INTRO - A little snail that lived by the ocean noticed with envy the big and beautiful shell in which the lobster lived. "Oh! How this little shell of mine pinches," whined the little snail. "What a grand palace the lobster carries on his back! I wish I lived in his place. Oh! Wouldn't my friends admire me in that shell! Think of a snail living in a mansion like that!" In time a wonderful thing occurred. The watching, envious snail beheld the lobster work right out of his shell to grow up in another, larger one. When the empty, metallic green shell of the lobster lay neglected on the beach, the snail said, "Now I shall have my wish. Hurrah! The little snail is going to live in a lobster shell!" In his pride he cried out to the birds overhead, "Ah, the little snail is going to live in a lobster shell." He cried to the cattle in the field, "Oh, oh! Now you shall see. The little snail is going to live in a palace." So the birds and the cattle in the field were curious and they watched the little snail. The snail pulled himself loose from his own little shell, and cried, "Well, I'm glad to say I'm through with you. Goodbye. You've pinched me and pressed me for the last time. I am going to live in the grand lobster shell." The birds and the animals saw the little snail proudly crawl into the towering lobster shell and he huffed and puffed and blew and gasped in an effort to make himself fit. But with all his efforts he felt very small inside the grand lobster shell. He grew tired, too. That night he died because the great empty shell was so cold. A wise old crow then said, "You see! That's what comes of envy. What you have is enough. Be yourself and save yourself from a lot of trouble. How much better to be a little snail in a comfortable shell than to be a little snail in a big shell and freeze to death!" (Bible Illustrations) According to Oxford, envy is defined as a discontented or resentful longing aroused by another's possessions, qualities, or luck. Many times in the Bible envy and jealousy are interchanged.
I. STORIES OF ENVY A. Philistines of Isaac’s Flocks - Gn 26:14 B. Joseph’s Brothers of His Dreams & Treatment - Gn 37:11 C. Korah of Moses’ Position - Nm 16:3 / Ps 106:13 D. Satraps of Daniel’s Position - Dn 6:3-4 E. Chief Priest of Jesus’ Results - Mk 5:10
II. DANGERS OF ENVY A. Envy is Comparable to Sheol - Ss 8:6 Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD. B. Envy Is Of The Flesh - 1 Co 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? C. Envy Rots Away At Us - Pv 14:30b But passion is rottenness to the bones. D. Envy Drives People Away - Pv 27:4 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy? E. Envy Enrages - Pv 6:34 For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance. F. Envy Brings Disorder And Evil - Jm 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. G. Envy Kills - Jb 5:2 For anger slays the foolish man, And jealousy kills the simple.
CONCL - Envy demonstrates a lack of trust in God. We are not to set our desires on anything that belongs to someone else. Not only can such desires make us miserable, they can also lead us to many other sins. Envying others is a useless exercise because God is able to provide everything we really need, even if he does not always give us everything we want. - 1 Tm 6:7-8 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
INTRO -Sloths are very slow in their movements, when undisturbed. Reaching a tree limb, the creature advanced along it, body hanging underneath, suspended by the long claws of all four feet. So slowly did it take each step, so deliberately did it place each set of claws over the limb, that one would have thought it was stalking something rather than traveling. Because of their legendary slowness, writers have indulged in exaggerations: before they could come down from one tree and climb another, they were skin and bones, though they were fat when they started; and it took eight or nine minutes for them to move one leg forward three inches; and even in action, the second hand of watch often covers more distance! (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations) According to the Oxford dictionary, slothfulness is: reluctance to work or make an effort; or just plain laziness. This is the third of the seven deadly sins and the focus for today.
I. STORIES OF SLOTHFULNESS A. The One Talent Man - Mt 25 - from Jesus parable comes a lesson on laziness B. The Athenians - Ac 17:21 at Mars hill Paul found these men. C. Some Thessalonians - 2 Th 3:11- Instead of working the busybodied D. The Unmarried Widows - 1 Tm 5:13 - Became busybodies.
II. DANGERS OF SLOTHFULNESS A. Slothfulness Leads To Poverty 1. Pv 10:4a Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, 2. Pv 20:4 The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing. 3. Pv 20:13a Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; B. Slothfulness Leads To Deterioration 1. Pv 24:30-31 I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. 2. Ec 10:18 Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks. C. Slothfulness leads to hunger 1. Pv 19:15 Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger. 2. Pv 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat. D. Slothfulness Creates Busybodies - 2 Th3:10-11 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. E. Slothfulness Is No Good For All 1. Pv 10:26 Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, So is the lazy one to those who send him. 2. Pv 15:19 The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, But the path of the upright is a highway. 3. Pv 18:9 He also who is slack in his work Is brother to him who destroys.
CONCL. - Pv 6:6-8 Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.
