus. He probably expected Jesus to say something controversial at this point, but I promise you, he never dreamed that Jesus would say this.
In reply, Jesus said, “Well, a man,” and understand that was a Jewish man, “was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, to Jewish cities when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, they beat him, and they went away leaving him half dead. Now, a priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. And so too a Levite he came to the place and saw the man, passed by on the other side.” Priests and a Levite see the Jewish man lying there and they both pass by on the other side. They make as much distance as they can from him. And what’s interesting is, you know, a priest and a Levite, well that those are two Jewish people, right? And they’re not just Jewish people. They’re like top of the line Jewish. These are top shelf Jewish people. Because priests and Levites, those were both inherited positions. You inherited them because your parents were Jewish people of that same position. These are people with the highest possible pedigree when it came to their Jewishness. And there’s a Jewish man lying there, but his Jewishness and their Jewishness was not enough for them to go he’s my neighbor. That’s not where they drew the circle.
And they were religious Jews too, right? Very religious, priest and a Levites, those are both religious positions. So, you would expect by virtue of their faith, if not by virtue of their ethnicity, at least by virtue of their faith, they would see him as a neighbor and be compassionate to him. But neither of them has done that. And it’s kind of interesting. Jesus is making a very subtle but a very important point. Remember the question here is how do I know that I have peace with God? How do I know I’m in a right relationship with God? And what Jesus has just said here is, don’t make any mistake, he said religion doesn’t provide proof of peace. Your religion does not provide the proof of peace that you’re looking for. It’s possible to go to church. It’s possible to know a lot about the Bible. It’s possible the quote the Bible in a lot of different settings, and to do all these religious things and not actually be in a right relationship with God. These people by virtue of their ethnicity and certainly by virtue of their religious knowledge and positions, they should have seen this man as a neighbor, but they didn’t.
Listen, religion does not provide the proof of peace that you’re looking for, he says. “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity.” And the Greek word for took pity as the same word for had compassion. He had compassion on him. If you don’t know, Samaritans don’t belong in this story. There was a long history of hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. They had a common history. If you could go back far enough the Samaritans actually came from Jewish blood, but they had intermarried with the peoples of the surrounding places, so they were sort of divided from the Jews now ethnically. They’re also divided politically. Typically, the Samaritans had responded very differently to the Greek and the Roman powers that had come in than the Jews had. And so, they were divided ethnically. They’re also divided politically, and they’re divided theologically. I mean, they worshiped the same God. In fact, the Samaritans had a scripture even. They had an Old Testament that was very, very similar to the Jewish Old Testament, just very minor differences, but they had diverged on a really important point, which is where you could worship. The Jews said you can only come to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans had built their own temple in their territory, partly because they weren’t allowed to go to the temple in Jerusalem. And the Jews hated that temple. And so, in about 120 BC, they got an army up, they invaded Samaritan territory and they destroyed that temple. You understand from the Samaritan position, that man right there was the enemy. He was somebody who had hurt his people deeply over centuries. But what did he do? He had compassion on him. And he wasn’t just kind to him, it was a costly kindness.
Jesus said, “He went to him and he bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two denarii,” two coins, “and he gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ He said, ‘And when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have,'” which I gotta tell you financially was a dumb move. Like this is stupid. Innkeepers were kind of sketchy individuals. Inns themselves were considered very, very sketchy places. Innkeepers in particular were not considered trustworthy individuals. And this man has basically given the innkeeper an open line of credit. Like here’s some money to help pay for whatever you have to do to take care of this guy, but if you go by beyond that, then, you know, I’ll settle up the differences when I come back. I can promise you, there is no chance there wasn’t gonna be some additional expense. This innkeeper would find some additional expenses, but the Samaritan didn’t care. See, that’s costly. In a very literal way, it’s an unlimited cost, essentially. He said, “I’ll pay it.” “Which of these three,” Jesus asked to the expert of the Law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
What’s so interesting about that is that’s not the question that was asked. Jesus has changed the question, right? I mean, the man wanted to know who qualifies, who do I have to show kindness to? Who do I have to love? And Jesus turned that around. He said, no, no, no. That’s not the right question. The right question is basically who acted like a neighbor? Who lived out God’s Word? Who went from knowledge to understand and do action? Who acted like the neighbor that God says that we’re supposed to be? In other words, what Jesus has basically done is he’s changed the question to, you know, who’s in a right relationship with God? Who’s at peace with God and confident they’re gonna inherit eternal life? Here’s the question. Jesus changed it to which one shows the family resemblance. Because we inherit eternal life. You gotta be a child of God. My question is of these three, which one showed the family resemblance? And the expert in the Law replied, “Well, I mean the one who had mercy.” Or that’s the same Greek word for compassion, “The one who had compassion on him.” And Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Remember what started the whole thing, the man said, “Hey, how can I be confident I’m in a right relationship with God? How can I be confident that I’m at peace with my Father who is the only one who can pass to me eternal life as an inheritance? How can I know I’m at peace with God? How can I be confident of that?” And what Jesus has basically said is, well, “Do you have your Father’s eyes, right? Do you have your Father’s eyes? Do you have the family resemblance? Do you look on others with the same compassion that your Father looks at you? Do you look on others who have harmed you with the same compassion that God looks upon you with, you who have sinned and rebelled against him? Do you have your Father’s eyes? Because if you do, then you can be confident. You can be confident that you’re at peace with God. You can be confident in a right relationship with God. You can be confident that you will inherit from your Father eternal life. Do you have your Father’s eyes? And what he’s saying and so important here is he’s saying that peace depends upon compassion. The compassion itself is foundational to our experience of peace. Three quick reasons why. Number one, compassion is the proof of peace with God. This man is looking for some kind of proof of peace. And Jesus has said, it’s not religion, it’s certainly not what you know. It’s not even what you understand it. It’s how you live. Compassion is your proof of peace with God.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that compassion leads to salvation. I’m not saying that if we’re compassionate to people, we will be saved. Jesus is very clear. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Faith in Jesus, his death on the cross for our sins, his resurrection from the dead and receiving that gift that he offers by faith, that’s the only way to be saved, okay? Compassion doesn’t save us. But compassion is the proof that we have been saved. It’s the best proof that we’ve been saved. And I think it’s partly because compassion like Jesus is talking about here is completely unnatural. It’s not the way we do. It’s one thing to be nice to people who are strangers or nice people that we know, but to be nice and not just to be nice, but to show a costly kindness to those who have wounded us, who’ve harmed us, that’s not natural. That is unnatural. That is…well that is supernatural. And that only happens when God works in our lives and therefore compassion like Jesus is talking about, that is the proof that the power of God is at work in our lives, transforming us, making us more and more like Jesus. So, compassion is the proof of peace with God. But beyond that, compassion is also the thing that perpetuates peace with God. Compassion perpetuates peace with God.
And the reason I say that is because Jesus on a number of occasions said some pretty scary things. And maybe one of the scariest is this, he’d been teaching the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe, you know the Lord’s Prayer. It’s got a line in the middle of it that says, forgive us, our sins and then a very inconvenient follow-up, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. And then, because that wasn’t inconvenient enough, he leans in, he finished his teaching that prayer and he says, I wanna make sure you didn’t miss that. And so, he says this, this is Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive other people, when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Anybody else find that just a little bit alarming? Now understand, I don’t believe given the whole teaching of Scripture that Jesus is saying, you know, if you’ve been forgiven by God and you’re in a relationship with him and you don’t forgive somebody that you’ve lost your salvation. I don’t believe he’s saying that. But there’s eternal peace with God. And then there’s the day by day peace that we so much need to live as God’s people in this world. There’s a daily experience of peace and of grace and of mercy from God that we need to be close to him, to have him ever present in our lives. And the thing is, if we’re not willing to forgive, which is an expression of compassion, right? Because they’ve done wrong to us. So, it’s a costly kindness to forgive that wrong. If we’re not compassionate on others, then that flow of God’s daily forgiveness and grace, it’s like we’re kinking the hose and we don’t experience that day in and day out, moment by moment. And so, it’s our willingness to be compassionate to others that keeps that compassion flowing to us. So, compassion perpetuates peace with God. And then finally, compassion produces peace. Practicing compassion produces peace with others, not just with God, but with others by killing hostility.
Here’s the thing, it’s very difficult to be hostile towards someone who is helping you. It’s also very difficult to be hostile towards someone while you are helping them. Hostility is killed by compassion. Couple years ago, there was a comedian. His name was Pete Davidson and he was on “Saturday Night Live”. And he did a bit where he mocked a Congressman named Dan Crenshaw. He mocked his physical appearance because he was missing an eye and he mocked his politics on national television. Well, the thing is, you know, Dan was missing the eye because he lost it in combat and he was a congressman and pretty well-respected, honestly. And the thing is the internet blew up. And for once the internet did, what I think was probably a good thing, which is they pushed back on Pete Davidson. They pushed back on the comedian. You know, how dare you mock this man. When have you served or anything like that? He’s a hero and so on and so forth. And it was such a powerful backlash from the internet that Pete Davidson began to spiral into depression. In fact, he got so deep and so dark that eventually one day he posted online, and he said, “I don’t know how much longer I wanna stay in this world. I don’t know how much longer I can stay in this world.” Just warning you in advance. And Dan Crenshaw, who’d been mocked by this man, he saw, and he saw it for what it was, which was if not a suicidal thought, at least very, very close to it. And he used his congressional powers and he found Pete Davidson’s phone number and Dan called him and he said, “I forgive you.” And then he said this. He said, “You need to understand that God made you for a purpose. And your job is to figure out that purpose and then live in light of it.” And later Pete Davidson publicly apologized and essentially credited Dan with saving his life with that display of compassion. Interesting note, Pete Davidson later, after some time passed, he later recanted his apology. He took it back. And I say that because this is an interesting thing that I think as Christians, we need to pay attention to. In the moment that we’ve experienced God’s grace and his mercy and his forgiveness, his compassion, it makes us really compassionate on others. But then as time goes by and we’re further removed from our experience of God’s compassion, it’s easy for our compassion to grow cold. And so, the farther away we have come from our experience of God’s compassion, the less compassionate we become on others. I think you see that in that relationship. But initially in that experience of Dan’s outpouring of compassion, the hostility between those two was killed and there was peace. See, practicing compassion brings peace with others by killing hostility. Bottom line, whether we’re talking about God or other people, practicing compassion produces peace. That my friends is why. Practices compassion produces peace.
So, let me ask you this question, who do I feel the greatest hostility towards? Wrestle with that question. It’s probably not hard, honestly. It’s probably pretty easy to identify somebody that you feel significant hostility towards. Maybe it’s somebody near to you. Maybe it’s somebody at a distance you’ve never even met, but you find yourself thinking with hostility of that person. Probably not hard to identify somebody you feel hostility towards. Here’s the much harder question. What would it look like to extend compassion to them this week? What it looks like for me to extend compassion to that person that I feel such hostility towards? And maybe a very practical thing that you can do, maybe you can in a very tangible way express a costly kindness to them, to those who’ve hurt you. Maybe it’s not as practical. Maybe it’s a phone call to say, “Hey, I forgive you. You’ve asked for my forgiveness and I haven’t given it, but it’s time for me to do that. I’m sorry that I waited so long.” Maybe it’s that. Or maybe, honestly, maybe you don’t have a relationship with this person you feel hostility towards. So maybe what you can do is you can start praying for them. And I say pray for them. I don’t mean pray that God would smite them. Okay. That’s not my point. I don’t mean that pray that God would show them the error of their ways or bring them, you know, the just punishment for their sins and what they’ve done to you, or at least that you perceive that they’ve done. No, I mean pray for them to come to know God, to have faith in his Son, Jesus, to experience God’s compassion and forgiveness and a right relationship with him. Maybe it’s to actually pray that God would bring good into their lives. That’s a difficult ask. I know that, it’s a big ask, but that’s what makes it compassion.
