Hey, this is John Ortberg and these are passages to wisdom. And I got a question for you. How’s life treating you. How did they treating you people at work? How are they treating you, your friends? How are they treating you your spouse? If you have one or your significant other, are they treating you well enough as well as you deserve, could you maybe do better? Could, could, is there somebody out there that is smarter or sexier or has greater earning potential? Might you be missing out? I remember talking to one guy, ended up being a pastor of all things, but he was talking about when he had broken up with a girl back in high school and part of what he told her, cuz she was the one that broke up with him was you’re not gonna do any better than me. And it was like, everybody’s on this kind of ladder of worth.
How attractive are you or athletic are you or what your earning potential. And, and you’re not gonna do any better than me. So don’t try by contrast. I think of another person or friend of our families who is saying recently, you know, I think that when I got married, my husband’s family was all expecting him to marry somebody that would be really, really beautiful and attractive. And, and it was clear. She didn’t put herself in that category. Well, I can go through the day asking myself this question, how they treat me and might there be somebody out there that could treat me better or, or, or, or I could ask this question, how am I treating life? How am I treating other people? How much value am I building into them? How much encouragement, how much love am I giving we coming into the holiday season?
Uh, by the way, Thanksgiving will mark the one year anniversary of doing these devotionals. And so I’m gonna do something to celebrate. I’m hoping I can talk my wife into doing a live session with me. So keep an eye out for that. And I’ll, I’ll keep you posted, but I’d love to do something just to say thanks to everybody that is a part of this community of the withered hand. But as we go into the advent season, I want to do something for advent for us all this year. We think a lot of times about giving. I can think about what am I gonna get, or I can think about what am I gonna give my brother? Bart is a great gift giver. Uh, my favorite coffee cup. When, when we were kids, there was an old television show, the Carol Burnett show. And there was this sketch with this crotchety old lady, mother Harper.
And one time she said to her daughter, you, you just wake up and smell the coffee. And for some reason we laughed at that. So hard. I remember laying in bed in our family. We just would repeat that line and crack up laughing. So I have a coffee cup now that my brother somehow found and gave to me that just says, wake up and smell the coffee. And every time I drink from that cup, I think of my brother. And he has this gift of noticing people and observing them and thinking about something that would be really creative that nobody else would ever think of. And that’s a kind of a Barton gift and it’s a strange thing. My heart can get wrapped up in either one of those two questions. 1:00 AM I gonna get? And I can really focus on that quite a lot, or what am I gonna give?
And of course the paradox is that the more that I focus on, what could I give to other people? How am I treating them the more joy and fulfillment and meaning I’m able to experience. And on the other hand, the question that seems oriented around my happiness, what am I gonna get? How are they treating me? Am I getting enough? Is a question that by its nature can never be satisfied. And that’s an essential difference between actually heaven and the kingdom of heaven and the way that God works and hell. And that brings me to this passage. This is CS Lewis writing about screw tape letters. And in particular, we talked recently about how he has chosen as his symbol for hell a kind of bureaucracy or a, a particularly nasty corporate office. And he’s writing here about why he did that. This symbol also enabled me to get rid of the absurd, fancy that devils are engaged in the disinterest pursuit of something called evil with a capital E that capital is essential.
Mine Lewis says have no use for any such turn up ghost, bad angels like bad men are entirely practical. They have two motives. The first is fear of punishment for as totalitarian countries, have their camps for torture. So my hell contains deeper hell it’s houses of correction. And if you ever read Dante, for example, there’s that notion that it’s possible to sink deeper and deeper into suffering or punishment. Their second motive is a kind of hunger. I fame the devil’s can in a spiritual sense, eat one another. And us, even in human life, we have seen the passion to dominate almost to digest one’s fellow, to make his whole intellectual and emotional life merely and extension of one’s own to hate one’s hatred and resent one’s grievances and indulge. One’s egoism through him as well as through oneself. His own little store of passion must of course, be suppressed to make room for hours. If he resists this suppression, he is being very selfish on earth. This desire is often called love.
And when a parent does that, when a parent says this child must just be a mini me, must be a replica of me, must imitate all of my desires and my interests and do the things that I value is important so that I can feel fulfilled. So those holes that are inside me can be filled up by my child. Um, what a terrible burden is placed on that child. And this gets very deeply to something that we’ll talk about periodically, that Shalom involves separation. You become full of yourself. I become fully, and I honor that in you and I honor the differences in you. I honor the things that you love and the things that motivate you and, and your unique wiring and your personality, and the fact that it’s different than mine. Doesn’t threaten me. It’s something I learned to embrace and to grow through, as opposed to now you must be somebody who is like me in order for me to approve of you on earth.
This desire is often called love in hell. I think they recognize it as hunger, but there, the hunger is more ravenous and a fuller satisfaction as possible. Therefore, I suggest the stronger spirit that there are no bodies to impede. The operation can really, and irrevocably suck the weaker into itself and permanently Gorge its own being on the weaker outraged individuality. And this is just a penetrating insight by Louis. And we see this, not literally because our bodies are still distinct, but we see this any place where power’s being misused in a family, on a team and an office where someone is trying to dominate the will and the, of another, it is Iffa for this, that devil’s desire human souls in the souls of one another. It is for this, that Satan desires, all his followers and all the sons of Eve and all the hosts of heaven. His dream is of the day when all shall be inside him and all that says, I can say it only through him. This I surmise is the bloated spider parody. The only invitation he can understand of that UN fathom bounty, whereby God turns tools into servants and servants into sons so that they may at last be reunited to him in the perfect freedom of a love offered from the height of the utter individualities, which he has liberated them to be.
So now, today, the question is, how can I love, what can I give? Where can I contribute? Not how are they treating me, but how am I loving them? And the only way this is possible is because we live in a kingdom where there is someone watching out for and caring for and loving us. So today, look for that love today. I remember that I am loved in first Corinthians 13. There’s that wonderful passage where it says that, uh, love always protects love, always trusts. Love, always hopes, love, always persevere, love never fails. And that little word fail can also be translated. It never runs out. It’s like a well that never runs dry. And so the reason that I’m free to continue to love others is only when, and if I’m actually living in receiving love from God, he’s watching out from me. So I don’t have to.
So now today I look for that love from him. When I wake up in the morning, when the sun comes up, when I have food to eat, when there are people in my life, when my body is working, when my mind is working, when I have clothes, when great thoughts are able to come to me through scripture or through a mind like a CS Lewis, I am being loved. You are being loved by God, every moment, and every neuron of your body, every cell, every atomist sustained by the love of it never runs out. So then I’m free today to try to go love the people that I will run into my neighbor that God brings into my path today. I can be liberated from worrying about how are they treating me and have the freedom to encourage and to notice and to observe and the challenge and to celebrate and to offer and to give what a great day, see you next time.