January 17, 2010
If you were here last time, you recognize that song. That’s right, it’s Barry Manilow. This song is amazing because, like, few of the songs today, it has an introduction and conclusion. He’s getting ready to sing. Because he’s going to sing a song about magic. He’s going to ask the question, “Could it be magic?” Could it be magic? Ok, the song starts like that. Now, let’s fast-forward it right to the end, because, ok, it’s hitting a crescendo here. It’s not necessarily my favorite kind of music, but, see, he goes back to that piano with the conclusion. It’s powerful isn’t it? Very few songs these days are like that. They just sort of fade away. He does one more. Oh! Barry Manilow, Could it be Magic.
You might be going, “Why in the world did you play that song?” Well, I’m talking about the magic of manners. That’s why. We’re talking about manners here. The Bible has a lot to say about manners, etiquette, honor, respect. We’ve been learning that manners aren’t surfacy, they’re soul-ish. Manners should be specific; they should transcend every area of our life. Manners, the net effect of them, pretty much are about others. It’s putting others’ interests, others’ needs, others’ wants and desires above your own. And that’s a God thing.
The mood is rude around our culture. So many brutes engage in social thugary. If you don’t believe me, just go online. If you don’t believe me, just watch some football games or basketball games. If you don’t believe me, just check out what’s happening in the schools. If you don’t believe me, look at the family in today’s world. And next time, let me do a brief commercial, next time, I’m talking about respect in the family. Oh, you don’t want to miss that one. I’m telling you. I don’t care if the Cowboys kick off at 10:00am; you need to be here for that one.
The mood, though, is rude. And there’s definitely a lack of respect and manners. I truly believe, when you see a culture that has this rude ‘tude going on, you will see a culture that has moved away from God.
The closer we walk with him, the more we hear from him, the more we understand him, I believe the more we will have respect, honor and etiquette. The more we’ll wave the banner of good manners.
Now, I’m not talking about following Emily Post, I’m not talking about necessarily putting your napkin in your lap. I’m not talking about some of those superfluous things, although those things are fine and dandy. I’m talking about the real deal.
And over this study, we’ve been looking at some equations, some math, like this one. You want to do some math today? Ignorance, I’m a terrible speller, so, just bear with me.
Ignorance + Arrogance = Rude.
Ignorance. I’m totally ignorant of the things of God. I’m ignorant of what he’s done for me. I’m ignorant of the gospel. What’s the gospel? The gospel is God putting your interest and mine above his own. The gospel is all about grace. The gospel is all about forgiveness. The gospel is realizing, “Hey, God, you’re God and I’m not.” When I’m ignorant of that fact, what happens? I become arrogant. I become self-absorbed. I’m the beginning and the end of everything. It’s all about me.
Whenever you see a person, and especially a culture drift away from God, drift away from the knowledge of the gospel, you’ll have a culture drifting into arrogance and you’ll have a culture saying, “It’s about me, it’s about my rights, my situation. I’m going to step and you’re just like rungs on a ladder instead of people who matter. And I’m going to do what I want to do. I basically, sovereignly rule over this universe called me.” Arrogance.
And whenever you have ignorance of God plus arrogance, what happens? You have this rude ‘tude. You just go rude on people. On the freeway, at the office complex, in the classroom. On the athletic field. At church. In the parking lot. Whatever you do, you just have this rude ‘tude.
That’s the math that we see all around us. So, whenever you notice someone who is rude, who is committing acts of social and relational thugary, just say to yourself, “Hey, they’re ignorant, they’re arrogant, and they’re rude.” Before you go off on them, “They’re ignorant, they’re arrogant, and they’re rude.”
Because if you’re like me, when someone commits an act of social thugary, when some brute does that, they cut you off on the freeway, or they yell at you, or they’re going off on this person or that person, for me, I kind of go, “Wow, this person is living in jerk-hood. This person lives in mean-land. I guess I will too.” Are you that way?
When I see someone who’s rude, I’ll just go, “You know what, I’m going to be rude back. Because if I’m not rude back, or if I’m not rude, I won’t get anything done in life.” Are you that way? Yeah we are, yeah we are.
And I think a lot of us fall into this rude trap because there are so many choices out there these days, so many opportunities. There’s hundreds and hundreds of channels. You can go online and do this and that.