Last question is this, how I experience the compassion God calls me to extend? The reason I say that is because remember what Jesus is calling us to do here isn’t natural. It’s unnatural. It is supernatural. It’s only possible because the power of God is at work in our lives. We cannot extend the compassion that we have not experienced. The truth of matter is how God calls us to live is impossible without a work of God in our lives. And my guess is that there’s some people listening to this who maybe you grew up in church and you thought your religion was your proof of peace with God, your proof of your right relationship with God, or maybe this is your first time being in church or being part of a church service, and you’re easily able to say, yeah, I don’t have any reason to have confidence that I’m in a right relationship with God. But you can. Whether you’ve been depending on a religion or this is your first time ever contemplating the question, you can have the confidence that this man was looking for when he came to Jesus. You can know that you’re in a position to inherit eternal life, that you’re in a right relationship with God, that you have peace with God, and you do it by faith. This is how we experience the compassion, which is the only thing that allows us to begin to extend it to others.
In fact, I’m just gonna asking everybody close your eyes, bow your heads. And if you’re listening to this and you realize you have never said yes to faith in Jesus, because of that you can’t say with any confidence that you’re in a right relationship with God, here’s how you do it. Listen, God loves you so much. He sent his own Son to die for you, to pay the price for all the wrong you’d ever done. That was his compassion on you. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. That’s a fact of history. And Jesus offers you forgiveness, salvation and eternal life, a right relationship with God simply by choosing to put your trust in him and to follow him. And if you’re ready to do that, here’s what it looks like. Just to have this conversation with God in your heart, say this to him, say, God, I’ve done it wrong. I’ve sinned against you and I’m sorry. Thank you for your compassion on me. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. That is a costly kindness and I’m grateful. I believe you rose from the dead, Jesus, and I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness, eternal life that comes from a right relationship with God. And so right here, right now, Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m choosing to trust you, to follow you. Jesus, I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.
1 Samuel 24:1-22
Continuing in our series on finding peace in spite of our circumstances, Reza speaks on what righteousness is; how God wants us to have a heart that seeks to be set apart, purified and restored through Him, leading to a peace we cannot achieve on our own.
Reza: Mission Hills, it is so good to be with you here this morning, whether you’re here in person with us in this auditorium, you’re on our social media, checking us out online or on our website, maybe you’re gathered with other people from Mission Hills in a living room and you’re gathering together with the small group and you’re journeying together through life. No matter how you’re connected, we’re together, and that’s a great thing. And so I’m thankful that we get to be together here.
You know, we’re in a series that Pastor Craig launched a couple of weeks ago. The series is called Chasing Peace, because peace is one of those things in our lives that I think all of us would say, ”Man, I could use some of that.” I’ve never once had a conversation with someone and the conversation never went like this, when the topic of peace came out, I have never heard someone say, “You know what? I don’t need any of that. I’m good. Like I got enough peace. Why don’t you give that peace to somebody else that needs them? I’m like, I got all the peace that I need.” Like, I’ve never heard that in a conversation.
Peace is something that you and I desperately want, we desire. Peace is something God wants to give us. But yet it seems like trying to, like, have you ever tried to, like, hold Jell-O really tightly? Peace just kind of slips through our fingers. And it seems like the tighter we try to hold on to it, the more it slips through our fingers. And I don’t think it’s because peace is elusive. I don’t think it’s because God doesn’t want us to experience peace. I think the reality is because we’re looking for peace in the wrong places, that the places we’re trying to find peace are not where…places that could actually produce the peace that you and I are looking for.
And the reality is, the problem is, and what we’ve been talking about in this series, Chasing Peace, is that peace is never a product of our circumstances. That we think that, hey, if I just changed some circumstances in my life, if I could just have this kind of money, if I can have these kinds of possessions, if I could have this kind of security in my 401(k) or, man, if I just got married, if I was just in a relationship or I got that promotion, whatever it is, if I could just get, then I will experience peace. But friends, if 2020 has taught us anything, is that circumstances change. And if we try to build our life upon circumstances and circumstances shift like tectonic plates, then guess what’s gonna happen to our life? It’s gonna collapse. And I wonder if that’s what we’ve been experiencing that we have actually tried to build our life on circumstances rather than trying to build our life and experience our peace from a different perspective. And that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about. We’re trying to change the target. So instead of trying to find peace in our circumstances, we’re actually talking about changing what we look at when we experience peace.
A few years ago, my kids, I have three kids. I have a 12, 10, and 7-year-old. My two oldest, when they were about, I think it was like eight and six or maybe seven and five years old, they wanted to do archery. I have no idea where this came from. Like, I’m an Iranian guy that grew up on the beach in Southern California. I’ve never touched a bow and arrow. The closest thing I got to archery was playing Zelda on Nintendo. Like I know nothing about archery, but I went and we kind of Googled, you know, archery lessons for kids. And there’s this outdoor store in Fort Collins where we live and they have free archery lessons for kids. And I’m like, in ministry, when you hear free, that’s the right price. And so I was like, we’re gonna go there.
So obviously, you know, when you do archery, you don’t need to be an archer to understand this, there’s a dartboard, not a dartboard, there’s a big bullseye on the end. And what you do, you look at the bullseye and you pull the arrow back with the bow, and what you look at is where your arrow is gonna end up. And so that’s what we’re doing in this series. We’re simply we changing what we gaze at. Instead of trying to find peace in our circumstances, we’re gonna try to find peace, not in circumstances, but by godly…pursuing godly character, because peace is a byproduct of what we pursue.
Then when we’re pursuing certain things, the right things, then and then only can we experience the peace that Scripture talks about, the Prince of Peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, when we change what we look at.
So what we’re using as a backdrop for us is in Proverbs Chapter 6, there is a list of things that are actually things that God despises. And so we’re gonna look at the antithesis of those things. So we’re gonna get the opposite of those things, but there is a list of things in Proverbs chapter 6, verse 16 that we’re looking out throughout the course of this series. And so Pastor Craig’s been walking us through this. In verse 16, it says, ”There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him.” And so it says that because lying is mentioned twice. It says, ”Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,” is which we’re gonna be talking about here today, ”feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
And so we’re gonna be pursuing this thing, what does it mean for us to pursue peace through looking at godly character, and the specific one we wanna take a look at today is talking about the reality, instead of having a wicked heart is pursuing something different. So, so far in the series, so far, we’ve understood that peace is never a product of our circumstances, that peace always is a byproduct of pursuing godly character. In last week, Pastor Craig so eloquently showed us that peace is possible through cultivating a compassionate heart, not trying to justify yourself or justify why others should or should not feel a certain way, but peace is possible through cultivating compassionate heart. And today, we’re gonna take a look at, instead of a heart that devises wicked schemes and evil schemes, we’re gonna look at how does peace is attainable through a righteous heart.
So, we’re gonna talk about righteousness. We’re gonna talk about what does it mean for you and I to have a righteous heart. Righteousness is one of those Christianese terms. It’s like the Christian, you know, secret Christian language, it’s thrown around in churches. Righteousness is one of those.
I remember when I first became a follower of Jesus in college, I was 19 years old. And some of you, I’ve shared my story here before. I grew up Muslim. I met the Lord at 19 years old in college, and I remember people directed me to a church. And so I went to this church and it met in a high school, which I thought was really weird, and I didn’t know what that was about. I walk in and people are singing. And I remember looking around going, “This is wacko.” Like I don’t get it. Like, what are they singing about? To make things even worse, the guy on the stage with the guitar starts thinking about and talking about and asking everyone, “Hey, are you covered in the righteous blood of the lamb?” And I’m thinking to myself, no, and I don’t wanna be. Like this is nuts. Like what did I get myself into?
You see, obviously now, I understand that that meant the forgiveness that Jesus offers us through the cross. But righteousness is a word that we talk about in church. And we gotta take a look and see, well, what’s the definition. What’s the dictionary say about righteousness? What the dictionary says about righteousness is that righteousness is behavior that is morally justifiable or right. You see, the world would look at righteousness and the world sense of righteousness is morality, it’s justice, it’s virtue, it’s uprightness.
But here’s the problem with the world’s definition of righteousness. Because of morality, it’s like on one part of the world, morality means something completely different to people on the other side of the world. Like in some parts of the world, it is absolutely moral for women and children to be treated a certain way. In another part of the world, that’s absolutely not moral. So morality can change depending on where you’re at. There has to be a solid standard for morality, for virtue, for uprightness. There has to be a solid standard for justice.
And so instead of looking at the world’s view of righteousness, which falls short, what’s God’s righteousness about? You see, God’s righteousness is all about his own holiness. Holiness means to be set apart from. So we find righteousness in God, that He is holy. He is pure. Pure means without blemish, never been blemished, never is blemished, that it’s without blemish, in his attributes, his attitudes and his actions. So, we look at God’s righteousness.
So, the way we’re gonna take a look at this is we’re gonna take a look at two specific men in the Old Testament. And so we’re gonna be in 1 Samuel chapter 24. If you have a Bible with you, turn to 1 Samuel 24, if you’re following along those. If you wanna follow along on your device, I invite you to pull out your device and follow along with us on 1 Samuel 24, because we’re gonna walk through this verse by verse. Before we do, I wanna give some context for where we’re at. We’re gonna take a look at two men. These two men were kings in Israel. You have King Saul who was the first king of Israel, God’s people. And then you’ve got David, the one who succeeded Paul. So we’re gonna take a look at both of them and how their heart was postured before the Lord. One had a wicked and evil heart devising wicked schemes. One had a pure heart. So we’re gonna take a look at this and we’re gonna examine these two.
Before we do, I need to give us a little bit of context before we dive into these two different kings. You see, the intention from the beginning for God Almighty, Yahweh, the I Am, the Great I Am, the intention for Yahweh was that he would be the King of his people, that his people didn’t need somebody to rule over them. That God wanted to be the protector. He wanted to be the Lord, the big L Lord of their life. He wanted to protect them, to guide them, to provide for them, to lead them, to administer justice. He wanted his people to look to him.
But the problem was the people started looking at all the other nations and they would look over and say, ”Look, that nation over there, they have a king that actually rules over them. And that king protects them when anyone tries to come and attack them. And that nation over there, man, their king is so… There’s no injustice in that kingdom. That king makes sure there’s justice. And that king over there, when this king tried to attack that kingdom, that king protected them and didn’t let anybody invade.” And so the people of God said, ”We want a king too.”
