Standing God?s Commands On Their Heads


We human beings are funny creatures. ?And we Christian human beings are funny new creatures. Sometimes we take God?s commands and stand them on their heads. ?Here?s what I mean.

Philippians 2:4 says we should look to the interests of others. ?Yet sometimes I hear believers say, ?No one takes an interest in me. ?No one reaches out to me.? ?The Bible doesn?t tell us to make sure people are taking an interest in us, but that we should take an interest in others. ?If we want others to take reach out to us, we should reach out to others. ?Jesus said whatever you want others to do for you, do for them. ?Sow what you want to reap.

I?ve heard folks say, ?I quit going to small group because I wasn?t getting anything out of it.? ?Oh, we forgot. ?Small group is all about you. ?God commands us to not neglect fellowship but instead to stir up and encourage one another (HEB 10.24-25). ?So we should go with the attitude of how can I contribute tonight, how can I encourage or pray for someone. ?When we go to a meeting, we should ask Jesus for opportunities to serve and bless.

Another way we stand God?s commands on their heads is by focusing on the things God commands others to do while neglecting what we should do. ?I?ve heard husbands say, ?My wife doesn?t submit to me,? while not considering whether they are loving their wives as Christ loved the church.? Don?t focus on what God commands others to do, but what he commands you to do.

How about standing God?s command to worship him on its head?

Ever heard someone say, ?Worship didn?t do much for me this morning.? ?Awww, we?re sorry your majesty wasn?t entertained and enthralled today. ?Maybe we should get Paul McCartney to lead worship next Sunday. ?Sorry the smoke machines didn?t fill the room and a few of the explosions were softer than normal. ?Maybe we should ask Jesus if he got anything out of our worship this morning.

The main problem in all these examples is our tendency to focus on ourselves instead of God or others. ?The more we can get our eyes off ourselves and on to Jesus and others, the more of the Lord?s joy we?ll experience.

photo by travelling.steve


  • Chris says:

    This post didn't "do" much for me today.

    I'm going to have to find another blog to read because I don't feel like I'm being "fed" here.

    Great point Mark –

  • Anam Cara says:

    For those who want smoke machines, might I suggest the Orthodox Church with it's incense?

  • JackW says:

    Mark, thanks for the smile this morning. Listening to Begg last week on worship and was struck by what he said. “Worship is God glorified, not I am satisfied.” Now I get another dose of that from you … must be something to it!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Chris,

    Why can't you reach out to me…


  • MarkAltrogge says:

    I used to love the incense as a kid growing up Catholic.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Jack,

    Too bad I can't claim that Alistair was influenced by me…

  • Trillia says:

    This was an excellent post! Convicting Mark! The comments are cracking me up!!

  • JackW says:

    Thankfully you both are a great influence on me!

    … see, it is all about me.

  • lisa says:

    Hmmm, I appreciate where you're coming from, Mark, especially in light of the consumer mentality that is so prevalent today, as well as the sinfulness that is ALWAYS prevelant in our hearts, but I wonder if John Piper wouldn't tell Alistair Begg that it's BOTH. I have to admit that Piper challenged my thinking on this (not in regard to serving or going to caregroup, but specifically regarding worship). Thoughts?

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Jack, it IS all about you!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Trillia! Glad you could be convicted and laugh at the same time. That's my favorite kind of conviction.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    I would agree with Piper too, Lisa. It's glorifying God by being satisfied in Christ. My post was more aimed at those who might be dissatisfied by the sound of the band, etc. Although I don't always get a satisfied "feeling" during our times of singing together, I believe God calls us to worship him in faith for who he is and thank him for all his benefits and the result will be that ultimately we will be deeply satisfied in Christ.

    Hope this makes sense….

  • Chris says:

    Lisa, you are referring to Piper's, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him," right? I admit I had the thought too. When our every need is met in Christ, it makes the 'need-meeter,' God, look great, does it not? I didn't hear Begg, but I would bet he would be saying that worship is just not about us as the central focus, but rather, God-focused. Piper's 'being satisfied in Him' is still God-focused I think. I know Piper thinks so……

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    That was my point, too Chris, that we should be God-focused and others-focused. Good way to put it. I would also imagine that Piper and Begg would agree with one another

  • JackW says:

    I agree … sorry I couldn't put Begg's comment in context. They are a free download at Truth for Life.

  • Blaine says:

    "Ever heard someone say, 'Worship didn’t do much for me this morning.' Awww, we’re sorry your majesty wasn’t entertained and enthralled today." LOVE this!

