In the aftermath of my God using a prophet in another country to contact my parents and tell them through visions that I was on a destructive path and needed to repent, last night’s sermon at midweek service spoke to me. It was about the Prodigal Son and God really worked on my heart about it. The preacher spoke about how the prodigal son was resentful of his inheritance and so he essentially told his father that he was dead to him so could he have his half of the inheritance NOW please, thank you very much. As I went to write more about this I realized that a text conversation I had with one of my “sisters” said it all:
Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. -Psalm 29:1-2
I work for a great company that allows a fair amount of autonomy and creative input from its employees; perhaps not as much as we’d like, but far more than any other company I’ve ever worked for. But like many companies, the credit for the most successful of those creative endeavors often does not go to the person to whom it is due. Instead, it is someone a few rungs up on the corporate ladder who always gets the accolades.
One of my co-workers came up with a training program a few years ago that went national and then international at our company. She received no credit for her work. Instead someone a little higher up in the food chain got a raise, a promotion, and a trip to Europe out of it.
This past year, I also came up with a program that has gotten a lot recognition throughout the company. I did all the work. I researched the best way to go about it. I came up with all the materials. I put together all the PowerPoint presentations. I gathered all the data. I put it all in pretty little spreadsheets. I lost sleep designing the lessons and poured myself into making it work and teaching it to other employees at other locations to make it work for them. From top to bottom I did everything — except for naming it. Someone at our regional office gave it a fancy name. The person who gave it a fancy name is the one getting all the credit for this program.
Once the recognition started pouring in and I became aware of the fact that one of my superiors was unashamedly taking credit for my work I had a choice to make. I could complain loudly and often until everyone knew what she had done, or I could sheepishly say nothing and burn with bitter resentment, or I could accept that my job is not to get recognized, my job is to make my superiors look good. The truth is that anyone closely connected to me or the program knows exactly who did the work. It’s only the people a little further removed from it that don’t know. But you know what? I don’t know those people anyway, and they don’t know me. Why should I need them to recognize me? I don’t.
It got me thinking about the things of God. So often God does all the work, and then we humans take the credit for it. Think about the process of soul saving. Jesus did the dirty work of coming down and humbling Himself in the form of a man. He willingly sacrificed Himself for us. He personally shed His own blood. Even when we think we’ve chosen Him, we forget that God chooses the vessel. He puts the hunger inside us. He gives us the measure of faith. He gives us a heart of repentance. He fills us with His Holy Spirit. You know what we do? We put a fancy name on it.
In Genesis we read that when God made creation, He made all these wonderful things and saw that they were good. He creates all the plants and animals and then He makes the creature created in His own image: Adam. Then Adam names all the animals. That’s what we do, we get to give a name to the amazing miracles of God. We name it the Parting of the Red Sea, the Miracle of the Fishes and the Loaves, the Winter Campaign of 2012 or the Revival of 2013. We give it a name so that when we refer to it later everyone knows what we’re talking about, but we didn’t do the work, God did the work.
You may be working hard for God, but never forget that our work as human beings is nothing more than a garnish on the side of the true dish. Our work is just a small slice that God allowed us to be a part of. He doesn’t need us, He chooses to use us. Let’s endeavor never to steal the credit from God. Give Him glory and honor for everything He has done for you, in you, around you and through you. Without Him, nothing in our lives means anything. It’s all in Him! Every good thing we have in our lives is because of Him. It doesn’t matter how rich or beautiful or talented we are, nothing we have is of our own doing. We can’t even take credit for our hard work because He gave us the capacity to do that work. Every testimony you have is God’s testimony. Every soul you’ve touched, is a soul that God touched. Every good thing you’ve done, is a good thing that God did through you, because He is good, not because we are.
He does the work so let’s make sure that He gets the credit.
In His Love,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2
“What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” ~ Romans 6:1-2
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
We are only human. I hear that all the time. We try, we fail, we get up and fall again. We sin. We are only human. But lately I’ve been really feeling like this isn’t a valid excuse. Like we’re selling ourselves short somehow by chalking our mistakes up to our humanity. Like we’re selling God short somehow.
When it comes down to it, we were delivered from sin. We were delivered and are now asked to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). I’ve never thought much about this verse before. I always just figured ‘we are inherently imperfect’ and left it at that. But God brought it to my attention yesterday. Would He have asked it of us if it was completely unachievable? I get it; we’re sinners. But we were also delivered. With the death of Jesus came the deliverance of us. Not only that, but when Jesus ascended to heaven, in his stead came the Holy Spirit. Jesus called it the Counselor and the Advocate, to reside inside of us and guide our choices. Here’s where we get a little theological. Depending on your denomination, you might view the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God as more separate entities comprising the Holy Trinity, or you may literally see them as interchangeable. Either way, everyone agrees to a point that all three parts of the trinity are God in various forms.
