We’re in a series called Spiritual Simplicity. To kinda look at our lives and say, how could we do less, kinda get out of the crazy schedules, and love more. And we’re in part two and I entitled this one, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” And, I don’t know about you but that sort of brings back a little memory. You know? Kinda, Tina?
It’s the early nineties; I’m in my car. What’s love got to do with it? Easy, easy, anyway. I better save my impressions for later.
But, that was one of the catchiest tunes I’ve ever, ever heard. And I remember later, you know how you sing along in the car and then you hear what you’re singing? I listened to the words and I thought, these may be some of the most pathetically sad words about love.
And if you have time to actually study the words, I actually pulled them down. And she says, basically, love is nothing more than a second hand emotion. It’s a sweet, old-fashioned notion. In other words, it’s really not true, it’s just sort of this ideal that maybe someday, someway - but she’s given up on it.
And then she says this line. Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken? And so, just focus on the physical. Don’t risk, don’t care. The message is: get, take, exploit. Because real love is either too rare, too dangerous, or too costly.
And although it was in the very beginning of the nineties, I could actually listen to the lyrics of that song, in terms of philosophy. Francis Schaffer was right. If you want to know when the philosophy of a culture has hit mainstream, just listen to the music and observe the art.
And the message of this song, in the sixties and seventies, that same message birthed the sexual revolution. The message of that song really epitomizes the greed of the eighties and the “me-ism” of the nineties.
And the message and the disappointment of that song, I think, has birthed what this new millennium generation is saying, you know, I don’t know what you all did with your life, but I want genuine intimacy and authentic community and I want to do life with people that really care, that are really real, and really deep.
And here’s what I can tell you. When love is minimized - because that’s what the song is about - trivia is maximized. The important becomes trivial, and then the trivial becomes important.
And so, the way that we get where we are is when loving people and loving God and really knowing what that means becomes minimized. Then possessions and power and prestige and what people think and what you wear and what schools your kids go to and how you’re doing, produces these demands where we start doing that Silicone Valley Shuffle where we start living lives that are just unprecedented in terms of - demand, demand, demand - complexity, complexity, complexity.
And so, I ask the question, as we get started, ‘what’s love got to do with simplifying your life?’ And the answer is, everything! Because when you maximize love - when you talk about purposely, specifically loving other people in intimate and authentic ways - some of the trivial things all of a sudden lose their luster. Who cares about this or that, when love is really happening?
I’ll give you three reasons why the answer is everything. The first we covered last week because anything minus love is nothing. In fact, everything minus love…Meet some people that have spent their life with the ladder leaning on fame, money, fortune. The only thing missing is their mate, their kids, and any close friends…Everything minus love is nothing.
The second reason is because it is our mis-belief about what our performance, possessions, and provisions can deliver that keep us doing the Silicone Valley Shuffle. Now, if you don’t know what that new dance is, it’s actually not that new, you can get the CD from last week.
But it’s that Shuffle - we chase bigger, better, faster, more. Bigger, better, faster, more. That creates worlds of complexity and worlds that have tired, overextended people with a lifestyle that promises a lot, delivers little, and is characterized by superficial, shallow relationships and achy loneliness in your soul.
The third reason that love and simplicity go together is because you can only do less if you purpose to love more.
In terms of my study, you know, when I prepare for this, the person who gets spoken to first is me. And I’ve, like many of you, I’m a fairly driven person, I’m pretty goal oriented. And I’ve told myself a million times I’m going to slow down more, get more margin. That doesn’t last long unless you shift the focus. Instead of, I’m not gonna be doing these things, I’m going to love deeply. I want to love God more deeply than ever before. I want to love my wife more deeply than ever before. I want to love my kids and, in my case, grandkids. I want to love my friends. I want…
When you begin to purpose to say I’m going to love more and love deeper, some of the pressures you’re feeling, all of a sudden, they’re not that important anymore.
And so, the question I want to ask and answer today is, how do we then maximize love so love becomes what’s important and some of those trivial - they don’t feel trivial - but those trivial, less important things, diminish in their priority and demand on your life.
I believe the key is loving to learn, or learning to love, is in real time. So this is not a motivational talk that, you know, you should love more or, you know, platitudes…or try harder or get you emotionally in a pitch – “I want to love more!”
