I have been very much in prayer about this week and I believe that there's some very important material. I want to remind you that when you stop and think about it, that the Creator of the universe who laid down His life for us and who could give us anything He wanted to give us, put the emphasis on our spiritual lives, that’s where obviously then we need to be putting our emphasis as well.
I have been talking about a basis for fellowship. I’ve been making the point that the basis for fellowship is being like-minded. Making the conscious and deliberate effort of getting your minds together. That if your minds are not together, you’re simply not together. Just because you’re sitting in the same room, or going into the same place, or driving in the same car, or sitting at the same table, does not mean that you’re together if your minds are not together.
It’s interesting that your mind doesn’t have to be where you are. I can remember when I was a boy my father used to make me go to church. Now I’m not against parents making their children go to church, because we did the same thing with ours and I happen to be a believer in church, and I believe that children should be in church. I also believe that their parents should take them to church. So our children were in church twice every Sunday, and every Wednesday as long as they were home, and as far as I know they’re still regular in their church attendance. I sometimes didn’t want to go, and my father used to make me go. I discovered something, that I could park my body in a church pew and leave. That could be true of you already. I can look around here and sure enough there are your bodies. I found that I could go to Europe in my mind, or I could plan what I was going to do during the week in my mind, and I was as far away as I wanted to be.
And yet, my father could reach over and touch me, and there was a warm body right beside him. And as far as he knew, I was all there, but I wasn’t all there. Now I want to make that clear that you can be in the same room and you couldn’t be any further apart. If your minds are not together, then you’re simply not together. Now in the process of coming to a meeting of minds, just read these verses in Philippians 2:2-4: “Fulfill my joy that you be like-minded having the same love, and being of one accord and of one mind, and let nothing be done through strife or vain glory.”
In the process of coming to the meeting of minds, you don’t have to fight. I think it is important that you approach one another lovingly, not angrily. If you find yourself becoming angry over the process of coming to a meeting of minds, you’d do well to suspend the discussion and get off by yourself and take care of your spirit. Because the spirit, your spirit, involves you and God, that’s all. It doesn’t have anything to do with anybody else. Did I say something wrong there? Is that true? That your spirit involves you and God, and that’s all? I’m saying that your interaction with people will reveal your spirit, not cause your spirit, simply reveal your spirit. Just like if you’re going to play tennis, it will become very clear whether you’re in physical shape or not. Now the game of tennis will simply reveal whether you’re in shape. It will not determine whether you are in shape. Same way with your interaction with people. It will reveal your spirit, not cause your spirit, but reveal your spirit.
You know sometimes we say to ourselves, if only this person would change, then all these wonderful, warm, friendly, qualities would be released in me. If that person would change. I don’t think that’s true. A person will reveal your spirit, not cause it. Now that’s good news! I think it is. Nobody can come between you and God. Nobody can cause you to be angry. They can reveal your anger. You have access to God and nobody can stop you from calling on God to fill you with His love, and joy, and peace, and gentleness, and kindness, and faith, and patience.
This is a relationship between you and God, and this is something that burdens me a good deal. We can be very much concerned about an individual that commits adultery, or somebody that steals, or somebody that swears, or somebody that drinks, but we don’t do any of those things. But we can be the most cantankerous, bull-headed people, and not be the least bit concerned. “Let nothing be done through strife, or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves.”
And you know, if you aren’t careful, the older you get the more preoccupied you become with yourself - my wishes, my desires, how things are affecting me, and my aches and my pains. And I’m saying if you aren’t careful, the older you get, the more preoccupied you become with yourself. Now the Bible says, “In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than yourself, and look not every man on his own things, but also on the things of others.” You try and approach your efforts at coming to a meeting of minds in that fashion, and I think you’ll be surprised how rapidly you can move. So, if you’re stubborn, and immovable, and inflexible, and easily irritable, believe me it’s not a matter of age, it’s a matter of the Spirit.
As I say, we can slowly and gradually drift away from letting the Lord fill our hearts with His Spirit day by day, and yet we can be very proper as far as the rules of society is concerned.
Well so much for that.
I want to now start in on an area that I said I would talk about, and that is your own mental health. I’m saying that your own mental health is in your own control. Only you can look after your own mental health. Just as only you can see to it that you keep your body in physical shape. Nobody can do your exercising for you. Nobody can do your eating for you.
Now very many times we know the rules, we just don’t obey the rules. I think a good illustration of that has to do with eating. Have you ever been sitting at a table and it’s a delicious meal, and you’ve already eaten all you need, but it was so good that you eat some more? When you’re through you say, “Oh, I shouldn’t have eaten that much.” And then they pass the dessert. You have already committed yourself and you have already declared that you’ve eaten too much. Have you ever done that? So you pick up your fork and with fork in hand you say to everybody at the table, “I shouldn’t do this.”
