A brat is someone who wants something and clamors for something he isn’t willing or incapable to pay for. It is someone who feels entitled to things without understanding or bearing the burden of the cost. A brat is someone who cries for something but won’t allocate the time, money, and energy to achieve it himself.
Brats don’t go far. Bratty nations won’t either – even if that nation is the only Christian nation in the region. A brat is a brat, even if he calls himself a Christian brat.
So I had this interesting conversation with someone. I remembered the saying, How a person responds during difficult times is a great indicator of his character. He said, “That’s true! Look at how bad our leaders are responding!”
I’ll told him, “Seems you’re right. What about you? What is your response revealing?”
He said, “I’m expressing my indignation! I’m calling for justice! It shows that I care about my country!”
I said, “That’s awesome! So how much time, money, energy have you dedicated to justice and love for country? Of your 24 hours, how much goes to meaningful nation-building? Of your salary, how much goes to meaningful nation-building? Of your energies, how much goes into service? As a percentage of your resources, how much is deliberately budgeted for making the world a better place, and how much is automatically allocated for your own pleasure?”
He said, “It’s my life, my time, and my money. I’m free to use it any way I want. It’s a democratic country!”
I reminded him, “You’re absolutely right about it being yours and you being free. But with people like you filling up this country, you’re wrong about us being a democracy, because democracy, yes, has liberty, but it also has two pillars of equality and fraternity, and a truly democratic people fight for those things, even if it means fighting their own inner selfishness.
He said, “Are you saying I don’t love my country? Don’t judge me.”
I ended with this, “Show me what you do with your time, money, and energy, and I’ll show you what you really love. At the end of the day, we are judged by the results of our own lives determined by the choices we make on where we invested our time, money, and energy. It is a double standard to say that we have the right to judge the actions of others yet shielded from our own actions being judged. Any person who judges like that is not fit to judge.”
This conversation actually happened. It happened between the angry me and the educated me. It happened between the frustrated me and the prudent me. It happened between the selfish me and the Christian me. Because to be educated means to show understanding, understanding of the events, understanding of the context, and understanding of the implications, and to be educated means not to jump to instinctive conclusions when understanding is lacking. Because to be prudent means to act in a way that shows care for the future, not simply reacting to today. To be Christian means to respond in love and faith shown in selflessness, not to respond in the natural unloving reactions of the world.
My first instincts were the response of a brat – not the response of an educated and prudent Christian.
As I was first typing my initial angry thoughts, I was reminded of the popular verses of 1 Corinthians 13, but of its lesser known beginning:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Paul was making a distinction between what it means to be a Christian. He’s saying, “I can be eloquent, I can be wise, I can be committed to my beliefs, I can even act on them, but if I am not motivated and if my actions are not regulated by love, I’m wasting them.” He was saying, “You can’t say you want a Christian world, a world marked with love, without having that which makes us distinctly Christian: Love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-6
How do we know what we really love? Show me what you do with your time, money, and energy, and I’ll show you what you really love.
That’s how we know whether we are brats. We know we are brats when our Facebook status does not reconcile with our investments of time, money, and energy.
The sad thing is, just like you can’t build a building with a wrecking ball, you can’t build a nation with whiners.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
– Matthew 7:3