Harder Than Forgiveness

HARDER THAN FORGIVENESS

Finally, it’s over. You’ve done the impossible by forgiving the unforgiveable. Now you can put that person out of your mind, and never see them again. But God comes along and says you’re not done! Why would God expect more when you’ve already done more than most humans ever accomplish? Because He commands us to live out His image. He commands us to bless because He blessed you and me beyond forgiving us.

Christ’s payment for our sin on the Cross mercifully spared us an eternity in hell. That was only the beginning. He gifted us with a lifetime of grace to overcome our weaknesses and sins, comfort and direction through the perils of life, plus His Holy Spirit living in us. He wants to extend grace through us by the Holy Spirit.

Peter closes his sacred writings in 2 Peter 3:18, with “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” Grace comes before knowledge because knowledge without grace can become legalism. Grace comes in a moment while knowledge takes time. Do we want grace flowing out of our lives more than we want knowledge? If so, where do we start?

The growth principle applies to anything we want to master, whether athletics, playing the piano or perfecting a surgical procedure: practice, practice, practice. Growing in grace begins with small things, like tucking a sweet in the lunch bag of a complaining, ungrateful husband, or tipping extra to the negligent waitress or picking up the slack for a surly co-worker. Day after day, little by little. Repetition strengthens our resolve and builds our character so we do not flinch when the next mountain of unforgiveness threatens our future.

Grace completes forgiveness. It’s an outward expression of an inward commitment. Grace brings clarity to forgiveness. It aggravates enemy attempts to discredit or assign suspicious motives for the other person to imagine. Grace baffles those who oppose us. It befuddles the enemy’s responses. It blesses those who witness it. Romans 2:4 says it leads to repentance.

Choosing the right blessing requires hearing from God. God has specific ideas of what, when, where and how we are to bless others. Apart from God’s direction, we can create a disaster for ourselves or others. Hoping to bless a dangerous, abusive parent in person may end up inviting further abuse. God’s choice to bless that person may strictly be prayer. Approaching someone at work or in a group might humiliate or embarrass them. Timing is crucial. God’s says that “in the fullness of time” He sent His Son. God alone knows how to maximize your obedience for the sake of the other person and Himself. Be sure to ask Him.

How might giving a blessing beyond forgiveness affect you? How might receiving a blessing affect you?

Porcupines and Briar Patches

PORCUPINES and BRIAR PATCHES

Porcupines invade our lives almost daily. They pose as verbal barbs or a prickly reception to our latest suggestions. We may dismiss them as unworthy of another thought, and sometimes they are. We may accept them as a “learning experience.” Sometime all we learn is that they hurts.

Other offenses hurl us into briar patches with no obvious or easy escape. Bruises burrow into our souls and park on our hearts like stone.

Pain obscures options; it disorients us, confuses our thoughts, and crowds out reality. We jump to illogical and fearful conclusions. Our reactions may even be self-destructive.

If we fail to evict the pain, we search for ways to cope. Coping is surrender: coping harbors, and tempts us to nourish the offense. In making room for the porcupine, a good must go. That’s always the trade.

Christ did not plan for us to “cope.” He does not provide grace to cope. Because He sees us as “more than conquerors” He thrusts a sword and a strategy book into our hands to win the war.

War games begin in our minds. God urges transformation of our thoughts so we can clearly see who the enemy is and what the real issues are. Transformation supersedes all other options if the damage is permanent. Being blinded or amputated by an IED or robbed of your loved one cannot be changed. Those realities cannot be transformed. Only your thoughts about them can.

But do we want to think differently? Are we willing to pay the price of going against our offended selves, our broken hearts, our entitled self-pity, and our uncontrollable feelings? Do we really want to give up our supposed rights to anger, indignation, pity, revenge, pay back? Do we trust God to truly make it right for us?

Maybe it starts with praying for the willingness to be willing and the courage to risk letting go.

What would be the alternatives? Your perspectives are welcomed.

 

 

What Is Uneven Faith?

Uneven faith lies in all believers, though we may be unaware of it. For instance, I may have no worries whatsoever about my finances, whether rich or poor, but I worry about my health. I may feel confident to minister at church but fight constant fears about my parenting. This is uneven faith. We forget that the God who sustains and equips us for making money or serving others is the same God Who gives grace in our weaknesses.

Uneven faith results from weighing our weaknesses and past failures when choosing what to believe. We end up believing more in our weaknesses than in God’s greatness, forgetting Paul’s declaration that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Of course, this holds true only if we choose to prove it by our actions. We confess our inadequacy and thank God for His and then we get moving, affirming our faith step by step, without doubts or looking back. Strong faith falters when we defer to feelings while ignoring God’s facts.

Uneven faith also results from differing opportunities, experiences, and maturity. We may never have been tested in a certain area. God promises to never give us more than we can endure. He carefully times the challenges of faith according to our understanding, support, and level of faith. Until you’re flat in bed, unable to function normally, you have no occasion to think about your health as a faith issue. That applies to all areas: money, parenting, serving, retirement, etc. Change challenges our faith whether it’s a positive or negative change. Sudden prosperity can derail believers as easily as sudden loss or trauma. But, fear not.