Camp Morning Devotion: Detrimental Emotions & Beneficial Choices

Dear BPCWA worshipper, Beginning this week, I will be summarising the salient points of the messages preached at the family camp.  I will begin with the morning devotion sermons, summarising 2 in today’s pastoral.  This will be followed by the thematic sermons thereafter.    

Detrimental Emotions.  Pr 27:3, 4. “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”  1) Wrath is an emotion of being vexed, annoyed, unhappy, and irked.  Foolish wrath is, for example, when we get upset or irritable because it doesn’t fit my view or go my way, or because we are physically uncomfortable.  But because it is common behaviour today, we don’t think of ourselves as being wrathful people.  Wrath is terrible because it is a) Dangerous.  Weight holds you down and crushes you.  Like being under a heavy stone, wrath suffocates and crushes us.  Most of your days are like that and you dismiss it.  Foolish wrath is a heavy burden to others too!  You live with it so much that even your family members daren’t tell you that you’re difficult to live with because you will flare up even more.  b) Deceptive.  God also compares it with sand.  While sand is light, it has the power to kill a person.  A person buried just up to their knees in sand can die because their vascular system switches off, oxygen flow is stemmed, and cell and organ damage follows.  When we let irritations continue, we slowly but surely will get used to being annoyed and upset, especially with those we live with daily.  c) Destructive.  The ill effects of wrath on our health are obvious – our blood pressure rises, we cannot sleep, and may lose our appetites.  Furthermore, it destroys our families and relationships when we allow it to grow.  Those around us stay away from us, we become unpleasant to be around, and the house becomes unliveable.  But ultimately, the greatest danger of foolish wrath is that you become a danger to your spiritual usefulness to God.  You will be ineffective in His service.  This alone should give you spiritual motivation to deal with it. 

2) Envy is the emotion of desiring something which doesn’t belong to you.  When you think of what someone else has, the praise they get, or the affection they receive, it upsets you and you become inwardly hostile towards them.  You may even be a copycat just so as to put yourself on par with another.  Envy is a) Dangerous, because one even stands a better chance of surviving wrath than standing before envy.  Envy causes malicious acts, intents, and behaviours while it may not be apparent to you what the envious person will do to you.  Envy wishes unpleasant things on others and is happy when they fall.  b) Deceptive because envy is silent – you don’t necessarily get the raised voice, flaring nostrils which is evident with anger.  You may not even recognise it in yourself!  This is contrary to the Christian principle of love.  You can even say things that sound right, holy, and helpful, but out of envy.  Do we serve well in church out of competition?  Do we send our children to enrichment classes out of envy of other children?  c) Destructive just as in the case of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis.  Instead of being happy for Joseph because of God’s intention to use Joseph, the brothers envied him.  Even if the work is of God, envy makes us destroy the person and you won’t care even if it destroys God’s work as a result.  We’d rather others don’t receive favour and blessings, even if that is achieved at the cost of God’s Name and work.  You can do this by bad-mouthing or by dropping some carefully crafted words to put someone else down – all designed to destroy the other person.  Instead, envy destroys you while you try to destroy others!   3) The Solution to Wrath and Envy is to Recognise, Repent, and Resist these evil emotions!   Don’t destroy yourself, your reward, your family . . .  and most importantly, God’s work and God’s church.

Choosing Better.  Prov 27:5-6 “Open rebuke is better than secret love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  We all naturally choose the very best when we need to make choices in life for improvement.  So, if God’s Word says that open rebuke is better and the wounds of a friend are better, why do we often reject them?  To choose open rebuke means to accept honest feedback and correction about our sins and faults.   Such truthful corrections surely wound our pride.  But God says they are faithful, which means that we are to trust and accept them because they are for our spiritual improvement.  It is better to feel wounded but grow spiritually as a result, than to feel loved but never know what we are to do better in.  In fact, friendships that make us feel flattered, or that are not honest to inform us of our errors are deceitful friendships.  Secret love is when someone would rather not jeopardise a friendship by giving unpleasant feedback.  Only enemies allow us to hurt ourselves, not genuine friends. So, we not only need to receive faithful friends, but we must also be willing to be a faithful friend.  1) Let us learn to appreciate open rebuke.  True friends who go out on a limb and risk being rejected should be appreciated.  2) Choose our friends wisely.  Do you mainly like company that is just all fun and laughter, avoiding awkward moments when you address each other’s faults? 3) Be honest and face the truth.  Don’t think that wounds mean enemies.  We tend to think that anyone who makes us feel offended is our enemy.  Instead, exercise self-examination.  The reality is that our family members and close friends know us best – do not see them as enemies.  4) Assume good intentions.  We also tend to see rebukes as evil intentions to hurt us.  Receive rebukes objectively and assume that the person wishes to help us improve. 5) Choose to improve.  No amount of studying God’s Word and listening to sermons will help us grow and be used by Him unless we are willing to be humble and accept open rebukes.  God times His messages for you to help you grow.  Stop being defensive.  When we take rebukes as personal attacks rather than God’s loving corrections, we will begin to shut our ears, dislike the preacher or friend, and we will eventually but quickly slide downward spiritually.  Would you rather have faithful wounds and grow so that you are ready to meet Christ?  Or would you continue to be defensive and look for the kisses of the enemy?

Yours in our Lord’s service,