So the king did not listen to the people

The picture attached to this post is one that is very encouraging, and there are many examples of this going around in the country. Police officers are kneeling, praying and marching with protestors to show that they hear and understand the cries of racial injustice. That’s what we need.

Here is a contrast in Scripture to that positive example. The following is what NOT to do when you are in positions of authority.

In the Scripture below, we see that there was a time in Israel when people came to the leadership and cried out about oppression. The people came to King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, and presented their case.

Their “yoke” was heavy. Solomon apparently had really taxed the people to the point of oppression, and the people wanted relief. They peacefully came to the King to ask for change.

The King, Rehoboam, had two sets of advisors. One group counseled the king to be a servant to the people and be kind to them. Hear their requests and serve them, and they will serve you forever. The other group of counselors advised the King to be even tougher than Solomon. Bring the hammer down on the people, they said.

So, the king listened to the second group, threatened the people, punished them for speaking up and pushed them away. This led to the nation literally dividing (as God had prophesied would happen).

“So the king did not listen to the people…”

What does God want from his leaders? People who listen. Those who hear the cries of the hurting. It’s one thing for those in authority to say they aren’t racist, it is entirely another when a police officer lays down his baton, takes off his helmet and hugs those in the crowd who are hurting and afraid.

Rehoboam had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the request of his people. He had been offered an olive branch to peacefully bring a resolution to what was hurting the nation. However, in his arrogance and in his thirst to assert his authority and dominance, he drove most of the nation away from him.

That is our choice as leaders. As parents. As spouses. As church leaders. As leaders in business. As leaders in the community. When those under our leadership cry out from broken hearts because of how they are being treated, how will we respond?

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
(1 Kings 12:1-15)

Do You See This Woman?

Luke 7:44 – Do you see this woman?

Here are two sisters in Christ who are African American. What they are going to say might make you uncomfortable. Many of us have lived in denial and dismissal that racism still exists, but have we listened to our black brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we asked them what they think and what their viewpoint is?

Take some time to watch this video by sister Nikki Lee and by sister Tranae Felicien. Hear their pain. As you can see in the above verse, Jesus had to get the Simon the Pharisee to stop for a minute and get out of his safe and comfortable box of prejudice to see the woman who came in to anoint Jesus. Today Jesus wants us to listen, to truly see others and to hear their pain.

Sister Nikki Lee’s heartfelt call to see her and her son and her husband for what they are enduring.

 

Here is sister Tranae Felicien’s post on how hurt she is by the blindness and dismissal she had witnessed from her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Written by Tranae Felicien

When there was a death from systemic racism, I used to feel pressure to end a post on a hopeful note about the future of America. But I’ve stopped holding my breath that America, as a society, will ever rid itself of its racism. Part of my evidence lies in the life experiences I and my community have survived. Part of my evidence lies in the years I’ve been on the incredibly illuminating social media apps.

I see your posts about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. I see the ones who have decided to use their pages to educate. But I also see the ones who have only posted about the looting or only to say “not all cops”. I see the people commenting “I am with you” but your pages are silent. And I’ll see your silence about Trump greenlighting shooting his own people over property.

I see those who have posted about mask requirements being a denial of rights but never about racism. I see your posts about abortion but never about racism’s fatalities. I see the posts that are scared to say racism but resort to general admonitions of love. I see the people that say “all we can do is pray.” I see the people who continue to be confused at the way black people are treated in this country, but between this week’s comment and the last, they didn’t care enough to Google.

I saw your posts about Michelle Obama being a transgender woman. I saw your posts about Obama causing a “race war”, blaming a black man for people being fed up with racism. I saw your dismissals of past black viral tragedies, even those on video (Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile to name a few). I saw you dismiss deaths as isolated incidents though DOJ investigations found patterns of discrimination within entire police forces.

I saw you say Blue Lives Matter when the spotlight was on black lives. I saw you rant about Colin Kaepernick’s non-violent, peaceful protest. I’ve seen the people who selectively quote MLK and the Bible to try to instruct black people not to cause trouble. Yet, you ignored quotes about condemnation for injustice and passiveness in the face of discrimination. I saw you try to excuse past Americans for slavery, as if they even cared about their descendants’ opinions of the way they dealt with their “property.” I saw you get heated about a dead flag of traitors literally fighting for the continued enslavement of black people.

