This weekend we passed out our “Get Over Yourself” scratch-off cards. The vibe was electric. It was a real scratch-off with varieties of different outward-focused ideas to serve others. Everyone took one…and had to do whatever it said. Already people were having a blast.
One woman told us she just laughed when she scratched off hers. It read: “Free ice cream! Give it away.” At the outwardfocusedlife.com website were further instructions: “It might be easiest if you buy some gift cards from the local ice cream parlor, but giving away free ice cream in this heat is as easy as giving away free ice cream in this heat.” Turns out she actually owns a popular soft-serve ice cream stand and it was their last day of the season to be open. Believe it or not, she gave everyone a free ice-cream—all day—and taped the card on the front of the ordering window. Wow.
Another person told me after one of the celebrations that she knew exactly what her card would say before she scratched it off. She even told the people sitting around her. They asked, “How do you know?” She laughed and said someone had given her a $25 Shell gas card this past week. When she tried to use it, every Shell station she pulled into was closed. She thought, “Hmm. God, am I supposed to give this away?” So she knew her card was something about gas. She scratched it off and it read: “Gas Card Giveaway.” She pulled her card out of her purse and showed me. I, the Great Man of Faith, said, “No way!”
Wow. Prophetic scratch-off cards. Now we’re cooking with propane.
This weekend in The Outward Focused Life series I talked about attitude (“Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:5 New Living Translation). There was another aspect that I didn’t have time to cover; it’s an area that I totally suck at. When we understand we’ve been sent to serve God and others, we begin to change the way we talk. A servant—or more correctly, a slave—has nothing to prove. And so Paul writes: “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” (Philippians 2:14 New International Version).
A servant is free from the need to “one-up” someone, to prove something, to blow his own horn, to be right, to outclass anyone. They already know who they are: a servant to the Creator of the universe. You can’t get a better gig than that.
Here’s my “Mr. Obvious” observation: grumbling and complaining is rampant in the Church. Heck, it’s rampant in me. James said that our tongue is like the tiny rudder on a huge ship—and sets the direction for our whole life. Our words are way more critical than we imagine. Proverbs 18:21 says: “Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose” (Message Bible). Talk about “small things”.
I regularly forget that there’s a connection between my attitude, my words and my faith. A negative attitude can reveal a lack of faith…and a lack of faith can be exposed by our words. The Israelites were outed by their own words. It happened not long after the escape from Egypt. It reads in the Psalms: “The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn't believe his promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord.” Psalm 106:24-25 (New Living Translation). A whole generation died out without receiving the promise. Scary.
What do you find yourself grumbling about?—Finances? A relationship? Your job? It may very well be an indicator of a lack of faith, a refusal to believe God’s “promise to care” for you. And so we grumble in our tents. Seems to me that’s a bit dangerous. Some of us are probably forfeiting “the pleasant land” of God’s peace and rest because of our propensity to complain and focus on the negative.
This isn’t a matter of lying about how you feel or walking around in some state of denial. It’s not about maintaining a legalistic “positive confession.” I’ve been in that tribe; it will wear you out.
But sooner or later, as Jesus put it, “Your words show what is in your hearts.” Matthew 12:34 (Contemporary English Version).