You see, here’s the problem with that. That God was supposed to be their ultimate king, but yet they started looking at other lings and other kings say, ”Hey, we want what we don’t have. We want a little piece of that.” And Samuel, the Prophet was pleading with the people saying, ”No, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong. Don’t settle for little L lords, settle for big L God, the Lord of Lords. Don’t allow anybody else.” Because the problem is this. When we to any leader or any structure or every government structure, any political party or any one person to be the one that’s gonna give us what we ultimately want, our peace and ultimate protection, we’re gonna fall short. And we start aligning ourselves with these structures and then we find ourselves in a place where we’re lost because no human person or no human structure can provide for us the way that the Lord Almighty can and wants to for us.
So the Prophet, Samuel, gathers all the Tribes of Israel together and says, ”Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember our ancestors when they were led out of Egypt and when we were up against the Red Sea? You guys want a king that’s gonna defend you, don’t you remember when we were up against the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was barreling down and no army in the world could stand against Pharaoh’s army? Do you remember when God opened that Red Sea and you walk through it or we walk through it and we were unharmed and then the sea swallowed up Pharaoh’s army? No other king in the world could have done that at that time. Don’t you remember the way God provided for us in the desert? Don’t you remember that he led us by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day? And don’t you remember it was God who fed us in the wilderness and made water come out of rocks and quail come from the sky?”
And the people said, ”No, we just want a king. We want a king. We want a king.” And so, Samuel did what the people wanted, and God relented. And so they gathered the tribes together, and there was a Tribe of Benjamin. It was a certain tribe in Israel. And so the king was gonna come from the Tribe of Benjamin. And so Samuel, the Prophet calls out the Tribe of Benjamin, and there was this man at 30 years old, who literally stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was taller than everybody else. He was handsome. He was strong and his name was Saul. Saul was anointed the first king of Israel. Saul actually started his reign doing what God had called him to do as king. He was a just king. He was a good king. He was a godly king. He was connected with Samuel the Prophet. But the problem is evil had started to take root in his heart.
You see, the people wanted to change their circumstance and say, ”Hey, if we have an earthly king, or if the government goes away that we want the government to be established, then we’re all good. Everything’s gonna be great.” And King Saul is selected. And King Saul starts to let the people down because there’s evil and wickedness in his heart. There’s evil and wickedness in all of our hearts, but Saul allowed it to fester, and fester and fester.
And there’s a couple specific times, specifically in 1 Samuel 13, where Saul is about to lead God’s army into battle. And he was waiting on the prophet and the priest to come and to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the army so when they went into battle, they knew that God was gonna be with them. And so they waited and they waited and they waited. And the prophet and the priest, they were delayed on getting to him.
And so Saul took it upon himself to offer up the sacrifice for his own army and for himself, which is a big no, no. He wasn’t supposed to do that. So Samuel finally shows up in and Samuel says, ”Saul, what are you doing? You can’t act this way as king, that you cannot take these matters into your hands. These are only for the ones that God has called to offer holy and acceptable sacrifices before the Lord.” So Saul makes some excuses, talking about Samuel being late and all these things, and Samuel says, ”Hey, I’m not gonna have it. You can’t act this way as king. ” Saul says, ”Okay.”
Two chapters later, 1 Samuel 15, Saul is called by the Lord to go take out a whole army because this army was set out to destroy all of God’s people and literally wipe God’s people off the planet. And so God had told the Prophet Samuel to tell Saul, to go and destroy this armor, let nothing be left, let them be destroyed so the world would know that the Lord is God. So Saul takes his army. He does destroy that other army, but some of the riches and the cattle and the sheep, he saves. He disobeys God. He obeys God for a moment, but he disobeys God and doesn’t obey him fully. And he keeps some for himself.
So when the Prophet Samuel shows up and says ”Saul, what are you doing? You can’t act this way,” Saul starts making excuses for himself. ”Well, I was gonna put all these riches. I actually was gonna bring into the tabernacle so them we can…as an offering to God. I was gonna take the cattle and the sheep and I was gonna offer him as a sacrifice to God.” And Samuel, very sternly, has had it with Saul. He’s had it with Saul trying to follow God and technically following him, but not living in full obedience to God Almighty. So Samuel confronts Saul.
And you see, in 1 Samuel 15, verse 27, it says, ”As Samuel,” after he confronts Saul, and I look at him looking up because Saul was really tall. ”As Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed him,” Saul is strong. ”He grabbed his robe. He took hold of his hem of his robe and he tore it.” So the king actually rips off a part of the prophet’s robe. ”And Samuel turns to him.” And I just have this image in my head of this wise prophet, this man of God staring up at the king and saying, ”The Lord has torn the Kingdom of Israel from you today and he’s given it to one of your neighbors, to one who is better than you.” So Saul goes and he turns and he tears off this piece of the robe of the prophet. Saul was rejecting God as king and trying to take things into his own hands. And because of that, God was rejecting him as king.
Let’s contrast that to David. A very familiar phrase about King David is that David was a friend of God. David had a pure heart. When Samuel went to go anoint David to be the next king, when Saul started acting wickedly, Samuel himself was even surprised, and the Lord spoke to Samuel and said, ”The Lord does not look at things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” He said, ”The problem was Saul was trying to act righteous on the outside.” And as much as we try to perform and try to do righteous things, we’re gonna fall short, just like Saul fell short. But David wasn’t so much righteous on the outside yet, but he was righteous on the inside. God looks at the heart, not the outward appearance.
You see, you can’t change your heart by changing your actions, but you can change your actions by having a righteous heart. That’s what allowed David to stand out. And so as word started to spread about David, and Saul started hearing about David and Saul saw some of the things that David had done and leading into battle and winning different battles, Saul started getting a little angry and a little jealous because David was going viral. Like people were talking about David all over the place. “Hey, did you see what David did? Like Saul killed hundreds, but David killed thousands. I think David should be king. Saul’s time is over. Like we gotta bring in David. Bench Saul, you know, elevate David.” Like that’s what people were saying.
So essentially all of 1 Samuel in the 20s, Chapter 20, 21, 22, are all these stories of Saul trying to take David out. And every chance Saul had to try to kill David, he took it. He would throw spears at David. He would come up with traps to try to trap David just to kill him because he had heard that David was gonna be the next king when he was actually gonna overthrow him. And Saul thought, “I’m gonna hold onto this kingdom. And by holding onto this kingdom, I’m gonna take David out.” Even his own family, Saul’s own family, his son protected David when Saul tried to kill him.
So that’s where we find ourselves here. We find ourselves in a place where Saul is on the assault chasing down David and his men. David’s got about 300 to 600 men at this point that are kind of a part of his tribe, part of his army, and Saul is trying to attack them. And that’s where we find ourselves. So the challenge for us, as we look through the Scripture is, that it’s not just good information and good historical information about our spiritual lineage, but it’s actually stuff that allows us to see ourselves in the Scripture that exposes who we are and what does it mean for us to move from a heart of wickedness that devises evil schemes, because we’ve all been there, to a heart of righteousness.
So we pick up in 1 Samuel chapter 24, it says, ”After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told David is in the desert of En Gedi. So Saul took 3,000 able young men from all of Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags or the Caves of the Wild Goats.” Like he took 3,000 soldiers to go look for this one and 300 other raggedy guys. Like that’s how intense Saul was on getting after David.
And in verse 3 ”He came to the sheep pens along the way and a cave was there. And Saul went in to relieve himself.” Because even if you’re the king and you’re trying to kill the next anointed king, you gotta go to the bathroom. And so Saul goes into the cave to go to the bathroom. David and his men were far back in the cave. Like this is a huge cave. Like there’s 300 or so men in the back of the cave. The king walks into this cave, takes off his robe, hangs it up so he can go to the bathroom.
And in verse 4, it’s like David and his men, like they can’t believe it. Like really? The Lord would do this? And in verse 4, ”The men said, ”This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, I will give your enemy into your hands and for you to deal with, as you wish.” Then David crept up unnoticed and he cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.”
You see, David was the next anointed King of Israel. David would have been very justified, as Saul was in a very vulnerable position, like you don’t get more vulnerable than going to the bathroom. Saul’s in a very vulnerable position, David creeps up behind him. David knew that he was anointed the next king, and maybe this is what God intended for David to do, to take out Saul and claim and take the kingdom that was rightfully his.
But he understood something specific about God and righteousness in verse 5. After David cut off the corner of Saul’s robe, in verse 5, ”Afterward, David was conscious stricken. He felt guilty for having cut off a corner of his robe. And he said to his men, ”The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words, David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul and Saul left the cave and went on his way.”
You see, he felt incredibly guilty for even thinking about killing Saul, the Lord’s anointed, actually Scripture actually even says he never even thought about doing that. He even felt guilty about tearing off a part of that robe. Why would David feel guilty about tearing off a part of that robe? It seems pretty justified. I mean, this guy’s trying to kill you. You might as well get some evidence to show that you could have killed him, and you didn’t. There’s incredible kingdom symbolism here.
Do you remember when Saul was being disobedient and Samuel, the Prophet, confronted him? What did Saul do to Samuel’s robe? He tore it. And Samuel looked at him and said, ”Your kingdom is gonna be torn away from you and somebody else better than you is actually going to claim your kingdom.” You see, this could have been David claiming or taking the prophecy about himself seriously enough that he cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. But yet, David felt guilty. And this is why he felt guilty because David understood that in the Kingdom of God, in God’s economy, you can’t take things. Things are gifted to you. And there’s no sense of a righteous man doing unrighteous acts to enact God’s will. God is stronger and more able to bring about justice and he’s more willing to do it than we ever are. We are not to take unholy or unrighteous acts to try to enact righteous actions. And David understood this, and David knew this about God. So, he felt guilty about this.
You see, this is actually what happened in the garden. In the garden, God creates the world and he creates the earth and the fields and the trees and the oceans and the birds and the ducks and all those different things that we know that God creates. And then he creates humanity and he has this one tree and he says, ”Adam, Eve, I want you all to go and enjoy it all. Like run, jump, swim, climb, do whatever, enjoy this all. But you know what? There’s this tree right here. This is a great tree. It’s got some wonderful things on it, some things that, one day, you’ll be able to understand, but right now, you don’t get it. Would you just stay away from this one tree? Everything else go do, but this one tree, you got to stay away from.”
And then what happens, in Genesis 3, a serpent shows up, and all of humanity has impact because a serpent deceives Adam and Eve, and the serpent says, ”God’s holding out on you. Why don’t you just take what’s rightfully yours anyway. God is scared of you. So why don’t you take what’s rightfully yours.” You know what? We’ve never in the same ever since, because in the Kingdom of God, you don’t take, you receive as gifts.
Grace and mercy are things that God wants us to have, but there is a currency in the Kingdom of God, grace and mercy are currency in the Kingdom, but both of them are given to us as gifts. They’re not taken. We don’t take those things because we deserve them. They’re given to us as gifts. No righteous person can ever act unrighteously before God no matter what the circumstances and David knew this.
In verse 12, he continues. I’m sorry, in verse 8, ”Then David went out of the cave and he called out to Saul. “My Lord, the king.” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.” So he bows down. So Saul has no idea who this is. He just knows there’s a soldier bowing down in front of him. Verse 9, he said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say David is bent on harming you? This day, you’ve seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, “I will not lay my hand on my Lord because he is the Lord’s anointed.” See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand. I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I’m guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.”
