Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Put Away the Scoreboard

Note from the Editor:
Yes, I know that I am sadly failing from posting cute pics and funny anecdotes of Mr. Sam I Am and my life with three sons. But God has been at work in my heart, showing me so many areas that I need to change. As a result, I have been secretly working on a Bible study for some time now, and I am trying to organize my thoughts and my notes written throughout my random journals. I figured this would be one place to sort of "test the waters" with some of the topics that I am working on.

This excerpt is both the opening and closing on my study of Ephesians 4:29-32. God has used Ephesians 4 and 5 to speak volumes to my heart (the part about putting off falsehood has been an especially hard pill for me to swallow, but I will save that for a later post!)

Anyway, please feel free to leave comments. I value others' opinions and input as I strive to put this together, more for my own learning than for that of others.
So, here it is:
Put Away the Scoreboard!
Have you ever been to a baseball game and watched the people in the stadium? Since I am not a huge sports fan (I couldn’t tell you the names of more than three players on my “favorite” team), I often bore easily at these events and choose instead to indulge in my favorite sport: people watching.
You see all different types of individuals: the die-hard vocal fans who leave the stadium hoarse from their cheers and/or groans; the quiet, reserved stoics who take in each play and rarely break out emotions except during especially intense moments of action. But my favorite people to watch at a sporting event are the ones with the scorecard in hand. They not only do not want to miss any of the action, they choose to take part in as much action as possible by keeping track of all the players, their stats, and the runs scored. Those are the individuals who keep a running play-by-play of the action around them.

While this hobby is a well-defined discipline during a game, it is sadly an atrocity in the Christian life. Too many times we carry our own personal scorecards of friends and family around us. Whether we are tracking others’ financial success or personal victories, we mentally place a tally mark on our little scorecard, and a seed of discontementment is planted in our hearts. Then later, sometimes when we least expect it, something happens between us and an individual, and all of the past “tally marks” rush into the forefront of our minds. We are reminded of every time that person has outshined us or made a bribe at us or spoken to us . . . or about us.

We begin to lose sleep over the situation. It becomes an all-consuming focus of our brain. No matter what we do, we just can’t let the situation go. We begin to see that person in a negative light. Everything that individual says now seems like a target pointed directly at us.
What was once a seemingly harmless pastime has led to bitterness and envy. And if the hobby continues, those seeds of bitterness sprout into our hearts, their roots become firmly planted, and their fruit displays itself in our lives in the form of anger, slander, and malice toward that individual. Pretty soon, everyone around us knows the score that we have been keeping.

Is it any wonder that before Paul’s command to be “kind and compassionate” and to “forgive” one another, he urged the Ephesians to get rid of the bitterness in their lives? True forgiveness and restored relationships WILL NOT BE POSSIBLE unless the weeds of envy have been pulled out of our hearts, roots and all.

So today, I ask you: Do you have issue with someone? Is there a competition between you and a friend? Is there someone who just gets under your skin? Do you see the constant error in an individual and feel urged to “make it right” all the time with that individual?

If so, stop keeping score of that person’s life and start to examine your own. Perhaps you have planted seeds of bitterness in your heart. If left unattended that ugly weed will overgrow and kill the delicate fruits of the Spirit that God is trying to display in your life. Your testimony and service to God will be limited as the plant of envy completely overtakes your heart.
Cut down the weed of bitterness at the root. Ask God to rip it out of your heart. Only then will you truly be content with what God has placed in your life, and only then will God be able to use you as He truly desires.
Remember: The ground is level at the foot of the cross. God sees all believers the same on the playing field: through the blood of His Son. Let’s strive to see each other that way as well.