Lord's Day Liturgy

Speckled, Spotted, and Strong

How can shepherds work to increase the jealousbility of their flock?

I was thinking about Jacob’s third deal with Laban, in which Laban agreed to give all the speckled and spotted sheep and goats (and black lambs) to his son-in-law (Genesis 30:32-33). Laban, deceiving the deceiver, took away the speckled and spotted (Genesis 30:35). But as Jacob shepherded, he set up peeled sticks at the watering places, and “the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted” (Genesis 30:39). Then he started only laying the sticks in front of the stronger sheep, “so the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s” (Genesis 30:42). (For an interesting take on why this worked, check out this journal article.)

That story does not have deeper/spiritual meaning, but I do think it’s interesting as an illustration for another principle.

We, as sheep of the Chief Shepherd, come to behold Him by faith week by week in worship and especially at the Lord’s Table. We are transformed by beholding His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), including the glory of His love and sacrifice on the cross. So we are made strong, Scripture by Scripture, song by song, prayer by prayer, communion by communion.

The Shepherd of the sheep is kind to give us life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Jerks and Jealousy

Fire can be life-sustaining, useful for a variety of applications, plus beautiful. It can also kill you. Jealousability has some fire-like similarities.

There is a kind of forest-firey jealousability that can jump the road into insufferable arrogance. While I’d argue that this is actually just arrogance and not true jealousability, a man using jealousable vocabulary might still try to argue that it’s virtuous even if a bunch of others get burned. Blessings must be a reason we boast in the Lord, not ourselves.

And since we’re not boasting in ourselves, we also ought to be able to rejoice when others are blessed by the Lord. This is part of diverse jealousability. You will be called to boast in the Lord in various ways, and those might be different than how others are called by the Lord. This connects us in a way that makes the body jealousable not just an individual member.

Let me sum up both of these dangers: 1) Don’t be a jerk. 2) Don’t be jealous.

Being jealous that someone else got something you think you deserved is not jealousable on the individual level and spoils things at the assembly level. Acting better than others and being bitter against others are provocative, but not for good. Constantly keeping score with others on your team shows that you aren’t playing for the team. “Love does not envy or boast” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Jealousy goes with quarreling (2 Corinthians 12:20), strife and rivalries (Galatians 5:20), and disorder (James 3:14).

I have temptations toward being jealous, less about possessions and recognition and more about productivity energy/time to accomplish things. But then I think about how many emails the ones I look at must get, and give thanks for what I have and for their fruitfulness. I think about how many more criticisms they face, and give thanks that mine are limited.

Keep jealousy out of your jealousability.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Favorite Infections

There is no true jealousability without repentance from sin. Jealousability, as Paul talks about it in Romans 11, belongs with salvation blessings, and salvation begins with repenting.

Repentance is required for true jealousability for at least two reasons: systemic and apologetic.

You cannot try both to keep a favorite infection and pursue a healthy body. Your whole life is connected no matter how much you try to compartmentalize. And while one angle might look jealousable, it can’t be maintained. For that matter, our lives as a church body are connected no matter how much time you spend alone. If you love your sin, defend it, feed it, refuse to turn from it, you are affecting the rest of our health. But also if you confess it, repent from it, there is benefit for us all.

The apologetic reason is because part of the work of jealousability is magnifying God’s blessings, and it shouldn’t surprise you if someone says, “So you think you’re better than me.” You are pointing out what looks like privileges, and they are. But your privilege starts by knowing you aren’t precious. This is what glorifies God not you. You have nothing that you didn’t receive, and everything you did receive isn’t because you are worth it.

You aren’t perfect, but unlike that watching neighbor, you’ve repented, and God promises salvation for those who repent and believe in His Son (Acts 2:38).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Jealousable Moms

There is jealousability as an idea and ideal, there is jealousability on the ground. There are jealousable cultures, there are jealousable kitchen tables, with clean floors underneath them, even though the “olive plants” around it (Psalm 128:3) haven’t mastered their hand-mouth coordination.