What is the point of this post? Simply to let you know I see you. You may have been able to live your life in ignorance of racism’s pervasiveness but I have not. This is not a post to beg you to change. It’s a post to take you out of your comfort zone, the comfort zone I’ve never had being black in this country.

Some of you will start or continue to work for an actively anti-racist society. Some of you will post “in solidarity” but never examine yourself and your circle. Some of you will be upset that I’m not acknowledging private emotional disturbances from these newest fatalities, yet not see the reason why I don’t care if you felt bad briefly for others but said/did nothing about an issue every can affect in ways big or small. Some of you will think that racism is left in a few individuals and not ever contemplate that racism manifests in interactions less than death as it is systemic. Some of you will think black people continue to make all this up and will comfort yourselves with black voices who are paid to make you feel better.

Some of you may even look at this post and feel anger at me because you see yourself in some of my negative examples. Some of you may feel like I am not entitled to dictate what you post. You’d be right and also miss my point. Some of you may be upset that I’m making it seem like I have nothing to work on as a person, and you’d be incorrect as I am only addressing racism against black people. Again, you missed my point. Some of you may even find me ungrateful as I have had many amazing life experiences as a result of my family’s emigration here, having no knowledge of the price we paid in being just another black family here and the many black Americans denied my upbringing through the effects of racism. Some of you may find this post un-Christlike, but the white American version of Christianity that produces Christians more devoted to comfort than lessening injustices is a far departure from the Bible.

There are no congratulations in reaching the end of my post. But in parting, I leave a quote from MLK’s “The Other America” speech. And I want you to know that if you ever see my name trending because I’m victim of systemic racism, you’re going to see me fight back in that video. When the Lord welcomes me home, I’ll finally have an unburdened joy as no racists will be there.

 

The Apostles Listened and Didn’t Dismiss

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
(Acts 6:1)

The horrible killing of George Floyd is just another reminder that hatred and racism is real in this country.

There was racial / ethic tension in the early church. It was real. Here is just one example.

Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. The Hebrew widows were doing just fine. They never missed a meal, and the Hebrews made sure their widows were well cared for. It was the Greek (Hellenist) Jews, whose widows were being overlooked.

The neglect, the favoritism, and the divide came to a head. The Hellenists cried out against the Hebrews because of the unfair treatment. “This isn’t right,” they said.

What did the apostles do? Did they dismiss the problem? Nope. Did they accuse the Hellenists of bad motives, of not being thankful, of creating a problem that doesn’t exist? Nope. Did they come back with “All Widows Matter.” Nope. Did they threaten and intimidate the Hellenists for speaking up? Nope.

What the apostles did first of all was listen. The leadership listened. They heard the cries of those who were being neglected and mistreated.

Secondly, they accepted that the problem was real and needed a godly solution. It was time to act.

Third they empowered the church, including those who were being mistreated to be part of the solution (Acts 6:3-6). Those who are in leadership and are reading this article, please, please, please see that it was the church, not the leadership, who selected the 7 men who would oversee the care of the widows. The apostles demonstrated confidence in the church to select who would take care of this issue. Notice that all 7 men had Greek names, not Hebrew ones (Acts 6:5). The group chose Greek (Hellenist) men to address the problem. Can you imagine us choosing an all-white panel to address racism in America?

These three basic things must be done today by our leaders, in churches, in business, and in America. Leaders have to listen, especially right now. Leaders cannot dismiss a problem that many people are consistently bringing up. Leaders have to empower people to be part of the solution.

Don’t get caught up in the reactions of some who are doing wrong and miss the hurt and pain of so many who are living what many of us have dismissed and don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.

Listen.

Don’t dismiss. Be part of the solution.

Empower others to be part of the solution.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post articles and videos from our sisters in Christ who are African American. Listen to them. Hear their pain and what they experience.

Know Your Worth by Levi B. Gregory

Here is a social media post that someone shared with me about knowing your worth.