See, David shows him and says, David says, ”Look, I couldn’t do this.” You know, it’s interesting because David didn’t lift a weapon against Saul, but he absolutely lifted his words against Saul. Having a righteous heart does not mean you’re a doormat. It doesn’t mean you let evil people or injustice or people that abuse their powers or social structures that abuse power. It doesn’t mean we just let them do it and just righteousness means we’re hands off. It means we go about it the right way. David didn’t lift a weapon. He lifted his words and he used his words to confront Saul because of the ways that he was acting in an unjust way.
And then he goes on in verse 12, ”May the Lord judge between you and me and may the Lord avenge the wrongs you’ve done to me. But my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evil doers come evil deeds,,’ so my hand will not touch you. Against whom is the king of Israel? Come out. Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it. May he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” See, David knew exactly where his ultimate authority came from. He knew that it was the Lord Almighty’s job to judge and enact justice. Not David’s job. David had an unwavering faith in God. And unfortunately, this is how Saul was supposed to approach his kingship. David was acting more like a king than Saul was in this time.
In verse 16, Saul responds. ”When David finished saying this, Saul asked, ”Is that your voice, David, my son?” And he wept aloud. “You are more righteous than I,” he said. ”You treated me well, but I’ve treated you badly. You just now told me about the good you did to me. The Lord delivered me into your hands, but you didn’t kill me. When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. I know that you will be surely be king of the kingdom of Israel be established into your hands. Now, swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name for my father’s family.””
Saul seems to have a change of here. Saul recognizes that David is more righteous than him. Saul’s wickedness in his heart is exposed in this moment. Saul just says, ”David, I just got this one request. When you become king, not if, when you become…” Saul knows that David will become king. “When you become king, just spare my family, spare my name. Don’t wipe us out.” And Saul goes on his way and David goes on his way.
So how do you differentiate between Saul and David? How do you know if someone has a wicked or perverse or a heart that has been grafted and trapped with evil? How do you know if you have a righteous heart? I think one of the barometers of this is how do you act when you’re confronted? You see, when Saul was confronted with the wrongs that he had done by the Prophet Samuel, he continually tried to justify himself. He justified his actions, why he did what he did. And in this moment, it seems as if Saul has a change of heart and he’s actually kind of relenting and stepping back and understanding that David will be the new king. We have this image in our mind that Saul will peacefully step down as king and allow somebody else to be king.
But he doesn’t. Two chapters later, Saul tries to pursue David again and tries to kill David. And once again, God spares David’s life. And David stands above Saul, as Saul is sleeping, and he grabs his spear, could have very easily taken that spear and spiked it right into the sleeping king’s head, but he doesn’t.
You see, when Saul was confronted, he made excuses. When David became king, he wasn’t perfect. Let’s make no mistake about it. A righteous heart and perfection are not the same thing. David was not perfect. David flipped up. David made some major mistakes. One was he tried to steal somebody’s wife, and to cover it up, it was actually his friend, to cover up, trying to steal his wife, he sends him to the front lines of battle so that your Uriah dies.
You see, David wasn’t perfect, even though he had a righteous heart. And David’s friend, Nathan shows up, ”David, David, David, what are you doing? You can’t act this way.” You see, we all need Nathans in our life that call us out. When Saul was confronted with sin, he tried to justify himself. When David was confronted by his sins, you know what he did? He wrote Psalm 51, ”Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.” Psalm 51:4, ”Against you and you only, God, have I sinned, and I’ve done what is evil in your sight. So you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” When David was confronted, he wrote Psalm 51:10, ”Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
You see, the path of righteousness for you and I is paved with humility. It’s paved understanding that God is God and we are not. You see, I love this, the “create in me a pure heart, O God.” We are promised through our Lord and our Savior, we are promised that God will take a heart of stone out of anybody that is willing. He will take out that heart of stone that has been wrapped with sin. He will remove that heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, a righteous heart. That’s the Lord that we serve, that he will remove a heart of flesh, remove a heart of unrighteousness and replace it with a righteous heart.
There was a man named John who walked with Jesus. He was actually called the beloved disciple of Jesus. He was in Jesus’ inner circle. Within the 12 disciples, there was an inner circle of three. John was a part of that, fairly tight with Jesus. And as he wrote the stories in the Gospel of what Jesus had done, he also wrote some letters at the end of his life, confronting some things that were happening in the religious societies. And at 1 John 1:9, he eloquently writes this. ”If we confess our sins,” see, that’s where it starts. It’s a question, “Hey, if you do this.” You know confessing your sin simply means agreeing with God that what you’ve done is wrong. The funny thing about confession is, like, it’s not like we’re letting God know something he doesn’t already know. It’s not like when we confess, God’s like, ”What? You did that? I didn’t know that.” This might be like the scariest statement that I’ve said in a long time, God has a front row seat to our sins. Like he’s in the front row watching us. That’s scary. Huh? But yet he still says, if you confess your sins, if you agree with God that what you engage in is sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
Man, I’m good with a period right there. Like forgive me of my sin. Thank you, Jesus, because I need to be forgiven for a lot, but there is no period there. It continues. ”He forgives us our sins and he purifies us from all unrighteousness,” not some unrighteousness, but all, A-L-L, capital A-L-L, ALL unrighteousness, that he purifies us from all of that. That’s the gift that we have in Jesus. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us, our sins and purify us. That means we get to be without blemish the way that God is without blemish, that the blood of Jesus, as he died on that cross, it symbolically covers us. So righteousness, yes, is an attribute of God, but theologically, it’s a position that we actually get to stand in before a Holy God, because of what Christ has done on the cross.
Paul says it this way, that God made him, God made Jesus who had no sin actually made him to be sin for us, so that my sins, everything that I’ve said, everything that I’ve engaged in, my Google search history, everything that I do, that everything actually came upon him, that Jesus became sin for us so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God. That we have peace and shalom and unity and relationship with God because of what Christ has done in us. You see righteousness, righteousness is attainable for us. Not because we can achieve it, not because we can act righteous, not because we actually clicked on Monday and got a seat and reserved a seat in church during COVID, righteousness isn’t that something that we achieve, but it’s because of the cross has power to cover us with righteousness.
And so friends, let’s go before this God who freely gives us this righteousness. Lord, we thank you for your grace and your gift. We thank you as we sit here and consider our lives and recognize, Lord, that we need to confess. And we agree with you that what we have done, it’s not just bad stuff. It actually disgraces you and you’re appalled by it. And yet in some way, in my humanity, I don’t get this because I can’t do this with my kids, even though our sin disgraces you, you still receive us and love us and redeem us and restore us. I pray for restored hearts. I pray for restored hearts online as people are watching, on phones and in living rooms, as they’re driving in their cars. I pray for restored hearts sitting right here. For those that they came in here and we didn’t really wanna be here, somebody made us come and then they guilted us saying that we took someone else’s seat during the RSVP, we don’t wanna be here, but here we are. Lord, I believe your heart is to capture our hearts. And so we’re open, Lord. We’re open to you working in us and through us. And we thank you, Jesus. Amen.
In continuing pursuit of godly character and seemingly elusive peace, Craig relates how you can subscribe to biblical patience and trust in what God has done before to bring you a peace for today.
Craig: Welcome. So good to have you here. We are in the midst of our Chasing Peace Series. And here’s what we know already. We know that peace is never a product of circumstances. Even if our circumstances are perfect, we’re gonna worry that they’re gonna change so we won’t have peace. But peace is always a byproduct of the pursuit of godly character. That when we’re focused on becoming more like Jesus, as we do that, we’ll actually look around and find that we’re experiencing peace in spite of the particular circumstance that we have to be.
And our guide for this series and the pursuit of godly character has been the Book of Proverbs chapter 6, verses 16-19, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
And we know that God hates these things because he loves us. He hates these things because he knows the damage of these things do to us and through us to other people. He knows that these things are peace killers. And so, what we wanna do is, actually, is pursue the opposite of each of these things.
And today, we are gonna lean into the opposite of feet that are quick to rush into evil. Which is kind of an interesting thing to say, right? Because I would think that God hates feet that take us to evil, no matter how fast they get us there, wouldn’t you? I would think that God hates feet that are slow to creep into evil, right?
But it’s interesting, in the original Hebrew as well as in English, there are two separate words there emphasizing speed, which clearly indicates that, you know, what God’s really focused here is on the speed with which we get there. Okay. So really, what God is talking about here are impatient feet. Impatient feet.
Probably, also helpful to understand that the Hebrew word for evil, ra’, it doesn’t just mean sin or wickedness. It doesn’t just mean moral evil. It’s a bigger word than that. And it includes wickedness, it includes sin, but it also includes all kinds of bad circumstances, like tragedy, like disasters. And when we put that together, what we’ll realize is what God is saying here is God hates impatient feet because they usually take us to bad places.
Let’s just be honest with each other. If you are watching online, I want you to go to the chat thing so you can participate in this. Some of you are gonna raise your hands, some of you are gonna type guilty. This applies to you. Okay.
So here’s the deal. How many of us have ever made a really bad decision? Type guilty. Come on, everybody. Most of us. Okay. Now, here’s the real question. I want you to think about that bad decision because you probably only made one. Just that one. Think about that one bad decision you’ve made and I want you to ask yourself this, did I make that decision slowly or quickly? Did I make that decision with lots of time to think it through, with lots of prayer, with plenty of time to go and talk to wise counselors to get their input? Or did it, “I rushed into that.” How many of us would say we rushed into that bad decision? You can type guilty, again.
Yeah, most of us do. And that’s just the way it works, right? The reality is that impatient feet usually take us to bad places. They very rarely take us to good places. And that’s what God is talking about here. And so, what we wanna do is we are gonna talk about the opposite of impatient feet, which of course would patient ones, patience.
We are gonna talk today about patience and how it is that that produces peace in our lives. Now, let me just tell you right off the bat, I’m not good at patience. I’m an impatient person. I know that for an absolute fact because at Mission Hills, we use a personality survey a little bit like StrengthsFinders or the Enneagram. Are you familiar with those? This is called Culture Index. And it’s crazy accurate.
In fact, independent scientific testing has confirmed that it’s 92% accurate. The Enneagram for comparison has about 64% accuracy rating. So, this one is 92% accuracy, which means that when I took it, science told me that I was less patient than 90% of the people on the planet. Seriously, I am top 10% most impatient people in the world. Top Ten. Woohoo.
Probably not a good one, right? This is not something that comes naturally to me. Patience is not something that I come by naturally. So what I want to do today is I wanna take you to a passage in the scripture that’s become my kind of go-to place when I need a patience top off. And that is Psalm 40. I would love for you to grab a Bible and join me in Psalm 40.
Psalm 40 has a little bit, even before it starts, it says, “For the director of music of David, a psalm.” And what that means is this was written by David. That’s King David, David of David and Goliath fame. But what you need to know about David is all of David’s giants did not fall on his feet the moment that he faced them. David knew what it was like to be in circumstances that were difficult and that lasted for a long time.
David knew what it was like to desperate to get out of his circumstances. David knew what it was like to be desperate to get out the circumstances that he was in. And maybe that’s you right now. And may be, as you’re listening to this, you’re facing something in your personal health, or in your marriage, or relationship, or in your family, or at work, or in some other circumstance where you’re just desperate to see a change. You’re desperate to get out of that.
