Posted by: S. L. Doss | September 3, 2013

Principles to Live By #2

DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING OR NOT DOING.

We humans are a nosy bunch. We thrive on the negative. We thrill when someone “gets theirs.” How can I say this? Just look around. If this were not true, we would have no need for the gossip magazines like The Enquirer or The Sun. Freaky movies and t.v. shows would be non-existent, and we wouldn’t be rushing home to see the next episode of Criminal Minds.

We “want to know” what’s going on. Reporters are aggressive, getting in the faces of the people they’re trying to interview regardless whether the people are hurting or mourning, or not wanting to talk. Newspapers put a negative slant on stories, bringing out the bad and downplaying the good.

We also tend to be judgmental. Have you ever witnessed a child throwing a tantrum in a store? And watched the parent futilely attempting to diffuse the situation? Have you caught yourself being critical, accusing the parent of being lazy and spoiling the child? Have you ever thought you’d do a better job in that situation?

We constantly compare ourselves to others. We measure our successes and failures against those of our colleagues, our family, our friends. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a classic phrase which describes our never-ending pursuit of being “top dog.” We don’t want to appear weak. We don’t want others to think badly of us. We don’t want to come in last.

Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing.

What does this really mean? Does it mean we should turn a blind eye to everything around us? Ignore the screaming kid throwing himself on the floor? Turn away from the woman at the checkout who is crying out for help? No. And again, I say a great big NO! Christ did not call us to ignore the world. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

So what does it mean? It means we need to quit trying to “get the dirt” on a situation. Quit trying to compete with our fellow man. Quit trying to make ourselves look good by putting someone else down. We are not the judge (thank God!).

“But I’m not nosy. I don’t cut others down, and I don’t criticize. I am offended that you’d make such a broad assumption.”

Ok, I hear you. But let’s look at it a different way. Joe has been a long-standing member of your church. One night during altar call, he rushes to the front, throws himself across the altar, and weeps as if his heart will break. What is your first reaction? To go pray with him? What goes through your mind as you make your way to his side? Do you think he’s feeling guilty, because he’s been awfully friendly with the new visitor and maybe he’s gotten a little too cozy with her? Or maybe he got bad news from the doctor, because he’s been requesting prayer for a touch in his body for months now. Or what if he lost his job? He’d missed quite a few days of work over the last couple of months. So you go to his side, and whisper that you are there and will listen if he wants to talk. You might even hint that sharing his burden would help you to focus prayer even more. You are just sure there’s something wrong.

But what if there wasn’t? What if the something wrong wasn’t wrong at all? What if he was weeping in heartfelt gratitude to God because God performed a miracle in an impossible situation?

Is it even your business? No, not unless he wants to share. It doesn’t matter why he’s weeping. What matters is that we pray with him, whether we know what we are praying for or not. Some things are just not our business, so we need to stay out of it. We need to let God work on the shortcomings of others…we have enough of our own to keep us busy, if we’d only be truly honest with ourselves.

We need to quit justifying our actions based on others’ actions. “Jane doesn’t come to prayer meeting, so I can miss once in awhile.” But Jane is working two jobs to support her family, and can’t make it to every service. Even if she didn’t have a good excuse, that doesn’t justify us. She must answer to God just like we do. He is the ultimate authority. He’s the only authority.

We need to not be jealous of others. John and his family have more money, a nicer house, better cars. But John is a good steward of his finances, and God has blessed him.

Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing. Put away the magnifying glass. Put God first in our lives (principle #1) and let Him fix the broken. Don’t point it out to Him; He already knows. And the worst break might actually be within our own selves. Let Him bless whom He will bless. Who knows, by focusing on Him, you may be next.

“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” – John 21:20-22

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