INTRO - America is becoming a nation of angry, short-tempered people. From road rage to airplane rage, grocery store rage, and violence at youth sports events, the media has been reporting these emotional outbursts with unprecedented frequency. More than three-fourths of Americans believe angry behavior has increased in places like airports and highways, according to a recent USA Today CNN/Gallup Poll C. Leslie Charles, author of Why Is Everyone So Cranky? writes: I'm describing a fuming, unrelenting, sense of anger, hostility, and alienation that simmers for months, even years, without relief. Eventually, all it takes is a triggering incident, usually minor, for the hostile person to go ballistic.James Garbarino, human development professor at Cornell University, reports a major social shift: There is a general breakdown of social conventions, of manners, of social controls. This gives a validation, a permission, to be aggressive. (Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion) Oxford defines anger as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Webster adds that it is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance. As one of the seven deadly sins, I would question if it belongs for if anger is an actual sin than Jesus himself was a sinner. I don’t believe that anger in and of itself is sin but uncontrolled can be deadly.
I. STORIES OF ANGER A. Cain - Directed towards his brother (Gn 4:1-8) B. Saul - Directed towards his son (1 Sm 20:30-33) C. Asa - Directed towards a prophet (2 Ch 16:1-10 D. Jonah - Directed toward God (Jo 3:10-4:8) E. Uzziah - Directed toward a priest (2 Ch 26:16-21)
II. DANGERS OF ANGER - It’s what it leads you to do A. ANGER’S CHARACTER 1. Anger makes one weak - Pv 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. 2. Anger makes one foolish a. Pv 14:17a A quick-tempered man acts foolishly b. Ec 7:9 Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools. c. Anger makes one sad - Gn 4:6-7 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." B. ANGER’S DESTRUCTIVE FORCE 1. Anger leads to unrighteousness - Jm 1:20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God 2. Anger stirs up strife - Pv 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. 3. Anger leads to evil - Ps 37:8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing
CONCL - Ep 4:26-27 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
INTRO - In a certain pond on one of the farms in the East were two ducks and frog. Now these neighbors were the best of friends; all day long they used to play together. But as the hot summer days came, the pond began to dry up and soon there was such a little bit of water that they all realized that they would have to move. Now the ducks could easily fly to another place, but what about their friend the frog? Finally it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck, and then the frog would hang onto the stick with his mouth and they would fly him to another pond. And so they did. As they were flying, a farmer out in his field looked up and saw them and said, "Well, isn't that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it!" The frog said, "I did..." (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations) It could be called a group of lions but it could be better defined as the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself. (Oxford) or an unreasonable and excessive vie of one’s self-esteem (Webster) It is when one thinks higher than self than one should. What is it? It is Pride the first of what was once classified as the Seven Deadly Sins by Pope Gregory the Great.
I. STORIES OF PRIDE A. Pharaoh - Unable to let the Israelites go. (Ex 4-14) B. Naaman - Unwilling to dip in the Jordan river (2 Kg 5) C. Hezekiah - Showing off all his riches (2 Kg 20) D. Haman - Thinking all should bow to him. (Es 3-7) E. Nebuchadnezzar - Thought he did it himself (Dn 4)
II. DANGERS OF PRIDE A. PRIDE AND GOD - Unhealthy pride is a form of self deification. (Making ones self out to be god.) 1. 1 Pt 5:5B for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. - Pride is in opposition to God 2. Pv 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. a. Pride is hated by God b. Pride will be punished by God B. PRIDE AND SELF 1. Pv 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling a. Pride brings destruction b. Pride causes stumbling c. Pride leads to a many sinful attitudes and actions 2. Pv 29:23 A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor. - Pride leads to humiliation 3. Pv 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom - Pride brings dishonor on one’s self C. PRIDE AND ALIENATION 1. Psalms 10:4 The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, "There is no God." - Pride lures us into living independently of God. The proud person depends on self rather than on God. 2. Mt 13:58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. - Pride undermines our faith. 3. Ep 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, a. Pride distorts our view of our self and others. Jews and Gentiles alike could be guilty of spiritual pride—Jews for thinking their faith and traditions elevated them above everyone else, Gentiles for trusting in their achievements, power, or position. Spiritual pride blinds us to our own faults and magnifies the faults of others. b. When one makes mistakes - and we all do - the bragger is often left to his own.
CONCL - Pp 2:3-8 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. - Pride, something we can live without.
Some time back I put together a series of messages on the seven deadly sins and introduced each one with a puppet play. Over the next sevral weeks I'll post the puppet story and the message outline together. Hope you enjoy them.
