“Dad, she’s looking at me!” “Mom, he’s not staying on his side of the seat!” “Dad, she’s playing with my toy and not treating it nicely!” I’m sure you’ve heard those words even if you aren’t a parent or grandparent! I have, and my children were the most wonderful, well-behaved children in the world! Why wouldn’t they be? After all, I am a minister of the Gospel! REALITY CHECK!!!
We face issues in our families and our social relationships. The scary part is that we also face them as Christians in our Christian relationships and ministries as well. “I don’t like that type of music!” “I just don’t like the way that guy comes across.” “He just doesn’t seem very professional!” “They just don’t understand how hard we are working, and if they did they wouldn’t criticize!” Or here’s the clincher: “I just don’t think they’re very spiritual!” Ouch! That hurts, and that comment is often the trump card of defining a Christian relationship in which we haven’t seen eye to eye with the other person.
PETTINESS. It’s a poison that creeps in subtly and broods and festers like an ugly boil or infection. It grows and destroys individual and organizational health. It must be checked and abated. It must be rooted out and cleaned to bring healing and restore health. I hate it with a passion, because God hates it. We need to acknowledge it, call it ugly, and hate it like God does!
I’ve had boils while in Africa, and believe me, they are no fun! They grow and are excruciatingly painful! It hurts just to touch them, but in order to heal, you must touch them, and touch them hard – lance them good and squeeze all the puss and infection out so that they can be thoroughly cleaned and healing can begin. If you don’t squeeze them hard enough and get all the infection out before you apply the healing salve, it will swell up again and be every bit as painful as before and quite possibly worse.
That’s a pretty accurate picture of pettiness, isn’t it? It is that unnecessary criticism and complaining about periphery issues. That attitude that immediately allows skepticism when ‘a certain person’ makes a suggestion or tries to be involved in “my business.” I can’t believe how I can allow that to creep in, and pretty soon unbeknownst to me, the attitude and pettiness I have is festering—and much more ugly than the issues that cause it to begin.
Think about your attitudes towards your fellow Christians, your neighbor, or your coworkers. Pettiness is implanted by the fleshly old self and Satan takes glory in crippling the Christian and Christian organizations through its debilitating effects. Next time you see that ugly attitude or have a petty thought cross your mind, look deeper for the oozing festering sore within.
The Africans have a proverb that says, “Kikuamcho kimo kiunguno.” That means: “That which is hurting you is within you!” That is extremely wise and true of my “issues.” Through introspection and a recommitment to Christ of our thoughts and attitudes, we can solve (God lances and cleans) most of the issues that ‘nag’ and ‘put us off’ throughout the day.
Verse for meditation or memorization:
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to putt off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:22,23
Ask God to do a Psalm 139: 23, 24 on you today! “Search me, test me, see if, and lead me in the ‘right’ way!” But after that—-do it in every moment of life!