Well, that lasts about thirty seconds to thirty hours, depending on your personality. The key to transformation is, in real time - in how you live with the people you’re closest to.
And so, last week, we looked at situation number one and a real time issue is, how do you respond to those who hurt you? And the truth is, we learned, 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, love is kind.
The practice is, someone has hurt you, they’ve ignored you, they’ve rejected you, they made you feel bad. You can either withdraw or pay them back or…remember the pillow? You can absorb the blow, by the grace of God, and return a hug. That’s the practice.
Today we’re going to talk about a second real life, kind of, learning to love in real time. And in real time, we’re going to look now at, how does love respond to differences? We have different personalities, we have different backgrounds, we have different gifts.
Those of you that are in a significant relationship or married, it was your differences that drew you together and if you’ve been married much time at all, it is your differences that make you crazy. Right?
Or even with friends. You know, you become good friends with someone and you really like it because they’re different than you and then you start hanging out with them and those differences are like, man, would you lighten up? You’re kinda making me crazy.
Well, the church in Corinth had a lot of differences and the Apostle Paul is going to address this issue of differences. In fact, the truth is, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not rude. It is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong. That’s 1 Corinthians 13:4 and 5.
Now, make sure you get the core of it. Pull out your pencil, underline the word “envy,” underline the word “boast,” “rude,” “not self-seeking,” “easily angered,” “keeps no record of wrongs.”
This is how love responds to differences. And I told you last time, if you wanted to have some extra fun, you could read as quickly as you could the entire book of 1 Corinthians. And you would find that, far from a beautiful poem that Paul is writing, is that he’s actually giving correctives to how this church was treating one another.
And so, it says, love doesn’t envy. Well, they were envying in chapter 3 and he addresses it. It says, love doesn’t boast. He actually says, why are you boasting, in chapter 4.
In chapter 11, they were rude in the way they took the Lord’s Supper. In chapter 6, they were self-seeking, they were actually going to court and suing one another. And then when you get all that conflict, guess what? They’re easily angry at one another and they’re holding on and they’re bitter and resentful.
And so, Paul’s saying, that’s not how love responds to differences. So, in chapter 12, what he actually did, if you have your Bible, open it up. 1 Corinthians chapter 12. And in chapter 12, he has expressed to them how love actually works.
He says, the way love works is, love celebrates our differences. Love looks at different people and realizes, it’s kinda like the little pieces of a puzzle, is that every one of them is important and they’re different colors and they’re different shapes but love celebrates differences and love refuses to compare.
And so he gives the analogy of the human body. And so he writes, the body. This is chapter 12, verse 12. The body is a unit. Get the idea of oneness or wholeness. Though it’s made up of many parts. And though all the parts are many, they form one body.
So, there’s differences, diversity, and there’s unity. Now, he applies it. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit in the one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slave or free. We’re all given the one Spirit to drink.
Now, when we read slave or free, Jew or Greek, we think, yeah, yeah. I mean, these are people that didn’t get along at all before they came to Christ. He’s saying, you are very, very, very different. But now you’re a part of something that’s bigger and more important in your new relationship. You’re a part of the body of Christ, the church.
Now, the body is not made up of one part but many. And then he gives a hypothetical situation. He’s using the human body to make his point about, love doesn’t compare. He says, if the foot should say because I’m not a hand, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body.
And if the ear should say, because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body.
And then he goes on to say, if the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
He’s saying, we need every part of the body. But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
You might underline that little phrase in your Bible, “just as he wanted them to be.”
Until you understand that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, that you’re unique. That your physical body, how you process information, your spiritual gifts, your weaknesses, your strength, and the sovereignty of God, even the kind of experiences - ups and downs - you’ve been through. You bring something unique that no one else does and if you compare or copy or be like someone else, we lose you. And we need you.
He goes on to say, verse 21, the eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you. And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you.
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable and the parts that we think are less honorable, we treat with special favor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty while our presentable parts have no special treatment.
Now, here’s the application. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it so there would be no division in the body but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
Key application. He says, God has done this in a way so that there’s no division and we would have equal concern for one another. This church was very divided. To say it was cliquish is an understatement.
