Why You Hate Successful People

mad-kidHave you ever encountered a person who is overly critical of successful people?

You know, the type of person that takes a successful individual, whether an artist or a pastor, and rips them apart as if they are intimately familiar with their life, outside of the public arena.

I have.

I’d say that I can’t stand those sorts of people, and even begin to criticize them as well, but I’ve come to realize that I’m that guy.

Throughout my 34-years of existence, I’ve become more self-aware of the fact that I have often criticized others, without having really known the person I am criticizing.

The successful rap artist, who is clearly a sellout.

The successful pastor with the mega-church in the suburbs, who, according to the omnipotent knowledge of Troy (pun intended), couldn’t give a rip about the marginalized of the city.

If I were the pastor, I’d lead better. If I were dropping albums like those guys, I’d remain true to Christ, and not sellout for the fortune and fame, like some people.

But the problem is, I’m not a pastor with a church. Nor am I an artist with worldwide influence.

I’m not those guys.

Besides, I have to ask myself: Self, how are you being faithful now with what God has given you to steward?

Andy Mineo, the rising star of Reach Records, rightfully exclaims: “our critics are just artists that never made it.”

Ouch.

But if we dig a little deeper into what the root of the issue is—aside from pride and the fact that they’ve made it, and you haven’t—what might we find?

Could it be that we are so insecure with our own identity that we thrive only on the flaws of others? As if pointing out their faults and frailties somehow minimizes our own and, in turn, makes us feel better about who we are or aren’t.

If only we had a true sense of what it means to be created in the image of God, we might find ourselves being secure in whom God has made us to be, while appreciating who others are also.

If we can learn anything from the Apostle Paul, in respect to identity, we learn that he was not a man who found his security in his religious stature, his Jewish heritage, his righteous deeds, or the successes of his missionary journeys.

Paul found his security and worth in Christ Jesus as Lord. (Philippians 3:8)

Even when it had been reported to Paul that some were preaching Christ “from envy and rivalry,” he didn’t criticize them, or attempt to demean the work that they were doing. No, in fact, Paul says that, regardless, “Christ is proclaimed, and in that [he rejoiced].” (Philippians 1:18)

When you find yourself in Christ, you become not only secure in who you are, but also more appreciative of what Christ is doing in and through others also. When you are in Christ, you can rejoice, like Paul, in the successes of others, without becoming their greatest critic.

Yes we are all sinners, broken people in need of a glorious Savior. We need Jesus. But, it is because of Jesus, and only because of Him, that we can boast in anything good that may come out of this life that God has given us. And anything bad in us, or coming out of us, well, that just further illustrates our need for Jesus!

So, instead of criticizing your leaders, maybe examine your own heart and pray that God show you what’s behind the curtain of your critical spirit.

Instead of criticizing the faithful and the fruitful of their shortcomings, maybe you could pray for them instead. I think that’s somewhere in the Bible—the holy, inspired, authoritative, and sufficient word of God—we profess to believe.

That is, assuming you believe.

The Joyless Joys of Godlessness

Jobless man

I ought to be satisfied by now. You would assume that after years of filling in the ________’s of my heart’s desires, that they would have ultimately produced a joy that quenched the inner thirsting of my soul. Yet, here I am. Still wanting. Still dissatisfied with my 9-to-5 little prison.

Still, unhappily married while staring at Jezebel’s digital screen of pornographic false-promises, hoping to find solace through the sensations of extra-marital sex while, still, yearning.

It’s like I am running a marathon on a treadmill, expecting to get somewhere.

I work harder, and longer, so I can buy more stuff, and yet even when I have more stuff, I hardly enjoy it.

Sound familiar?

What’s missing? What’s missing from this mirage called “life”?

If my senses were created to dance in delight, by nature, then my Creator has created me to enjoy the world wherein He has placed me.

But how?

Him. He is the answer to every delight. 

For every good and perfect gift comes from Him[1] and it is by Him and through Him that we are created to share in the goodness of His splendor. To be partakers of that which He considers joyful: His creation.

Life, without Him, makes no sense. Apart from God we are abnormal creatures, deceived into believing in a happily-ever-after apart from God, that only God can every truly provide. After all, without Him, there wouldn’t even be happiness at all. God created happiness.

Sex without God is good. But sex with God—framed within His intended marital-design—is better. Food without God is good, but a steak eaten to the glory of God, is better.

In life, you find happiness, but true and everlasting joy only comes from God.

If a life separated from God is devoid of the Spirit, and the fruit produced by the Spirit is joy[2], then a godless man is a joyless man. The joyless joy of a godless man is only temporary pleasure, followed by the weightiness of eternal dissatisfaction (Hell—and separation from God).

But the joy produced by the Spirit, is a joy inaugurated by the joy of our heavenly Father, who found pleasure—or, joy—in crushing His one and only Son, for His glory, and for our salvation.[3] And, make no mistake; there is joy in His salvation![4]

God has redeemed us to enjoy Him and the life that He has given to us. Only in Christ, can there be found a “fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.”[5]

The life lived, in Christ, magnifies the joy of our existence, and liberates us to enjoy the treasures of this world, both in this life, and on into the next, where the new Heavens and the new Earth will consummate our everlasting joy in Him and all that He has created.

[1] James 1:17

[2] Galatians 5:22

[3] Isaiah 53:10

[4] Psalm 51:12

[5] Psalm 16:11

Confession is NOT Repentance

true_repentance

Confession is not repentance. But at the same time, the two are not mutually exclusive. A confession, in light of the biblical imperative, should always be coupled with repentance.

But that depends.

Why are you confessing to begin with?

Is it because you’ve been caught red-handed, and so you confess, in hopes of a lighter sentence? Or do you confess out of the grievous nature of your sin, a weight to which you can no longer bear?

That is the difference between, what Paul calls, worldly sorrow and godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is concerned for how they’ve sinned against God, and others, while worldly sorrow is just plain sorry they’ve been caught, with no regard for the way in which they’ve hurt others.

Worldly sorrow is self-centered and, ultimately, leads to death. Whereas godly sorrow is God-centered, and leads to life.

If the ladder is the motivation of our confession, than repentance should naturally follow. Repentance is a “turning away” from our sin; so that, we begin to hate the sin that we once loved, and love the God that we once hated. Repentance turns us from sin, causing us to flee from sin, and turns us towards God and His way and will for our lives. Repentance is motivated by a love for God, and a hatred for sin.

In the Gospel according to Luke, repentance is a fundamental theme (3:8; 5:31-32; 15:1-32; 18:9-14; 24:47). In Luke 13, verses 1-5, the crowd tells Jesus of the Galileans, in an attempt to compare varying degrees of sin. Jesus, in turn, responds by asking them if they thought, “these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans,” and answers his question to the crowd with an emphatic “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).

Throughout all of Scripture, we are called to not only confess our sin, trusting that God is faithful to forgive us of our trespasses, but also to repent of our sin, as an expression of our love for God, and our hatred for sin.

Even as a professing believer, I spent the first few years confessing, but never truly repenting. As a result, I constantly found myself down at the altar each Sunday, confessing my sin, while “rededicating” my life to God. Yet there was never any real repentance, never any turning away, or warring against my flesh, just a leaning upon the grace of God as if it were a license to sin.

Quite honestly, I never really understood the gravity of my sin, or the magnitude of His love for me, until more recently.

The Cross of Christ has become the impetus that drives me to my knees, in confession and repentance. Indeed, Christ’s death upon the Cross is not merely to absolve the punishment of my sin, but to free me from the power of that sin that has held me captive from my mother’s womb.

Therefore, beloved, remember the Cross of Christ, confess, and repent.