Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Thoughts on Imposition, Jealousy and Envy

(This post may not make much sense, so take it as you can. I am just trying to indirectly link up a couple of ideas. I wanted to post one of my favorite personal pieces of scripture over the last year. And a friend wanted me to post a conversation we had recently.  At any rate, I am sure you will learn something from it. I know I did.)

I read a good amount of scripture, and I sort of get stuck on a few here and there... 

Here's one that I read a couple of years ago... I thought much about it in the past year, and I was reminded of it when I talked to a friend about something last week. 

Romans 14: 22-23 (MES)  Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.

That is such a loaded verse. And I thought of it often in the past year.

I was reminded of it because my friend has a church in her city that is not her church home, but she enjoys their podcasts and text messages on a regular basis and she finds them helpful with her personal issues. Many ministries offer podcasts and text messages for the general public free of charge. I subscribe to a couple myself. Some even have apps, which makes it all even more convenient. 

But my friend was a bit down because she sees so much negative hate for this church. She even sent me a very long objective article on them, just to get my thoughts. I have to admit that I had never heard of the church. But I found the article interesting... 

My comment to her (a couple of times) was... Do you see how much charitable work they do? Do you see how much seed they sow into the community? 

And you know how I feel about seed and fruit and trees and roots and all of that. 

You know a tree (person, church) by by the fruit it produces. 

And I was a bit blown away about all that this church was doing in the general community, in the face of criticism. The church was growing by leaps and bounds. There were good testimonies from people about their progress while there, too.  

So why in the world was there so much hate?  My answer is that  there is probably some jealousy and envy going on. 

Jealousy is one giving attention to what someone has and wishing they had it. 

Envy is jealousy... with action attached to it

Here's an example.

So I see you have a nice car, and it's much nicer than mine. So now I have a problem with you. I am jealous. 

I keep seeing your car... and I am growing more jealous.  

And one day I look around and no one's looking... it's just me and your car. 

I take my keys out of my pocket, and I key up your car. And I key it up real good. I get a kick out of how I hear you crying later, all crushed over your car being keyed up. As a matter of fact, I get quite a bit of joy out of your misfortune.

It felt good. It really did. 

It felt so good that I drove over to your house in the middle of the night with my trusty baseball bat and busted up your car windows. I even pried open the gas tank and poured a few cups of sugar in. 

Jealousy + action = envy.

And that's just one way of looking at jealousy and envy... I've heard many others. This one is a bit vivid, so it sticks with me. I use it as a yard stick to measure my own attitude and actions. And a nice yard stick it is.

Because let's face it. If I have a Maserati, I am not going to be jealous of your Chevy. You don't even register on my mental radar.

And I told my friend that's what's going on. People are jealous, and now they are causing problems. 

Someone is saying "I don't like this church. So let me sow some negative seed (publicity) about this church... let's see if I can cause some trouble. Let me see if some negative fruit can be produced."

And that is how it is in the church community. Churches constantly compare themselves to one another. And these days, all it takes is one or two people to lead a charge against anything and all kinds of chaos ensues. 

This brings me back to my friend. I asked her questions I've had to ask way too many people when they are faced with confusion about these "Churchy" issues. 

Are you getting anything out of the ministry? Is it helping you in any way in your life? Is it bringing about peace, progress and understanding?

And if the answer is yes, then bump what criticism someone has to say about it. 

Which brings me back to the verse above. That entire chapter 14 of Romans is a pretty good chapter, as it delves deeply into our issues of judging others and comparing ourselves to one another. 

I was just pondering my 2013, and my review of the year and the people, places and things that have had a huge affect on me, and I think that verse has been one that I have thought of constantly.

Many of my friends and I go to different churches but we don't give each other a hard time about it. We know each other. We learn from each other. I don't have anyone around me imposing their opinions on me, and I'm not imposing my opinions on anyone. There is freedom to make our own choices, especially concerning our spirituality. And we all benefit and compliment one another in some way.

I can't imagine criticizing anyone's church. What if God is using that place to push them towards their place and purpose in life? Who wants to be in the way of that?

So this church is doing great things. Now seeds of contention and discord are being sown. And that's not good. For it will throw some people off. It will hurt people who are already struggling with doubt.  Just so much trouble is caused.

Can we all tend to our own business?

Just looking at that verse, we all have our hands full cultivating our relationships with God. Finding our way and all that. And we're fortunate if our beliefs and our behaviors are matching up. This tells me that beliefs and behaviors fall out of sync from time to time, and must be paid careful attention to.

But how can we do that when we're busy criticizing others and imposing our views on others.

Just a thought.

I have much experience with this. Everybody and their Mama has an opinion about my spiritual choices and my church of choice. I don't care. I look at who I am and my progress over time and I let that be my witness. And I'm not a people pleaser. I do what is best for me. Period.

Anyway, I told my friend that a church doing that much in the community will come under attack.  Because we just can't have people making progress in peace, can we?  Gotta be some contention involved.

And I told my friend when that occurs, don't let it throw her off. She's getting much out of a ministry in her city, and it is a good complement to what she is learning in her own church. And that's a good thing.

I hope she doesn't let "imposing opinions" sway her progress. 


  1. WOW You said a lot Lady Lee...T

  2. Single Ma7:16:00 AM

    Good post!

    Question: if someone asks your opinion about a church or popular spiritual leader (one on TV for example), you share opinion and information to explain why. You have different views from the person who asked, and although no further discussion is had on the topic, the information you shared may have led them to think about it more. Is that imposing your opinion?

    1. No that is not. That is an intelligent discussion. I'm talking about the bashing that goes on. So if that person decided to go to that church, you give them a hard time every time you see them, making them feel bad about it and themselves. That is what I am talking about.

      Like my pastor is on TV. I have had intelligent discussions about it, and it's all good. And then I have been bashed for whatever reason. Those are two different things. And when I do finally have a intelligent adult conversation about it, I always find out the person has some internal issues with church or God in general. And it had nothing to do with my church or beliefs. I was just a convenient target.

    2. Single Ma4:18:00 PM

      Oh ok. That makes sense. Just because we have different preferences about where we worship, it doesn't make your church or beliefs any better than mine. They are simply different and that's ok.

      There was no pressure or bashing in my example. Yep, just an intelligent discussion sharing different points of view.

  3. A couple thoughts, here - that verse from Romans is really something to think about. I asked myself at the end of last year if my $ habits matched my values and what I say is important to me. I realized they did not, which meant I would have to do some work to make them match.

    As for that note about you will know people by their fruit, it is very true. And i do a lot of self reflection to see what seeds am I planting and what evidence do I see in my life that I'm on the right path.

    Thanks for sharing. This was very insightful.

  4. My head is swaying after reading this post and thinking about it. So much I could say. I will be simple and say this: Too many folks are trying to comment and compete against other churches and that really shows how progressive their spiritual growth is.

  5. I have to ask myself these questions .. I have been bashed for church hoping before by people and people that assumed that I would attend their church and join because that's what everyone else did.

    I had a recent conversation with my soon to be hubby and we both agreed that we would leave our respect churches and join a church together. We got bashed for that.

    I think some will just bash you because they can.

  6. Very thought provoking post.


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