And speaking of technology, wow. The brilliance of technology, we all know about that. But the downside of technology is unbelievable. It’s a race to the bottom. If you want to see the human condition at its worse, go online. It’s crazy. You talking about rude? People just write emails and blogs and texts and do whatever and say whatever they want whenever they want about whomever, whenever, there’s that cyber distance between myself and the other person or persons I’m being rude towards. So, we need a rude awakening don’t we? We need to understand that we have this tendency towards rudeness. We need to understand that being a person of respect and honor is all about the details. It’s all about the details.
What are details? Details are specifics. What are details? Those small things. What are details? Details are micro-choices that lead to macro-revisions in our lives. It’s all about the details.
“The devil is in the details.” We’ve heard that before. The devil’s in the details. And that’s so true. The devil IS in the details. The reason he is into details is because he knows when we concentrate on the details, that we’ll discover our destiny. So he wants to keep you and me from the details. He wants us to kind of hydroplane and he wants us to skim over those details.
I would tell you though; small tweaks take you to the giant peaks. I would tell you, when you sweat the small stuff, that’s where brilliance comes in. Yeah, the devil is in the details. But also, I would tell you, the divine is in the details as well.
God is a God of the details. And we can look throughout
Scripture and see how God talks about those details. Are you ignorant today? Are you ignorant of the gospel of God? Do you find yourself being arrogant, saying, “What’s in it for me? It’s all about me. Me-me-me, my-my-my, I-I-I,” like your typical interview with a celebrity. You know an athlete. No wonder we’re so rude. We have a rude ‘tude because of this mentality. The math works. That’s how the math goes, that’s how it plays out.
Well, Jesus comes along and Jesus says something very radical in the gospel of Matthew. You might want to turn there. Matthew5:37. Jesus begins to talk about the details in life. And what Jesus said was really, really earth-shattering and counter-cultural. Because the Pharisees, and you can look up what they were about, the religious freaks. They used all kinds of tricks to side-step the truth. Are you ready for this? And they came really close to swearing by God’s name, but they wouldn’t. They would swear by Jerusalem, they would swear by their dog, their iguana. They would swear by their sports car. They would not swear though by God. And they would use all of these crazy gymnastic-like terms to swear. Well, Jesus cut to the chase.
Jesus says your conversation should be so honest. Your character should be so noble and true. Your manners should be so magnificent that, check it out, he said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’” “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
That’s what Jesus said. Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Everybody say yes. “Yes.” Everybody say no. “No.”
Think about it just for a second. All of us here. In the balcony, on the floor, at all our different environments. Everybody here is pretty much the sum total of yes’ and no’s. Have you ever thought about that? “Wow. I’m a sum total of yes’ and no’s.” Yes-yes-yes. No-no-no. No-no-no. Yes-yes-yes.
But in our world today, a lot of us live in between yes and no. We live in the land of maybe. Yes is the new maybe. “Maybe.” “I might.” “Possibly.” “Perhaps.” “Maybe.”
Yes, no, maybe so. Some of you singles are sitting next to someone who’s a yes, they should be a no. Some of you are sitting next to somebody who’s a maybe, should be a no. Wow, that’s convicting isn’t it? Yes, no, maybe so. What are you saying yes to? What are you saying no to? Because those small decisions, those, again I’ll say it, micro-decisions lead to macro-revisions in our lives when we understand the power of these little words: yes, no. Yes, a three-letter word, no-a two letter word. Yes, no. Yes, no. “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’” Jesus said, “and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Are you doing that? Or do you live in the land of maybe.
You live in the land of maybe, you’re going to live a life of relativism. You live in the land of maybe, you’re going to live a life of laziness. Because “maybe,” “possibly,” “perhaps,” will usher in, I believe, rudeness. Because when you live in the land of maybe, between yes and no, what’s going to happen? You will just sort of float through life. You’re not going to concentrate on the details. You’re just going to be what you want to be. And this “whatever” mentality has gotten all over our culture. “Whatever. Whatever, man. Whatever. As long as you don’t hurt anybody, man. Whatever.”
The casualization of our culture, and I think being casual is fine and dandy, but it’s also infiltrated how we behave. How we treat our spouse, how we treat that person we’re dating, how we treat our friends. How we treat our boss at work. How we treat our parents. It’s crazy. Maybe.
Have you ever wondered about the word “maybe”? I’m sure you’ve thought about it before. Yeah, you’re the accumulation of Yes’ and No’s, but also, you’re the accumulation of maybe. Because too many of us are living right now in the land of maybe. We can trace the roots of rude all the way back to the tree, that first tree in the garden that had the forbidden fruit.
