As I prepared for today’s sermon, I must confess to you that the original title I had in mind was “Making God Mad.” I felt that this was a sermon that I felt I was especially qualified to preach given the fact that I was sure my behavior had frustrated my heavenly Father on many an occasion.
But upon further reflection, I felt that it would be more profitable for us to think together, not about the obvious message of this text, but its un¬derlying message. What are the things that make God glad?
As we look over this list of things hated by God, we not that three of them have to do with our use of the tongue. God hates “a lying tongue,” “a false witness,” and “a person who stirs up dissension.” But the other four also could be taken to involve the misuse of one’s tongue.
“Haughty eyes” refers to pride, which is often expressed in words that criticize others.
The mention of “shedding innocent blood,” or murder, reminds us of the words of our Lord, who warned against the destructive nature of our words when He said, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother, ’idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hell fire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” - Matthew 5:21-22 (The Message)
Obviously, if one is to carry out the “wicked schemes” devised by the heart, it will often involve the misuse of the tongue.
And more often than not, the “evil that our feet are quick to rush into,” will involve words we say about or to others.
So it is that through our misuse of the tongue, we can disappoint and disgust our heavenly Father. This is something we can all readily recognize.
But how about bringing our heavenly Father delight? The underlying lesson of this passage is that there are seven things that brings joy to God and make Him glad; and all seven involve the use of our tongue.
If we want to make God glad, we should make sure our words . . .
1. Reveal humility – “haughty eye”
We are told that God hates “haughty eyes.” A prideful heart is revealed by prideful words, which are often directed toward others in the form of criticism and “put downs.” This makes God mad. But what makes God glad is to see a heart of humility demonstrated revealed by words that are designed to bless and encourage others.
A heart of humility is not one that is depreciates self, but is one that appreciates self. One who has a humble heart understands that apart from Christ, they are nothing (John 15:5) but that God has a plan for them and can use them if they depend on His strength (Philippians 4:13).
They are secure in the love of their Father. Therefore, they do not need to put down others to feel better about themselves. Instead, they can speak words that make others feel better about themselves.
Paul tells us that a focus on the needs of others is a direct result of a humble heart.
“Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself. Do not always be thinking about your own plans only. Be happy to know what other people are doing.” - Philippians 2:2-3 (NLV)
“Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.” - Philippians 2:2-3 (NLT)
I have heard it said that there are two ways to enter a room: Some enter a room and say, "Here I am!" While others enter a room and say, "There you are!" Now, which person are you glad to see? It’s the same with God, he like to see me demonstrating humility through conversation that is focused on the other person’s needs and interests, not just my own.
By the way, the Bible tells us that humility is a choice. James tells us, “Humble yourselves” - James 4:10a. I also make God glad when I . . .
2. Relate honestly – “a lying tongue”
The book The Day America Told the Truth says that 91 percent of those surveyed lie routinely about matters they consider trivial, and 36 percent lie about important matters; 86 percent lie regularly to parents, 75 percent to friends, 73 percent to siblings, and 69 percent to spouses.
It is because of the positive witness that the believer presents to a lost world that God is glad when we relate to others honestly. When we live this way, in a world filled with people who see dishonesty as a way of life, we present a contrast that unbelievers sit up and pay attention to.
3. Revive lovingly – “hands that shed innocent blood”
As we mentioned earlier, Jesus warned against speaking to others in such a way as to drain away their life. Have you ever had words spoken to you that have that effect on you? Of course you have!
Our world is filled with people whose words take life away from others. Instead, God wants His people to be the kind whose words restore life to others.
4. Respond selflessly – “a heart that devises wicked schemes”
What is described here is a person who intentionally thinks and carries out a plan for how they might advance their own agenda and benefit themselves. This makes God mad. What makes God glad, is when we intentionally think of ways to benefit others.
When was the last time you thought of something you might say to benefit someone else? When was the last time you said thank you to someone else, or complimented someone else, or expressed appreciation to someone else. The fact is that we don’t often do this naturally, because we are naturally selfish. We only do these things because we intend to do them.