You are announcing to the whole table that you are about to do something that you yourself have declared that you shouldn’t do, and you go right ahead and do it. Then when you’re through, you groan and say, “Oh no, I shouldn’t have done it.” Now that’s the way we are, isn’t it? Over and over again, is it not true that you will knowingly and deliberately, and consciously, do things that you, yourself will declare to be wrong? You know, nobody can do your eating for you. If you don’t want to eat it, nobody’s going to make you; and if you’re going to eat it, probably nobody’s going to stop you. Right?
Well let me give you some ideas here. I’ve found that people who end up in a consulting room talk about a limited number of things. That’s what I want to talk about here are those limited number of things that people bring up in a consulting room as the basis for what is disturbing them. The most common thing that people talk about is their own behavior. The things that I have done, or the way I am being treated, that’s the most common thing that people talk about, and the next most common thing that people talk about is what I have said to people.
Just think of some of the things that you have said to people already this week. Commendable, praise, supportive kind of words, or on the other hand, you could have been critical, and caustic, and hostile with your words. Many people have long ago forgotten the spankings they’ve gotten when they were children, but you can still remember the tongue lashings. You know, you can cut people up with your tongue without leaving a mark. You know you hit them, and you leave a mark, but you cut them up with your tongue, and you don’t leave a mark. That nobody can see.
So the next most common thing that people talk about in the consulting room is conversation. What I have said, and what people have said to me.
Then the third most common thing that people talk about are the reactions, your emotions. Then the way you think and those are the subjects that I’m going to talk about. So this morning, I would like to talk about your behavior. Now let me just give you some scripture verses to think about when you think about your behavior. Colossians 3:17 is one of them. “Whatever you do, in word or deed.”
Whatever you do. . . Now in life there are some things that you can choose to do. There are some other things that you simply have to do. What it is saying here, is whether you have to do it or whether you choose to do it, there’s a way of doing it that is pleasing unto the Lord.“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him.” You do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Now you stop and think a little bit, wouldn't it make a difference how you treated people if the Lord were there? Why, it would even make a difference how you treated people if I was there!
I remember one time. I was a student at the college, and we had an unusual privilege; we had the chance to have the president of the college at our house for supper. Now the president of the college isn’t anything like the Lord, but you know, we really went out of our way to get ready for him. You should have seen the way we cleaned that house.
Well I came home and I asked, “What’s going on around here?”
She says we’re expecting the president!
And my reaction to it was, well isn’t that great, what happens when I come home? Nothing. And here’s a perfect stranger, and all this activity! And then we’re supposed to act like it’s always like this around here, you know, when he gets there. You know, I’ve often thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if people would treat me like a stranger.” Isn’t it true, don’t you go out of your way even when a stranger comes around the house?
Or I’ve often thought, ”If only I could be treated like a dog!” I remember one time a couple of our children were pushing and shoving each other; they were pretty mad at each other, and one of them stepped on the dog. They interrupted their fight and the one said, “Oh Trixie, I’m sorry,” and then they resumed their fight with each other. Isn’t that interesting that you would treat your dog nicer than somebody in the house? I hope that’s not true, but the point that we’re making here is if you would only do what you do as though the Lord were there, wouldn’t it make a difference?
For instance, have you ever had, say your living room was a mess and there’s a knock on the door. Isn’t it amazing how much work you can get done between the first knock and the third knock? You scramble around straightening things up. What for? You don’t even know who’s on the other side of the door. Well you know it makes a difference how you behave. It makes a difference how you treat people.
Maybe you’ve had this experience where you’ve had one of these grump, grump, grump, grump evenings at home, and the doorbell rings. What do you do? Do you go to the door and open it, and say, “What do you want?” That’s the way you’ve been talking to each other. No, you don’t do that do you? What do you do? Well, I suppose you do what everybody else does. You wipe the frown off your face and put on a smile, and your wife wipes the frown off her face, and on the way to the door, you warn the children, and you open the door and you say, ”Hello, come on in!” Have you ever done that?
They come in, and they look at your wife, and she’s all smiles, and you just have a lovely evening together, and then pretty soon it’s time for your friends to go. You’re standing in the doorway with your arm around your wife, waving bye, and the man says to his wife on the way to the car, ”Now there’s a happy couple, why don’t we get along like that?”
