It’s there. We all know it’s there. But nobody wants to really be honest about it.
It’s a big problem. Real big. And yet Jesus thoroughly addressed the issue.
It’s one of those things that we readily recognize and yet find difficult to define.
We might call it a spirit of contempt.
Webster’s Online Dictionary defines contempt as: “the act of despising; the state of mind of one who despises”.
In principle we know that not everybody will contribute to our joy. In reality our human tendency is to despise those who offend us, or fall short of our standards.
The Greek orator Demosthenes once said, “Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”
Most of us want to believe we are naturally loving. However, we feel that contempt is justified when others act in ways that are beneath us and unworthy of our love.
An attitude of contempt carries the underlying assumption of personal superiority. “Did you see that moron? He needs to learn how to drive [like I do]!”
Rather than admit our cold-heartedness and seek the warmth of God’s compassion, we practice a few mental gymnastics to justify our position. The problem can’t be our own lack of love, so it must obviously be the offending party—that person who is too something or other.
Jesus and contempt are two words that never blend. I can’t picture Jesus ever despising anybody. Not only did He teach us to thoroughly forgive our enemies, He backed it up by extending forgiveness to those who nailed Him to that horrible wooden cross.
This unconditional God-love does not come naturally for us. In fact, in many ways it presents a standard that we simply can’t ever seem to meet. That pink elephant as been around for so long that we’ve all come to accept it as a part of the scenery–somewhat like grandpa’s old car that’s been in the back field for 40 years.
From my vantage point I see two primary keys to becoming channels of God’s unconditional love. The first is to know and experience His love for us as individuals. There’s been a lot said in this regard and so I won’t spend much time on the topic.
The other key is to be so filled with His love, strength and presence, that God-type love becomes a part of who we are. We can’t just ask old pinky to leave–he will only be permanently banished as he is displaced by something greater.
Next week we will begin a new series entitled, “Soaring to New Heights.” We all know that there is far more to the Christian life than many of us are experiencing and the time for change is long overdue. Without question you will want to stay tuned as we seek to break away from old patterns and launch more fully into the new life of Christ.