And I want you to know that David knew what that was like. And it is in that awareness and that familiarity that he writes this. He says, “I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry.” A couple of things. First, I want you to notice that he waited patiently for the Lord. He didn’t just wait, he waited patiently for God to move.
And that’s really important because there’s two different kinds of patience. Okay? There’s what I call regular patience. And then, there’s biblical patience the kind that the Word of God talks about. Now, regular patience is just the willingness to wait. Okay, that’s regular patience. It’s just the willingness to wait. Biblical patience is the willingness to wait on God. And that’s a very different thing.
I mean, imagine, you went outside today and you saw a guy sitting on the curb and you said, “Hey, what are you doing?” He goes on, “I’m waiting for a bus.” “Oh, is this a bus stop?” “I don’t know.” “Well, do buses come by here?” “I have no idea.” “Well, have you ever seen a bus?” “No.” “Did somebody tell you that a bus was gonna start coming here?” “No” “So what are you doing again?” “I’m waiting on a bus.”
Okay. That’s very different kind of patience. In this kind of patience, it’s waiting on something that you have good reason to think is gonna show up right there when you need it, right? And that’s what we’re talking about. God, who has a history of showing up to deliver his people. We’re waiting on God. That’s biblical patience.
Now, biblical patience is also tied to an attitude. Okay? It’s not just waiting on God, it’s an attitude. And I want you to notice that it says, I waited patiently. In the Hebrew, that’s actually, literally, waiting, I waited. It uses the same Hebrew word twice. And typically, in Hebrew, when the same word is used twice, when there’s a double emphasis, a doubling down on the word right in a row like that, what it’s doing is it’s indicating some kind of certainty, some kind of confidence.
And so, what David is saying here is, not just that he waited, but he waited with confidence. He waited with expectations. He waited with sort of sense of anticipation. He’s not just hoping God might show up. He’s fully expecting. He’s fully anticipating that God will show up.
When my kids were little, and I was younger, I would often be out on the roads and speaking. And when I would come home, my favorite things in the world is I would kind of head down my street. And as I would turn in my driveway, both of my girls would come running out. And it was awesome. And they would do it even before the car was in the driveway, even before they heard the sound of the door closing.
How do they do that? Well, the answer was they were at the front window with their noses pressed, I know because we often had to clean the window. And they were watching. So the moment they saw my old beat-up Isuzu Rodeo coming, they’re like, “Dad’s here.” And they run out.
That’s what David’s talking about here. It’s waiting, not just hoping that maybe something might happen, but it’s waiting with a sense of anticipation. They know. They are just waiting for that moment and then, they’re out there. That’s what David is talking about here. Okay?
Biblical patience is waiting with an attitude of anticipation for God to move. It’s not just the act of waiting, it’s waiting with an attitude of anticipation for God to move. Now, when we do that, when we wait with our noses pressed to the glass, waiting for God to arrive, three things happen.
Number one, biblical patience turns waiting into expression of faith because we’re not just waiting, we’re waiting on God, which means, we’re trusting that God will arrive, and that God will do what only God can do. And that’s faith, okay? And faith is important to God. Hebrew 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” As followers of Jesus, of course, we want to please God. Well, actually, biblical patience is one of the ways we do that because biblical patience turns waiting into an expression of faith and trust.
Second thing is that biblical patience changes our perspective. It changes our perspective because when we are waiting with a sense of anticipation for God to move, we’re no longer just looking at the circumstances, what we’re beginning to get our eyes off them and look to the heavens waiting for God to arrive. And that has a powerful impact on us in very practical ways.
When my kids were little…I’ve told you this before, but it’s worth repeating. When my kids were little, when they were upset about something, I would often say, “Well, the thing that you’re upset about, it’s real. It’s a big deal. I get that. But it’s like your hand.” It’s not the only thing in the room. It’s not even the biggest thing in the room. But as long as you keep focused on that thing and this happens, it suddenly feels like the only thing. It feels like a much bigger thing and it’s overwhelming and that creates anxiety, that creates panic. It kills peace in our lives.
Biblical patience pushes the thing and the circumstances, the situation that we’re upset about. It pushes it out a little bit so that we can look for God. And in the process of doing that, it changes our perspective. We realize that thing is not only thing. And it reduces the panic, it reduces the anxiety because it puts the thing that we’re upset about in perspective. So biblical patience changes our perspective.
And then third, biblical patience keeps us from making things worse. And God hates impatient feet because they usually take us to bad places. The problem is, often, we find ourselves in difficult situation and we panic, and we rush to do something that we think, maybe this will help. And often, it doesn’t help. Actually, it makes it worse.
In fact, let me tell this important principle. There has never been a situation so bad that a lack of patience couldn’t make it worse. One of the hard things in ministry is talking to couples whose marriage is just a mess. And it’s amazing to me how often I talk to a couple whose marriage is really messy.
And I find out that, honestly, it’s been that way for a long time. It’s been that way from day one because they rushed into the marriage. One or both of them were so desperate to not be single anymore. They are so desperate to be married that they rush into a marriage with somebody maybe they didn’t share their faith or didn’t share some core values, or they didn’t know much about yet.
And then, I talk to couples that maybe that’s not how it started, but things kinda got bad and then they rushed and had an affair, or they rushed, and they got a divorce. And now, things are just so much worse than they were before. See, God hates impatient feet because they usually take us to bad places. Biblical patience, on the other hand, keeps us from making things worse.
David is writing about that. He’s writing about biblical patience when he says he waited on the Lord. He says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and he gave me a firm place to stand.” And I love that.
When I picture it, I sort of picture David as a little kid and he’s stuck in a well. He is down at the bottom of the well and he’s in mud and muck. And he’s already lost one shoe and he can’t find that. And the other one is about to get sucked off in the mud and the walls are slimy and their moldy and he knows that he’s never gonna be able to climb.
But that’s okay because he’s not looking at any of that. He’s looking up waiting and then Jesus throws him a rope and he grabs over the rope and Jesus pulls him out. He probably loses the other shoe, but that’s okay. He’s out. And part of that, I think what’s powerful about those, as I picture it, is that I picture David not looking at the mud, but looking up so that he sees the rope the moment it comes down. If he was looking at the mud and the muck, Jesus might have dropped the rope and then like, “What’s he doing?” He would wiggle a little around, whacks him in the head a couple of times. And then he goes, “Okay.” He grabs a hold, right?
And see, here’s the thing. Sometimes, biblical patience lets us spot God the moment he moves. In fact, it always does that. When we are looking for God to move, biblical patience, let us spot God the moment he moves, which means that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, biblical patience actually allows us to experience God’s deliverance a little bit sooner because we grab it the moment that it arrives.
It’s what David’s talking about here. He says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” He says, God didn’t just only give me a deliverance, he gave me a story to tell. He gave me an opportunity to praise God to other people so that they will come to trust him. And that’s an incredibly powerful statement.
Listen, God hates feet that rush to evil, but he loves tongues that rush to praise, right? Not because he’s an egomaniac, not because he just wants to be praised. Because he knows that when we praise God in the hearing of others, they begin to go, “Oh, maybe, I could trust God.” And they begin to experience the blessing that comes in biblical patience from trusting the Lord.
And so, really, what happens is we look at difficult circumstances, we begin to realize that when God delivers us, what we’re facing right now will actually become an opportunity to help other people trust God. And that changes our perspective in those circumstances big time, right?
Listen. Patience changes difficult circumstances into an upcoming opportunity to tell other people that God can be trusted. And so, we don’t wait just to be delivered from our circumstances, we wait to have a new opportunity to help others trust the God that we are trusting.
It says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” It’s interesting, he says, bless this one who does not look to the proud. And this kinda the proud where the people go, “I got this. I don’t really need God. I don’t need to wait on him, I can fix this, I can take care of this.” But instead, in the process of doing that, they turn aside to false gods. They turn aside to other things that can’t save them. Right?
Biblical patience protects us from that because opposite the proud, biblical patience is an expression of humility. Biblical patience is an expression of humility, saying, “I know that I can’t fix this. I know that a lot of what I’m gonna do here is just gonna make it worse. So I need to wait for the Lord. He’s the only one that can do anything real about this.” That’s humility. Biblical patience is an expression of humility.
And if you’re with us a few weeks ago, as we talked about humility in depth, you know that humility produces peace. Biblical patience, that’s expression of humility which produces peace in our lives, partly that’s because it keeps us from turning aside to false gods to other things, not just other religions, but anything else that we think, “Maybe that can do it. Maybe that can save me. Maybe that can help me. Maybe that can get me out of this.” But we get there and we realize, it couldn’t do any of those things and now things are much worse.
And so patience keeps us from trusting things that don’t deserve it. It keeps us from putting our trust in something that has no history of trustworthiness. But in desperation, we’re willing to try it and we find ourselves in worse circumstances than we were. And that kills peace, right? Patience keeps us from trusting things that don’t deserve it.
He says, “Many, Lord, my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you. Were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they will be too many to declare.” This is so important. This is really the foundation of biblical patience.
What David’s doing there is he’s looking back. He’s looking back at his history of trusting God. He’s looking at the history of all the things that God has done. He’s saying, “Hey, if I were to try to tell all the things that you’ve done, I wouldn’t even be able to do it because there’s such a rich history there.” And I understand it’s important.
Biblical patience isn’t rooted in the present, okay. It doesn’t come from looking around at the present, it doesn’t come from looking at the future and thinking, “Well, maybe God could do this or maybe that.” No, it comes from looking to the past. It comes to looking at what God has done and from that beginning to go, “Oh, yeah, that’s his track record and I can trust him to continue with that track record.” It always comes from the past.
And I’m gonna be honest, this is something I don’t do well naturally. I don’t think about the past too much. In fact, the same survey that says that I’m one of the top 10% most impatient people on the planet, it also says that I’m in the top 5% of people who think towards the future. I’m just wired to think future oriented, but that means that I don’t naturally think to the past and so what I have to do is I have to use strategies and tactics.
So, one of the things that I’ve learned to do over the years is I just write down every time I see God do something in my life to change a circumstance that I couldn’t change myself. I write them down. I use the Evernote, it’s an online app. It’s on all my devices. I write it down and I go back and I review that when I’m finding it hard to trust God. And I say, “Oh, yeah, he did that and he did that he did that.” And, man, it just goes on and on.
One of my favorite ones lately, you know, I didn’t go into ministry to make money, and I succeeded. I spent most of my life just barely over the poverty line. That was fine because God provided. And it was awesome to see. And I have a lot of stories of that. But you know my kids were getting a little older, and actually, my daughter was going into senior of high school.
And I was like, “Yeah, I have no way to pay for college for them. They’re both smart girls, but I have no way to do that. And started praying, “God, would you provide that?” It was interesting is in the midst of that, that the call to Mission Hills came. And I want you to know, this is 100% true, you can check with the elders, I said yes to the job here because I felt God calling me before I asked anything about salary. In fact, it was after I’d said yes, they said, “Can we tell you about the salary?” I said yeah and they told me and I thought, “Huh, I’m gonna be able to pay for my kids to go to college. Cool.”
I don’t know about you, here’s my experience of God. God always anticipates my needs. He rarely telegraphs his intentions. You got to look to the past and all of the ways that he’s done up to this moment. That’s what David is saying.