INTRO - How many of us have ever needed forgiveness? Unless we are perfect 100%, and the Bible reminds us that we are not, we are going to need forgiveness from those around us and from God. Since we all need forgiveness, the Bible has something to say about it, Jesus has something to say about it, in fact, He made asking for forgiveness a part of His model prayer. In Mt 18:21 Peter asks Jesus about forgiving someone else and Jesus tells us a story. - Mt 18:21-35 - When Jesus was teaching us the model prayer, He not only taught us to ask for forgiveness but to ask for it in a way that puts our need to forgive on the front burner. Mt 6:12 reads And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. But, how many of us are ready to pray for forgiveness the way Jesus taught, how many of us are ready to pray forgive me as I forgive?
I. REDEFINING FORGIVENESS - Two little boys had quarreled. But the next morning Johnny took his cap and headed for Bobby's house again. Surprised, an older member of the family said teasingly, "What! Going to play with him again? I thought you quarreled only last evening and were never going to have anything more to do with each other. Funny memory you have." Johnny looked a little sheepish, dug his toe into the carpet for a moment, then flashed a satisfied smile as he hurried away. "Oh! Bobby and me's good forgetters!" (Bible Illustrations) - What does forgiveness mean to you? The Oxford dictionary defines “forgive” in the following manner: 1) to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense or mistake. 2) excuse. I somehow believe that there is mor to forgiving than that when Christ said to pray And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors A. A Foreign Idea - F. W. Robertson writing on 1 Cor. 4:12 says Forgiveness was not a pagan virtue. The large-souled man might disregard offenses in cases where he considered them beneath his notice, but to forgive was weak-spirited. Even in the O. T., man's forgiveness of his fellow-man is infrequently mentioned. In those that are mentioned, each time the one asking forgiveness is in a position of subserviency, and is petitioning for that to which he has no just right. Unless it’s ourselves needing the forgiveness we often focus on the opposites - bitterness, hatred, anger, resentment, revenge, etc ... instead. B. What Of These Debts - The word debts is here used figuratively. It does not mean literally that we are debtors to God, but that our sins have a resemblance to debts. Debtors are those who are bound to others for some claim in commercial transactions; for something which we have had, and for which we are bound to pay according to contract. Literally, there can be no such transaction between God and us. It must be used figuratively. We have not met the claims of law; we have violated its obligations; we are exposed to its penalty; we are guilty; and God only can forgive, in the same way, as none but a creditor can forgive a debtor. Debts here, therefore, mean sins, or offences against God - offences which none but God can forgive.
II. REQUIRING FORGIVENESS - God has given man certain responsibilities, certain things to do and not to do. Every man has failed at some point to do what he should. Certainly no man would ever claim he has fulfilled his duty perfectly, without any failure, without any shortcoming. Sin is universal. Everyone fails in his duty at some point to some degree. Everyone needs to pray "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." for without forgiveness we’re lost. A. We Are To Ask - One of our duties to God is to ask forgiveness when we fail to do His will. 1. In the O.T. We read Is 55:6-7 2. In the N.T. We read 1 Jn 1:9 B. We Fail To Ask - The Number one reason for praying this prayer is that we are "debtors", that is, sinners. Many people who repeat this prayer do not see themselves as sinners. C. We Need To Ask - Sin creates barriers, it separates us from God, and from each other. Is 59:2, 1. Ep 1:7 2. Col 2:13-14
III. RECEIVING FORGIVENESS - How badly do we want forgiveness? Many people have the same concept of God as the German poet Heinrich Heine. Heine was on his death bed and his priest told him that God could forgive his sins to which the poet responded "Of course God will forgive me; that’s His job." Is it God’s job to up and forgive? What Jesus taught about forgiveness while teaching us to pray doesn’t agree with Heinrich. A. The If / Than Statement. - Robert Louis Stevenson in his Picturesque Notes of Edinburgh tells the story of two unmarried sisters who shared a single room. As people are apt to do who live in close quarters, the sisters had a falling out, "on some point of controversial divinity." In other words, they disagreed over some aspect of theology. The controversy was so bitter that they never spoke to one another again! Yet, possibly because of a lack of means or because of the innate Scottish fear of scandal, they continued to live together in the single room. They drew a chalk line across the floor to separate their two domains. It divided the doorway and the fireplace, so that each could go in and out and do her cooking without stepping into the territory of the other. For years they coexisted in hateful silence. Their meals, their baths, their family visitors were continually exposed to the other's unfriendly silence. And at night, each went to bed listening to the heavy breathing of her enemy. Thus the two sisters (ostensibly daughters of the church!) continued the rest of their miserable lives. Jesus said "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors"? There is no way they could truly pray those words and remain bitter and unforgiving! 1. St. Augustine called this request "the terrible petition" because he realized that if we pray "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" with an unforgiving heart, we are actually asking God not to forgive us, for "debts" here really means "sins." When you get to this part in the Model prayer you are in effect saying, "Lord if there is someone whom I haven’t forgiven then don’t forgive me." Ouch! Forgiveness is tough. Charles Spurgeon stated, "Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord's Prayer." 