The Cheap Seats: Controlling Our Opinions

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24

The “cheap seats” is a simple term to describe a location in a stadium, in particular, older stadiums. In this day and age, most areas are built with nothing cheap and with the attender in mind. But back in the day, the “cheap seats” were economical for a reason. They were far from the action, many times your view was inhibited by a pillar or by distance, yet you got to have full participation in the moment without the cost others paid.

Today I write from a place of brokenness; a heart of humility. Psalm 139:23-24 is what I pray almost daily. Before I start my day, write a message, type of blog, meet with an individual, post on social media, or…whatever, I whisper those words of the Psalmist.

Search me, O God…show me any grievous way within me…”

Why do I do that? Because without that heart, I end up buying tickets in the “cheap seats.”

What are the “cheap seats” I speak of? They are the places in life that many of us like to live life. They are places where we like to hurl our opinions over someone (or a situation) even though (1) we are far from the action, (2) have limited insight to the situation, and (3) get to have full participation with little to no personal cost.

The cheap seats are great for keeping your distance so you’re not “associated with a person” while making a seemingly righteous stance. This feeble and destructive response has image of Godliness but has nothing to do with Jesus. Why? It’s all about exalting self. Without bringing my heart into check, I make myself look better by publicly (or in my circle of friends) shaming or taking a stab at someone else.

Christians friends, in the words of James, “…this should not be” (James 3:10). We have to be better; we must do better.

Do you want to stand for righteousness? Me too.
Do you want to see holiness in people lives? Me too.
Do you want to see those of influence have a greater impact in the opportunities they’re given? Me too.

Can you do better with your gossip? Me too.
Can you use better self-control with your social media? Me too.
Can you be a better listener? Me too.
Can you do better at treating people with kindness? Me too

Can we be better at halting our immediate response to any situation by starting with a moment of personal repentance (Psalm 139)?

Me too.

Maybe it’s time we stop being season ticket owners in the cheap seats. We all like to sit in them. You can find the “cheap seats” in the church halls, at coffee shops, or on social media. They’re easy to find.

These past couple weeks, seeing the amount of people buying their “cheap seat” tickets to Lauren Daigle’s interview has been astounding. Lauren responded to a question in a way many Christ-followers are not happy with. Personally, I wish she gave a better answer. But then again, that’s my “cheap seat” response. Armed with my 20/20 hindsight and my “cheap seat” location, it’s painless to dissect her and others of influence and affluence. It’s easy to say we’d do better (at least we’d like to think we would) if we had the opportunity.

But I’ve wondered over this past week? What has been more damaging to the body of Christ? A singer’s answer or our responses? A moment missed (in many people’s opinions) or an example we’ve made to the world of how we handle people in our ranks that we don’t agree with?

Do people do the same thing to me as a preacher? Probably. Honestly, I do it to myself. Most Sundays, I walk away from the pulpit thinking that about my sermons. “I wish I had said something better. I could have done better with the moment/opportunity I was given.

What should our response have been with Lauren’s statement (and others to come)? I believe it starts here:

Search me, O God…show me any grievous way within me...”

Before we pick up a rock to throw and a judgement to hurt, can we start with ourselves? Can we check out motives first? Can we exercise Matthew 18 of shutting our slander and dealing with offense with others in a healthy personal way? Please note: Loving others and exercising self-control isn’t a stamp of approval for someone’s decisions or lifestyle. It’s a display of the Fruit of the Spirit. Reactionary posts to make yourself look better only mar our lives with pride and self-righteousness.

The more I start with me first, the less rocks I have to throw at others. The more I begin with my own heart, the better I handle someone else’s heart.

We can do better as the Body of Christ. We must do better.  For if Jesus was a friend of sinners, why can’t that be said of us too?

So Lord, before I ask a reader to this blog to respond to this challenge of personal repentance, please start with me.

Search me, O God…show me any grievous way within me…”

 

Love you all. Praying for you today.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devo Series: Book of Matthew Day 2

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos.  This month we’re going through the Book of Matthew.  Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Matthew 2

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod.This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Herod Kills the Children

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.