Episode 26: The Sin of Cynicism-Part 2
In case you missed last week’s recording, “The Sin of Cynicism-Part 1”, you can find that here. Today’s recording is Episode 26-The Sin of Cynicism-Part 2.
The Sin of Cynicism-Part 2 Outline
- Reflection on Part 1
- Dissection of The Older Brother
- Jonah’s Rights
- Our Rights
- Podcast Transcript
Welcome to Healing Our Brokenness Part 2. Today’s recording is episode 26: The Sin of Cynicism-Part 2. Just as a quick recap from Part 1, we discussed the fact that Cynicism has several factors that lead up to its brokenness as a state of mind:
Reflection on Part 1
Those factors are:
- You have experienced a lot of issues with betrayal.
- There are historical patterns of things not working out in your favor, or working out in a way that is undesirable to you.
- You get to the point of seeing too much and hearing too much to think that things will be different.
- Most of the people that you trusted let you down.
- The few times that you thought things would turn out good, they turned out bad, and you lost faith in believing that things could be different.
In the case of the two stories that we are going to look at today, the two biblical characters carried out the sin of cynicism because of two main reasons:
- The historical pattern of character of the authority figures.
- The lack of legalism that existed for these authority figures.
The two men that we are going to dissect is Jonah and the older brother of the prodigal son.
Their reasons for cynicism contradict the normal factors. Cynicism set in with both of these men because of the recognition of the good qualities of the father and God.
Dissection of The Older Brother
- Let’s explore the story of the prodigal son first.
- The dad was gracious, merciful, slow to anger, kind, forgiving, accepting, non-judgmental, long-suffering, and compassionate.
After the prodigal son returned home penniless, hungry, and exhausted from wild living, the father could have greeted him with judgment, coldness, and distance. Instead he accepted his son, welcomed him with a grateful heart that he was safe and sound, and embraced him for who he was.
The fact that he ran to meet him to diffuse being shamed by the community was a bonus. It showed the son that he was going to be welcomed. There is nothing worse than messing up big time, and not knowing what other Christians are going to say as you reenter the house of God or run into them while you are in public.
Luke 15 tells us: But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
The father knew that hitting rock bottom was enough of a consequence for the younger son. He didn’t need to enforce further punishment. He also possessed enough self-acceptance that he didn’t worry about being embarrassed in regard to the reaction of the community.
The older son dwelled on his sin of cynicism that is evidenced through dialog that is filled with scornfulness, bitterness, and resentment. He felt that he had been failed. He didn’t focus on his younger brother’s condition of going from “lost to found”. Along with his cynicism, he was filled with self-pity and envy: Luke 15: 28-31 reads: “28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
The father tried to get the older son to go in twice. We are left wondering what eventually happened. Did he stay outside and continue to sulk? One thing this clear about the brother’s dialog is that not only is he resentful, but he is filled with broken thinking. Two words suggest broken thinking when resentment is present: “always and never”.
Our dialog goes something like this:
“I always have to clean the house.”
“She always gets to do something special.”
“I never have the opportunity to do anything.”
Nine times out of ten, these statements aren’t true. If they are true, there is some type of dynamic that has been setup that needs to change. Or, perhaps, the financial situation has changed that allows you to do more for the younger child than you were able to do for the older child. Whatever the case may be, broken thinking is present.
First-born children tend to be rule-followers. With that thought in mind, the older son definitely felt that he was cheated since he was the “rule-follower”. However, one thing about rule followers is that they can get caught up in being legalistic because they follow the rules. God is more concerned about our hearts than checking off boxes to say that we did something.
Let’s explore the story of Jonah.
Jonah was told to go to Nineveh to warn them about their sin and God’s judgment for their sin if they continued going in the direction that they were going.
Jonah decided that he knew best, and so, he skipped out on the trip altogether, and took a boat ride to a different part of town. God had a fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah prayed inside of the fish for God’s mercy and grace, and the fish released Jonah.
Let’s discuss the character of the authority figure in Jonah’s story.
In Jonah’s story, this figure is God. Not surprisingly, the dad in our first story is actually a representation of God.
What are the characteristics of God that Jonah was familiar with?
- God was gracious, merciful, slow to anger, kind, forgiving, accepting, non-judgmental, long-suffering, and compassionate.
In Jonah’s story, Jonah was bitter, resentful, and cynical because God proved that his heart was all of those characteristics that were just mentioned. It was okay for God to have all these attributes when it came to saving him. However, it wasn’t okay for him to possess them when it came to saving the Ninevites.
God gave Jonah a chance to get it right. He sent him to Nineveh a second time:
Jonah 3 King James Version (KJV)
3 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of theLord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
The Ninevites didn’t have to suffer consequences because they repented right away:
Jonah 4: 10 says:
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Like the older brother in the prodigal son story, Jonah was so angry that he didn’t know what to do with himself. God tried reasoning with him. Unfortunately, Jonah wasn’t haven’t it.
His cynicism showed up in verses 1-2, when he basically said, “See, this is why I didn’t do what you told me. I know this is how you would respond.”
Here are his exact words: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
God told Jonah that the people were lost, just as the father tried to help his older son to understand about the prodigal:
Jonah 4: 7-11, KJV
“7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Jonah and His Rights
Jonah pouted outside of the city underneath the tree just as the older brother pouted outside of the party celebration that was going on inside for the prodigal son. Both men felt that they were right. Both authority figures tried reasoning with them twice. Both were caught up in anger, bitterness, resentment, and cynicism. And both missed out on blessings because of it. But why? They ignored the sovereignty of God. We have all been in both of their shoes. WE know best. WE know what justice should look like. WE can play God and have mercy and grace poured out on us, and others should not. When we don’t adhere to God’s plans, his timing, and his will, we trade whole faith for broken pieces of bitterness, resentment, and cynicism every time.
When cynicism becomes our brokenness, it becomes our idol, and we began to scorn God directly and indirectly because of our trials and other peoples’ success. This is how Satan works. If he can get us to lose trust in our faith due to our trials, others’ brokenness, and the hurt and pain of “church hurt”. Then, he has got us.
So, the question is, how do we get out of this sin. Prayer. Lots of it. Cynicism is spiritual like all other sin. Getting grounded in our identity. Getting rid of our broken thinking. Changed thinking equals changed talking and changed talking equals changed behavior. Accept that God is sovereign. Pray and ask God to help you to be able to trust again, knowing that we can’t live in this world without it. It takes time to heal, but it is possible. Trust God’s sovereignty and plans for our lives.
I hope that you have enjoyed today’s episode. Thank you for listening, and if today’s episode has impressed upon your heart, share it with a friend or coworker.