I’ve got a confession. I used to be a very negative, cynical person. And at times, that comes back up in me and I find myself struggling yet again with being negative and cynical. I was aware of my negativity and was also aware that it was probably the reason people didn’t want to hang out with me. But It just came out. I couldn’t help it.
I don’t know if it was because I was so unhappy with how things were going wherever I was at the time. I don’t know if it was because of some hurt that I had buried deep in the recesses of my soul. I don’t know if I thought it made me look and sound smart. I don’t know if it was a mask to keep people from knowing the real issues that I fought. It was probably a number of them.
The truth of the matter is, the ‘because’ doesn’t really matter.
I was negative and people didn’t want to be around me. They didn’t care why I was negative. They just knew that I was and that they didn’t need to be around that.
I believe we should be the most optimistic, hopeful people on the planet.
There is so much negativity. It’s everywhere. it’s in the news, it’s all over Facebook. It’s rampant in conversations and pervasive in churches. I think some people have mistaken the spirit of negativity and complaining for the Holy Spirit.
And I don’t understand it. Actually I do. It’s a tool the enemy can use to sabotage the work God is doing. God may be doing amazing things, but if the enemy can stir up dissension, bitterness and negativity, he can slow down what’s happening – sometimes stop it all together. Yes God is more powerful than Satan. I’m not saying He’s not. But, since God relies on us to do His work, we can become the hinderance in the work God wants to do. I know because I’ve seen it happen so many times in my life.
What if we were the hopeful, optimistic people that God created us to be? The word hope is used 48 times in the New Testament. You could call that a major theme. We are also told to do things without bitterness, without grumbling, without complaining. We are told to pray without dissension. Titus 3:10 says: “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Hebrews 13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Instead, let us think and let our conversations be full of things like we are told in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
How much of your thinking and how much of your talking is filled with Philippians 4:8? Or do you do the opposite of Phil 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”
Why would a non-Christian want to have anything to do with A negative Christian?
I believe we ought to have the greatest faith of anyone we know.
I believe we ought to have such a deep and profound faith that people know to come to us because they have seen and heard and known about our faith. They have heard us testify about the God who provides. The have heard us be witnesses to the way God is moving in our hearts.
And I believe our faith ought to be constantly growing and being strengthened. And as time goes by we look back at our life and laugh at what we thought was “big faith” at the time. Because we’ve seen God continue to do greater things in our lives and we know just how amazing and powerful this God is.
But, unfortunately, we seem to be some of the most doubtful people around. We say we trust God, but in reality we don’t. We say we believe God can do this or that, but we never let him. We just work it out for ourselves. We want to see God move in powerful ways, but we never let Him move in even the smallest ways in our lives. We say we want to have faith, but we don’t even have the faith to try faith – even in the small things.
We live in a fallen world, there will always be something to complain about.
There will always be wars and rumors of wars. There will always be politics and politicians that we don’t agree with and we think are ruining the country. There will also be things we don’t like and preferences that aren’t being met. There will always be stupid people who say and do stupid things. There will always be something to complain about.
But our hope isn’t in this world. Our hope isn’t grounded in the things of this life. Our hope is not built on the foundation of this fallen world. Our hope is build on the Rock who created this world and everything in it. Our hope is in the Lord who gave himself for us. Our hope is in the power of God working in the lives of people. Our hope is one who is greater than this world and greater than the prince of this world.
So, our mission for this week is love and hope. We need to love people with the Love of God coming through us because we are attached to the vine. (If you don’t know what that means, check out the sermon from Sunday, August 11th.) Our mission is to pull people into our hope.
Don’t pull people into your negativity. Don’t pull people into your bitterness and anger, your disappointment and dissension. If that’s what you’ve got. Then, literally FOR THE LOVE OF GOD – SHUT UP! God’s love should never be veiled in the negativity we carry. God’s love should never cloaked in complaining. God’s love should never have fight to the top of an angry conversation. For the love of God, share the Love of God with hope.
Let us be so full of hope and encouragement and optimism and excitement and passion and joy and peace and truth and love and praise that people start to think you’re either crazy or they want to know what makes you that way. Let us be so hopeful about the love of God that all of our conversations, all of our interactions, all of the remarks we make are dripping with the love of God. Let us make waves in our homes and in our neighborhoods, in our cubicles and in our carpools because we are being hopeful and positive. Let us be the ones others come to for encouragement and to be lifted up when they’re down. Let us be the place the hopeless turn for hope. Let us be the place the downcast come for a new vision. Let us be the place the wounded are healed. Let us be the place where broken spirits are put back together.
For the Love of God.