As usual with sermon writing, the first person you preach to is yourself. It’s hard to circumvent looking at the inner life when the scriptural text seems to be boring holes into your heart. Time to excavate. Time to dig a little deeper and reveal the things within that I would rather leave buried.
The interesting thing is that the passage I’ve been given doesn’t directly speak to what I feel/think is what God is wanting to say to His people. And given that I’ll be speaking to a bunch of people that I don’t know, the doubts certainly has surfaced. Is this really what You want me to address? Or is this more of Your word to me? Or maybe it’s both?
The passage is Matthew 7:1-12, and I feel lead to speak on envy. I don’t think “envy” is completely out of context here even though it’s not directly mentioned. The instruction to “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” follows directly on how to relate to material possessions, and is followed by the imperatives to ask, seek, and knock, in other words, to pray to a generous God. What does judging someone have to do with material provision, unless it’s possibly about critiquing another for the gifts (be it material or spiritual) that they’ve been given? I guess I’m suggesting that envy may be the context of the passage…. and it’s definitely part of the context of the society we’re living in.
I always thought “evil eye” was reference to a general, malicious disposition one would have towards another. But it also refers to jealousy. St. Basil aptly describes envy as “the pain that arises from another’s good fortune.”
Me, envious? Of whom? Of what? Of those who I think possess an imagined ideal… a so-called idyllic life: a husband, two kids and house with a porch, over-looking a grassy field and flower garden. I actually don’t know anyone who currently has this.. but I can be envious of those who I think are on their way of getting there. Of course, that’s just it.. it’s still about what I perceive is good. What I see.
Time to take that plank out.
Envy is a form of judgement… I’m judging God for what He gives and to whom He gives. I’m not above admitting that I question God a fair bit. But rarely would I (publicly) confess to judging and accusing Him of unfairness.
God, if you’re so good at giving good gifts to your children, you have a funny way of showing it sometimes. I know we’re undeserving, and often unappreciative, but please have mercy. Remember your promises when we mess up and hurt each other. Remember that we’re often just grappling with the cards that have been dealt to us… and some of us fail at just holding them. Forgive me for thinking that I can make better decisions than you; forgive me for doubting your goodness… especially to me.