August 19, 2018: 13th Sunday of Trinity

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You have redeemed us from sin, Satan and death for a reason; that being to embrace our new lives with joy and thanksgiving, directing our chief attention towards Your love and forgiveness. Such joy gives back to You, in a very small measure, some of the gratefulness that is in our hearts. So, today we ask You to help us get rid of anything that would hinder such a lifestyle. Amen
TEXT: Ephesians 5: 15-20
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
How would you describe your disposition? Perhaps more importantly, how would others describe it? Let’s face it, none of us is unbiased when it comes to analyzing ourselves. So, what’s your general disposition? Are you happy, sad, upbeat, genuine, honest, thankful, solemn, angry, irritable, or grumpy? All those adjectives describe us at various times of life for various reasons, don’t they? But which of them do you find attractive in another human being? Better yet, which of them would you like to banish from your demeanor?
America is a young country, demographically speaking, so why is it that so many people have adopted the persona of the proverbial “grumpy old man”? We have road rage from all ages. We have surliness in the grocery line. We see people with their omnipresent cell phone in the hand, head down, with a frown on their face. Now, I understand some reasons for a grumpy demeanor. Older Americans have more physical pain which is a natural cause for it all. Likewise, they’ve had more disappointments in life than younger folks. So, we used to laugh off such orneriness in grandparents. But today we even have irritable children and sullen teens who just aren’t happy with life. It’s sad. I don’t believe in evolution or Darwinian thinking at all, but if I did, I’d be bewildered.—Physically and emotionally each generation seems to swirl down the drain of unhappiness deeper and deeper into the abyss. We don’t advance as Darwin predicted, we regress!
“Be careful then, how you live—not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Those words sum up this irritability syndrome I’ve just described. And they also provide us with a blueprint for how to break out of it. We need break out of evil, negative influences on our lives. We need to avoid sin and embrace goodness. We need to use every opportunity that comes our way to be lifted up instead of torn down. That’s all just basic wisdom.
Paul touches on one of the causes of crass orneriness. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery.” Like anything on this earth, wine can and is often consumed for the wrong reasons and in excess. Drunkenness has been a problem for humans since the dawn of creation. Drunkenness, or drowning your sorrows, is a human attempt at escapism.—People use other tools for this today, too, but the basic issue is man’s inability to cope with their emotional stresses and booze is often an easy way out for a little while. The big problem with drunkenness is that it leads to a loss of control. It often leads to hedonistic lifestyles, gambling, illicit sex, the inability to hold a job, and making the individual involved very nasty when their “high” of escapism wears off. We all know people who have gone down this road and it’s not pretty, so we avoid them like the plague.
There’s a much better way to live, however, and St. Paul now tells us what it is: “Instead be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul isn’t saying that we cannot have fun in life. He isn’t saying that we have to walk around quoting psalms nonstop, or singing “Joy To the World” in the grocery line. The key line in all this is: “always giving thanks to God for everything.” The basic truth of the psalms does just that. The point of Christian hymns does just that. Generally, when people sing they have a happy heart. And a happy demeanor stems from recognizing blessings and verbalizing them. Again, this is all about your attitude…..
I’ve known various people who were not happy with life. If you confronted them about this, they would deny it. But it’s true. They complain about aches and pains, they complain about money or lack of it, they complain about their diet, they complain about no one being nice to them. Basically, they’re grumpy because they’re focusing on themselves and looking inward instead of focusing outward on God and His grace.
I’ve said many times: “It’s hard to be grumpy when you’re truly thankful.” As believers, we have a huge storehouse of blessings to be thankful for! #1 is that we have peace with God, eternally, because Jesus Christ made that peace for us on the cross by giving up His life for ours. #2 is that we know heaven is our home, our real home, because of this. #3 is that God wants us to be happy instead of stressed and sad, so He has given us His love which in turn causes us to recognize and appreciate all sorts of Godly gifts. #4 is that we have the confident truth that “all things will work for the good to those who love God.” #5 is that when tough times come, we possess the promise that: “God will never test us beyond our abilities to handle it.” And, of course, there are many more.
Being grumpy with life is antithetical to the Christian faith. God is always opening new vistas for us to experience and explore. He does so through the people we meet. So, getting back to our original question: “When people meet you, what do they see and what kind of persona do you emanate?” Hopefully it is one joyfully giving off the Godly wisdom of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” And remember this: You may not always sing: “Joy To the World” but when you think about it, you cannot help but smile……Let that be you! Amen