Know Your Worth by Levi B. Gregory

Before he died, a father said to his son; “Here is a watch that your grandfather gave me. It is almost 200 years old. Before I give it to you, go to the jewelry store downtown. Tell them that I want to sell it, and see how much they offer you.”

The son went to the jewelry story, came back to his father, and said; “They offered $150.00 because it’s so old.”

The father said; “Go to the pawn shop.”

The son went to the pawn shop, came back to his father, and said; “The pawn shop offered $10.00 because it looks so worn.”

The father asked his son to go to the museum and show them the watch.

He went to the museum, came back, and said to his father; “The curator offered $500,000.00 for this very rare piece to be included in their precious antique collections.”

The father said; “I wanted to let you know that the right place values you in the right way. Don’t find yourself in the wrong place and get angry if you are not valued. Those that know your value are those who appreciate you, don’t stay in a place where nobody sees your value.”

Know your worth.

You Can Make a Difference!

Thanks Benjamin for this great article! Everyone, please click on the link to Benjamin’s podcast. This interview with the founders of Sacred Selections is a must hear. If you are interested in promoting life and helping families fund adoptions, you should prayerfully consider supporting Sacred Selections! — Aaron

You Can Make A Difference

Last year, I had the opportunity to go to a fundraiser dinner for Sacred Selections in Dallas Texas. I had heard a great deal about this non-profit group, but I was blown away by the great things Sacred Selections has done and is currently doing in America and around the world.

I had the opportunity to meet the founders, David and Dana Carrozza. I was quickly drawn to their passion for helping children. Below is their mission statement from their website.

Sacred Selections mission is to financially assist Christian couples whose hearts and homes are open to loving and raising a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The dream of parenting does not have to be constrained by limited financial resources. The foundation, its board and many generous donors are committed to using the blessings we’ve received to assist in the wonderful effort in creating a Christian home and family.

www.sacredselections.org

 I have seen first-hand the impact of what they have done. One of our families at the congregation where I preach recently adopted through Sacred Selections. Another close friend of my family adopted a baby a couple of years ago! I’ve seen how lives have been changed for the better. It’s such a blessing.

I’ve also seen the power of one person! Everyone can make a difference in the life of someone else. People often want to know what they can do individually to help others in their community and the world. Supporting Sacred Selections is one way you can impact many people. Every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and dollar counts. Every prayer for the work that’s taking place through David and Dana matters! You can help a child in need. You can help a family in need.

Recently, I had David and Dana on my Podcast. My Podcast is called, “I CAN DO with Benjamin Lee.” I’ve begun interviewing people who have an I CAN DO spirit. David and Dana certainly fall into that category. I would love for you to listen to it as they share their story. Their story is powerful and it will certainly encourage and motivate you to support the great work they are doing. Please pray for the children in need. Please pray for the couples who are willing to open up their hearts and home. Let’s strive to DO GOOD.

Let’s remember the words of Jesus.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Let’s remember the words of the apostle Paul.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

 Click the link below to listen to my interview with David and Dana Carozza. My Podcast is available on my website www.benjaminlee.blog, icd.buzzsprout.com, apple podcast, Spotify, iHeart radio, and other podcast platforms.

 https://www.buzzsprout.com/261834/3596206

 

Moving from Covetousness to Contentment

Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The apostle Paul admitted in Romans 7 that the command, “You shall not covet” was one with which he really struggled. In fact, he said he was full of “all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:8). He clearly struggled being thankful for what he had, so we can safely assume that if he was coveting, that he was also jealousy and envious. It all goes together.

But later in Paul’s life, Paul had “learned” to be content in whatever situation he found himself. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart, he transformed from a covetous,  envious person to a contented person. Take note that he wrote Philippians from prison in Rome. He took a pretty hard route to get there, too. Just read Acts 21-28 to see what he endured. Yet, he had learned the secret of facing life’s ups and downs.

