Deceptive Misery

19 June 2019

2 Corinthians 9:6–11, Matthew 6:16–18

Misery loves company, so it is said. By misery, we aren’t talking sadness, grief, or mourning. We’re talking about the attitude of heart, soul, and mind that finds the worst in it all and revels in it.

Sadly, there is often a strain of that in the church. “Look at what I gave up” or “I to help those…” In traditions, such as ours, that has long been a tendency. What is always amazing is how it is often dressed up in “doing the right thing” or “not being of the world” or “not putting ourselves in the way of ”. This might sound a bit snarky. There are a lot of people who honestly mean it. Yet there is a strong (and often loud) group where they want the attention for the activities they avoid, rather than living out the upon all believers by Jesus. They are often miserable.

When we read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9:6–11, we (reasonably and rightfully) see wisdom regarding money and actions. Yet, the “right” actions (including money, time, and effort) need a basis of generosity and grace, not misery. Hearts focused on God’s immeasurable generosity and grace will be far more inclined toward sharing it with the world.

Jesus’ words echo this when talking about those that add to their physical discomfort (hunger) and add a deliberately poor appearance. They were happy in their misery. They took in their misery, using it as a source of pride, control, and influence.

We can look around us and see many of the same tendencies in the secular world. It is not immune.

1) As we have the wisdom of God in the , and the words of Jesus, how can we teach (in and out of the church) to not live the life of self-righteous misery?

2) What are your thoughts about how an attitude of grace and generosity can fulfill Paul’s words?

3) How does fasting and giving in private add or subtract from an attitude of grace and generosity?