This church was back-biting, gossiping, arguing. And here’s the thing. The problem doesn’t just rest with the Corinthian church in the 1st Century. Every church, every family, every organization. If you compare, instead of celebrate differences, it always produces bad, bad things. In fact, it kills love.
We take differences and instead of saying, we’re different, we look at differences and we say, people that are different, some of them we think, well, they’re better than us. And we envy them. And some people are different, we think, well, they’re less than us. And so we’re arrogant toward them.
And the Apostle Paul’s gonna say that these are the issues he wanted to address and that the Corinthian church had two unloving responses when it came to differences.
The first is envy. And the second is arrogance. Those two issues, I want you to, kind of, see them as a singular coin. And the coin is, in your relationships, in my relationships, in the Corinthian relationships, the question is, how do you respond to differences?
And some people respond by comparing and the outcome is envy. Other people respond and compare in a different way and the outcome is arrogance.
And if you look at those words we read, he says, love isn’t envious. Love isn’t boastful or arrogant. Every other little phrase after that is the fruit of either being envious or arrogant.
Here’s what I want you, I mean, this is what we’re going after. This is the jugular. You want to become more loving in real time? Here’s the issue. Comparison always leads to carnality.
The moment you compare your hair with another person, your car with another person, your gifts with another person, your singleness with a person, your marriage with another person, how God is using or not using you. How much money you have, where you live, what you drive.
The moment you ever compare yourself with another person, it always produces carnality. And if you’re wondering what carnality is, it’s just sin. You’re not loving. Because the moment you compare, there’s only two directions to go. You start comparing and you go, hmm… I think that person’s up here and I’m here. That’s a lot nicer car. They have more visible gifts. I’m single and they’re married and I wish I was married.
Or it goes the other way. You know what? That person’s not very important. That’s an old dumpy thing. I wonder why they act like that? I wonder why they dress like that? And you know what? You don’t verbalize it but you feel superior. You feel better than. And when you envy people you don’t treat them in loving ways or if you think you’re better than them, you don’t treat them in loving ways.
And so, here’s what I want you to see. We are gonna go to war this morning on the issue of comparison. And comparison, as one guy said - I love it. Comparison is like a mafia boss. Mafia bosses - they don’t ever commit murders. They have hit men. They never get their own hands dirty.
And so what happens is, comparison is really what we want to go after, but there’s two hit men. One is envy. And the other is arrogance.
Now, look at your notes. Get this next issue. Envy compares upward and produces jealousy, anger, resentment, and bitterness. And the text here, this is what the foot says to the hand.
The foot says to the hand, this isn’t fair! I don’t like what you’ve got! I mean, I’m down here on the ground and there’s dust and my feet are dirty and then, and then later, people put socks on me. People can’t even see me. And then you have to wear these shoes and they kind of hurt my feet.
And look at you. You’re hands. They put rings on yours. You paint your nails. I mean, your hands do surgery, your hands play instruments. You’re important and I’m a nobody.
You see, envy always compares upward and then it produces jealousy and anger and resentment.
The word here in Hebrew means something that has connotations of something that’s red-hot. It’s this emotion that, when you begin to envy someone, something burns inside.
It goes something like this. You’re single and you have a desire to be married and you’re now with your third roommate and your first two roommates came home after a date and they said something like, I’ve got some exciting news! I’m engaged!
And your response is, ‘Oh! That’s wonderful’…on the outside. And on the inside, there’s this burning, ‘I can’t get it. I mean, I’ll tell you what. I’ve been doing it God’s way. I’m sexually pure, I’m trying really hard, I go to church. She’s a once a monther. God, what’s the deal? How come she’s’…right?
Or you’re in a Bible study and people don’t know it but, you know, they ask often. You’ve been married six, seven years, you don’t have any kids? Oh, well, we’re just kinda…
And you’ve spent all kinds of money and you can’t have children. And then you’re in one of these Bible studies and you know this group says, well, you know, we were thinking about having kids but it’s been nine months, eleven months, and we still can’t.
And then they come to a Bible study or a life group, they go, we’re pregnant! And like everyone else you go, ‘Oh, that’s wonderful!’ And your insides go, ‘God, I mean, we spent thousands of dollars. We’ve done this…this. You know, why do they get that?’
