This past Sunday we studied how cynicism can rob us of joy, peace and God’s blessings. A “cynic” is someone who is inclined to question the sincerity and goodness of a person’s motives and actions. They are often sarcastic, judgmental and negative. We all can fall victim to cynicism. Often cynical people have been hurt, lost hope, been disappointed and/or have felt mistreated or taken for granted. This week we are going to review the various ways a cynic may react and how we can help prevent becoming cynical.
MONDAY: JUDAS THE MORALIST
1. Read John 12:1-11. Where was Jesus eating dinner? What amazing event had recently happened there?
2. Who was Mary (See John 11:28-43)? What act of extravagance did she do? Why did she do it?
3. What did Judas say should have been done with the perfume? What was his motive?
Sometimes cynics can come across as moral when in reality their concerns are rooted more in selfishness than in selflessness.
FAITH STEP: One group that is a constant target of cynicism is politicians. Cynics generally feel all leaders are buffoons or crooks. Read I Timothy 2:1-2. Make a list of leaders in your community, nation and world. Regardless of your political philosophy, or your opinions on the war economy etc take your list and pray for these men and women. Did you include the President? What about the leader of Iraq? Iran? Your mayor? Congressman? Governor? Senator? One consequence of cynicism is that it keeps us from praying for our leaders.
TUESDAY: FELIX THE PROCRASTINATOR
Read Acts 24:1-27
1. What charges were made against Paul by his enemies?
2. Who was Felix? Why did Felix keep putting Paul off (verse 26)? Why do you think Felix was afraid? Why did he leave Paul in prison?
FAITH STEP: Cynics often try to intimidate by procrastination. Sometimes the motive is fear (they are afraid to try something new so they discourage others from going ahead). Sometimes the motive can be greed (They do not want to make a commitment they may cost them something so they resist the change). What commitment are you putting off that you know God wants you to make? Maybe you are using some of these excuses? “Nobody will listen to me if I teach”; It won’t do any good anyway”; I am not ready yet”, Take a step of faith for God this week.
WEDNESDAY: ELIAB THE SHAMER
1. Read 1 Samuel 17:1-58. Who was Eliab? Why did he burn with anger? Why do you think he was angry at David (verse 11, 16)?
2. Look at how the cynic Eliab treated David (verse 28): How did he make David feel as if he didn’t belong? How did he try to hurt his self-esteem? How did he question his motives? Why might Eliab be cynical towards David (See I Samuel 6:6-13)?
3. How did David react to the cynical attack made on him (verses 29-37)? What was his motive for fighting Goliath?
FAITH STEP: Cynics are often dream killers. We may have an idea or feel as if God is leading us into a certain direction in our life and cynicism will attack it. That idea will never work, who do you think you are to try that? That is an absurd idea. If possible use this story and have your family or life group act it out as someone narrates. Reflect on how Eliab’s attitude differed from David’s and what we can learn from that. Another option is to read the story and write down three words that describes Eliab’s attitude and three words’ that describe David’s. Now write down a “giant you are facing in your life: A relationship giant? Bad habit? A struggle? Which of the two lists (Eliab’s are David’s) best describe your attitude toward the giants in your life? How can you better face these giants? Who can you talk to help you in facing your giants?
THURSDAY: SANBALLAT AND TOBIAH THE RIDICULERS
Nehemiah was commissioned by God to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. Opposition to this project was swift and intense but under Nehemiah’s leadership the task was successfully completed. The opposition to the building project began in Nehemiah 4. Read verses 1-15.
1. Look up and write down the definition of “ridicule”. What tactics did Sanballat and Tobiah use to ridicule the builders? Can you name at least three ways they ridiculed the builders?
2. How did Nehemiah deal with the ridiculers? What prayer did he pray? What plans did he change? What encouragement did he give the people?
FAITH STEP: The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt” is a myth. Words can hurt. Can you think of some “names” you received in the past or are receiving presently? The best way to fight fear and hurts is to claim the truth. Read the following verses and write down the verses and replace the personal pronouns or subject nouns with your name in all capitals. (Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4-5, I John 3:1, I John 3:16, ) What did you learn about God’s feelings for you? How can these facts help you better handle ridicule?
FRIDAY: SANBALLAT AND GESHEM THE FEAR MONGERS
1. Read Nehemiah 6:1-9. Why did Nehemiah’s tormentors want to meet with him (verse2)?
2. How did Nehemiah answer the request (verse 3)?
3. What was the intent of sending an unsealed letter (verses 6-9)?
4. How did Nehemiah respond the cynics’ attempt to distract him by fear (Verses 3, 8, 10)?
FAITH STEP: Pull out your schedule and calendar. Sometimes we can become sidetracked. Nehemiah’s enemies tried to get him to stop building the walls in order to meet with them. Often Satan can get us involved in so many things – some of them good – that we don’t have time for what is best. A neat exercise is to take a weekly calendar and write down what you would like to do that week (Daily quiet time, Life Group etc), than go back over it at the end of the day and write in red what you did do. What did you discover about your time management? Did you waste more time than you thought? Look for ways to rearrange your schedule so you have more time for God in your life.
Ask God to remove any fears you may have in your life that is keeping you from glorifying him with your life.
SATURDAY: We learned this past Sunday that Anna was able to overcome a cynical world by perseverance, daily prayer, praising God and promoting Jesus to others. Re read Luke 2:36-38. Praising God is an important part of staying focused in our world. Play Alphabet praise today. This game is played by filling in the blank to this statement… “God is _____” Start with “A” and go through “Z” Make it a family game and make a list of the attributes you came up with and then offer a prayer of praise to the Father.