2. You see, forgiveness is conditional. We have sinned against God, and others have sinned against us. If we want God to forgive us, we must forgive those who have sinned against us. How can we expect God to forgive us, if we do not forgive those who have sinned against us? We can expect no better treatment than we give. This one concept was so important that Christ not only mentioned it in the model prayer he went back to comment on it and literally uses three time more words to define what he said then he used to say it. Mt 6:14-15 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. While it may be easy to ask for forgiveness, it is much harder give forgiveness. - I forgive because I'm not bigger than God, but I'll never forget. - They won't get a dime from my will. - If they come within 500 feet, I'm calling the cops. Too often today we are shown that the only way to bring about closure is to seek revenge, retaliation. But that doesn’t bring about closure. A Chinese proverb says "Before starting down the road to revenge dig two graves" You don’t just forgive for the other person you need to forgive for yourself. B. Dishing It Out - In 1994 a former pre-med student, Edward Summers, hijacked two young men in a jeep near a mall in Nyack, New York. He forced them out of the vehicle, had them lay down in the snow, and shot them both in the back of the head. Michael Falcone died instantly. Scott Nappi survived to point out the attacker in court. Summers was sentenced to 70 years to life in prison. Scott Nappi says his life has been changed irreparably. Friends and family avoid him. He told the reporter he wanted to know about his attacker's fate in prison. "Has he been threatened? Has he been beaten up yet? "I want to know if he's suffering yet. "That's what I'd really like. "I don't want him to go there and not be threatened. "He's paying for what he did, but I want him to pay even more." The reporter asked Nappi, "Can you see a time when you would ever forgive him?" "No, never. Never. Never, never." - While Jesus was hanging on the cross, after being unjustly tried convicted and flogged He said just the opposite Lk 23:34 "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." 1. Joseph is another model of genuine forgiveness. Joseph was rejected, kidnapped, enslaved, and imprisoned. Although his brothers had been unfaithful to him, he graciously forgave them and shared his prosperity. Joseph demonstrated how God forgives us and showers us with goodness even though we have sinned against him. - Not only is our forgiveness of other necessary it’s also our duty. a. Ep 4:32 b. Co 3:12-13 2. Mamie Mobley's only son was visiting relatives and friends in Mississippi one summer in 1956. Outside a general store, with boys playing games on the front porch, eleven-year-old Emmett decided to go into the store and buy some bubble gum and some candy. As Emmett and some other boys came out of the store someone asked Emmett, "How'd you like the lady in the store?" Emmett whistled his approval. Someone nearby heard his whistle and did not like an African-American whistling at a Caucasian woman. It was 2:30 a.m. the next Sunday when two men stormed into the house where Emmett was staying and took him at gun point. Three days later they discovered his badly beaten body. Years after the tragedy she was asked, "Don't you harbor any bitterness toward the two men?" Mamie's reply reveals the depth of her faith: "From the very beginning that's the question that has always been raised. What they had done was not for me to punish and it was not for me to go around hugging hate to myself, because hate would destroy me. It wouldn't hurt them. I did not wish them dead. I did not wish them in jail. If I had to, I could take their four little children and I could raise those children as if they were my own and I could have loved them." I believe the Lord meant what he said, and [I] try to live according to the way I've been taught." Through this terrible ordeal she can honestly say, "I haven't spent one night hating those people." - Real forgiveness does not keep track of offenses. The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them - but only three times. Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the "perfect" number) was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered, "Seventy times seven," meaning that we shouldn't even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.
CONCL. - In a recent article on the Daily Motivator by Ralph Marston the value of forgiveness was talked about. Here’s what the article had to say. “Forgiveness can indeed be difficult. Yet in the long run, it is far easier to forgive than to live with resentment or continuing retribution. Through forgiveness, you can move away from the pains of the past. With forgiveness, you can achieve real freedom. There are always opportunities to benefit from the value of forgiveness. You can forgive yourself, you can forgive others, and you can forgive even when you don't know exactly who to forgive. Because forgiveness is not about who is to blame or who is at fault. Forgiveness is mostly about letting go, completely and permanently, within yourself. Forgiveness is recognizing the reality that what has happened has happened, and that there's no point in allowing it to dominate your life. Forgiveness refreshingly clears the slate and enables you to move positively forward. Carrying around a load of resentment can be an enormous and unnecessary burden. Forgive early and often, and you'll considerably lighten your load. - While forgiveness definitely has positive results, it has to be given away before the benefits can be felt and enjoyed especially, the forgiveness that will come form God in return. So, are you ready to pray Forgive me as I forgive?