Wiping faces (joyfully in Jesus’ name) is jealousable. Making cookies for class parties is jealousable (or buying them at Walmart because your 3rd grader told you about it at breakfast). Disciplining bad attitudes, with patience and consistency, is jealousable. A lot of kids would be a lot better off if they had that.

Everyone has a mom, and these are common tasks (though not commonly done). What makes them jealousable? What gives a woman a jealousable reputation, even after her kids are gone, even when she’s a widow (1 Timothy 5:10)?

A jealousable woman, and especially a mom, ironically makes others look good. That’s why her husband is known in the gates; she does him good. That’s why her children rise up and call her blessed; she fed and clothed and cleaned her little people. She brings them up (1 Timothy 5:10) in love (Titus 2:4).

Turns out, this is one of the reasons that truly jealousable moms often make other moms jealous of the kids, as if the mothering didn’t have anything to do with the kids’ good behavior.

It’s possible for a man to recognize a jealousable mom, in fact, sons should intentionally be taught how to do it. Proverbs 31 is quite a jealousable list, given by a mom to a son, who was a king, who would know the qualities of an excellent queen, not just for the nation, but for his home.

So we’re thankful for ladies who make being a mom look good, as they confess their sins and manage their households and set their hope on God (1 Timothy 5:5).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Jealousable Salt

The word jealousable may not get past the dictionary gatekeepers but it gets to the point. There are other serviceable words we could use, but we want the punchy ones, the ones that provoke a response. Jesus didn’t use the word, but He had a potent verbal picture that should flavor our thinking.

The second main heading in His sermon on the mount was about salt. “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). This verse is among my top five rants about bad Bible reading. Somehow preachers have been successful at ruining the entire point by saying that salt is a preservative. Sure, salt was used in the first century to cure/preserve meat. But Jesus doesn’t even finish His sentence before explaining what He means by salt. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?”

There’s no denying that when disciples of Christ obey in a pack they keep the level of group morality from downgrading. But again, what Jesus actually says is that disciples are a savor, an appetite maker, a tongue pleaser. What a disciple of Christ should not be is tasteless, forgettable.

So what kind of person is salty? What characterizes a person that provokes interest?

I can’t recall if I’ve ever made this connection before. It also comes from better Bible reading. Salt is the second main heading, right after the first main heading: the blesseds. There are nine blesseds, the so-called beatitudes. The blesseds include those who mourn their sin, who hunger for righteousness, they show mercy, they make peace, they are persecuted and have lies told about them and they rejoice because their reward is great in heaven. More blessed, less bland.

The way to be tasteless is to be like those who have nothing other than what’s on earth, to love your sin, to act entitled, to fight with others, to complain, like every boring person apart from Christ.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Jealousable Adorning

Most discussions on modesty are like a drive-thru covid test: obnoxiously uncomfortable, mostly useless, and leaving a bitter memory. But as with respiratory viruses, we do need to build up our immunity, not an immunity to immodesty, but against always being offended when hearing someone talking about modesty.

Warm weather is not the problem, though it does have its own set of temptations. I’m bringing up the subject not just because we’re on the cusp of summer, but also because it’s a great, practical test case for jealousability.

The Bible has a good amount to say about what we wear, and actually, a whole bunch of New Testament specifics are about what women should and should not wear (for example, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 – includes the word κοσμέω – adorn; 1 Peter 3:3-4 – includes the related noun κόσμος – adornment). It’s also of note that God gave the instructions about it through men, even if older women taught younger women in practice.

Which brings me to the first problem: the men. It’s not men in their lust for pleasure, it’s men in their lust for (superficial) peace. Because we’re thinking about this at a high level, the ones who are responsible for modesty first are husbands and fathers, as instructed by pastors. Shoulder to shoulder with the patriarchy is the pastorarchy.

When you’re out shopping you can rank outfits on the scale of father hunger. “Modest is hottest” is a contemporary Kraft cheese jingle like only Christians can create, except that a person who is loved is more attractive. Our clothes should show that we’re receiving attention already, not that we’re desperate for attention. A whole community of loved people are a beautiful people, and what is desirable is not just the beauty, but the stability and intention that went into it. That is jealousable.