And really, what happens then is the biblical patience, check this out, biblical patience is just waiting for God to do more of what he’s done before. Right? That’s all biblical patience is. It’s just waiting, it’s waiting with an attitude of anticipation for God to do more of what he’s done before to carry on his track record.
He says, “Sacrifice and offering, you did not desire, but my ears you have opened. Burnt offerings and sin offerings, you did not require.” He says, “God I understand. You’re not looking for offerings. You’re not looking for sacrifices.” Okay. Well, what is he looking for? And the answer is faith. He’s looking for us to trust him. Remember, Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
But check this out. Patience is an expression of faith. We’ve already talked about that today, right? Patience is expression of faith. And faith pleases God. Without faith, it’s impossible. Well, with it, it’s possible. Faith pleases God. So that means that patience pleases God. Are you with me?
And I thought my intro to logic course in college wasn’t gonna be worth anything. It’s just good logical reasoning. Patience pleases God. But wait, there’s more. In the Christmas story, I love this line, I was thinking about this week is the angels came and they announced to the shepherds the birth of Jesus. They said, this this is Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest heaven. And on earth, peace to those of whom his favor rests.”
And the Greek word for favor is also the Greek word for pleasure. Those with whom God is pleased, receive peace. Okay, follow me on this. Patience is an expression of faith. Faith pleases God. God gives peace to those who please him. So, God gives peace to the patient. He gives peace the patient. To those who are willing to wait with an attitude of anticipation, God actually gives peace.
And it’s not a peace that comes from the circumstance, it’s a peace that comes from the Holy Spirit in our lives. It’s a supernatural peace. It’s what the Book of Philippians calls the peace that passes understanding. It doesn’t really make sense but we experience it nonetheless as a gift from God. When we’re patient for God to move, he blesses us with peace in the meantime. It’s one of the ways that patience produces peace because it opens us up to the supernatural blessing of it coming from God.
“Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come. It is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, God. Your law is within my heart.'” And I love that because even though David’s in difficult circumstances, his primary question is not, how fast can I get out of them? His primary question is not, God, what’s taking so long? His primary question is, God what’s your will, right here, right now? And I love that. That’s only possible through biblical patience.
And see every difficult circumstance provides a unique opportunity to serve God. It’s so important we understand this. Every difficult circumstance that you will ever face provides you with a unique opportunity to be on mission with Jesus. And once the circumstances have changed, the opportunity is gone. But we’ll often miss the opportunity if we’re just asking, “How quick can I get out of this. God, what’s taking so long?”
So, listen, patience changes the question from what’s the delay God to what’s my mission right here, right now. And that changes the way that we deal with difficult circumstances, when we’re asking God what’s my mission in the midst of all this.
“I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly. I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart. I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.” And again, he’s going back to this idea that God doesn’t just give us a deliverance. He gives us a story. A story that we’re called to share with others because it enables them to trust him.
So, again, patience changes difficult circumstances into an upcoming opportunity to tell others that God can be trusted. He says, “I refuse to be quiet and rush to praise.” He says, “Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord. May your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me. My sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.” And I think it’s interesting there that he acknowledges that at least some of his circumstances or at least as bad as they are, it’s partly because of what he’s contributed to the mess. His sins are part of that package.
“They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. So be pleased to save me, Lord. Come quickly, Lord, to help me. May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion. May all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, ‘Aha! Aha!'” In other words, those who go, God has abandoned you, may they realize that they’re wrong.
And, “May they be appalled at their own shame because he arrived. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. May those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’ But as for me, I am poor and needy. May the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer. You are my God, do not delay.”
And I love that it begins with, “I waited patiently” and it ends with, “But please, don’t take too long.” I love that it’s okay to say, “God, if you could hurry this up, that’d be awesome.” But in the meantime, in the meantime, I’m gonna wait with an attitude of anticipation for that moment that you arrive. David knows what it’s like to be desperate. But David also knows that patience brings peace by turning desperation into anticipation. That’s the bottom line. Patience brings peace into our lives by turning desperation into anticipation.
So how do we do that? How do we help build biblical patience? Four simple things to remember that come directly from this Psalm.
Number one, we do it by remembering who we’re waiting on. Remember who you’re waiting on. We’re not just waiting. We’re waiting for God to move. Remember who you’re waiting on.
Number two, remember how you’re going to wait. You’re going to wait with an attitude of anticipation with your nose pressed to the window for the moment that you first spot that God’s on the move and wait with an attitude of anticipation.
Number three, you’re gonna remember what exactly we’re waiting for. You’re waiting for God to do more of what he’s done before. You’re waiting for God to just continue his long and perfect track record.
And then, fourth, remember where impatient feet usually take us. God hates impatient feet because it usually takes us to bad places. So we’re gonna be aware of that tendency to jump into something because there’s a very good chance we’re actually gonna make it worse. And we know it’s never gonna be as good as what God will bring if we just wait on him. We’re in the midst of a lot of difficult circumstances right now. We’re all facing some of those and some of you, I know, are facing particular circumstances that you are desperate to get out of.
And so I think this is a very applicable word from the Lord to us today to take a moment right now to step back and to acknowledge our temptation to be impatient, to recognize where this life could have take us and to recognize that the benefits that come from practicing biblical patience from growing in biblical patience. And so, what I encourage you to do right now, we’re gonna sing a song, and you’re certainly welcome to sing this, but I’ll also maybe encourage you to just take some time during the song to do some business with God, to go before the Lord with that circumstance that you’re desperate to be out of. Acknowledge that, be honest about it. You’re free to ask him to come quickly.
But at the same time, ask him to change the way that you’re thinking about circumstance. Ask him for the strength to lift your eyes off of the circumstance and on to the heavens waiting for him to do what only he can do, to remind you, maybe even as we sing the song, remind you of all these past examples of faithfulness so that we can wait for him to do more of what he has done before. I encourage you to take some time right now to that business with the Lord.
Jesus longs for us to have a peace that passes understanding. This week’s message wraps up our Chasing Peace series and examines the juxtaposition of what character traits God despises and those he would bless us through. We can gain peace by becoming more like Jesus.
Craig: Good morning. Welcome to Mission Hills and go ahead and grab a seat. So good to have you with us today. We’re wrapping up our Chasing Peace Series today. And so, one last time, for those of you that this might be your first time here, here’s what we know about experiencing peace in our lives. First off, we know that peace is never a product of our circumstances. Even if our circumstances are perfect, we’re gonna worry that they’re gonna change and so we won’t have a lasting peace that comes from our circumstances. Rather, peace is always a byproduct of the pursuit of godly character. It really it’s about a focus on who we are. And the more that we’re in the process of becoming like Jesus, the more that we’ll find that we experience peace that’s not tied to our circumstances.
And our guide for the series in pursuing godly character has been the Book of Proverbs chapter 6, starting at verse 16. It says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him, haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” And we know that God hates these things because he loves us. He hates these things because he knows the damage that these things do to us. And when these character traits are part of our lives, he knows the damage that we end up doing to other people. He hates these things because they’re peace killers. And so what we’ve been doing in this series is pursuing the opposite of each of these character traits so that we can experience the peace that comes from the opposite of these things.
Now, today, we’re going to lean into this last one, a person who stirs up conflict in the community. We’re gonna talk about the opposite of that. But before we do that, let me just say this, I think it’s important to understand that that last one isn’t just another item in the list, it’s not just one of seven. It’s actually the culmination of the other six. The other six all come together to make this person who stirs up conflict.
And part of the reason we know that is because all the other six are actually related to body parts. They’re actually related to parts of the person, right? There’s haughty eyes, a lying tongue, there’s hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, which doesn’t sound like a body part. But in the original Hebrew, the Hebrew word for pours out is actually based on the Hebrew word for mouth. So, it’s literally it’s a false witness who mouths lies. And so they’re all associated with body parts. And the idea is that all these parts of a person come together to make one person who stirs up conflict in the community.
And so, what we wanna do today is we wanna talk about how to not be a person who stirs up conflict, how to be the opposite of that, which is how to be a peacemaker. And the best place I know of in God’s Word to go to understand how to become a peacemaker is actually another list of seven items that we find in the Bible. It’s found in Matthew 5, I’d love for you to grab a Bible and start making your way to Matthew chapter 5, that’s where we’re gonna spend most of our time today. Matthew chapter 5 contains one of probably Jesus’s most famous messages. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount, sermon on the mountaintop. And it has several sections, and one of the sections of the Sermon on the Mount is a section called the Beatitudes. And beatitude just means extremely blessed. And we call this section the Beatitudes because every line of this section begins with the word blessed. And the idea here is that God loves these things, and therefore he blesses them.
Now, there’s nine lines, actually, that have the word blessed at the beginning, but two of them are different than the other seven. The last two are things that happen to us. And God blesses us when these things happen to us. But the first seven are all things that we choose to do, okay? And we’re told that God loves it when we do these things, and he blesses it when we do those things. And so there’s a very clear section here that most scholars recognize of seven things that God loves and blesses. And the first one is this, he says, chapter 5, verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And the first question we wanna ask, of course, is, well, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? Right, because clearly, God’s not saying he blesses those with poor, pathetic spiritual lives, right? Clearly, that’s not what he means. What does he mean? Well, it might help to understand that the Greek word for poor can also mean humble. We actually do the same thing in English, right? If we say that somebody came from humble beginnings, what we mean is they grew up poor, they grew up lacking. And that’s what Jesus is talking about here. He really says, he says, “Blessed are the humble in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And it’s interesting. The first item on the list of things that God hates is haughty eyes, which we talked about a few weeks ago means pride. So, God hates pride, but he loves those who are humble in spirit. And actually, the connection may be a little deeper than that because there’s this phrase in English we say that the eyes are a window to the soul or the spirit. And that’s actually rooted in several places in the Bible where you have a similar idea said. And so, the idea is that the eyes actually become a window on the spirit. Either they reveal that we’re full of pride, or they reveal that we’re full of humility. And the thing is that God clearly hates pride, but he loves humility.
Now, why is that? Well, we’ve talked about that a few weeks ago. But the bottom line is that pride leads to conflict, but humility is the foundation for peace. Pride leads to conflict. Prideful people go through life creating conflict with other people. Everywhere they go, you see coming. In fact, if you see a person that everywhere they go there is conflict, there’s a really good chance that the root of it is that they’re struggling with pride. It’s just such a consistent thing.
Humility, on the other hand, becomes the foundation for peace. Not only does it produce peace as we talked about it a few weeks ago, but it comes to the first step on the road to becoming a peacemaker. Why is that? Well, here’s the thing. It’s really hard to pick a fight with a humble person. It’s almost impossible, actually, because you know what? They don’t need to be right all the time. They don’t think that they’re right all the time. And they’re happy to say when they’re wrong. And, like, that just ruins a good fight. Every time you’re having a fight with somebody or you’re getting at that point, and you’re like, “Hey, you did this to me.” And they go, “You’re right. That was wrong. I’m really sorry. But will you forgive me for that?” You’re like, “Well, yeah.”
But the fight just evaporated, right? It’s really hard to have a conflict with somebody who doesn’t think they’re always right or really need to be right and who’s willing to admit when they’re wrong. Humility really lays the foundation for peace. Certainly, that’s true in a relationship with God. It’s humility that comes before God and says, “Hey, I’m not always right. I’m sinful. I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” And that’s what allows us to take hold of forgiveness. And so, he says, “Therefore, you have the kingdom of heaven,” but it also builds that relationship with other people. That’s the starting point.
