Christian Schadenfreude? (Or why we Christians shouldn’t gloat)

Proverbs 24:17-18 is clear. “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.”

Our culture loves to see celebrities or athletes or politicians we don’t care for fall and stumble morally. When they do, we celebrate and revel in their failure. This proverb reminds us that that’s not what the wise or righteous do. Rather than gloat, we should check our pride and learn the lessons being taught by their failure rather than excited and joyous for their sin.

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Could I Forgive Someone Who _____?

Before we can forgive, we have to answer Jesus’ call to discipleship. The question isn’t “Could I forgive someone who _________?” The question is can I answer the call to discipleship?

We forgive not because we want to, or because it improves our lives, or because we’re sick of living with the after effects of not doing so; we forgive because that’s what disciples do. Disciples obey Jesus, and Jesus teaches us to forgive other people.

So as difficult as it might be, we have to learn to pray, “Jesus, I hate this person. Teach me how to love and forgive him.”

A Misunderstanding about the Bible and Prayer

When we read the Bible, we’re looking for God. When we pray, we’re listening to God.

Bible study isn’t about discovering a user’s manual for life but about finding and understanding God Himself. Similarly, prayer isn’t a vending machine or a consultation. When we engage with the Bible and prayer we bring our lives to God to receive Him.

When we read the Bible and pray, we’re also looking to see and understand God’s work, God’s life, and God’s action in this world. Therefore, we ask God in prayer, “What have You done and what are You doing?”

Seek Second the Kingdom of God?

Jesus said,

Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Revolutionary statement because we argue the opposite by the way we live. “I” must live.  I…  I… I… Always I. We don’t care that much about the Kingdom compared to how we fit into the world and what it can give us.

But here Jesus points out the utter folly of being so anxious about the world.

Our relationship to God should be the dominating concentration of our life and we need to be carefully careless about everything else in comparison.

A Wednesday Morning Prayer

Here my prayer, O Lord:

I want to lead others as You have led me.

I want to be a friend to others like You have been a friend to me.

I want to parent my children as You have parented me.

I want to love my wife as You have loved Your bride, the Church.

I want to bless others as You have blessed me.

I want to hear Your voice as You seek to get my attention.

I want to obey that voice as Jesus obeyed the voice of His Father.

I want my self-talk to reflect my identity in You, as You talk to me.

I want these things and more, and I ask it in Your name, Jesus, not for my glory but for Yours. Amen.

Passionately Love the Church in spite of its Imperfections

It is easy to get discouraged when you look at your church and see the gap between biblical fellowship and reality.

Yet we must passionately love the church in spite of its imperfections.  Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity; settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency.  Living with the tension is maturity.