There are a myriad of adorning decisions, each and every day. If you wonder where you can make a difference, let there be a difference in what you wear. Let others lust over the love you obviously received that adorns your heart and covers your parts.

Lord's Day Liturgy

A Jealousable Move

Paul used the language of purposefully provoking others to jealousy in Romans (10:19; 11:11; 11:13-14). I’ve talked about it as an adjective: we want the saved to be jealousable. You don’t need to use the language, the point is about having the life. A jealousable Christian recognizes God’s blessings and rejoices in those blessings in such a way that others would want them. At the college we schedule “jealousable events.” It reminds us that by God’s grace, from salvation on out, we have it good. Thankfulness is right and it is strategic. Joy is a gift of God that has gravity.

In practice it’s not always a smooth experience. As Christians we are not glorified yet so we don’t always rejoice with rejoicers. Comparison can compel us to go to God for blessing and it can also create conflict, provoking a sort of jealousy that annoys and irritates rather than attracts.

What blessings to another might we get bent out of shape about? It could be any blessing. Maybe they worked their field and saw a sixtyfold return and you only saw thirtyfold (think Matthew ). Maybe they’ve taken more responsibility and more authority has flowed to them because of it. Maybe they’ve been given a greater measure of faith and giftedness (Romans 12:3-8). Maybe they are being used like a clay pot and all sorts of life is growing up around the grace spilled from their pot (2 Corinthians 4:7-15). “Death is at work in us, but life in you” (verse 12). Maybe you want to see similar glorious life growing around you but aren’t willing to put in the deaths.

It appears that God is blessing our assembly with property and building. More than that, He is blessing us with an opportunity of increased responsibilities—there is more to do, not less—and a way to love a place into greater loveliness. It is a way to increase the footprint of the assembly’s jealousability.

This exhortation is going to be on the nose: don’t be wrongfully jealous. We will not be jealousable if we are jealous of one another. If we envy or boast, if we insist on our own way, if we are irritable or resentful, if we are suspicious and discontent and competitive over drawer space, this is not love (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). One way or another we will be a witness to Marysville. We’ll either do it in a way that makes others want in, or that provides confirmation to them about how petty church people can be.

Husbands, pay attention to the complaints of your wives. Many of our ladies are around more because they aren’t committed to another place for employment. Maybe the men are less involved, less concerned about the ways the space is used or the colors on the walls; you have your own responsibilities and property. Don’t let your household tear down the house (Proverbs 14:1), spiritual (1 Peter 2:5) or physical.

We are clearly being jostled, hearts and the assembly. But this is an opportunity to be more jealousable, and it has to start with thanks in our hearts for the eternal and tangible blessings.

Lord's Day Liturgy

When You’re Jealous

One slander against the early church regarded their Lord’s Supper celebrations. Those outside the church heard words such as “love feast” (a term used in Jude 12) and figured that the Christians were doing all sorts of inappropriate things when they got together. What else do you do when you’re jealous? You make it sound as if the other person who has what you want doesn’t deserve it or isn’t using it right.

Our weekly communion makes men mad. They think, usually to themselves, “Hey, we want to eat with God, too.” They say, “You should not be so comfortable doing it so often.” Or, “This is not supposed to be a time of gladness no matter how thoughtful you claim to be.” Or, “Certainly some will abuse it and participate unworthily.” These criticisms often come from those who wish they could have the gladness they criticize.

We do not eat and drink joyfully because we deserve it or because we have it all figured out or because we refuse to be serious about our sin. We eat and drink joyfully because God has dealt seriously with our sin, putting our judgement on His Son, and inviting us to believe the good news of eternal life. We eat and drink joyfully because of grace we cannot manage. It is fearful how much He loves us, and it is wonderful. If that opens us up to slander and hatred, we should not be surprised and we should tell them that they can have it too by faith in Jesus.