As we daily ask the Lord to plan our lives, we should recognize that His plan will always involve our saying something to build others up. As the old hymn says, “Others, Lord, yes others, Let this my motto be, Help me to live for others, That I may live like thee.”
5. React kindly – “Feet that are quick to rush into evil”
I like the saying that we should counter “random acts of violence” with “random acts of kindness.” Indeed, this is something that makes God glad. “You must be kind to each other. Think of the other person.” - Ephesians 4:32 (NLV)
We should be quick to believe the best of others rather than believe the worst about them; we should be quick to think the best of others rather than think the worst about them; and we should be quick to say kind things about or to others rather than to say unkind things about them or to them. As James tells us, “My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.” - James 1:19 (CEV)
(JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS by Jan Nigro)
I said Hi as you passed me by
And you didn’t even smile so I’m sure the reason why,
Is that you must be mad at me!
I saw Bert whispering to Curt
And I bet they where whispering about my shirt,
Hey, tell me what else it could be!
Watch out, or you will be
Jumping, jumping, jumping to conclusions,
Jumping to conclusions!
Believing in illusions, adding more confu¬sion,
That is what you’re doing
When you’re jumping to conclusions.
Well you can make a wild mess, if you take a wild guess.
You can cause a lot of friction if you believe in fiction.
If you swear by your first impression,
You may take a leap of faith in the wrong direction!
Watch out, or you will be jumping to conclusions!
God is glad when we react kindly rather than react rashly!
6. Reaffirm positively – “a false witness that pours out lies”
While “a lying tongue” refers to dishonesty about ourselves, “a false wit¬ness” refers to what I say about others people, either to them or to some¬one else. This makes God mad.
What makes God glad, however, is when we seek to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to others concerning how God sees them and en¬courage them to experience the best He has in mind for them.
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” - Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
In his book The Youth Builder, Jim Burns talks about the importance of building up young people with affirmation and trust. What he says about criticism applies to every age group: For every critical comment we receive, it takes nine affirming comments to even out the negative effect in our life. Most people receive more critical comments a day than encouraging ones. You can have a very positive, life transforming effect when you develop a ministry of affirmation.
7. Restore unity – “a man who stirs up dissension among brothers”
If stirring up dissension makes God mad, then restoring unity makes God glad. Jesus made it clear that we are either contributing to dissension or to unity. He said, “he who does not gather with Me scatters.” - Matthew 12:30 (NASB). Either we are a gatherer (a promoter of unity) or a scatterer (a promoter of dissension).
Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between a spotlight and a laser beam? How can a medium-powered laser burn through steel in a matter of seconds, while the most powerful spotlight can only make it warm? Both may have the same electrical power requirements. The difference is unity.
A laser can be simply described as a medium of excited molecules with mirrors at each end. Some of the excited molecules naturally decay into a less excited state. In the decay process they release a photon, a particle of light. It is here that the unique process of the laser begins.
The photon moves along and "tickles" another molecule, inviting another photon to join him on his journey. Then these two photons "tickle" two more molecules and invite two more photons to join the parade.
Soon there is a huge army of photons marching in step with each other. It is this unity that gives the laser its power.
A spotlight may have just as many photons, but each is going its own independent way, occasionally interfering with other photons. As a result, much of its power is wasted and cannot be focused to do any useful work.
However, the laser, because of its unity, is like an army marching in tight formation and is able to focus all its power on its objective.
That’s what God wants His church to be. A unified army, made up of “photons,” who are encouraging the other “photons” to join them in their march toward the goal of impacting our world for Jesus Christ.
Each of us as members of this church needs to commit ourselves to being promoters and restorers of unity.
You say, “How can I do that?”
Well, interestingly enough, if I am seeking to make God glad by making sure that my words reveal humility, relate honestly, revive lovingly, respond selflessly, react kindly, and reaffirm positively; then I will be used by God to promote unity within my church.
When God’s people work together in unity, there is spiritual power that brings about positive life change in their midst and results in new members being added to God’s family; and that makes God glad!