Never Happy, Ever Restless- Matthew 11- 5-21-17
Mt. 11:16-19 “Never Happy- Ever Restless” 5/21/17
I read a blog piece that said, “It is good to be hard to please. That way people try to please you.” While that may make some selfish kind of sense, it alienates people from you. The Pharisees seemed to adopt this attitude. There are some who are hard to please because they don’t want to be pleased.
One minister spoke of a man and his wife who came to him for counseling. She complained that he was so hard to please. The minister said, “Give me a concrete example.” The woman said, “He told me to fix two eggs- one scrambled and one fried. I did this. I asked him if he was pleased. He said, ‘No. You scrambled the wrong egg.’” Some people are hard to please. This was true of the Pharisees in our passage.
There is very little that President Trump does that will make some people happy. There also is very little that the democrats do or did that makes President Trump happy. They seem to both be on a mission to throw each other out. Maybe that is why the rhetoric is elevated and becoming unprofessional. Someone will tell me, ‘No the reason is Trump has lost his marbles.” Others will say “The democrats have just gone crazy.”
Today there are many people who are unhappy because they believe their expectations are not met. There was some of this going on in this passage. “We played the pipe and you did not dance, we played a dirge and you did not mourn.” The Pharisees did not respond to John or to Jesus. Their packaging was not right to them. John wore a coat of camel’s hair and asked people to repent. He was an ascetic. He was too rigorous for them and their fancy flowing robes. Jesus was about helping sinners- giving people a second chance. Telling the woman in adultery that she was not condemned but don’t stay in sin. The Pharisees, it seems, were just impossible to please. There was no hope of forgiveness or help with them. The Pharisees became judge and jury of what was supposed to be right. They could not listen even if a prophet like John came, or even if God Himself came down to them- as God did in Jesus. Some people set wild expectations and if they are not met then they give up. The Pharisees not only gave up- they were angry at Jesus.
In Scottish lingo- the people that Jesus spoke of here were “contrary.” Nothing made them happy, and they wallowed in their paralysis and lack of peace with God, with others, and with themselves. It was like children were playing a game called wedding- and they didn’t want to dance or sing or play. Then they said, “Ok, then let’s play “funeral” and they didn’t want to do that either. They just didn’t want to change their sitting, and they didn’t mind being asked to play. The Pharisees didn’t want to be challenged from their paralysis. Perhaps the Pharisees favorite phrase was the infamous seven last words of the church: “We haven’t done it that way before.”
One of the things that appealed to me about LMPC at the beginning was an openness to reach people and do to creative things to do that- shuck n Peel, Fireflies, even our buildings are appeals to reach others. Let us never lose that.
So how can you tell if you have become like these Pharisees? How do you tell if you have become overly critical and demanding? The Bible says so much about complaining and grumbling. So God delivers the people from slavery in Egypt- and they complain that they had better food when they were in slavery. So God gives them some rules to go by through Moses- some people attacked Moses for this- who do you think you are? Even his own sister rebelled against him. Jesus’ mother and brothers also fussed at him. Paul says to not complain or grumble- but instead shine like the sun. Three things may help: 1) Pray for others; 2) Look for the good. Think about what is good and noble and true. 3) Seek to help others- through Good Works or Bible School or giving your time and treasure for others and for God.
There was a woman who looked out her window and saw her neighbor hanging out her laundry. She told her husband- come here and look at this. Look how dirty those clothes are. How can they wash them and they still be so dingy? She kept complaining and fussing about it over the weeks and months. One day the laundry was bright and clean. The wife said, “They must have changed detergent- they finally got their laundry clean.” The husband said, “No, I just went out and washed the window this morning.” The problem wasn’t with the neighbor’s laundry, but it was with the spectator’s window. She had a critical spirit. Do you always see the potholes and the traffic and never see the beauty of being able to go somewhere? I thought SC roads were bad til I got to Mexico. Not only were their potholes worse but most people didn’t have cars. It’s the end of the school year. Have you found yourself fussing at a teacher because you child got an A- instead of an A+? Have you thought about how much that teacher has taught your child? I would never complain about an A-! Someone told the policeman- people are such bad drivers today. This guy is the fourth person to hit me in the last two days. The Bible speaks of our enemy as the accuser of the brethren. Have you been involved in that work? Maybe the issue is not the other person’s dirty laundry- maybe the issue is your window.
The people of Jesus day couldn’t hear the great prophet John and they couldn’t hear Jesus. The next verses Jesus says, “Woe to you Bethsaida, Chorazine and Capernaum- if the miracles that were done in you were done in Sodom and Gomorrah they would have repented. Judas saw the miracles. The Israelites saw the miracles in Egypt. Maybe you have seen an answered prayer or a miracle in your life, but now your windows are dirty. Maybe some sadness has dirtied your way of looking at life, taken away your hope, made you more jaded, more skeptical, and more critical. Critical toward others, critical toward the people you live with, and critical toward God. Criticism really starts weighing you down. John invites you to repent. Jesus invites you to come to Him when you are weary. Clean the windows of your heart and you might find that things look brighter and your hope is real.