Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Emotion vs. the Message

Boasting has three aspects, but all are focused on one person and that person has one attitude: ! You express excessive pride in yourself, 2) You express too much pride in something that you do, or 3) You express to much pride in who you know.  It's obvious that boasting is about YOU and it's about PRIDE. The excessive pride is in you. Is it always wrong to boast? It depends on of what you boast:
2 Corinthians 7:14 "For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth."
Paul boasted in what the Lord has done through Titus. Titus comforted others by speaking truth about Jesus. Here we have Paul boasting, but it doesn't fit two of the three definitions. Paul was referring to another, not himself and he had pride, not in himself, but in Titus. He was speaking of Titus's accomplishments, not his own, but the root of his pride was in truth. The truth was about Jesus and his grace!

That leaves one aspect of boasting: Paul was expressing pride in who he knows!  Paul's proud that he is a cohort of Titus, but not because he's a friend of Titus, but because Titus is a friend of Jesus. Hence, Paul's boasting isn't typical boasting, it's rightfully boasting and his pride lies in the one to whom he worships: Jesus and his truth! His pride was not in himself, but in Titus for preaching truth and in Jesus for being truth. Instead of being "all about Paul", Paul was boasting all about Jesus and his representative. Boasting of another, however, must be tempered in truth. It's not Titus who is so great, but the Spirit who leads Titus.

Someone may be confused yet about boasting. The difference between "boasting" and "bragging" is subtle. "Bragging" is an arrogant attitude, especially in making a statement which includes a boast. Paul wasn't being arrogant! His attitude was of respect for another and Jesus. It wasn't "all about Paul"! It could have been, but it wasn't. If it was "all about Paul" then this passage applies:
Psalm 10:3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.
What do men desire? To have more prestige and power than what they have; or f they are already prestigious, to make it known to others. Paul's was different:
 Psalm 34:2 "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad."
So then, here are the two choices: 1) boasting to uplift oneself or 2) boasting to uplift the Lord.  In my blog my intent is to "boast on the Lord". My attempt is to never build myself up, but focus on what the Lord has done for me and why I depend on him. I try to reveal truth even though it goes against my own pride. As a witness to that when I sometimes study a point of my belief searching scripture, I have to change. Pride pulls me toward protecting what I believe, but the Holy Spirit pulls me toward truth. I actually don't want the reader to believe a lie, even my prideful lie, but to get it right from God in spite of me. That's what I'm called to do and I try to avoid having selfish motives. I'm not always successful, but your job is to help me there!

Boasting does not require speaking or writing. I can boast inside without saying a word!  If my thoughts go along this route "Wow! I did a good job writing this and my insight is remarkable!", then I'm boasting to myself. Although I do attempt at doing well and being led by the Holy Spirit, I credit what little skill I have to God and certainly the message. My skill is by God's grace and is not of myself and my insight is what the Holy Spirit reveals to me. Sometimes ME steps in when I'm deceived by another inner voice called pride, and I do wrong by boasting in my thoughts. That too is wrong! My thoughts must be pure because my mouth is a mere messenger. My thoughts are from my mind and are the representative of where my hearts lies; the condition of my soul. Therefore, it is imperative for me to write in humbleness and meekness, but to recognize those characteristics in myself is pride!

Being prideful goes back to the question: Am I uplifting the Lord or me?

My attitude has much to do with boasting. Am I arrogant? Do I have pride in my own presentation? When I teach am I "me" focused or God focused? I can speak on God all day long, but if the focus is on my own presentation, it's not of God. Yes, we all have emotions, but we're to have self-control as well. If I'm at a ballgame my personality is not to scream and shout. I'm still joyful inside because the score pleased me, but if I shout and scream, the focus is more on me than the game!

Likewise, if I'm teaching, it's good to be enthused, but there are degrees of enthusiasm. If I'm abrasive in  my enthusiasm without regard to the audience around me my attitude is "Look at me! See how excited I am. Be like me!" The emotion must never overpower the message! I tend to think as I'm speaking, how would Jesus present this? Jesus was never so zealous that he overpowered the message, but was zealous enough to get the message across! The emotion and message must match and the message must be received more than the emotion. Excessive emotion is boasting. Although the focus is intended to be on the Lord, the focus by default is on the speaker.

An example of rightful attention was at the temple:
John 2:14 "And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."
This is the most emotional behavior arguably which Jesus showed. He did cry for others and he did agonize over his upcoming death, but this was emotion with a BANG. He was excited and likely loud! He made a point and then it was over. His normal manner was low-key and the message Jesus presented was on God's will. He presented those messages in an even keel, at least as far as we know.

As I type I use capital letters to "scream" a point. However, if I used capital letters in all my text, I'm screaming all the message and the impact of what is key is lost. Therefore emotion is reserved for appropriate places. I'm not going to capitalize all  my words and when I speak, I'm not going to capitalize all my statements.

Let's analyze this. If my methods are emotional and loud those grounded accept it as a fault, but may recognize that my fault is zeal for the Lord. However, let's say that a person unfamiliar with the Lord or from a more formal church comes in and hears me, what emotion will that person have? I assure you that they'll miss the message because I've been there and so have others I know. Overzealous behavior puts the novice Christian ill at ease. Rather than receiving the message the message scares them because all they hear is the emotion!

In my case I just don't feel the spirit when I miss the message. I see emotion! It may be  sincere emotion, but it may be subtle boasting "See how enthused I am! Be like me!".  There is a place for loud preaching and teaching. It would be silliness to assume that when Jesus spoke to the 5000 that he didn't speak loud enough for all to hear. He didn't have sound systems to distribute the message as we do. However, today we're not usually speaking to 5000 and if we are, we have sound systems. It's unnecessary to bellow every word. One can speak in a loud monotone as well as a low-key monotone, so one can be low-key, but effective.

The most sincere people that I've ever listened too have been low-key, but emphasize the joy and happiness they have when the Spirit leads them. Those who speak loudly and overpower a message aren't necessarily boasting, but some are. Only they know. It may be that they are copying what they were taught or have a misunderstanding as to what is effective. Some are even schooled to show how righteous they are by how excited they are. I pray about how I present my message and still have trouble. My hope is that others do that too . If the alternatives are prayed over and if God leads them that way, it's me that's wrong and they should do as the Spirit leads.

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