You’re waving goodbye, and the car pulls off, and you close the door and pick up right where you left off. Now it’s obvious, is it not, that when you behave that way that you’ve got to be chipping away at your own self respect. Oh what a difference it makes how you behave around one another.
Now the idea here is whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. One time this couple came to see me, they were having problems with each other, and they were fighting about whether or not to buy a washer and dryer. She demanded a washer and a dryer. You know that’s the way to persuade your husband, just pick a fight with him. She was pretty nasty about it, and his response was I’ll buy you a washer and a dryer over my dead body.
Well that’s the way they left it. That’s not exactly a meeting of minds, is it? She said to herself, “I’ll show him,” and she went out and bought a washer and a dryer at Sears, and she didn’t say anything to him, and one day he came home from work and there was a brand new washer and dryer installed in the house. He came home and he said, ”What’s this?” And she said, “Stupid. Can’t you see, it’s a washer and a dryer?” Now you wouldn’t believe that people would talk that way to each other, would you? Does that ever happen at your house?
Will you lash out at somebody like that? Well you know, he got mad and he went out and got drunk, and he stayed away for a couple of days, and in his drunken condition, he said to himself, “I’m going to buy me a car”. And he went to a sales room and bought a station wagon. And when he sobered up, he drove into the driveway, and his wife came out and said, “What’s that?” He said, “It’s a station wagon. And if you can buy a washer and a dryer, I can buy a station wagon.” And you know, that washer and dryer and station wagon became a real issue between those people.
Now why did I tell you that story? \Well let me read you this Bible verse again. “Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” You see that wasn’t a thankful lady. She says, “I’m entitled to a washer and a dryer.” And they couldn’t enjoy that station wagon because they didn’t have a thankful spirit And every time she looked at that station wagon, it represented to her his expression of what he thought of her. “If she’s going to buy a washer and a dryer, I’m going to but a station wagon.”
Now you know there’s nothing wrong with a washer and a dryer. Those are wonderful gadgets. But if you can’t use them with a thankful spirit, they don’t really do you that much good. Oh I tell you, what a relief and what a wonderful thing it is to walk around with a thankful spirit and a sense of appreciation for this wonderful world, and a sense of appreciation for where you are, and what you’ve got. We can get so preoccupied with the negative qualities of somebody that you have to deal with, that you lose sight of all the things that are good. All you can think about is what’s wrong.
I remember talking to this farmer, and he was saying, “Oh, this is going to be a bad year.”
“Why is it going to be a bad year?”
“Oh, we had so much rain, and we had so much sunshine, and we’re going to have bumper crop, and there’s going to be so much wheat on the market the price is going to go down.”
You see, that’s pretty bad. Now on the other hand, you see, that farmer would say it’s going to be a bad year ‘cause we’re not getting enough rain; and we’re not going to have much of a crop, and aren’t going to make enough money.
You can just see the negative side of most anything you want to look at. Now what we’re talking about here is looking to God with a thankful Spirit, and doing what we do in His name, and as though He were there.
You know, once when I was a kid, I did something that I just never forget it, I guess. I created a real problem for myself. I did it all by myself. The neighbors had a raspberry patch, and I love raspberries, and this was raspberry season and the orders were, ”Stay out of that raspberry patch unless you get permission from the owner to go into it.”
One day I walked by that patch and the raspberries were ripe, and I looked around and there wasn’t anybody around, and I slipped into that raspberry patch, and I started eating raspberries. Nice, cool, juicy, tasty raspberries. Mmm, they felt so good going down, and they just felt just right in my tummy, and I was having a wonderful time eating raspberries, and I was so preoccupied though that I didn’t realize that the owner of the patch was approaching, and caught me with a mouthful of raspberries.
When I saw that owner, all of a sudden those same juicy, delicious raspberries didn’t taste very good, and they felt like a rock in my stomach. In fact, I thought I might see them again. You know I pleaded with that lady, “Please don’t tell my mother.” She wouldn’t promise, so all of a sudden, my whole day changed, and I was apprehensive. You see I created it all for myself. Nobody made me go into that raspberry patch. I went into it all by myself. I just simply, deliberately, and consciously violated something that I knew was wrong.
Then pretty soon across the ether waves I hear this voice. This is my mother, and she would call me something like this that would go, “Henry!” When I heard that, my heart started to thump. Have you ever had that happen to you? My muscles tensed up, and my hands started to sweat, and my, I was scared. Just ‘cause my mother called. Now there shouldn’t be any reason to fear your mother, unless you’ve created it. Maybe that’s true of some of you. You get very apprehensive when certain people show up, and you’ve created the whole situation yourself.
