Sunday, April 23, 2017

The tooting of a horn...

Every few months I re-read the book of Matthew, paying specific attention to the Sermon on the Mount, and just as with all my Bible studies I like copying the Scriptures which stop and make me think into my journal.

This past week I was struck by three things Jesus tells us to do in secret (chapter 6) - He said we should GIVE in secret, PRAY in secret, and FAST in secret - each time closing that directive with these words, "And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

I'm pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit who drew my attention to this because the day before reading this portion of the sermon on the mount I had told someone about a series of 'giving' incidences from a year or two ago, gifts which up until this week only my husband, myself and the recipient knew about. 

As soon as I told my friend I wished I hadn't. But there they were, the words were spoken, the 'secret' let out, and it wasn't for holy and righteous reasons because there are none and I had only achieved the tooting of my own horn.. 

This social media age we live and participate in challenges me on a daily basis with the perception I gain of people I know well, people who are just an acquaintance, and others I know only through my work or reputation.
I am actually shocked at what some women write on their Facebook page, the language they use, the bitterness or accusatory attitudes they feel a desire to express, even using guilt to gain sympathy. It's as though they can't see beyond their own reflection and simply want all attention to come their way. They want to tell us how great they are, and usually by tearing down others or dropping hints that they're upset with someone.

Thankfully I can move passed their posts, unfriend them and stop to read encouraging words, join in celebrations, learn something educational and see what my family have been up to with their young ones...but this passage in Matthew made me ponder what I truly show in my own life to those looking in from the outside. How do they  view me?

Promoting my 'giving' the other day was all about shining a halo over mine and my husband's character, and a little bit of bitterness even seeped in because I didn't feel the recipient had honestly appreciated the gifts, so what does that truly reveal about me? No wonder the Holy Spirit didn't let that incident slide.

As a designer I find it difficult to promote my patterns, something a few designers I know also struggle with, yet this is our occupation, our 'bread and butter' income, so shining light on what we have created for our customer base is necessary. Our Lord Jesus was a carpenter and even He was paid for His work and would have needed to show his customers the quality of His workmanship. 

Our public business is different from the private women we are, it's something we cannot do in secret nor avoid, but it does put us in the public eye and therefore (I believe) we are held to higher account with regards to character.

As a Christian in business for herself I feel that weight often, so my lack of humility the other day was deserving of a talking to by God and I'm more aware than ever that I need to heed Jesus and keep such things in secret 'forever', to not allow a loose tongue to rob me of the Father's reward nor draw an unwholesome stain on my character.

Why am I telling you this today?

I think God wants me to keep these Sunday blog posts real and to have enough courage that I can honestly admit some of the pits which have tripped me up in this walk to the finish line whilst also declaring His faithfulness to gently correct and forgive.

Maybe you've fallen into the same trap as me and made a show of your good deeds for others to see or hear about? Confess it to our Father, repent and be washed clean and free. He doesn't hold a grudge, when He forgives us our sin is so far removed that He doesn't remember it ever again. Cool huh?

You know what I also wondered when I studied Matthew 6? 
How many of the Father's rewards have I missed in my Christian walk because I didn't keep particular actions secret?

Thank you Holy Spirit for not letting me get away with this one, for loving me so much that You want me to change for the better and receive rewards far greater than man's praise can ever offer.

Your sister in Christ,


Donna F said...

Jenny, I deeply appreciate your openness. Thank you for sharing what you are reading in The Word and the messages/lessons you find in them. I love how God speaks to each of us so differently from the same passage. Today's passage came on a day when I gave to a man begging on the street.
I didn't give to call attention to myself, but because I felt the Spirit nudge me. How do we give in secret in a situation as this? Sometimes we may be seen. I sense God reminding me that while I may be seen, I need to keep a humble heart. It is not about me at all. It is about my obedience to Him and God's care for the other person.
Where I do get tripped up is when someone posts a request for prayer and I reply that I am praying. That may be harmless and a comfort to the other person, but did others need to know? Hummm.
Anyway...thank you for the food for thought. Thankful Jesus loves us!❤

Muis said...

Love your patterns, even if I can't do handwork.....(sad face)
Keep using your talents, the Lord knows your needs... He will provide the customers as and when you need the income.
Refreshingly that!♥

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Donna F, bless you for giving. I don't think there is anything wrong with what you did openly...I believe the Lord is talking about when we go tell others what we did, such as I did last week.

gail said...

Hello Jenny,
We helped someone out once and she used our gift for a gym membership. She had many needs and to be honest I was a bit upset thinking she could have used our gift for better things. I judged her. I now realise I cannot put terms on a gift. A gift is a gift. Another friend we helped thanked us and quickly said "please know that I will tythe from this". At the time I thought how beautiful is that.
I admire your confession and your honesty. thats why I enjoy coming to your site.

cucki said...

So beautiful
Thank you xx

Jacqueline said...