What did the devil say to Adam and Eve? You know what the devil said to her? The devil said, “Maybe. Maybe God didn’t mean what he said. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.” And because Adam and Eve bought into the ‘maybe,’ the ball started rolling. The ball started rolling of being ignorant and arrogant, ruling over ourselves as opposed to letting God rule and reign in our lives. And you’ve got rudeness.
Think about God’s people, the Israelites. They lived in the land of maybe. Here they’ve been rescued from Egyptian slavery. I mean, are you ready for that? Hundreds of years in slavery. Acts of God and supernatural stuff takes place and they leave Egypt. God has a GPS system in the day and the night guiding them, feeds them from heaven, parts oceans. And these dudes and dudeettes were rebelling, they had a rude ‘tude, and this journey from Egypt to the promise land, that incredible tract of land, that real estate deal that was just out of sight, should have only taken a couple of days, it took 40 years. Why? They lived in a land of maybe.
They got to the brink of closing a deal after a couple of days, and they were like, “Whoa, man, there’s giants in the land!” “Whoa, man, the cities are fortified! Yeah, the land is awesome and all that, but, uh, God, you didn’t tell me about the battle. Yeah, you said ‘yes,’ and you’ve said ‘yes,’ all we got to do is put our ‘yes’ on your ‘yes,’ but I’m not into it, God.”
And then they began to do what? They began to get arrogant. They began to have an attitude of disrespect toward their leaders. They began to whine, and they needed some serious cheese with that whine, didn’t they? And they began to complain, then they wanted to go back to slavery. Why? They lived in the land of maybe.
And this journey, which should have took maybe a week or two, took 40 years. And it affected generation after generation after generation.
Here’s the deal. Think about Adam and Eve. Here’s the deal. Think about the children of Israel. Your ‘maybes’ affect your babies. Say it with me. You get it? You get it? “Your ‘maybes’”, say it with me, “Your ‘maybes’ affect your babies.” I want to leave a legacy; I want to make a mark. I want to leave this phenomenal imprint on the lives of my kids and my grandkids and all that. Don’t live in the land of maybe.
Again, hear me. I’m not saying we never say maybe. Sometimes you’ve got to say, “Perhaps.” “Possibly.” It’ll buy time and that’s fine and dandy. God, though, is a God of the Yes and the No. God is not a God of the maybe. God is a God of manners. God puts your interests and my interests above his own. God sends Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus knocks on the door of your heart in life. He doesn’t kick the door in. He doesn’t say, “Whoa! Here I am!”
It’s our opportunity, it’s our choice. We’re either hospitable to him, we welcome him in, or not. Have you welcomed Jesus into your life? Have you said, “Yes,” to Jesus? Because, think about this word again right here. Think about this word, ignorance. And think about what people are ignorant about.
The gospel. The gospel. Ok, the gospel is all about Good News. The gospel is all about yes and no. It’s not about ‘maybe.’ Ok. You got God saying ‘yes.’ “Yes. I’ll create man in my image.” “Yes, man is not just an educated ape. Man is made in a likeness of me. He is special. He is one of a kind.” Yes, God loves us. God has to have an object for his love and we’re the object of God’s love. Yes.
No. Uh-oh. That’s what we did. Adam and Eve messed up, they sinned. They said, “You know what? I’m going to do what I’m going to do. Maybe God didn’t mean what he said.”
But here’s what I’ve discovered. God means what he says, and says what he means. God means what he says. And he says what he means. When he says “Yes,” he means yes. When he says “No,” he means no.
This word ‘Yes’ is a cool word though. It’s a word of commitment. A word of, “Ok, yes! I’m there. Come hell or high water, I’m there. Forget feelings, I’m there. I’m just right with you.”
So “Yes,” God says, but man says no. Then what does God do? God could have left us in our “No-ness.” What did he do? He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, rise again. So God put his yes on our no. Isn’t that cool?
Now, we have an opportunity, you and I, how do you like that? We have an opportunity to put our yes on God’s yes. Once we make that decision, then, we are followers of Christ.
And I’m here to tell you, we’re made to say yes to God. We’re made for it. We’re made to say yes. Have you said yes to God? Have you said yes to his gospel? Or are you still living in the land of maybe?
Now, what’s going to be in the cards for you if you continue to live in the land of maybe? Well, you’re going to miss the best for your life. You’re going to hydroplane through life. And ultimately, you’re going to have a rude ‘tude. You’ll end up being ignorant, arrogant, and rude and you will live a miserable life. It could be ok, you might make some money, you might have some thrills and chills, you might have this buzz or that buzz. But I’m telling you, you’re never, ever, ever going to discover the greatness that God has for you until you say yes to his yes.