See, by definition, envy is you looking at what someone else has or what someone else is, and you think if you had it or were it, then you would matter. Then your soul, then your heart, then your life would be complete. And, underneath all of it, ‘It’s not fair, God. If you really loved me, I wouldn’t be single. If you really loved me, we would have kids. If you really loved me, I’d be the top salesperson. If you really loved me, after I gave all that money, how could you let this happen when the recession hit?’
And so, rooted in a belief system that God isn’t really good, you compare upward, and you envy. And the envious person has some feelings and attitudes that go something like this.
I don’t belong. You don’t need me. The feelings move onto a pattern inside the heart. And inside the heart it’s like, well, I feel less than them. You both went to school together. You both had careers together. Seems like their career’s here and yours is there and when you’re with them, and you used to be great friends. But they talk about this world that you feel like, why don’t I have that? And now, you feel less than.
And then the second step is you don’t want to be around them. Because we don’t like to be around people who make us feel less than.
And then after we move from feelings of less than, to not being around them, then we resent them. Subtle. You know, ‘My sister and her husband, how come they got the new car? You know, that guy, that woman, that person at work…’
And by the way, these aren’t things we usually talk about. They’re so delicate, and often, when you look at them and get them out, they’re pretty ugly. These are not, like, prayer requests. Could you help me? When’s the last time someone said, excuse me, I have a prayer request. I’m a very envious person, do you think you could help me with my jealousy? I’ve not heard a lot of those prayer requests.
The word literally means, in Greek, to eagerly desire. And often, the way we try and solve this is very unhealthy. I guess I shouldn’t want to be married. Why do I have this desire? I shouldn’t feel that way. And you just beat yourself up. That doesn’t work.
The [Greek] word means, to eagerly desire. In chapter 12 verse 31, it’s used positively. In chapter 14 verse 1, it’s used positively. In chapter 14 verse 39, the exact same word. Eagerly desire.
Here’s the deal. It can either mean, to be jealous or it can mean to be zealous. And the only difference is the focus of your want. He says, I want you to eagerly desire spiritual gifts. I want you to eagerly desire to prophesy or use your gifts to honor and build up people.
So, here’s what I want you to get on envy. It’s this thing - this eager desire for something. And let’s say that you have an eager desire. You have a desire in your heart for a bigger home.
And your motivation is, you have the gift of hospitality and you’re not comparing with other people. But if you had more room, you could serve and love more people. That’s called zealous desire to honor God.
But let’s say you have a desire for a bigger house. And the desire for a bigger house is, everyone you know is getting bigger houses. And you are sick and tired of inviting them into your condo or your smaller house. And down deep, you feel like you will demonstrate that you have arrived when you have a bigger house. That’s called envy or jealousy.
If the desire is to try and matter more: jealousy. If the desire is, God, I want this to minister more deeply: it’s zealous, God-honoring desire.
You need to redirect your desires, not try to kill them. There’s nothing wrong with the desire, if you’re single, to be married. There’s nothing wrong with the desire, if you don’t have kids, and want to have kids. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to be up on the sales force to, you know, earn a better living. There’s nothing wrong with the…
Those are honest desires. But the moment you compare, you stop loving. This would be the time in my notes where I should write down, Chip, pregnant pause. Give them time to think about the specific person that they envy.
Have you got it? Him. Her. Fellow worker? Someone in the church? Sometimes it happens inside families.
Well, that’s one side of the coin. Who’s the culprit? The culprit is, not your desire, it’s comparison. Well, let’s attack the other hit man. The other hit man is arrogance. Arrogance compares downward and produces pride, boasting, rudeness, and independence. All of which this passage says is unloving.
This is the eye saying to the hand, I don’t need you. I see where we’re going. I mean, has anyone ever heard of a hand to hand conversation? It’s eye to eye. I mean, the eye is the lamp of the body. I mean, the eye is what’s important. The eye is what really matters. The eye is way better than the hand.
