Am I Hurting Myself without Realizing I Am?

Presented October 9, 2011

Have you heard the expression, “That’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face”? You don’t hear it often, but you observe it frequently. I can give you three real-life examples.

A worker is angry with the company because they keep laying people off. Some of his best friends have lost their jobs because the corporation can’t make a profit. And he’s angry. So he decides to become lazy. He avoids doing routine maintenance on machinery. He pushes products that are defective down the line so they go out to the consumer, knowing that it will damage the company’s reputation and decrease their market share. He leaves early, getting someone else to punch him out. You know what this will mean, right? It will mean the company will have to lay off more workers — the very thing he hates. In his anger, he’s cutting off his own nose to get even with his face.

Or what about the husband is angry that his wife spent twice the money at Old Navy that he thought she should have. After all, they are saving for a vacation. So, to get revenge on her, he goes out and spends money on things he doesn’t even really want. A moose-call from Grices, though he has no plan to hunt moose. A new laptop, even though he hardly uses computers. A subscription to Consumer Reports magazine, though he won’t take time to read it. In his revenge, he’s cutting off his nose to get even with his face.

Or how about this one? A woman is angry with God because God’s not lived up to her expectations. God has not done what she wanted him to do in her marriage and with her boys. God has been speaking to her about her sin and she doesn’t like to hear that. So, to get back at God, she enters into a life that she knows would make God angry. And in the process, she risks everything – waking up morning after morning, wondering if she has AIDS. In her effort to get even with God, she’s damaging herself. She is cutting off her nose to spite her face.

People do this all the time.

In the life of Jesus, the people who needed him most injured themselves by attempting to injure him. They display this behavior throughout the gospels. They show it in living color today in our text. They cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Sometimes we do the same thing. This podcast addresses this tendency and helps us avoid it.

The Struggle Religious People Have with Jesus

I read the New Testament through for the first time when I was in college. My favorite sections were the parts with Jesus in them. Don’t get me wrong — I loved the writings of Paul. I enjoyed the Revelation. Hebrews was great. I enjoyed Peter, James, and John. But my favorite parts were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — the books that told the story of Jesus.

What I liked best was how Jesus spoke. He told it like it was — cutting through the fat, addressing issues with clarity. He silenced his critics. No one could stand up to him.

When I graduated and went into pastoral ministry, I couldn’t wait to preach on the life of Jesus. But through the years, I’ve noticed that preachers don’t do that a lot.

There are many reasons for this, but one is that Jesus is tough. Jesus says tough things. He is offensive. The most troubles I’ve had in ministry have been times I have been telling the people what Jesus says. Jesus speaks of something that lives deep inside our hearts. Something called sin. And religious people hate to be told about their sin.

This podcast explains some reasons that people resist Jesus and practical counsel on how to avoid doing so.

Why Christianity Isn’t Working for Some People…

“It is virtually impossible to read the Bible and not see the truth that God expects His people to invest into His kingdom what He has given them, which typically involves other people. In fact, Jesus warns us that if we try to hoard what we have, will lose our lives. Perhaps this is why there are so many who claim to know Christ but whose lives are characterized by an absence of joy and a presence of depression or boredom. Ministering to others is not merely a mandate to “paid professionals.” It is the calling of anyone who claims to be a Christian. In fact, it is often at the intersection of our life with that of another that God does His most remarkable, joyful, and permanent work.”

~Fran Sciacca in To Serve With All Your Strength, p. 38.