hope

Am I a Curmudgeon?

Curmudgeon, it sounds like what it is: “a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary). Since the big six-oh is fast approaching, maybe I need to test myself. What about you? Are you the person, regardless of gender or age, that when people move out of ear-shot of the last discourse with you, shake their heads saying, “Why does he/she complain so much?” It’s a symptom you’re getting curmudgeonitis!

We should ask ourselves, “Do I have reasons to be sad and grumpy?” YES. I’m not as healthy as I used to be (of course, some of this is my own doing). I can’t go to the grocery store without seeing people with more money than me. I live in an ugly, corrupt world (2 Timothy 3:1-8). And one of these days, I’m going to die. Enough reasons?

NO! I am alive and it is so easy to observe the beauty of this world God made for us (Psalm 8&19). I have family, friends and brethren who genuinely love me; not to mention God, who loved me so much He sent His Son to die for me, in spite of all my sins (Romans 5:8)! I obeyed the Lord’s Gospel and am assured I won’t share the fate of those who don’t (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10).

Some, even Christians, might say it looks like a toss-up, so I might as well be grumpy. But wait! God tells me, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31 NKJV). He wants me to let my light shine, so that people will end up glorifying Him (Matthew 5:16). Somehow, I can’t see a shining light and curmudgeon together.

I wear the name of Christ! Did Jesus have reasons to complain? Just a few. And yet as He hangs dying in agony on the cross, the perfect time to feel sorry for Himself, He says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34); and to the thief who admitted that Jesus didn’t deserve to be there, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Where is the self-centered curmudgeon?

So, yes, I don’t need to fall in the crevice of curmudgeoness. I can keep my eyes on Jesus, endure my troubles, and show the world I’m a Christian with a smile (Hebrews 12:1-2). Will you join me?

Jeff

Hopeful or Hopeless

Maybe it’s just the general positive or negative attitude people have toward all of life. I don’t know, but I find it especially frustrating to see the varying reactions we all have toward the prospects for another’s future. 

Summertime is coming and that means family-time. I have six grandchildren. What do we think when we observe these little ones? “They’ll never turn out to be anything,” or does their future look bright. I’m not talking about their circumstances and environment, but the decisions they’ll make regardless of what they have to deal with.

What about people who have made some mistakes, even let us down? They might be teenagers, or our aging parents who are a bit forgetful. Do we give up on them? I’ll never forget one of my first days as a prison minister; one of the jail staff told me, “You know you’re wasting your time. These idiots will never change.” Really? Is that what God thinks and is hoping for?

“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32 NKJV). In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, when the son who has been a total disappointment desires to return home, Jesus explains, “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). What does that tell us about the father and The Father? Not only does He have hope, but He anticipates that desire from the wayward to “turn and live.” Do we?

In the descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13 we find three important ingredients: love thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, and hopes all things! Does that sound like your thought process regarding others? Romans 5:8 makes an intriguing statement, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If God has no hope in us, why bother to send Jesus?

I know that it is hard to have hope in some people, especially those who have repeatedly hurt us, but we dare not give up on them. The irony in fact is when we become the negative “grumblers” against those around us, we are the ones who are hopeless (James 5:9).

 Jeff