You see the comparison? And by the way, it can be the exact same. Here’s what’s so ironic about this envy and arrogance. You can be in one room and the single people see this couple and they get married and the single people are going, ‘God I just don’t understand. There’s envy, resentment in my heart, and she used to be my best friend then she got married. Now they got a little baby, they all seem so happy and I’m so lonely.’
Then you have the married couple with two kids or maybe three, and they thought they were done. They wanted to be done. They planned to be done. They’re not done. And out of the blue comes number three or number four.
And they’re looking at these single people. What are you doing this summer? Well, I’m gonna go on a missions trip, and then I thought I’d spend a week in Italy with a couple friends. And, you know, so how’s your week going? Oh, it’s really good. You know, I had coffee over there, had a latte with my friends, a couple from work - and the married couple is going, we’ve been in diapers eleven years!
And they envy their singleness and their mobility. See, it’s not the what. It’s the want. And we compare upward or downward. The meaning of the word “arrogance” literally means to be puffed up, inflated, overvalued.
If the emotional color for envy is red-hot, than arrogance is cool blue. Above. It’s like the blowfish. Or I guess, I learned between services, is called a puffer.
And in water, this fish, when the enemy comes to it, it can fill itself with water. And it’s just a little fish like this. And I learned, a fellow who owns a fish store, or used to. He said, actually, they fill with anything. He says, if you pull them out of water, they fill with air.
I said, that’s a good illustration because isn’t that what we do? Isn’t that what we do? Whatever our, you know, if it’s a ministry setting, [blowing sound]. If it’s a financial setting, [blowing sound]. If it’s a relational setting, we just - when you’re arrogant, you just fill up to try and project that you matter more, you’re more important.
And there’s something that makes you feel secure by putting people down this direction. And we all do it. It’s rooted in comparison.
I almost hesitate to share this, but it’s probably beneficial. This is a social science experiment I’d like you to do. Go to a coffee shop this week, and you can say this is your ministry, at least, application.
At Starbucks, wherever. And then I want you to, you know, have a book that you pretend that you read, and get whatever’s your favorite, chai or coffee. And just sit there for fifteen or twenty minutes, not purposefully to eavesdrop, but just to hear. Conversation here. Conversation here. Conversation there. Conversation here - there.
And I’ll make a prediction. Four out of five conversations are two people sitting there talking about someone else who’s not there. And they’re either talking about what they didn’t do, what they should have done, and how they don’t measure up. And this group is superior or they’re talking about someone where this person makes them feel less than.
And there’s something horrendously, sadistically, and sinfully satisfying about venting, talking about someone else and feeling better because now we’re saying that about her or about him.
Comparison is the archenemy of love when you look at differences.
The arrogant, puffed up person has a motto or a mindset as well. It’s basically, I don’t need you. You don’t matter. By the way - the more gift, the more talent, the more blessing, the more position - for whatever reason God may give you, the greater the temptation.
This book is filled with people that started out very, very humble and God, could you ever use me? And then they become king and they become famous and then the hubris kicks in.
Because after the attitude of “I don’t need you and you don’t matter, I’m indispensable” comes feelings like, I’m superior. I really am more important. I mean, they talk about other people as though they’re less intellectual, their feelings don’t matter as much. What they do is important. You know, obviously.
And then there’s this entitlement mindset. You’re special. The action steps of arrogance is, when you’re arrogant, you automatically become independent. You don’t need as many people. I mean, you are, you’re what matters. You’re the go-to person. You’re the center of attention.
And so, the more blessing, the more money, the more position, the more power. You actually don’t need people, and then the step after independence, arrogant people are independent and beyond being independent, it moves to the next one. They’re not accountable.
These rules about money and how to use it. These rules about sexual purity and what you can and cannot do. Well, that’s for other people but, I mean, my schedule and my demands, there’s a different set of rules for me. That’s usually well on the journey to their downfall.
And after the independence and the lack of accountability, then they become indifferent to the needs of others.
And, it’s not often just from the words - it’s a look, it’s a glance, it’s a body language. When you’re around them, they almost don’t have to say it, you feel or are tempted to feel less than.
Now, I’m going to suggest that we all struggle with both envy and arrogance but we tend to habitually fall into one camp more than the other. My personal camp is arrogance. I’ve struggled with arrogance all my life. Part of it is your personality; part of it is your giftedness. Part is your family of origin.
