Friday, November 13, 2015

I Think the Rules Don't Apply to Me

If you are like me, you look back on situations and wonder why you didn’t listen to friends who were trying to help you. You think, “How could I have been so dumb?” We believe that it happens to everyone else, but not us.


For example, a person may not feel they need to be cautious about their health. Even though their family history or genes are not working in their favor, they still make unhealthy choices by eating the wrong foods or not exercising.


Another person has a string of short tenures on her resume. For some reason, employers tend to let her go. Instead of thinking about her job performance, it is always someone else’s fault.


So many of us struggle with seeing ourselves in reality. No matter what others say, what God’s Word reveals, or what the facts may be we all want to think that the rules don’t apply to us. We are just too good, smart, careful, or amazing for these types of problems!


Yogi Bear used to say, “I’m smarter than the average bear!” However, Yogi was always in trouble with Ranger Smith. Many of us think we are smarter than the average bear. We believe that we can get ourselves into stressful situations and find our way out. We believe that consequences won’t happen to us. Some of us think that the rules do not apply to us.


Three Reminders for When We Believe We are Better Than Others:

1. Thinking that you “wouldn’t,” “couldn’t,” or “won’t” do what others do because you’re “too good” is letting your guard down.


Galatians 6:1-3 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.


Here, Paul reminds us of one of the key phrases in the believer’s vocabulary: “one another.” We are to love, edify, prefer, use hospitality toward, and pray for one another. We must also bear one another’s burdens. However, it is hard to help our brothers and sisters out when we are preoccupied with ourselves.


When we have an inflated sense of who we are, it is easier to look down on others. We may look down on our spouse because we think we do more or care more. We may look down on our coworkers because we feel they are not contributing to the workplace. We may look down on our fellow church members because we don’t believe they pull their weight. However, could it be that we are overestimating our own importance?


I know that I have felt, on occasion, that certain people have been unappreciative. Perhaps I did not think they returned the favors I had done for them. On the other hand, I have noticed that often people do not express their appreciation in the same ways that I do. Sometimes it is just hard for me to notice. Also, people may have good reasons for behaving or responding the way they do that I don’t understand completely.


Peter, the disciple of Jesus, had an inflated ego. He overestimated himself.  Remember, Peter told Jesus that he would not fail.


Mark 14:29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.”


The solution to a lot of the negativity in our lives is to stop being wrapped up in ourselves. We should try to look for others who need us and want our encouragement and try to lift them up. We have to be open to the realities that God shows us about ourselves, willing to learn what God is teaching us.


When our fellow Christians have done something wrong, we are to be there to help them, not kick them while they’re down. Remember, the Bible tells us our approach is to be one of grace.


1 Peter 4:8  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins.


Jesus teachings reveal that it takes a lot of kindness, self-examination, love, and courage to help someone who is making unwise choices. Jesus compares it to eye surgery. He said, in essence, “Remove the plank from your eye before you try to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).


2. Looking after your own business leaves little room for judging others.


Galatians 6:4-5 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.


Each person here has a primary responsibility of keeping their own business and choices in order. We are to test our “own work.” Most of us are not as good or bad as we believe. Paul said that we must examine our own work. We need to evaluate ourselves and not get caught up in what our neighbors are doing.


In my own experience, I have overestimated my contributions to the team. I put hours into something. I pour my life into the cause. I never said that I was more valuable than anyone else, but certainly, in retrospect, I have acted this way. When I have found myself in that frame of mind, I have a tendency to think of others as less than spiritual or capable. I can discount others as being less wise or flawed.


When I listen to the Lord, I discover that when I feel better than others, I am prideful and not teachable. When I am prideful, I find myself displaying negativity about others. I find it easier to get pulled into problems and issues. However, when I am teachable, life goes more smoothly, and relationships are healthier.


Proverbs 8:32-35 And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. 33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 34 Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. 33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 34 Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.

35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.


3. Sowing goodness leads to reaping blessings.


Galatians 6:6-10 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.


As I read this section, I am reminded that we are all supposed to work together. We are each a part of a “household of faith.” We are working as a team for the harvest and “we will reap, if we do not give up.” “There is no place for competition in the work of God, unless we are competing against sin and Satan. When we see words like ‘best, fastest-growing, biggest, finest’ applied to Christian ministries, we wonder who is getting the glory.”[1]


Did you notice in the text that God’s Word teaches us that when we are generous with our church leaders and staff, that God honors that blessing? God has ordained that we reap what we sow. This is cause and effect. Since we reap what we sow, we should be cautious where we sow. We should always sow generously in God’s work.


He sums it up by saying that the members of the church should take care of one another.  We are to do good to one another, as opposed to doing evil.


How people treat each other . . .

We all have a responsibility to live Godly lives before others, no matter how corrupt the world becomes. Loving unlovely people is what Christians are called to do. I suggest that when you are dealing with difficult people, the first and most important step is to pray for those people.


Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”


·         Some return evil for good.

For those without Jesus Christ, it is common to hurt those who have done nothing wrong. Innocent people suffer every day because of the greed and hardheartedness of evil people.


·         Some return good for good.

Those who may be considered upstanding citizens are quick to return a favor. We think of them as good neighbors. They do good to those who are good to them.


Luke 6:33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.


·         However, the Christian is called to return good for evil.

Believers in Jesus Christ are called to a higher standard. We are called to love our enemies. We are to be sensitive to the needs of others. We realize that the only opportunity that some people have to encounter the message of Jesus Christ is our love and grace.


Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


We should come to the place in our lives in which we understand that our failures drive us back to the grace of Jesus Christ time and time again. We should be refreshing in our honesty, admitting our faults. We cannot expect to look down our noses at others and lead them to experience Jesus Christ!

[1]Warren Wiersbe, TBEC, Vol. 1, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2001), 722.