Look at Paul’s focus, just in the book of Philippians:

  • Paul chose to be thankful (Philippians 1:3-6; 4:6). Thankfulness is a choice and it is powerful to help us through anxieties, envy, etc.
  • Bad things happened to him, but he made a choice to see how those events actually turned out to further the gospel (Philippians 1:12-14).
  • Even when others were preaching with evil motives while he’s in jail, he pointed out that at least Jesus was preached (Philippians 1:15-18).
  • He was determined to think of the good work of Jesus in himself and others, even if bad things happened to him while good things happened to others (Philippians 1:6; 2:12-14).
  • Paul made a decision to set aside his own righteousness, and to be filled with God’s righteousness (Philippians 3:8-10).
  • His mindset was not on the past, but on moving forward (Philippians 3:12-14).
  • Paul chose positive, spiritually minded people for his company. Look at how he spoke of men like Timothy and Epaphroditus in chapter 2. Find contented Christians and make them your pattern to follow (Philippians 3:17-19).
  • He learned to view heaven as his home, and that eventually changed his perspective on how he saw things on this earth (Philippians 3:20-21).

If we find ourselves being jealous, envious and covetousness, we can take some time to prayerfully meditate upon Philippians. Paul was a man that transformed from covetousness to peaceful contentment. The Holy Spirit can do that same work through you.

Other articles on jealousy, envy and covetousness:

Monday – It was because of envy

Tuesday – What is jealousy?

Wednesday – Jealousy versus envy

Thursday – Signs you are jealous or envious

Signs You are Jealous or Envious

How do you know if you are jealous or envious? This week we’ve been looking at the words jealous and envy and seeing how they affect relationships. What gets me is to see that James says in his letter that most relationship problems come down to “jealousy and selfish ambition” (James 3:16). He said that whenever you find disorder and every evil practice, then at the root is jealousy and selfish ambition.

What is that telling us, guys? Marriage problems? Jealousy and selfish ambition. Church problems? Jealousy and selfish ambition. Parenting issues? Jealousy and selfish ambition. Problems at work? You’ve got it – Jealousy and selfish ambition.

I believe that one of the 10 commandments is directly tied to this discussion of jealousy and envy, and that is “You shall not covet.”

Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Paul equated covetousness to idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Look at what Moses said above about covetousness. You can see how covetousness is tied to the concept that I am not happy with what other people have. I want it for myself. I want that man’s wife. I want that man’s life. I want that man’s business success. I want what he has. I want, I want, I want. I’m not happy until I have it. That guy has confidence, and is successful, and I’m not happy. Those folks don’t bow down and worship all my ideas. I can’t handle it. That’s covetousness, and that is idolatry.  What is the god you are worshiping? You! Your desires!

Think about David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba was another man’s wife. David wanted her for himself, which means he was taking her way from her husband. Look at where David’s god of pleasure, his envy and covetousness led (2 Samuel 11-12)!

Here’s a few quick questions on helping me see my own jealousy and envy:

  • Do I praise other women and criticize my wife?
  • Do I criticize other people’s successes and blessings by finding fault with them or by not openly rejoicing with them?
  • How do I handle it when others are promoted and are moving up, and I am seemingly stuck in a nowhere job?
  • What happens when others are getting lots of attention and praise at church services?
  • How do I respond when people are not coming to me for advice but are going to others?
  • Am I secretly pleased when others are having problems, failures and pain?
  • What am I saying about people behind their back? Do we connect gossip to jealousy? Its connected folks!
  • What do those closest to you say? Those who have the courage to tell you what you need to hear…what are they saying? Ask them, and don’t be sensitive and defensive when they tell you!

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

Here is a link to an article about other signs you are jealous (powerofpositivity.com).

 

Here are the previous articles from this week.

Monday’s article – It Was Because of Envy

Tuesday’s article – What Is Jealousy?