I mean, can you imagine. Having a dad, when I was three years old, before I walked out of the house, there was this easel and he was teaching me to read and then he was teaching me to spell long words so he could impress his friends.
I’d go to the swimming pool that he managed in the summer and he was a teacher and a coach. And, Chip, tell them. Intercontinental ballistic missile. A three year old! Gggggggggggg - Boom!
You know? And then, you know, he would say, Chip - this is true - I mean, this country’s going to need a good president someday. Can you imagine this? And I think the good side is you talk about a kid that grew up with confidence. But you talk about a guy that had a warped, arrogant view that God has been cutting through for years.
So, we all will lean one way or another. Often people that have had difficult pasts feel like they never quite measure up, struggle with envy. You know? Why did God make her so pretty? Why did he get that job? You know, I’m tired of, you know, batting eighth in the lineup.
You know, that guy’s a jerk, and he bats third and he plays shortstop, and now he just went IPO on his company. That is so sickening. Alright?
Well, let me give you a remedy, a very specific love step to attack comparison if you compare upwardly. It says, the envious must believe that God is good and has sovereignly and wisely given them what is best for them and best to fulfill his purpose. You might circle that in your notes.
Notice it doesn’t say, the envious must try harder not to envy. Trying harder not to envy doesn’t work, you gotta think differently. God is good. He’s in control. You are who you are. You’re where you’re at, and he wants to work in your life, and he’s for you, and he’s good. And every person in every season, everything doesn’t look great. He cares for you and who he made you is what matters.
I have really, honestly not had much struggle with envy in my life because of my warped arrogance. But about six or eight weeks ago I had a bout with envy. And it kinda shocked me because, you know, I just didn’t think I had it much.
And, there’s a particular friend of mine in another state - he’s a teaching pastor, he’s written books, we’re friends. We’ve had breakfasts and coffee, and we’re a very similar age - and in about a six or eight week period - to make the long story short, everywhere I went, his books were there. Or I look at a conference and he’s speaking here. And then a couple friends mention. Oh, I gotta tell you, this is the most helpful thing.
And normally, it is, like, Great! Man, he’s my friend, the kingdom’s growing. And then even my son was telling me, Dad, I gotta tell you. I just, this guy. This is the best thing in the whole world. And a little something inside went…
Say, son, are you aware, I kind of do some of the same stuff? I mean, I’m your dad. You know? And then, you know, it’s like, it hit me…hit me…hit me…and then I walked into a bookstore and his books are faced forward like in a Barnes and Noble or someplace.
And, you know, my normal reaction would be, oh great! Man, someone solid, this is really super. Instead - this is so embarrassing - it was like, I wonder how my books are doing? Okay, Christian Living, let’s see. H, H, H, H, H, I…J. Must be sold out. No, not there. Don’t even carry it.
And I remember, then I read something. And, I mean, this guy’s really helped me, he’s a friend. I love him. But I felt less than. My less than was followed by, kinda didn’t want to be around that.
And I felt resentful. And it was like, oh, this is so ugly. And so, I did some very specific steps that God led me to, that I want to give you that will help you with your person.
Number one, I faced the desire, my jealously. See, I called it all kinds of other things, but I kept having this uneasiness. It really helped to say, I’m envious. I’m jealous.
The second thing is I, I didn’t try and squash the desire. So, what do I want to say? God, I never want you to use my books? God, I never want you to use my life? No! I redirect it and say, God I really want you to use my life, but I want to be your man, your spot, used at whatever level to promote ministry and kingdom. Not compared to anything or anyone else. And so I repent of that. But I long for you to use my life.
Third is, I meditated on God’s goodness. See, at the end of the day it was like, when you start comparing, it’s like, well, if God was really good he would have given me a mate by now. If God was really good he would have, kind of, healed my body like he did this other person’s body. If God was really good, he would have…
The root word, in terms of goodness, is the word “generosity.” God longs to be generous. He’s in all wisdom and justice, sovereignly working to bestow his goodness. And you, to experience it at deeper and deeper levels.