So just, again, cogitate on this point for a second. Roll it around in your mind for a second. Before you were a twinkle in your parent’s eye, God set forth the yes’s and the no’s for you and me.
People are always are worrying about, “Man, what should my priorities be? What should my core values be? What should I do? How should I act toward my family? Or how should I act in this dating relationship thing? Or how should I really respond to my friend or a business partner?”
Don’t worry. Take a chill pill. Our yes’s and no’s have already been set forth in Scripture. What do we do? We simply put our yes where God has placed his yes, and our nowhere God has placed his no.
Where do you find that information? You find it right here in the Bible. It’s a book of yes and no. And too many of us think, “Oh man, Christianity is a doggy downer. Christianity will limit you, man. Christianity is all about one big no. NO, NO, NO. No-no-no-no-no, no-no. That’s what it means to follow the Lord.”
Just the opposite is true! Christianity is about one big honkin’ yes. Obviously there’s some no’s involved, but it’s about yes. It’s not about maybe. I can tell you that. It’s about yes and no. It’s about the details in life.
Well, let’s keep going. Here’s what Jesus said. Matthew 6:33 (NAS). Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. And all these things will be added to you.”
What’s Jesus saying? What’s implied here? Say yes to kingdom pursuits and say no to non-kingdom pursuits. “Seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness. And all these things will be,” there’s a math phrase, “added to you.” Say ‘added’ with me, “added.” Oh man, we’re doing some math, because the math works, right? This math works. I mean this is just what’s going to happen. Ignorance + Arrogance = Rude.
But I got some great math for you right here at the bottom of this beautiful Plexiglas board. And please don’t correct my spelling because I’m a horrible speller and I get nervous every time I spell publically. Privately I misspell all the time. Publically it just freaks me out. Ok. Knowledge. Good? Thank you. Under pressure! + Humility. Oh man, I – white paint everywhere. Knowledge + Humility = R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Respect! Respect.
You know what respect means? Respect means “to examine carefully.” Details. You know what respect means? To look again. Details. Whoa, isn’t this great? God’s a God of manners. That’s what it means.
So, if I have a knowledge of the gospel; if I understand the gospel is about others, it’s others-driven, God put his interest and needs above my own; if I have a knowledge of that, and I’m made for that; if I say, “Yes” to what God says yes to, what’s going to happen to me? It will usher in humility. What’s humility? It’s realizing who I am before God. It’s realizing grace. It’s realizing his favor. It’s realizing I don’t deserve Jack-Q-Squat even on my best day.
When I walk in humility, what’s going to happen? I’m going to live a life of respect. When I see others, I’ll have this intensity, this Spirit, the Spirit of God working in my life, the Holy Spirit saying, “Treat others as more important than you. Treat others with higher esteem than you treat yourself.” Or, what Scriptures say, “Treat others like you want to be treated.” How do you want to be treated? Treat others that way.
“Well, man, my wife is not blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Well, you give what you want. “Well, my friend, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” You give what you want.
I’m not talking about passivity here. I’m talking about being very, very proactive as we wave the banner of good manners.
And speaking of manners, it keeps going. How do I treat someone like the Lord wants me to treat others? Look at Philippians 1:27. It says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Hello! “In a manner,” manners matter, “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” “In a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Now, what is that? I’ll tell you what it is, because you were thinking, “Man, what is that? What’s that?”
Luke 6:31. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” In other words, a need seen is an assignment given. When God drops a need in my life or your life, that’s an assignment from God. I see a need, I live my life, I treat others as more important than myself, I’m either reflecting or deflecting the character of God.
It keeps going. 1 Peter 2:17. What’s the gospel of Christ? “Show proper respect to everyone.” To everyone.
“Well, Ed, you don’t understand, man. I’ve gotta like somebody before I respect them. I’ve got to respect them before I honor them. I gotta respect them before I defer to them.”
Are you totally ignorant? If you wait until you gotta like somebody or agree with somebody, or respect somebody before you honor somebody, you’re never going to show any respect and love. Never. Oh, it’s easy to respect people and honor people that I like. That math works every time. But throw somebody in my life who lives in jerk-hood or lives in mean-land or rude-ville, whoa, now, a-ha, that’s difficult isn’t it?
Could it be that God has placed those people in our lives to shape us and mold us and to make us into people worthy of the gospel of God?
