Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Don't Wanna Be a Ham!

I was told a lot when I was growing up, "You are such a ham!" and if I were honest I'd say I might still have a little "ham" left in me.  That's the expression people use when you like to be the center of attention - in the spotlight - the one who is up front and likes to perform.  I suppose some of us were born like that and since God now has me on a stage and on the radio, I'm glad He put it in me because I don't get as nervous since I grew up with that desire.  Now, though, I hope people see more of Him than they do me.  He can use my "hamminess" for His glory!

There's another Ham, though, that I find myself emulating on occasion that God cannot be glorified through.  It's not the kind of ham that enjoys the spotlight for his or herself, but who forces the spotlight on another Christian brother or sister's weakness or sin.  Let me explain...

Noah had three sons named Shem, Ham and Japtheth. In Genesis 9:18-29, we read about those sons.  One day, Noah drank a bunch of wine and became drunk and passed out naked in his tent.  When Ham saw that his father was naked, he went outside to tell his brothers.  One can only imagine that he was laughing at him.  Otherwise, he could have covered him up with a blanket to spare his father from embarrassment, but instead he told his brothers.  You can almost hear him, "You should see Dad!  This 'man of God' isn't acting much like a 'man of God' at all right now - he's passed out naked in there! Go see for yourself! haha"

But the other two brothers didn't make a mockery of their father along with Ham.  They put a stop to it.  Instead, they took a robe, held it over their shoulders and backed into the tent to cover their father up.  As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.  They were showing grace, mercy and respect for him in a way that Ham did not.

When Noah woke up, the Bible says he learned about what Ham did and he put a curse on him.  I heard a pastor say once that Noah sinned, too - a sin of the flesh.  He should not have gotten drunk and passed out.  It was wrong and it was sinful and we are sure God and Noah had a few things to work out after that.  But when Ham sinned, it was a sin that came from a dark and uncompassionate, judgmental heart.  Those are the sins that bring curses on us even more so than the sins of the flesh that are so painful.  These "heart sins" are the ones that reveal the true condition of our heart.  Ham's heart was not filled with mercy or grace or love - his heart was filled with gossip, judgment and condemnation.  And he paid dearly for this.

I often see specific churches in the spotlight that are being raked through the coals online and in the press. They have different ways of approaching ministry, have people who've been hurt or have money being spent in places that others don't believe is appropriate. One specific church comes to mind that seems to be smacked down over and over and over again. I have even found myself judging some of the things I've heard. But as I prayed, I realized something...

I know tons of people who attend this church regularly who are very, very strong believers in Christ.  Thousands of people have come into a relationship with Christ as a result of the ministry in this church.  God is using this church in so many profound ways!  Do they do everything the way I do?  No, but that's okay with God.  He likes it when His children use their gifts and abilities in unique and diverse ways to glorify Him and He made us all different for a reason.  Is there fruit in this ministry?  Yes, it cannot be denied.  Could they do things differently in some areas?  Yeah, of course.  So could I.  Do I attend this church?  No, I do not.  Are they perfect?  No.  Am I?  Umm....absolutely not!

My point is this...I've seen news stories, blogs and social media rants about things that have happened at the church.  Many of them were written by Christians who are angry and frustrated and with good reason.  A lot of people have a lot of things to say about this church and they don't seem to have any problems doing it publicly.  I do not believe God was pleased in the least by what happened...but I believe He is also not pleased when we sin in our hearts by gossiping, judging publicly and exposing them to the world.

God is dealing with them and teaching them in many ways through this experience.  He can redeem this and they can learn from it - and so can we.  Could it be that, instead of exposing them and pointing out their faults publicly, that we should come alongside of them and show some grace?  Yes, we are to judge those inside of the church - but shouldn't that be going on inside the church, not for the world to see in public places?

How does the world perceive it when churches bicker and pick on one another because they are "different" or one church messes up and other churches are quick to judge?  I know it must grieve the heart of God.  He knows if something needs judging and He is the only One who can judge situations from a perfect perspective.  But as an unbeliever watching on...I bet it's pretty unsettling to watch all the back-biting and strong words we have for one another.  God is perfectly capable of defending Himself and actually prefers it over having us try to defend him from our limited and human perspective.

My prayer is that God will keep me from being like Ham in this and in every situation.  After all...if I mess up, I certainly wouldn't want a "Ham" exposing me!  Instead of exposing, may I show compassion and kindness in how I share with others about my brothers and sisters in Christ. And if I have a beef with someone, I pray I will not act like Ham in dealing with it. (smile)

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

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