Wednesday’s article – Jealousy Versus Envy

 

Jealousy Versus Envy

What is the difference between jealousy and envy? Is there a difference? People have many ideas. Psychologists may define these terms differently than Biblical scholars. Even among those who explain these Biblical terms, they will have differences in how they explain it.
Here is a note from my friend, Geoff, about the difference between jealousy and envy.
I’ve always found Vine’s helpful in understanding the distinction between the two.
“envy,” is the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others
Think about that!  It’s not that I want what you have; I just hate that you have it!
“The distinction lies in this, that “envy” desires to deprive another of what he has, “jealousy” desires to have the same or the same sort of thing for itself.”
Depending on translation, the English words are used interchangeably, but the original language makes the distinction.  With that distinction understood, envy is the more insidious of the two.  And unlike envy, jealousy, “to seek or desire eagerly”, can be rightly directed. Note that  jealous (bad) in 1 Corinthians 13:4 and and jealous (good) in 2 Corinthians 11:2 are from the exact same original word and the context clearly shows the dual nature of the term.

Thanks Geoff!

Jealousy also has the aspect of it that there is a sense of protection of what you already possess. There is either a perceived or real threat of losing what you have, and you are jealous for it. A spouse may be jealous for fear of losing his wife. God is jealous for us, He wants to keep us to Himself (1 Corinthians 10:22, that is a good jealousy!). Someone in a position of authority may be jealous for losing his own status and power, when he feels threatened by the success, confidence and popularity of another.

Tomorrow we will consider signs that we are jealous and envious, including looking into the word covetous. Friday we will take the journey from covetousness to contentment.

Monday’s Article – It Was Because of Envy

Tuesday’s Article – What Is Jealousy?

What is Jealousy?

What is jealousy anyway?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines jealous as “Hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.” It also adds that jealousy is “intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness,” and “disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness.”

There are a couple of things to note from that definition: Hostile toward a rival and hostile toward one believed to enjoy an advantage. How do you handle a rival? What if someone comes along and threatens your authority? How do you respond when others around you just seem way more talented, positive and popular? When others have things (not just possessions) that you do not have, how does that make you feel? Does it affect how you view others, how you treat them and how you talk about them?

Yesterday we looked at the fact that jealousy is behind a lot of strife in all kinds of relationships. How was jealousy part of the equation?

  • What did Paul and his companions have that the Jews in Galatia / Thessalonica didn’t? The people, both Jews and Gentiles, were flocking to hear Paul preach the gospel. Many were hanging on every word and begging to hear those same words again the next week (Acts 13,17).
  • What did Jesus have that the Jewish leaders didn’t? Again, it was that the people (from nobility to the harlots) ran to Jesus en masse to hear His teachings, be healed by Him, and to find forgiveness and grace. The Jewish leaders just couldn’t stand it that Jesus had that much popularity (Luke 15:1-2).
  • What did Abel have that Cain didn’t? Abel’s works were righteous, Cain’s works were evil. Cain saw Abel as a rival and a threat, not as a brother and an inspiration to draw closer to God (1 John 3:12).
  • What did Joseph have that his brothers did not have? Joseph was the favorite of their father, Jacob. He enjoyed advantages and privileges that the others did not (Genesis 37).

We’ll develop this more tomorrow, Lord willing, but for now think about this. If jealousy is at the root of a lot of relationship problems, shouldn’t you and I be open to the possibility that we might be jealous of others? We might not want to think of ourselves as jealous people, but God is saying that we are and it is the building block for fights. Let’s get at the root of this problem.

It was because of envy

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?(Proverbs 27:4)

Who can stand before jealousy? Great question. Here are several examples of great strife and pain caused by jealousy and envy.

  • The Roman governor Pilate knew that the Jewish leaders were envious of Jesus and that is why they delivered Jesus up (Matthew 27:18).
  • Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Joseph and sold him into slavery (Acts 7:9).
  • It was because of jealousy that the Jews in Galatia opposed and contradicted everything Paul and Barnabas tried to preach (Acts 13:45).
  • Jealousy led the Jews in Thessalonica to take wicked men and stir up the crowd against Paul and his companions (Acts 17:5).

James wrote in his letter that if we see disorder and every vile practice, we will find jealousy behind it.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
(James 3:14-16)

Family problems? Jealousy is somewhere close. Church problems? Look for jealousy. Problems at work. Envy is at work.

What is jealousy anyway? What is envy? Let’s look that tomorrow. If jealousy is such a source of strife, we ought to find out what it is, and how we can replace it in our hearts with godly qualities.