Paul summed it up in Romans 12:2, he said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,” don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
That’s why we’ve been fasting. That’s why we’ve been thinking about the gospel. That’s why we’ve been saying to ourselves, “You know what? Manners matter.” That’s why we’ve been sweating the small stuff. That’s why I’ve been challenging you to think about others, to think about the gospel. Because all we have to do as believers is look to the cross and it encourages us to treat others in a manner worthy of the gospel. So we’ve got to wave the banner of the manner of the gospel.
Illus: You know, last time I told you about that basketball game, again, if you missed last time, please pick the tape up. It’s at The Source. I went to this basketball game with Lisa in a packed out gymnasium, little cracker-box kind of deal, and it was a close game. It came down to a last second shot. Well, as the game got more and more intense, I looked over, and seated several seats away from me was this guy in his 70’s. And he had the rudest expression on his face, the most sour, sinister look on his face you’ve ever seen. It was just like (making rude expression). He was just negative. And the Bible says, I don’t have time to get into it, but the Bible says that our facial expressions, our countenance, will reflect as we get older, what’s in our heart.
And I don’t care, I don’t care how many plastic surgery procedures you have, you can’t hide that, baby. You can’t hide it. Because I looked at him, and then next to him, obviously, was his daughter, she had that same rude look too. You know. Just not quite as severe.
Well, during the game, I told you this last time, some students stood up. They were being very respectful, just clapping, only 4 of them. And this guy says, “Sit down! Sit down! If you want to stand up, go to the other side of the gymnasium! Somebody’s trying to watch the game.”
And I used that as an illustration of someone with a very rude ‘tude. That guy was obviously an igmo. He was arrogant, ignorant, rude. He was not knowledgeable, he didn’t have any humility, and obviously, a total lack of respect.
But here’s what I didn’t tell you. I didn’t tell you what the students did. The students did not roll their eyes. They didn’t turn and flip him off. They didn’t turn and talk back to him. They didn’t mud-sling. I couldn’t believe what these students did. These students impacted my life in a great way. They showed me, because I found out and know they’re believers, their knowledge of the gospel. They revealed to me, I never said a word to them, humility.
And they showed proper respect even though this jerk, and he was a jerk, didn’t deserve it. He had a horrible look on his face. I thought about slapping him, you know. Punching him. That’s what went through my mind when he said that. I’m just confessing, ok. This is church.
But they had a huge impact on me just by that detail of doing this. “Sit down!” (Ed imitates kid’s sitting down.)
I was like, “Wow!” I never said a word to them, but that is what I’m talking about. Those little tweaks will take you to giant peaks. It’s the details. It’s the details.
Think about, real quick, your friends. Are you saying yes to what God says yes to in your relationships? Seriously. I mean, are your best friends believers? I mean are they really people who are knowledgeable of the gospel of God? Do they have that humility? Do they have that respect? Think about your friends for a second. Do a friendentory.
A lot of you got to say yes to some of those friends, and others here have to say no to those people that pull you down. Think about your family. And I’m going to get into this next week. What kind of respect is going on? Are you saying yes to what God said yes to in your family?
Are you saying yes to the only institution that his son ever built – the local church? Are you saying maybe? “Well, maybe I’ll show up at Fellowship. You know, maybe I’ll get involved. You know, maybe I’ll volunteer.”
We have an army of volunteers. So many of you sacrifice and volunteer and do ministry in a great, great way. But others of you say, “Yes, I’ll be there, Yes I’ll sign up.” But you don’t show up. Maybe. Let your yes be yes. And you’re “no” be “no.”
What are you saying about your resources and your abilities before God? Are you saying yes to the best and no to the superfluous?
Illus: I’ll never forget. There was a study done in the Harvard Business Review, several years ago about priorities. In one column, the people listed their priorities. And I think all of us, pretty much, would have the same priorities here. “Yeah, ok,” boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And the other column, they listed commitments. And this study that Harvard conducted found that there was a huge gap, a delta, between priorities and commitments. Secular study.
Well, you know what that told me? Wow, got a hunk of people living in the land of maybe. We’ve got a hunk of people saying the wrong yes’ and the wrong no’s. They really are kind of in the land of maybe. In the land of “I’m not sure. What’s the right thing to do?”
But again, our great God has cleared up the confusion. We have the knowledge of the gospel. We can walk in humility. We have respect. And we simply put our yes where God says yes and our nowhere God says no.
Do you want to go to places you never thought possible before? Put your yes on God’s yes. Have you done that? It begins with Jesus. Some of you have been saying no for a while. You can change your no to a yes. Others have been living in “Maybe Land” for a long time. “Maybe. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. Maybe.” Well, today is your time to say yes to God. Because remember, when it comes to honor and respect, it’s all about the details.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]