Thanks for the words of our Lord.

Unknown said...

My Australian Sister,
I just love your sweet and pure spirit! Thank you for being painfully honest and transparent. The scenario you talked about has happened in my journey also, and instantly made aware that even tho that was not my intention, it glorified no one but myself.
Life is about learning from our mistakes. So thankful God sees our heart.
Look forward to meeting you someday. If not here, just inside the gate.
Happy Sunday.

Fee said...

Love you xx

Little Penpen said...

I'm sure I'm guilty too. But I know what you mean about people on social media bragging about what they've done. I see it all the time and I think 'well you just got your reward in likes' .... lol

allthingzsewn said...


Machelle said...

Thank you for sharing that and being transparent and vulnerable.

Ponderosa Postings said...

Hi Jenny,
Thanks so much for your Sunday posts. I love the Lord and truly enjoy the writing of others who love him too. Your posts are like a peaceful breeze on a hot day.
I am enjoying my renewed love of embrodery because of you. Thanks so much. I made a tea towel and embroidered " find joy in the ordinary". My daughter really liked it.
Have a good week.
Best to you from rainy Washington usa

Elaine said...

Holy Spirit conviction delivered up in kindness by Jenny...

"a little bit of bitterness even seeped in because I didn't feel the recipient had honestly appreciated the gifts,"

On several occasions, I have had people tell me they didn't like the gifts I had given, one even returning a gift I had labored to complete and deliver in a timely fashion. Ouch.

While I know that I have no control over what others like - or don't, I didn't see how my gifts had an unseen price tag to be paid by the recipient -- "Appreciate Elaine"
I thought I had forgiven, but your words make me see that I have a great need to receive and give grace and ask to be protected from bitterness and fear, for I haven't been giving as freely as I used to.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms. Jenny for sharing and making us ponder our own actions. I too have fallen into many pits and understand what you are saying. Thank you so much for sharing i do hope you continue spreading his word. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Jenny, your keeping it real has touched my heart. Thank you so much for your Christian witness. From my own experience, I know that the testimony of my mistakes helps me to identify with others and, in some cases, helps to bring healing to others, but also brings forgiveness and healing to myself.

Sheri said...

Great post and well said! Thanks for the inspiration, the sermon, and being a good example and even sharing something you're not proud of. I try hard and still have so many shortcomings. We're all tested, even the greats in the scriptures and there was only One who passed with flying colors! If we can overcome some pitfalls and/or help someone else, it's worth the trial.

Shelley said...

Thanks, we all need a humble lesson in our lives. I agree that we shall be forgiven if we ask!

julieQ said...

What a precious person you are! We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, right? Me too...all of us! Hugs!!

Kris said...

Thank you for posting. A good lesson and reminder. I appreciate your honesty and openness. I think it is something we all struggle with at least occasionally. Thankful for our gracious, forgiving Father :)

Allie-oops Designs said...

Darling girl - I love your heart and your wide-open eyes. I don't think any of us could say we don't struggle with this. Social media has made it so EASY to toot our own horns; and to say things we'll later regret. But our Lord is faithful and true, He'll not let us get away with it, lol, we are works in progress for sure!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jenny, I'm a day late, having been horribly sick for the last 4 days, but finally seeing improvement today. That is my favorite part of Matthew! When I was quite young, there was a program called Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal (book by Lloyd C. Douglas), and it was stories of a doctor who lived by those verses in Matthew, though it never said what verses. I remember searching through Matthew until I finally found them and how thrilled I was to read those promises over and over. The thrill of that promise that struck me as a pre-teen has never gone away. I'm so glad you highlighted this yesterday, and that you shared your experience, to which I can relate very well. Our Heavenly Father is so patient and so good to us! We really are his children and his model of parenting is the perfect one. Thank you for being his good servant and helping to build his kingdom in these troubled times.

C Reeder PhxAz said...

Your posts are all wonderful -but there is something about Sunday that finds me eager to read each week. The truthfulness, the honesty about your own struggles, being able to freely express your walk with God. I truly thank you for all of it. Several are printed and in my journal.

Shelia said...

Lost touch with your blog, but I'm so happy to be back!

Tricia T said...

Jenny, I so appreciate the paragraph you wrote that begins, "As a designer..." "Promoting" my little online business, especially in the area of social media, has been such a struggle for me, and your comments give me food for thought and prayer. Thank you so much for sharing. You are a blessing to me!

Valerie said...

For a long time I struggled with the difference between tooting my horn and, as Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven". As you said so very well, it is the heart attitude behind our actions, which only the Holy Spirit knows (and us if we listen to Him and are honest with ourselves). Thank you for another blessing of a post.

Moira said...

Thank you for the thoughts and reminder in your post. Very timely thoughts after sharing a short testimony last night with my Bible study group.

Grammasheri said...

A timely word for me. Thank you for your transparency and obedience to God. It speaks to others.