And he goes on here and he says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. And the question we wanna ask there is well, mourn what? Because it doesn’t mean that blessed are those who are sad because they’ve lost someone, because Jesus is talking to the followers of Jesus he’s saying, “When you do these things, when you bring these character traits into your life, you’re gonna find that God blesses you in certain ways.” And so, this isn’t just being sad because you’ve lost someone.
Besides, think about this is a little bit weird, but did you know there’s a Church of Satan? Like there’s an actual, it’s a 501C3 Church of Satan. And it was founded by a man named Anton LaVey. Well, Anton LaVey died a few years ago, and all of his followers were sad that he had died. Do you think God’s saying that he blesses the Satanists because they’re sad that the founder of the Church of Satan has died? I don’t think so. Clearly, God’s talking about something else here, we’re mourning something more than just the loss of someone that we care about.
Well, what’s he talking about? What’s interesting, the second thing that we’re told in Proverbs 6 that God hates is a lying tongue. He hates a lying tongue. And if you’re with us, in that message, you’ll see that we went back to the very first lie that was ever told, it was told by Satan. And he told it to Eve, he was trying to get her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of deciding for yourself, of making your own decisions, and kind of kicking God off the throne of life and putting yourself on the throne of your life. He’s trying to get her to eat that and she said, “Well, we’re not supposed to eat it. And God said that if we do eat from it we will die.”
And Satan said, “You won’t certainly die.” And because of that lie, she ate of it, and she gave it to Adam and Eve, and they lied, they ate from it. And the end result was that they died. Two ways we saw that happen in the ancient world, death was primarily about relational separation. And so when they ate from it, and we see their relationship with God was immediately broken, but also their relationship with each other was immediately broken. And so, there was that kind of death. But then ultimately it led to their physical deaths as well. When you unplug from the God of life, you’re gonna ultimately end up in death.
And so, the first lie led to death. And I believe that’s actually what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about mourning the damage caused by our sin, mourning the death of our relationship with God, and the death of our relationships with each other and the peace that we could have had with each other because of our sin. But Jesus says blessed are those who mourn,” and blessed are those who recognize that they’ve done it and blessed are those who are willing to be honest about it. That’s an incredibly powerful thing because Jesus said this, this is 1 John 1:9 he said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just and he will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
See, being honest with God about the fact that we have sinned, mourning our sin, and the damage that it’s done, it leads to forgiveness. It’s the only route to forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. But the only way we get there to receive that gift is to recognize and mourn the damage of our sins, to be honest with God to confess that sin. And the result is that we’re forgiven. That our sins are washed away that we no longer have guilt, and we don’t labor under the shame that comes from the wrong that we’ve done. And so, in that way, we have peace with God.
But honestly, about the damage we’ve caused by our sin also builds peace with other people, right? Several years ago, I was counseling a couple. And quite honestly, it was probably…it might have been the marriage in the worst shape I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a couple so deeply bitter towards each other, just with just years of built-up resentment. And honestly, I wasn’t counseling. Coletta and I were doing it together. And I don’t know if we were counseling, we were just kind of playing a referee. And at one point, trying desperately to bring something positive into the conversation, I looked at the husband, I said, “Hey, let’s do this. Let’s do this. Let’s talk about the last time that you said you were sorry to her.” And he said, “Well, I don’t think I’ve ever said that.”
And I said, “No, no, no, I don’t mean like the last time you bought flowers and made it big. I just mean the last time that you realized you did something wrong and you said you’re sorry.” And he goes, “It’s been months. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that.” And I was like, “Dude, I said it to my wife three times before we got here today.” And I looked at her and she goes, “I don’t think he’s ever said it. But to be perfectly fair, I don’t think I’ve ever said it.”
I was like, “Well, you guys are telling me you’ve never said you’re sorry? Well, no wonder there’s so much built-up anger, and bitterness, and resentment. No wonder there’s so little peace in this relationship because you’ve never been honest about what you’ve done wrong and the damage that it’s caused. So, here’s the first thing you need to do start saying the three most powerful words.” This is a relationship act, do you know what the three most powerful words you’ll ever say are? “I was wrong.” I was wrong, the three most powerful words ever. Because when we say them, it begins to diffuse something of this hostility that we’ve caused by our sin. So it leads to forgiveness from God and peace with God, but an honesty about the damage that we’ve caused of our sin, mourning that damage, it also leads to peace in our relationships with other people and we’re comforted.
He says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Blessed are the meek, which is another one of those words that I can’t remember the last time I used the word meek in a conversation. Anybody else? It’s kind of an old-fashioned word. In fact, it’s interesting, I’m reading the New International Version, which they updated in 2011 to make some of the language a little bit more modern. And every now and then I’m like, “I think you missed one.” Right there, meek, it’s really an old-fashioned word. But all it really means is humble, okay? He says, “Blessed are the humble…” I’m sorry, not humble, he means gentle. “Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.” And it’s interesting.
The third item that we find in the list in Proverbs 6 that God hates is hands that shed innocent blood. Violence, the opposite of gentle, right? The exact opposite. And so, what Jesus basically says is God hates violent hands, but he loves gentle hands, and they’ll inherit the earth. Now, why is that? Well, if you think about it for a moment, why do people engage in violence? Why do they cause harm to others? And the answer is typically to get a hold of something that they want for themselves. I want their money, right? I want their job. I want something from them, right? You’re taking for yourself, and we do it by violence. But Jesus, interestingly enough, says, “Yeah, but the meek inherit the earth.” They don’t just get a couple of things from the earth, they actually inherit the whole kit and caboodle, right?
And as we talked about it a few weeks ago, that the true mark of gentleness, the true mark of meekness is actually compassion. It’s not just an unwillingness to do harm to the innocent. It’s an unwillingness to do harm to the guilty. In fact, it’s a willingness to do good things for those who don’t deserve it. That’s what compassion is. And that’s the truest mark of humility. It’s also the truest mark of gentleness. It’s the truest mark of meekness. But more than that, compassion may be the clearest evidence that we’re God’s children. Because God looks at us with compassion. And when we look at others with compassion, we saw this a few weeks ago, that’s the proof of our family resemblance, it’s the proof that we’re in a right relationship with God that he’s transforming us in the inside out when we treat others with the same compassion with which he treated us.
And it’s interesting. As we saw a few weeks ago, when Jesus gave one of his greatest teachings on compassion, it was started because a man came to him and said, “Teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life?” Not earn it, not gain it, not take it, but how do I inherit it? In other words, how do I know I’m in a right relationship with God so that he can give me what only he has the ability to give? And Jesus taught us about compassion. He said, compassion may be the clearest evidence that we are, in fact, God’s children. And here he says, “Blessed are the meek, the gentle, the compassionate, for they will inherit the earth.”
Compassion, as we said, a few weeks ago, compassion kills hostility and it produces peace. And it does that in all of our relationships. Certainly, it does it with God. We talked about a few weeks ago that when we’re compassionate to others, that keeps God’s compassion flowing on us. And I don’t know about you, I need God’s compassion every single day. And one of the ways we keep that compassion flowing to us is that we pass it on to others, we look at others with the same compassion with which he looks at us. So, it creates peace with our relationship with God.
But it also creates peace in our relationship with other people too because it’s very, very hard to maintain hostility towards somebody who’s being compassionate to you. It’s very hard to maintain hostility towards somebody that you’re being compassionate to. Even if you don’t feel compassion toward them, if you choose to practice compassion, you’re gonna find that hostility just evaporates. The conflict goes away because there’s something about the way that God has wired us that compassion just kills hostility. And it produces peace, both in our relationship with God, but also in our relationships with each other. He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst but blessed are those who long for righteousness above everything else. And really, that’s just kind of a poetic way of saying blessed are those whose hearts want to be righteous more than they want anything else.
And it’s interesting. The fourth item on the list of things that God hates is a heart that devises wicked schemes. And here we have this contrast, he says, “God hates a heart that devises wicked schemes, but he loves a heart that longs for righteousness more than anything else,” a heart that longs for righteousness so much that it’s become a thirst, that it’s become a deep-seated hunger. And it’s interesting, wicked schemes are a way to get wicked gain, right? That’s what a scheme is, a scheme is not just a way to get something, it’s a wicked way to get a wicked something. It’s a wicked scheme to get a wicked want.
In other words, it’s a heart that longs for things that it shouldn’t have. It’s a heart that longs for, you know, her husband, or his wife, or their house, or that car, or that promotion, or that job, or their bank account to be moved into mine. It’s how do we get things that I shouldn’t want. That’s what wicked schemes are. And a heart that longs for wicked things, develops wicked schemes, but Jesus says, but those who have a heart that’s led to a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, he says, they’ll be filled. They actually have what they longed for. And the reality is that a heart that longs for righteousness brings peace to all of our relationships. That when our primary concern is righteousness, that changes every relationship ever.
Certainly, it changes our relationship with God. Because we’re no longer distracted from those things we shouldn’t be running after, we’re running towards him. And he’s ready to be caught. He’s ready to meet us halfway, more than halfway to come to us when we begin to race after him instead of all those distractions that the world provides. But it also changes our relationships with others, when righteousness is the first thing that we’re looking for.
Let me give you a little relationship hack. I’ve learned that there’s tremendous value in doing this. Every now and then, Coletta and I will have a conflict. It’s rare, like once every seven or eight years, right? Obviously not because I said I have to say I’m sorry two or three times a day, and sometimes I don’t, and we end up in a conflict. And I’ve discovered that if earlier in the conflicts I asked myself this question, here’s the question, I say, “Craig, do you wanna be righteous or do you wanna be right?” And if I can remember that I actually wanna come out of this conflict righteous more than I wanna come out of it right, it’s not actually a conflict, it becomes a conversation.
That’s not easy. It’s not always easy because the truth of the matter is a lot of times like, “Do I wanna be righteous or right? I really wanna be righteous, but I am right. So, if I could just have both that would be awesome.” But that concern for righteousness changes the relationship. It changes the way that I speak to her, it changes the way that I engage in that relationship. It changes what it is that I’m pursuing and that fundamentally changes the relationship itself. And so, the reality is that the pursuit of righteousness produces peace.
And then there’s this, we’re told that they will be filled, that those who long for righteous will be filled because God loves to satisfy longings that are for good things. I noticed when my kids were little, there was a direct relationship between how good the thing they wanted was and my willingness to give them a lot of it, right? I mean, if they wanted candy, if they want ice cream, I often would say, “No,” or I’d give them very small portions. But if they said, “Hey, Dad, I really want green beans,” which never happened. But hypothetically, if that had ever happened, like I’d have been like, “I will give you green beans, I will give you as many of them as you want, back up the truck, right, prepare to be filled.” Direct relationship between how good the thing is and my willingness as a father to give it to them in large quantities. The same thing is true in our relationship with God, if what we long for is righteousness, God goes, “I will give it to you until it overflows out of you, and it transforms every relationship you ever engage in.” And in that way, it brings peace.
