Leaven makes the community rise.
FEBRUARY 6, 2024
Leaven makes the community rise. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was author and seminary professor Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We’re all about radical grace. Because of what Jesus has done, God’s not mad at you. Keep listening and that message will set you free to live a life of joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. When we ended yesterday’s broadcast, I had made reference to what we were going to talk about today, at least partially. And I suggested that if you were not a believer, and if you’re not a believer, I have no idea why you’re listening to this broadcast, but I’m glad you’re here. And if you’re not a believer, don’t be mad at Christians. Be thankful for them if they’re a part of your community, or your neighborhood, or your nation. Because the leaven, that would be us, makes the community rise. And I didn’t just make that up, we’re studying the Book of Proverbs. Listen to this. Proverbs 11:10 through 11.
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices. And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation. By the blessing of the upright, the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
And then one more, Proverbs 14:34.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
And so, in America right now, the culture has changed. And if you haven’t noticed, you’ve been living somewhere as a monk out in the woods. I mean, used to be, if you were a Christian and a politician, you could get elected to anything. And if you were not a Christian and a politician, you would pretend to be a Christian, because that’s the only way you could be elected. There was a time when we had power and money and leverage. And my mentor, Fred Smith, used to say that it bothered him when the path between the church and Washington became too well worn. Well, it’s not well worn anymore, and people with impunity feel free to criticize Christians. They don’t want Christians to be right, because if Christians are right, they’re in trouble. They don’t want Christians to be a part of their party, because Christians ruin their party. They don’t want Christians to be around, because when Christians are around, they feel uncomfortable. Now, that’s always been true. That’s not anything new. But before, people that weren’t Christians pretended they didn’t believe that. Today, the pretense is gone. Today, they don’t like us. And they don’t like us at all. I was one time lecturing one of my classes on how to handle criticism. And one of the students, we had Wi Fi in the class which drove me nuts, was on his computer and he raised his hand and he said, Dr. Brown, they don’t like you at all. And I said, I know that, so I’m an expert on how to handle criticism. But the truth is, they don’t like any of us at all. And they’re making a horrible mistake, because believers, Christians and Jews and those who believe in God, make things better in a community, make them kinder, make people better, make the whole community rise. And if I were a pagan, I would pray that God increase the number of believers in my community because the community is better. And don’t believe that nonsense that all we do is produce guilt and rain on people’s parade. That’s just not true. Most of the time, we stick to ourselves. Most of the time, we’re kind. Most of the time, in fact, all of the time, we give piles more money to charity than anybody else does. We build hospitals, and we build schools, and you ought to pray for more of us, because the leaven, that would be us, causes the community to rise. I remember a number of years ago going on a talk show with an atheist guy, and the only reason I did it is he intimidated Christians. And somebody said, go on there and don’t let him intimidate you, and you won’t. So I said, yes, I’ll go on his program. When he asked, I did. And he was trying to tell me that though he was an unbeliever and an atheist, he did nice things. And he talked about the money he had raised for poor, food for the hungry. He raised, I think, $15,000. And I said to him, Jack, that’s nothing. We do that every nanosecond, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year. And you guys never build hospitals. All you do is complain. You never build schools. You never do the things that are right for the community. So, don’t bring that nonsense up to me. And the Christians cheered, and Jesus convicted me, and I repented, and we eventually became friends. But it was true, because the leaven, that would be us in a community, make a difference. It rises, the whole community. Alright, let me show you something about keeping secrets, this is another subject. Proverbs 11:13.
A tale bearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter.
In other words, when somebody tells you something in confidence, keep it in confidence. What’s the old story about the three people that decided to confess their sins to each other? And one said, I hate to say this, but I have cheated on my income taxes, and I’ve done it for years. And another one said, I hate to say this, but I am sexually addicted, and I have been unfaithful. And the third guy was kind of silent, and they looked at him. He said, all right, my sin is gossip, and I can hardly wait to get out of this room to tell people what I’ve heard in this room. Don’t do that. Let me tell you something. I respect Roman Catholics and priests because of the vow they take to never reveal what is revealed in the Confession. Every Christian ought to take that too, but we don’t, but I do. I have never revealed a secret told me in confidence. I just don’t do it. Hear it now, that doesn’t mean I don’t, I stop with it. You know, in Florida, if you’re a pedophile, and you confess it to the priest or to your pastor, and he or she, if they don’t tell the police, then they go to jail. Well, I just want you to know that I’d go to jail before I revealed even something like that. But it doesn’t stop there because I’m like ugly on an ape in dealing with that. How could you do that? I’m going to tell your wife. I’m going to tell the world. I’m going to use your story in a sermon and they go, whoa, don’t do that. And I say, well, then go tell them yourself. And every time, without exception, they’ve done that, and I didn’t have to reveal the secrets. But I got the admonition from the Book of Proverbs, and it stood me in good stead because I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to listen to sinners who are like me, when they confess to me and tell them that they’re forgiven. That’s a gift that Christians give to one another in the midst of the confession. But telling secrets is not a gift. And you have to be very careful with that. I used to say to my congregation, I’m writing a book and they would light up and I would say, the book is on my experiences as a pastor of this church. And then they smile. And then I say, and a lot of you are in this book, but for a significant contribution to my retirement fund, I’ll take your name out. And they laugh and think, I hope that’s a joke. Well, it was a joke, because I don’t reveal people’s secrets. And Proverbs 11:13 suggests that you shouldn’t either. The church is not a safe place, and it needs to be. The one safe place where you can go and say whatever you need to say, confess whatever you need to confess, bring up any subject you need to bring up, and know that you’ll be loved. You think about that. Amen.
Believers make things better for their community. Thank you Steve, for that true and much needed reminder. We have been winding our way through the Book of Proverbs and our specific texts today was Proverbs 11:10 through 11 and Proverbs 14:34. More to discover tomorrow, don’t miss it. So, a question for you, do you have your act together? I know I do. Okay. Real talk. None of us has our act together. And to be honest, the pressure to act like we do is sometimes overwhelming. But there’s good news. God invites us to drop our masks and discover how his love and grace propel us into the real relationships we thought we’d never have. Steve talks about this in a special booklet called Hidden Agendas based on his book of the same name. Get your copy of that free booklet right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. To mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the booklet called Hidden Agendas. And one last thing, if you value the work of Key Life, would you join us in that work through your financial support? You can charge a gift on your credit card. You can include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.