Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Lord Will Repay Him According to His Deeds: Battling Cynicism

I find I have become a little…cynical, disapproving, about certain things. Someone will say, “[Something I am cynical about] is so wonderful!” and I catch myself snorting or scoffing. I might even groan and roll my eyes. Which can be a terrible thing. Why take someone else’s joy away from them or hider them from it just because my experience has been difficult and/or unpleasant? You know?

A few things spring to mind but let’s take writing as a simple example. There was a time in my life when I worked so hard at my writing skills, projects, getting published, promotion, etc. You name it! I busted my butt tirelessly at manuscripts, I sent out query letters, I showed samples of chapters, etc. I chased that dream to ends of the earth, as I knew it at that time. And, it is possible my talent is lacking…that I just do not have what it takes. But, it could also be an extremely difficult field in to which to break…to get your foot in the door. And then once your foot is in the door that does not mean the door will then be wide open to you. It seems to be a struggle…all…the…way…around. From finding an agent to actually getting published, to being published a second, third, fourth time, etc. to retail of printed copies, and the list goes on and on. So, I have become doubting of the process and rewards. And, to be honest, when others in my life are starting on their writing journey I DO want to be encouraging. I hope that I am. But the voice inside my head is screaming… “Tell them your experience!”

This goes for a few things. Relationships. Like in middle school, sixth through eighth grade, there was someone who was very unkind to me. When I asked what I had done to hurt that person, the answer was, “It was something you did a long time ago.” I apologized even though I had no idea of what the person was referring. I just wanted to be liked…accepted. And for the life of me, this person wanted no part of a relationship with me. But there were others who did not see this side of the individual. They did not see the “dark side”… only the joking, laughing, charismatic, charming side. So, I began to not trust this person and whenever someone gushed about how lovely the person was I wanted to show them the part they were missing! You know, like in Stephen King’s The Green Mile movie adaptation where the one character, John Coffey, grabbed the arm or hand of the other, Paul Edgecomb, and Paul could see everything as if he had been standing there witnessing it himself. Like that! Why do we not have that ability? I have, of course, forgiven this person for their unkindness. After not seeing the individual for many years we did meet up again, on day, and we smiled and were polite to each other. The distance was most likely the best remedy.

So, what to do about my cynicism? Is this the part where I hear the whimsical words of “Let it Go” belted as loud as humanly possible? What does God’s word say about cynicism? Nothing my pride wants to hear, I’m sure! And, as God would have it, John Piper’s Desiring God website has the answer. Writer Paul Maxwell states,
…In the case of suffering, the imprecatory prayers are a huge help. The cynic can pray, “They did this to me, and it was wrong. I hate them for it, I hand over my curses, my ill-wishes, and my disapproval to your omnipotence to curse, to ill-wish, and to disapprove, O God. I stand with you in your disapproval of that evil. Thank you for standing with me” (Psalm 5; 69; 109; Matthew 26:23–24; 2 Timothy 4:14). The imprecatory prayer relinquishes the power to punish over to the Righteous Judge. In a sense, in this case, Christ not only redeems the cynic, but affirms the validity of the original cynicism as well….

If an idea is harmful, or a person is manipulative, or a group is destructive, a proper response is not to launch an emotional counterattack, but to construct a positive counteragent.

Proverbs 9:7 rightly says of the cynic, “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury” (see also Proverbs 18:9). In suffering, a scoffer finds an opportunity to retaliate — against the universe, neighbor, or God. Conversely, a wise man seeks satisfaction in rebuilding unto the Lord (Proverbs 12:14; 16:3), because his identity is in Christ (Ephesians 4:28–29).
(Maxwell, Paul. Desiring God Ministries. “Putting Off Cynicism”. January 23, 2014. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/putting-off-cynicism
I guess I should re-read Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, again. That one always helps me focus on my own sin and concern myself with the speck in my own eye.

14Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:14-18. ESV.)

(Photo information: Bing Public Domain)
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