Well that’s the way it was with me, and I went very fearfully home, and I figured it was all up. I’m really in trouble, and my mother said, “I want you to go to the store.” That’s all she said. Whew! Boy I tell you, I was relived, and I got out of there and I went to the store! Boy, I was worried all afternoon. And my mother called again, and as soon as she called, my heart begin to thump, I was all tensed up, and I walked into the house, and was trying to be as good as I could. I said, “What do you want Mom?”
I couldn’t wait to hear. And she said “Supper’s ready.” So I sat down to eat, but I couldn’t eat. I wasn’t very hungry. I guess I must have glanced at my father and my mother, and my father finally said, “What’s the matter with you?” I said “Nothing, nothing, there’s nothing wrong with me.” I couldn’t imagine, how could he think there was something wrong with me? Of course, I've since realized watching children how awfully guilty a child can look, but I figured I was looking as innocent as possible. My mother said, “Why don’t you eat?”
I said “I’m eating, I’m eating!” I realized that you’re protesting too much, you’ve got to be more careful. Well what a miserable meal that was. You see, I did it all by myself. I created the whole thing by myself. If I had conducted myself as though the Lord were there, I wouldn’t have done that, would I?
You know it’s a very simple thing. You keep that in front of you. What would I do if the Lord were here? Well I got out of there as soon as I could, and awhile later, my father called. Now you know, when my father called, he didn’t call unless there was trouble.
So I went into that house very fearfully, and I figured it was all up. The lady must have come over and told them. And my father said, “It’s bedtime.” I went to bed very relieved, very uncomfortable, tossing and turning in my bed. And you see, I created the whole thing by myself. I say that that’s true over and over and over again when I listen to people’s stories. People come in all tensed up, and anxious, and worried, and very often they have created their own conditions by going their own way, and doing their own thing, and disregarding the people with whom you live.
Next day I was playing around, and that lady, I saw her coming down the street, and I thought, “Oh me!”, You know, I watched her and watched her, peeped around the corner. She came closer, and closer, and closer, and closer, and went right on past. And do you know to this day, I still don’t know whether she ever told my mother. Now I think you can understand that kind of thing, can’t you?
I recall one time I was traveling at night, like three o’clock in the morning, and this was before we had some of these big highways, and I came to this little town. I was going sixty miles an hour. I came to this little town and there was a sign that said, “Speed Limit 20 miles an hour.” Twenty miles an hour?!? Well, I wasn’t about to slow down to twenty miles an hour at three o’clock in the morning, and I breezed right through that town. But you know that I still recall that as I was going through that town, and I was pretty sure there wasn’t going to be anybody up, but I looked in my rearview mirror constantly. I looked this way, I looked that way, and sure enough, I got through that little town, and nobody saw me, but a relief it was when that resume speed sign came.
I was all alone, nobody saw me, I created my own tensions. Because I knew perfectly well that I was doing something wrong. I’m trying to emphasize that you create your own tensions with your own choices and your own behavior. Have you ever been driving along the freeway, and you look in the mirror, and there’s a state trooper back there? Then you look at your speedometer, and you are within the limit, isn’t that the most delightful feeling there is?
You know, if you’re doing the right thing, you can go through a whole squadron of state troopers, and it’s not going to bother you any. You know there is a passage of scripture in Romans, Romans chapter 13, that I believe is pertinent right here staring with the first verse and going through the fourth verse. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God and the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the power resists the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive unto themselves, damnation.”
You know you don’t feel bad because there’s a rule, you feel bad because you resist the rule. That’s true of our stay here this week. That’ll be true when you leave here. But this week there are rules and standards for us to go by, and you can accept them, or you can resist them. If you resist, you bring upon yourself, damnation. You see you bring upon yourself damnation. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.” You know when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you don’t mind somebody coming around to check up on what you’re doing, do you?
The only time that you mind being checked up on, is if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Otherwise, you don’t mind if anybody checks up on you. “Will you not then be afraid of the power, then do that which is good and you will have praise of the same.” There’s another passage of scripture, Colossians 3:23-24. “Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not as unto men knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance.” Do you know there isn’t anything I don’t think as agreeable as doing something, and you don’t want to be doing it?
I have been an employer for many years in the restaurant business. There is a little gadget in a restaurant that will surely reveal a man’s spirit. That little gadget is called a dishwasher. When we hire people, everybody goes through the same routine, and everybody starts on that dishwasher. There are two basic responses to the dishwasher. One of them is, “Oh no! I have to work on this? If I have to work on this I don’t want to work at all.” Or other people will work away at the dishwasher.