When we compare, we begin to believe the lie that God isn’t good. The very first sin in the Bible. Eve was deceived because she believed God was holding out. Eve. I mean, you understand what this will do for you? And she believed that God was holding out; that he wasn’t good. And so you meditate on that.
The fourth specific thing you need to do to overcome envy is choose gratitude and give thanks. So I began to thank God for this guy. Thank God for his books. Thank God my son is listening and reading this person. And it’s helping him, and encouraging him. Thank you, Lord!
I began to thank God. And then I willfully decided, I just made a little thing. I said, you know something? I’m not going to compare, so I just have a new little rule. I’m not going to go into bookstores and see where I’m not or where I am or care either way. And I just decided, you know what? That little practice just sets me up for doing and having bad comparative thoughts.
You can be jealous or you can be grateful but those two won’t live in the same heart. You start thanking God for this person. Thanking God for his blessing. Thanking for what he’s done. Either you will envy what others have or you’ll thank God for what you have. And you start doing that, I will tell you what, the envy will dissipate.
And then finally, connect with that person, if it’s appropriate, and serve them. Now, this person lives in a whole other state - so I just, I remember as an application, I’ve been praying for him. Hey, “his name”, I just want to let you know, everywhere I’ve turned around in the last three or four weeks, God is using you in amazing ways. Thank you for your impact in my life and I just want to encourage you, keep pressing ahead and hang in there. Chip.
You know, a few hours later, “Thanks, Chip”. And you know what? I was free. And now, we’re both, we’re in the kingdom of God boat and we’re both rowing together toward what God wants and, you know, in the kingdom, it’s a fallen world, so there’s all kind of tough stuff happening. So, it takes on water. And so, why would I ever be discouraged of other people that are pailing out water in a bigger bucket than mine? Aren’t we going the same direction? And so I want to rejoice in that.
For the arrogant, you must admit your need and choose to be vulnerable in order to receive the goodness of God in your daily experience. Arrogant people don’t have people close to them. They keep getting separated, separated - more and more independent. And everyone sees them as powerful.
In fact, I worked with one group of guys recently. And I said, do you know why most of you don’t have any close friendships? They all happened to be in a room, and they all owned their own business.
I said, because you can either fire them or disinherit them. And that’s why you get very little truth in your life. Because they’re intimidated by you.
And do you know what they don’t understand? They don’t understand how lonely it is to be, quote, as influential and affluent as you are. They don’t understand the issues in your marriage that other people don’t understand. They don’t understand that when you start having a relationship, in the back of your mind, you’re always wondering, is this person trying to get into my wallet, my portfolio, or my rolodex?
And so you become an untrusting person, you become more and more independent. You will gravitate toward this very dangerous place of not being accountable. And then you’ll start using people because, pretty soon, affirmation is all you get. You don’t get a lot of real love. And so you have to make more and more impact, and do and do more, and earn and earn more.
And so you use people to get things done and that’s called manipulation. And your soul dries up when that occurs.
Arrogant people need to choose to be vulnerable, so they need a safe place to do that in order to receive the goodness of God in their daily life. And I will tell you that there’s three or four things you can do that will give you some real help here.
One is, remember that everything you have is from God. In chapter 4 of this book, Paul says, what do you have that you haven’t received? The brains that you have, the opportunity that you have, the family that you have, the money that you have, the gifts that you have, the talent that you have. They’re from God. Every good and perfect gift is from above. From the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. You don’t own anything. You are not the blowfish. You’re just a fish.
And God can fill you up and I’ll tell you what, he can take you down. And you just need to understand, it’s a stewardship. God, I’m not sure why you gave me this position, I don’t know why you gave me these gifts, I don’t know why you’ve given me this family, I don’t know why you’ve allowed me to be single and free. I don’t know why you’ve given me this money, I don’t know why people look to me. But what I know is, it’s a sacred stewardship.
Second thing. Remember your roots. Remember your roots. You gotta remember where you came from. You know, I remember Kaufman, Texas. Thirty-five people.
I have a friend - this is a third thing. Hang out with some people that know your roots. That, no matter what is ever written about you or what people say about you, no matter how many zeros get at the end of your name or how many letters. There’s some people who know you and, you know what? They are totally unimpressed.
