Sandy Seventh-day Adventist Church

Hope and Healing For All People

Even Dogs Sigh

As a kid, I looked forward to the newspaper deliveries at the front door of our home each Sunday morning. I liked to read the comic strips. Peanuts was favorite comic strip, printed in color on the top fold of the first page. It was a simpler time, when I and many others were easily entertained by the adventures of Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy.

Snoopy didn't say much. But it wasn't unusual to see Snoopy lying on his back on the roof of his doghouse with "SIGH" written in the speech balloon floating above his head. Dogs do sigh, after all.

Sighs can be a positive expression of relief or contentment. This is good. Sighs can also express exasperation or contempt. This is dangerous.

Consider this inspired counsel from James:

"Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9 NLT)

In my attempts to follow this counsel, I've practiced zipping my lips. As an introvert, that's relatively easy. Extraverts may find this more difficult.

Recently, I became curious about James' warning about grumbling. I wondered if there was a deeper meaning to the word "grumble" than what I'd assumed. I looked up the original Greek. The word stenazō is commonly translated into grumble in English.

The Greek stenazō also has other meanings:
• Groan. That's a little bit harder than tightening one's lips. But it's doable.
• Sigh. This is a tough one. As Snoopy proves, even dogs sigh.

To not sigh against one other is a high standard to meet, even for an introvert. It's a mark you may already have missed today. How many times a day do you sigh in response to someone at home, where you work or go to school, or in response to your pastor or another church member?

Does the behavior of others easily trigger thoughts of exasperation and contempt?

As much as we may justify this behavior, James labels it as unacceptable: "For look—the Judge is standing at the door!"

This Judge is Jesus—the same Jesus that prayed for unity among His followers—a unity like the unity Jesus experiences with the Father (John 17:22).

Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are slaves of the flesh. Even when we recognize our bad behavior, it's easy to find ourselves trapped. Paul described it this way: "I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong." (Romans 7:21 NLT)

This is not the condition that Jesus leaves us in when we believe, receive and obey His Word.

“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:9-11 NLT)

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