February 17, 2012 Ė Boasting, Baking Bread, and One Stinky Mess
6 [About the condition of your church] your boasting is not good [indeed, it is most unseemly and entirely out of place]. Do you not know that [just] a little leaven will ferment the whole lump [of dough]? Ė 1 Corinthians 5:6 AMP
In Chapter Five of First Corinthians Paul is addressing a serious problem. Sexual immorality, something already running rampant in the city of Corinth, had invaded the body of believers. The worst part is that the church had ignored the problem and not dealt with it. They were continuing to boast of their church and their Savior while publicly allowing this ungodly behavior to continue in their body. Paulís words of correction were direct: their boasting was not good. He even uses the analogy of a small amount of leaven, or yeast, fermenting a lump of dough.
My wife Marlo has literally spoiled our family for years. But since our move to rural America a few years back, she has turned thing up several notches. One way she has done this is by baking homemade bread. The stuff is so good that I turn my nose up at that mess in plastic bags from the grocery store. She uses several ingredients, some in such large quantities that the initial ingredients themselves nearly fill up the bowl of our mixer. But the yeast she uses wonít even fill the palm of her small hand. After she mixes them all together, the dough sits in a large bowl in a warm corner of our kitchen for an hour. In that time the yeast really goes to work. The small amount of dough Marlo held in two hands an hour earlier is now four times its original size.
After an hour of the dough rising, one sniff gives its results away. It smells like a brewery. If you have ever smelled a brewery in operation you know exactly what Iím talking about. It is a big stinky mess. Many Christians today are just like the Corinthian believers of Paulís day: they boast of their church, their works, even their children, while those on the outside looking in see one big stinky mess.
Churches and denominations alike make headlines all the time for hiring homosexual pastors. These churches are viewed in the eyes of society as being progressive and opening their hearts to everyone. But like it or not, homosexuality is immoral. A church boasting about such a thing is not good.
But the boasting does not end there. Some churches boast about how much they help others. The build houses in third world countries or collect an eighteen wheeler full of food to send to the needy on the other side of the country. Yet those who live next door to the church see homeless people living in the woods across the street. Such boasting is not good.
There are also believers who like to boast of themselves, their relationship with God, and their family. They always have something God has revealed to them and seem to have a closer relationship with Him than anyone you know. They tell you about how they volunteer at the local food kitchen feeding the homeless during their lunch hour every day. They tell you about their super star athlete of a son who will be the best NFL quarterback ever. You hear all of this while you see their pregnant fifteen year old daughter at their side. Such boasting is not good.
How do Christians avoid such a stinky mess? How do they avoid becoming a braggart?
1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My life makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad. Ė Psalm 34:1-2 AMP
1 Do not boast of [yourself and] tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring forth. 2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. Ė Proverbs 27:1-2 AMP
We are supposed to bless the Lord and make our boasting in Him. Our life should not be a testimony of our greatness; it should be about His greatness. We should be a light for Him, not a light for ourselves. And other people are supposed to praise you. Iím not saying these things because I think I have arrived and have it all together. Iím saying it because I found out the hard way. My life was once full of me, myself, and I. My boasting, pride, and arrogance nearly destroyed me and my family. I found out that such boasting was not good. The leaven, or wickedness, in my life ran through my entire being and I was one big stinky mess.
Whether itís an individual believer or a church body of thousands, a little wickedness will run through it all. You may have hidden sin in your life no one knows about. Let me assure you that God knows. If you donít repent and change your ways, your whole life will suffer. Likewise, if you see sinful behavior inside the church and do nothing to correct it, pretty soon your entire church will suffer. Itís time to put an end boasting about the surface and how great things look when the yeast continues to rise on the inside. If you donít, before you know whatís going on, youíll have a big stinky mess on your hands.