Played golf two weeks ago with a guy that I spent eighteen, twenty years with as friends and ministry and you know, I mean, he just, he has the gift of bluntness and I so love him for it. And I mean, it’s just, he loves. Here’s the other thing. He loves me for me. Because he loved me when we were in ministry together - he came on when we were surging. We were up to sixty people, or a hundred, you know? And he just loves me.
I have another friend who’s on our board that I’ve known for twenty-eight years and he’s so shrewd. He acts goofy and funny and wears masks and funny glasses and, I mean, he’s like a comic. And then, he’s real serious.
We’ll have coffee, like, we had a board meeting this last week and he’ll bring up the past. And I know what he’s doing and I so love him for it. You know what he’s saying? Hey, Chip, remember when you and I were painting the bathroom in that very first church? Remember the house with all the cracks in the foundation? And, remember when you did that silly, stupid thing? Yeah. Remember when you…you know?
You know what he’s doing? He’s saying, I love you, but I tell you what. It’s God. You’re just a steward. You’re just a piece of flesh. And he’s filled you with opportunity and some gift and you’ll stand before him on it. I just want to remind you.
And see, the thing about envy and arrogance, remember? They’re just the hit man. The core is comparison. That’s what we gotta eliminate. I’m giving you specific ways for you to say, I either lean toward arrogance or lean toward envy and how do I address it?
And I want to encourage you here - that fourth thing - is admit your needs and invite people into your life if you’re arrogant. Admit your needs.
I wanted to close with admitting my needs. I didn’t want to do this. In fact, I came to last night’s service and I didn’t have this. And as we were singing one of the songs just the Spirit of God whispered, you need to share this.
I like to say this is from ten or twenty years ago when I used to be an arrogant jerk. But it’s from August of this year when I acted like an arrogant jerk.
A verse came to my mind at the end of a day. I’d traveled, and I had the privilege of having dinner with my older sister that I rarely see. And it says, the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately wicked. Who can understand it?
That verse came to my mind from Jeremiah. And then this is what I wrote in my journal. “As I finished up my day of travel yesterday, and enjoyed a rare evening with my sister, Jeanie, I realized how true that verse is above.”
There were all little things throughout the day or so I thought. One by one, the Holy Spirit brought them to mind as I walked back to the hotel.
I remember ignoring the man in the wheelchair going through security. Caring more about my place in line than demonstrating servanthood or concern. I even secretly thought, he doesn’t need that chair, he’s just doing this to dish everybody. Yeah, I’m sure you’ve never had those thoughts.
Second, being so consumed by my work on the plane, I ignored the man next to me named Michael. Then, when he asked, what do you do? I postured something about being an author and returning to the local church as a pastor. But fundamentally, I was just seeking to please men. I didn’t want to be viewed as just a pastor. I wanted to be important and significant, because of my miles I got bumped up to first class and I wanted to impress.
God brought Galatians 1:10 and Luke 16:15 to mind as I recalled those events.
Later that night, I had dinner with my sister and realized that I took away one of the few opportunities my sister could have to be my big sister and take care of me, and give to me and be blessed - and I insisted I had to pay for the dinner. Pride in its many insidious forms is so ugly. All of this insensitivity, self-focus, self-absorption. All the while, I was writing a new introduction for the book, the Genius of Generosity. How ironic and sad.
Father, where would I be apart from your great mercy and steadfast, loyal love and forgiveness. Thank you for applying the work of your Son Jesus to my sin, and forgiving and cleansing me last night after I became aware of it. Help me today to please you not people. Help me today to be a man whose life and motives are highly esteemed in your eyes, not seeking to be highly esteemed in the eyes of men.
Help me today to love people and not impress them. Help me today to not compare myself with anyone in any way, or judge or evaluate others based on their outward appearance, wealth, position, or perceived value to me or our ministry.
Help me from any and all false humility or posturing that communicates that I’m more than I am. Finally, Lord, help me today to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you.
Now, that’s ugly. But it was in comparing myself with others that I was arrogant. And therefore, I was unloving to my sister. I was unloving to a man who God may have wanted to hear the Gospel. I was unloving, because in my comparison, I compared downward and me and mine, and what I had to do was here. Instead of considering others more important than myself.
Where are you on the journey?