He says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” And mercy, it’s a very specific word. Basically, the concept of mercy is to not take revenge on those who have hurt you, but instead to be kind to them. That’s what mercy is, not to take revenge on those who have hurt you, but it’s to be kind to them. And it’s interesting. The fifth thing that we’re told that God hates is feet that are quick to rush into evil, feet that are impatient about getting where they’re going, because often where they’re going isn’t a good place. And one of the things we’re told never to rush into is revenge.
Romans chapter 12, verse 19, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.” In other words, be patient. Instead of you taking revenge, just hit pause, and let God do what really needs to be done. For it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him. And if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” What’s that sound like? Sounds like mercy, doesn’t it? “Be patient and as you be patient, not seeking revenge, give mercy to your enemy.” And then he says this, “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
And you know what overcoming evil with good sounds a lot like? Sounds a lot like peace to me. You see that progression? It’s patience plus mercy equals peace. Patience plus mercy equals peace. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are patient, and allow God to do what needs to be done. And, in fact, in the meantime, show mercy, for they,” he says, “will be shown mercy.” That God will give to us the same goodness that we give to others, even if they don’t deserve it. He say’s “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
The sixth thing that we’re told that God hates in Proverbs 6 is a false witness who pours out lies. And that was the one that I said, it’s based on the Hebrew word for mouths. He says, “God hates a false witness who mouths out lies.” And we didn’t do a separate message on that one. And the reason we didn’t was at the very beginning of this series, we said, “God says there’s seven things that he hates, but six that are detestable.” And the reason you have that six, seven thing is because he actually talks about lying twice. And so we covered that in the first message, I didn’t do a separate message for a false witness. But I think it’s important to understand there’s just one small difference between a lying tongue and a false witness.
A lying tongue does its work anywhere, but a false witness does its work in a court of law. And in the ancient context what that meant was that this person isn’t on trial, but somebody else is on trial, somebody innocent is on trial, and a false witness comes and they make up things to see that that person gets punished, to see their harm comes to that person. And the question you wanna ask is, like, why? Why would they be willing to speak lies to see harm come to a person? Well, you know, we might look, for example, to the false witnesses who appeared at Jesus’s trial. When his enemies put him in front of the Jewish court, they couldn’t find anything that he’d done wrong, they couldn’t find anything that they could actually punish him for, so they brought in false witnesses and they made up lies. They made up things that he’d never said or done. And it was on the basis of that that he was ultimately condemned.
What kind of a person goes into a court of law and then lies to see an innocent person condemned? And the answer is a person whose heart is filled with something awful, right? It’s a person whose heart is filled with envy or with greed, a person whose heart is filled with hatred. And it’s interesting, Jesus said this, he said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” That what comes out of our mouths, that what we breathe out, that what we mouth is actually a reflection of what our hearts filled up. It’s an overflow. And so, we’re told that God hates a false witness who mouths lies. But the reason is because, ultimately, it betrays the reality of their horrible things in their heart.
Jesus says, “But blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” Blessed are those whose hearts are filled, not with horrible things, but with good things. And what’s the very best thing for a heart to be filled with? Love, right. And what happens when your heart is filled with love? What comes out of your mouth? What comes out of your mouth is truth. A pure heart filled with love speaks truth with love. And that produces peace. We talked about that several weeks ago, we said that love without truth is very weak. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Truth without love is a weapon. But truth with love is a powerful force for good. And ultimately, it produces peace in a relationship with God. And it produces peace, long-term peace in our relationships with others. So a heart, a pure heart filled with love overflows in truth with love, and that leads to peace.
And then finally, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called children of God. And the seventh thing on the list of things that God hates in Proverbs 7 is a person who stirs up conflict in the community, the exact mirror opposite of a peacemaker. And if you’re listening to this, and you’re going “Wow, there are a lot of parallels between the seven things God hates, and flipping them on their head, the seven things that God loves. I wonder if that’s a coincidence?” Probably not. I think Jesus actually had Proverbs 6:16-19 in mind when he gave us these seven things that he loves. And if that’s true, then this last one, peacemakers, it’s not just another item on the list, it’s the culmination of the list. It’s all the other things coming together to enable us to be this kind of person, a person who makes peace, who spreads peace instead of conflict.
In other words, kind of the whole series comes together. Now we’re given one truth that ties it all up in one nice bow. And here it is, it’s that we become peacemakers by practicing humility, honesty, compassion, righteousness, patient mercy, and speaking the truth with love. That’s how we become peacemakers by practicing each and every one of those things. So let me just ask for an honest question. If you’re online, please type in the chat window if this is true of you. How many feel like that is an overwhelming list? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is.
So here’s what we’re gonna do. As we wrap up the series, I wanna ask you to ask yourself one question. And this is the question, “Which one of those, which one needs the most work in my life? And what will I do about it?” Which one of those, you could look and go, “Man, that needs the most.”? There’s one probably that jumps out at you, the Holy Spirit is moving in your life right now and saying, “That’s where you need to start.” Maybe it’s all the way back to the beginning, maybe it’s all the way back with humility. Or maybe it’s a little farther down there. But there’s one, I promise you, the Holy Spirit’s gonna go, “That’s where you need to lean in.”
And the end result is you’ll take a step further in becoming a person who doesn’t only experience his peace with God and with others, but who actually makes peace, rather than stirring up conflict. If you wonder what you need to do in order to lean into that thing, well, let me give you a couple of things. Number one, go back and listen to the teaching from each of these messages. Because in each one of those things, we leaned into what it looks like to pursue each of these particular things. The other thing you can do this, though, is look to Jesus. Because in Jesus, we see every single one of these played out perfectly, right? Was Jesus humble? We’re told that he humbled himself. By becoming a human being, but also he humbled himself even by death on a cross by being obedient to his Father, even to the point of death on the cross for us because of his love for us. That’s humility, right?
Was he honest? Absolutely. He didn’t have to be honest about any sin that he’d cause and the damage that it had done. But he always spoke the truth, even when it was costly to him to do so. I think of when they brought him into that trial and ultimately, they just couldn’t find what they needed, even with the false witnesses. And so, finally, they just said, “Hey, have you actually claimed to be the Son of God?” And Jesus said, “You said it,” which in ancient Hebrew basically translates to, “Dude, you nailed it. You got it. You understood. You got exactly what I was saying.” He said, “Yeah, I am the Son of God,” and they went, “That’s blasphemy. You have to die.” And he knew that was gonna be the result. But he always spoke the truth, even when it’s costly to do so.
Was he gentle? Was he compassionate? Consistently saw crowds. And we’re told that he had compassion on them as he went among them, and he healed them. And he comforted them. He was absolutely meek, and humble, and compassionate. Was he righteous? He said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees,” the Pharisees, probably the most devoted religious group you can imagine. They dotted their i’s and crossed all their t’s and following all the laws, and the rules, and the regulations. And Jesus says, “Unless you go way past them, you’re not gonna make it to heaven.”
But Jesus said that he offers us a righteousness that doesn’t come from following the rules and the regulations. He offers us righteousness that comes from faith. That when we trust in what he did on the cross for us, when we trust in his resurrection, he breathes new life into us through the power of the Holy Spirit, he begins to change us from the inside out, so we actually become a righteous kind of person we could never be in our own. He offered that to us. And then as he laid or as he hung on the cross dying, in order to accomplish that, there was a Roman soldier looking, and he heard Jesus say of his accusers, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” And this Roman centurion said, “Surely, this is a righteous man.” Yeah, absolutely. He was righteous.
Was he merciful? Yeah, he prayed for forgiveness for the very people that had nailed him to the cross. He died for them so that they could be forgiven of that wrong and every wrong so that they could be saved and have eternal life with God. Was he pure in heart? Did he speak the truth with love? He is the truth with love. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He didn’t just speak the truth of love. He is the truth of love. “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son Jesus, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” He is the truth with love.
And is he a peacemaker? He’s the peacemaker, right? He’s the only way to peace with God. And following his example is the only way that there will really be peace in our relationships, in our families, in our communities, at work, in the world. And he said this, he said, “Peace I give to you,” not as the world gives. He said, “Peace I give to you.” And ultimately, it’s a peace that the Bible says, passes understanding. It’s a peace that’s not rooted in our circumstances. It’s the result of the pursuit of godly character enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit who comes into our lives through faith in Jesus. That’s the only possibility of having this peace that Jesus came to make. And so, as we wrap up this series, a challenge to you is of all of these things that we’ve been given here, which one do you most need to lean into? Which one is God leading you to spend some time working on to move you forward in becoming a person of peace and a maker of peace? Would you pray with me?
God, I thank you for your Word in Proverbs here in Matthew 5, we thank you for your desire that we would experience peace. We confess to you that we’ve sought peace in so many different things that we understand cannot ultimately provide it. They can only provide some thin counterfeit of it that will fall apart the moment that our circumstances change. And yet, we recognize, Lord, and we’re grateful for the fact that you long for us to have a peace that passes understanding, a peace that comes as we become more like Jesus, a great and shining example and as we join him on mission in the world. Holy Spirit, we invite you to do your work in our hearts right now, to show us that one thing that you long for us most to lean into to work on, so that we become people of peace, so that we become ultimately peacemakers, able not only to experience it ourselves but to pass it on to others. To share with others the good news that they are loved by God, and that they too can have peace with God and peace with others. But peace made possible only by faith.
In fact, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you just pray right now? Just join me in praying for those who are listening to this message who don’t have that peace with God. And if that’s you, and if at this moment you’ll be honest and you’ll recognize that you feel guilt, maybe you feel shame, maybe you feel the burden that comes because of the wrong that you’ve done. You know what that’s like and you’re longing for peace. I want you to know you can have it. Right here right now today, you can have peace with God that will last for all eternity.
God’s done everything necessary to give you that peace. He sent his own Son, Jesus, who died on the cross to pay for your sin. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. And Jesus offers us salvation. He offers us forgiveness. He offers his freedom from guilt and shame. And he offers his peace with God and ultimately with others, simply by trust, by faith. And if you’re ready to trust God for that peace you so desperately need, here’s what it looks like, just have this conversation with God in your heart right now, say this, say, “God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. And I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay for my sin. That is the ultimate act of humility. I believe that you rose from the dead and I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness, you’re offering me peace with God. And I want it. So, Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m choosing to trust you. Jesus, I’m saying yes to following you starting today and for the rest of eternity. Amen.”
I felt a number of people make that decision to follow Jesus and experience peace of God, can we just welcome them into the family. If you made that decision today, here’s what we’d love, we would just love to know about it so we can celebrate with you. A couple ways you can do that. If you’re watching online, you can click that button, your host is gonna put up it says, “I committed my life to following Jesus today.” Or if you don’t see that you can always do this, you can text the word Jesus to 888111. Either way you do it, you’re gonna get the same thing. You’re gonna get a link, it’s gonna take you to five truths we want you to know, five things that are true of you now that you have a relationship with God that you have peace with God, we want you to begin living out those truths and experiencing this peace.
It’s been a good series, right? It’s been challenging to me. I’ve learned a lot. It’s over. Next week, we’re gonna start a series on the Book of Titus. It’s called “The Good Life,” because the Book of Titus is all about how to love what’s good, do what’s good, and not be distracted by things that aren’t good. So we’re calling it “The Good Life.” And you might go ahead and guess that God’s version of the good life is a little bit different than the one that the world offers us. It’s also gonna be a great time in God’s Word. So, I’ll see you next week.