Now every once in a while, along comes somebody who’s happy to work on the dishwasher. Do you know something? If you’re happy, you’re going to be happy whatever you do. It’s not the task that determines whether you’re going to be content, it’s your spirit.
That dishwasher has been a very good screening technique. And we would observe the people and how they conduct themselves on that dishwasher, and you know sometimes people would impress upon us. They would go out of their way to impress upon us how unhappy they are on that dishwasher, and the implication being if you move me from this job to another job, that would make me happy. You know what I have found? That when you move an unhappy person from one job to another, all you have done is move an unhappy person from one job to another. That’s all, and yet we want to blame it on a job.
You know I talk to ladies sometimes who say “Woe is me. I’ve got to do this housework.” They’ll stand in front of an object and say, “Why do I have to dust this?” You know a happy housekeeper? By the time that woman has gotten through slaving over this one object to dust, a happy housekeeper has dusted three or four others. Everybody has routines. Did you ever stop to think how many nose holes a physician examines every day? Did you ever stop to think how many ears he looks into? Or you take a dentist, did you ever stop to think how many mouths he stares into every day and he’s drilling out cavities, that’s his work.
Can you imagine a dentist, “Woe is me, I’m a dentist.” You don’t have to feel sorry for a dentist, you don’t have to feel sorry for a physician, but I’m just trying to point out to you that everybody has routines to face. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be a counselor and listen to these dreary, dreary miserable stories all day long, and listening to people talk about their woes and their troubles and their problems. You think that’s easy? You know in our day, it’s easy for us to say to ourselves, “If I were somewhere else, I’d be content.”
We live in a lovely condominium, and yet can hear people grip about the thing. Some people say, “Oh, if I could only live in an ocean front place.” Do you know you hear people say, ”It’s too windy,” or “It’s too hot,” or “The gardener hasn’t looked after things,” or “The pool is too cool.” You know something, if you are a griper; you’re going to find something to gripe about. Now obviously, if you’re a housewife, the only thing you can find to gripe about is the house, but your husband may be griping about his job.
Oh listen, it is not true that contentment is somewhere else. Joy is something that the Lord will put into your heart, and He will put it into your heart when you ask Him, and joy is not a matter of swapping responsibilities. “Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not as unto men.” You know, sometimes the phone rings, and someone will ask me for an appointment. Now you know, I can give them an appointment, and hang up the phone and say, “Oh no, not another appointment. Why do I have to have another appointment?”
You know that’s no way to live. You see, I have the option. I don’t have to accept an appointment, but if I do, there’s a rule to follow, and my mental health depends upon that rule> And the rule is, ”Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not as unto men.” Now you just pay attention to yourself. As I say, everybody faces routines. Everybody has to do some things that if you had some options you wouldn’t do them, but there’s one thing that everybody can do, and nobody can stop you, and that is, you can ask the Lord to fill your heart with joy while you do it.
You know what some of my employees have said to me? “If you thought I enjoyed this job, you’d never promote me.” Now isn’t that an odd idea, that the way to get a better job is to impress upon your employer how much you dislike the one you got. Or you want to impress upon your partner how you dislike what you have to do. What a sad way to live. Let me paint this picture again. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him, and whatsoever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not as unto men.”
I have said that your mental health in part depends upon the way you do what you have to do, and the spirit in which you do it. You know, there ought to be hope there. Some of us, it isn’t a question of, “Woe is me! How did I get stuck where I’m at?” It’s a question of opening our hearts to the Lord, and letting Him give you the Spirit that He laid down His life to give you. He died to give you the chance to open your heart to His Spirit, and fill your heart with joy, and peace, and love, and gentleness, and kindness right where you’re at. I say He died to do that.
Now some of us can do what we please part of the time. And some of us have to do what’s required part of the time. And we’re all in that position, are we not, where we have to do certain things and we can elect to do others. But this is a very basic principle, and with this I close, that “whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” You see, we can all do that, can’t we? Giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. Now if you want to be grumpy and crabby, that’s your privilege, though it isn’t necessary.
Not when Christ laid down His life to give you of His Spirit, and to make your burden light. And so I guess the question is, what will you do with the privileges that come your way?
I would pray, Our Father, that we might leave here conscious of the fact that You have something to say about the way we behave. Help us that we might be more aware of how we do the tasks that fall to us to do. May we give this a try today, that we commit what we have to do, to You, and that we look to you for a spirit of joy. That we might do what we do and do it heartily. And that we do it in Your name and in a thankful spirit, and that we don’t need to do this by ourselves. This isn’t something we have to crank up. We want to thank You that You gave Your life to give us this spirit. We pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.