• Matt Beaney

#696. CHOOSE LIFE PT. 3 - CYNICISM OR ACTION (23/11/22)

This week’s devotionals are based upon Sunday’s message from Simon Guillbaud. Simon Guillebaud MBE is GLO’s International Director. He had a very clear call to Burundi in 1999, when it was regarded as the most dangerous country on earth. He set up GLO with the vision to transform Burundi and beyond through holistic mission, working with gifted local leaders of integrity. For the full message please go to:

https://www.communitychurchputney.com/teaching

For more on Simon and to find out about His blog, podcast and teaching, please go to:

https://www.simonguillebaud.com/inspired-podcast/


‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Summary: Cynicism robs us of joy, faith and action because the cynic distrusts the motives of others; this attitude often flows over into cynicism toward God in that the cynic will not easily respond to others who want to encourage them to seek new and greater things for the Kingdom.


WHAT IS CYNICISM?

What does it mean to be cynical? To be cynical is to be deeply distrustful of others’ motivations. We believe that what people say or do are a cover for deeper selfish ambitions.


The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines it as:

‘Contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives…based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest’

The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines cynicism:

‘Believing that people only do things to help themselves rather than for good or honest reasons.’

WHAT IS DANGEROUS ABOUT IT?

Surely, we might argue, cynicism is a healthy way of protecting ourselves from being gullible and taken in! Cynicism can disguise itself as discernment but whereas discernment leads to vibrant faith, cynicism poisons our faith. Discernment is weighing things in the light of God’s truth; cynicism is weighing things in the light of our suspicion and unbelief; one might say, “this can’t be true because I don’t trust you… this can’t be true because I’ve been waiting and it hasn’t happened yet…”


In response to encouragements from God’s word, prophecies, testimony…

The cynic says things like: “I’ve heard all this before…here we go again…I got excited last time but not this time around…”


Sarah, Abraham’s wife, is a great example. After waiting many years to have a baby, she had become cynical. We read:

“‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ they asked him. ‘There, in the tent,’ he said. Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my Lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Will I really have a child, now that I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’” (Genesis 18:9-14)

The most lively and passionate Christians can be taken captive by cynicism. If we fail to protect ourselves, we will become embittered by cynicism.


RESPONSE - HOW TO PROTECT OURSELVES?

We protect ourselves from cynicism in many ways:

  • Worship. See God’s love and glory every day and declaring what the angel said to Sarah: ‘Nothing is too difficult for the Lord’.

  • Choosing gratitude - looking for what God is doing and giving thanks as we read in Romans 12:1-2. Cynicism is broken as we rejoice in the gospel and all the good gifts that God is constantly giving to us.

  • Cynicism is broke by reading God’s word and the characters who had to wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

  • Another antidote to cynicism is to choose action rather than wait for our feelings to change. Acting on what you know to be right will dispel the ‘side-line cynic’ and critic in us.


YOU MIGHT FIND THIS INTERVIEW WITH J. JOHN HELPFUL:


 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


CHOOSE LIFE

This week’s study is based on Sunday’s message from Simon Guillbaud.


Simon based his message on 30:11-20.

‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

God was calling the people to live by faith. They have just come out of 40-years of wandering in the desert due to unbelief. God reminded them of there previous unfaithful attitude at the beginning of this book:

‘But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, ‘The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.’’ (Deuteronomy 1:26-27)

God had promised to give them the land of Canaan. He had shown His power and love by bringing them out of Egypt, but they refused to believe and obey. In response, God had caused them to wander in the desert for 40 years because of unbelief. Now, He’s calling them again to listen to Him and walk by faith. This account is reminding us that God doesn’t want us wandering in circles. He wants to lead us into greater fruitfulness.


In his message on Sunday, Simon gave us six challenges to consider:


1. ARE WE GOING TO CHOOSE CLARITY OR TRUST

To ‘choose life’ requires that we choose trust over clarity. Many have a faith but don’t live by faith. We too often want clarity. We want to control things. We want God to show us all the steps before we’ll take the first. God wants us to take that first step.


2. DISOBEDIENCE OR OBEDIENCE?

Only Joshua and Caleb entered The Promised Land. Only they were willing to obey God. Are you and I willing to offer our lives entirely to Him?


3. CYNICISM OR ACTION

To choose life is to reject cynicism and take godly action. It’s easy to become cynical and back out of living actively for God. Have we allowed cynicism to rob us of joy and action? The antidote to cynicism is to take good action rather than wait for our feelings to change.


4. FAITH OR FEAR?

We have had a huge dose of fear during Covid. The church is often crippled by fear.

In our finances, particularly during our gift days at the moment, are will giving in fear or faith? Choosing life if to choose to do things by faith.


5. URGENCY OR APATHY?

In a war-torn and poor nation like Burundi, it’s easier to see and be provoked by great needs. In London, are we aware of the ‘falling bombs of unbelief, cynicism, materialism, fear…’? These should provoke up to urgent prayer and action.


6. GRATITUDE OR MOANING

To choose life is to choose thankfulness over grumbling. It’s easy to become critical and entitled. Simon encourage us to do what we are taught in Romans 12:1-3 and count our blessings.


7. RULES OR RELATIONSHIPS?

God always wanted a relationship with us. To ‘choose life’ is to seek a relationship with God and seek to avoid empty legalism and formality. Choosing life is, at its core, having a relationship with God.


8. DEATH OR LIFE?

Will we choose life? Will we choose to remember the gospel and share the gospel? Will we allow Jesus’ blood-scared hands to cause our hands to be active in compassion?


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

i. Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii. Of these 8 challenges, which do you feel that you need to take action on and why?


SIV - Let's keep praying and planning for how we can invite people to our carol service on 11th December (4 pm).

SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.





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