  • Christina says:

    I get your point Mark and agree with just that!!!
    BUT, (in reaching out) Don’t you think the sarcasm
    was a bit much and maybe
    a little on the harsh side of things?
    It’s true that people are hard to please and satisfy…
    This displeasure and disatisfaction is an area that God needs to
    tend to within their hearts. Our job is to pray for them, love them, extend grace to and not sarcasm! To understand that it isn’t our job to please them.. They can only recieve that from the Lord!
    Thanks for the reminder Mark, I love reading the blog..
    Sorry, for any misspelled words… Not perfect, but Saved!

  • Chris says:

    I sincerely appreciate your desire, Christina, for people on the blogosphere to talk nicely to each other. However, I think an argument can be made that Sarcasm is biblical: Here's an example from Paul:

    1 Cor 4:8 "Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. "

    Jesus spoke harshly to the Pharisees…or does that not count because he was condemning them rather than hoping to win them over? (Of course, he did win some of them over [Nicodemus] and I wonder if it even helped to hear the sarcasm in order to get Jesus' point.)

    Jesus didn't try to be 'nice' to everyone all the time. He got to the heart of the woman at the well through an old scarred over wound:

    He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

    17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

    Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

    That must have hurt her feelings. But Jesus had a bigger agenda than sparing people's feelings….

    And I'm guessing that's why Mark (Altrogge) used this device….to make a strong and important point in order to get to the heart.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Thanks Blaine!

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Christina,

    Thanks for your comments and for reading our blog!

    I was trying to be humorous for effect and to make a point with the comments. (Maybe it wasn't that funny).

    But I would never use sarcasm seriously to adjust anyone's attitude, because you are so right, "our job is to pray for them, love them, extend grace to and not sarcasm." Well put. Whenever I use sarcasm with my friends or family it is completely in fun and there's not a shred of truth behind it.

    Thanks for your concern about my attitude – I certainly need people to adjust me and speak the truth in love to me. And I never, never want to be harsh with people in real life.

    If my humor ever goes over the line, I'd be grateful for any correction. So thank you!

    And I didn't even notice any misspelled words!

  • Christina says:

    Thank you Mark… My point was a point to think of others
    and what they may think or feel… Which is only an effert to practice what you preach..
    Not to argue or condemn… For arguing is foolishness! To Condemn is not Grace!
    I was raised with Sarcasm as a form of abuse, it has taken me many yrs
    to learn and understand the humorous form of sarcasm…and still there are times I am unsure…. And it is because of my experience that I have concern for and caution for others..

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hey Chris, thanks for your thoughts…and I was attempting to use humor and exaggeration as you said, "to make a strong and important point in order to get to the point." But I'd never speak that way to someone who made any of the comments I mentioned in the post.

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Hi Christina,

    I'm so sorry to hear that you were raised with sarcasm as a form of abuse. I can understand why you would have concerns. I normally would only kid around with people who completely know I'm kidding. I've told people that when I kid with them or make jokes, there is absolutely no truth in it. I also tell people that when I poke fun it is a form of affection for them.

    I try to be really sensitive to people as well and not use any kind of sarcasm with someone who wouldn't understand and be offended or hurt by it.

    Thank you again for your comments. I'm grateful for your heart to bless people and to bless me as well.

  • Joanne says:

    chris and Mark: you cracked me up at 5:12 AM
    but doesn't Indiana have an ordinance about smoke machines in churches?
    Paul McCartney :"you think that God would have enough of silly love songs.. but I guess it isn't so…."

  • rachel mcc says:

    so well said. I'm grinning. it's so getting reposted.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks Rachel!

  • Sarah says:

    I needed to hear this.

  • Chris says:

    Gotcha….and I should add that all my comments were regarding your original post and not anyone's comments..

    Thanks Mark

    Love your blog

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    I’m grateful Sarah. Thanks.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks Chris!

  • Chris says:

    Not to beat a dead horse on an old blog post, but just very recently (March 25) Justin Taylor and Jared Wilson ran into some flack for posting a pretend, satirical 'Archeological Find.' I can't tell if they regret having posted it but they were very gracious in their responses to some somewhat intense comments.

    I only mention it here because they were trying to make a good point using parody/satire which is related to sarcasm.

    I saw it there at the Gospel Coalition and it reminded me of this from yesterday…

    Ok, I think I will not add anything more to this thread…..8-)

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