I was convicted at church this morning. This isn’t a surprise. God speaks to me through Tommy really specifically (more so than Tommy could ever know) nearly every single week. I’m to the point where come Sunday morning I am ready for the thing that has weighed heavy on me during the week or the sin that has been sneaking in to my daily life to get addressed. Bluntly, might I add. Tommy Preson Phillips is good at a myriad of things, but putting things lightly is not one of them. Praise God. Praise God for a pastor who isn’t afraid of speaking truth even when it’s offensive.
We’ve been in Paul’s letters to the church of corinth for nearly a year and a half at this point, and this week our scripture was 2 Corinthians 12:11-20. If you’re interested, you can hear this sermon, “Chaos and the Church”, as well as past sermons at Watermark’s Podcast Page. Now, I’m not going to recap the sermon, only give details about what I myself gleaned from it, as you’re able to listen to it in it’s entirety directly from the source.
Tommy was speaking about the things that Paul lists that have no place in the church. Quarreling, jealousy, anger, etc. These things come about when a true understanding of the gospel is absent – they are characteristics which can not coexist with what God has intended. Quarreling was up first. Tommy said,
..it’s discord about place and prestige. It’s a characteristic of people who have forgotten that only those who humble themselves can really be exalted. …We’re always offending people and defending ourselves. We’re always in rivalry with others, comparing ourselves and feeling that we deserve more respect and more prestige – this is poison in the church. Remember, people’s worth is not determined by what they can give you. Stop trying to get everything out of everyone. Just love them. They don’t need to see things your way. They don’t need to see any good qualities in you whatsoever. They really don’t. Except for love. We don’t need to go around in the church putting our best foot forward. Instead we should actually walk around being honest, confessing who we are. And join together in saying “Well, God loves you anyway. Jesus died for you anyway.”
I will repeat the part that caused me to stop taking notes mid sentence and look up at Tommy knowing God was dealing with me: “They don’t need to see any good qualities in you whatsoever. … Except for love.”
I’ve always wrestled with insecurities. Not only do I, as a female, come prepackaged with the disgusting desire to compare (which never leads to good) built into my brain, but I’ve been 5’10 for half of my life with boney elbows and a stammer when I’m nervous. What I’m saying is: insecurities and I go way back. [ Sidenote: but God and I go back farther and the way He has dealt with these issues is a whole other blog post. ] A way that the human part of me has tried to counter these insecurities is by excessively defending myself. Thank goodness I’m not a lawyer because my defenses are terrible and illogical. That I’m wasting time trying to defend myself to myself is a mark of madness and proof that I sometimes fail to think of myself as God would have me think of myself. In my mind I have to put someone lower than me to have any standing. God says I have it backwards. This defending nonsense very often happens only inside of my head. Can you guess the end result? Nothing but me being frustrated and feeling worse about myself.
I live with four really impressive ladies. We have a two story yellow house which we and all our friends call The Louisiana Purchase (it’s on Louisiana St.) and a giant doberman named Dobie, though I mostly call her Princess. I love where I live and who I live with. However, living with these particular ladies hasn’t been easy with my background in insecurities. They are in no way perfect beings, but they are exquisite. They love the Lord, they are beautiful, they’re well read, etc. Sound like great roommates, right? Well, they are. So great that there have been so so so many occasions where I catch myself trying to prove to them my intelligence or my artsy-ness (I’m using my artistic license and deeming that a word) or how outrageously funny I am. And I mean diligently trying to prove.
“THEY DON’T NEED TO SEE ANY GOOD QUALITIES IN YOU WHATSOEVER. EXCEPT FOR LOVE.”
Oh. So what you’re saying, God, is if I 1. stopped worrying about people seeing how incredibly witty I am and 2. stopped trying to prove it to them if they don’t notice it on their own, and instead just loved the stuffing out of them and genuinely enjoyed the amazing qualities that you have given them then my relationships will be better and more fruitful and I’ll reflect your image better? Well shoot, I’ve been wasting a lot of time.
I think a main part there is the enjoying of other’s qualities. It’s awesome that God has given my roommates hearts to serve. And it’s so cool that God gave other people an interest in science, while my brain is all art and emotions all the time. Or how other people can be outgoing and make friends with everyone they meet while I thrive in intimate one on one conversations. I was talking to a male friend of mine the other day and after half mentioning that a female friend of ours intimidated me he laughed and said, “Girls don’t make any sense. When I see a guy who is smarter than me in certain ways and better at things than I am I just think, “MAN! He’s so cool. I love this guy!”
May you and I both be able to cease telling the world we have things going for us and just start loving them. In our love they’ll see the only thing to boast about anyway: God.