I personally view them as pretty much the same, but for purposes of this post, the difference is this: Jesus walked among us, and sacrificed for us. The Holy Spirit resides inside of us. Yet both are God. Which means that God is inside of us. All of the love and compassion and righteousness that was Jesus Christ on this earth, is now alive and well and here. It’s within us. We were given this precious gift, a gift we could never possibly hope to earn. Why? So that we can sit here and say “well, I’m only human…..”. Somehow, I don’t think that was quite the idea. I think we were meant to embrace this gift, to overcome our humanity (so to speak) and be a true vessel of this perfect righteousness we were given. It’s the classic ‘less of me, more of You’ desire. We humans are imperfect, inherently sinners. The Holy Spirit is perfect and righteous. One is inside the other, and we have do control over which one prevails.
I have a friend who has recently returned back from a missions trip to Africa. Her life was changed forever as she saw how open people were there to spiritual experiences and how freely God was allowed to move. Her facebook status the other day was “Jesus, how you’ve wounded me for anything less than You”. It exactly summed up my feelings lately.
I want a heart that truly knows the bright light and beauty of Jesus. I know that He outshines anything I see here on earth. I want a heart that is so attuned to Him, that knows my savior so well, that even the most beautiful and tantalizing temptations of this earth appear to be nothing more than trash on the side of the street when compared to His glory. I want a heart that desires, truly desires, the things that God desires – not the things that the world offers. I want a heart that is so passionate for Christ, that is so led by the Holy Spirit within me, that I don’t give those earthly temptations a second glance, because they just don’t look appealing. I want a heart that will settle for nothing less than Jesus.
But I’m only human….imperfect…so can I get my heart to be in that place? The more I looked into it, the more I realized that yes I can. We all can. We don’t have to settle for the human condition. God gave us salvation for eternity, but he also gave us a way to overcome the flesh now. We can do it. Maybe it’s moment to moment. Maybe we won’t be always perfect from here on out for the rest of our lives – but in theory, we could be. In the sacrifice of Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, God gave us the tools we need to live by His righteousness. All of it.
In fact, it’s asked of us. God specifically tells us to be perfect. To not continue sinning. To live righteously. I’ve even heard it preached that because God poured out His righteousness into us, and then gave us free will, that God is only as righteous as the human vessel. I think that statement is something of a misrepresentation, but I agree with the sentiment. We were made into vessels. We were given this gift. It’s up to us to allow God to move, both within us and around us.
And if we do it right, it shouldn’t be “I’m only human”. It shouldn’t be “this is so hard to ignore” or “I want ____ but I know I really shouldn’t.” Instead, it should be “I have Jesus; why would I want ____?” It should be a heart that literally settles for nothing less than the fullness of Christ Himself.
Jesus, help me to stop masking You with my humanity. Help me to stop getting in the way of the Holy Spirit and blaming it on the fact that I’m inherently a sinner. Give me a heart that is fully focused and centered on You and You alone, and is so in love with You that nothing on this earth even comes close to fulfilling my heart’s desire. Show me how to get to the place where you are my true desire. Show me how to shed myself on an even deeper level, so that all is left in me is You. Show me how to abide in You and walk with You in a way that makes me not even visible to the world anymore, but instead lets your light shine out of me. Help me to seek nothing less than You. I love you with everything I have and all that I am.
I know this might be a kind of controversial post. I haven’t completely worked through it all yet I don’t think. It’s just what I’ve been feeling lately, and what I feel like God is telling me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too, either in a comment or privately at email@example.com.
“For the spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
“But He said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have been feeling a sense of urgency lately to move for God, and to step into the purpose He has for me. I don’t have a super clear picture of what that purpose is, but I know I’m supposed to move towards it. The more I talk to people, the more I see that this sense of urgency is prevalent across the board. We’re in a time to solidify our steps, and match our walk a little closer with our Father’s.
Equally prevalent, though, is an accompanying sense of fear to go along with the push to move. We feel the urge to step out; then just as quickly, we talk ourselves out of it. We convince ourselves that we aren’t ready, that we don’t have the right skills for this, that we haven’t done all the prerequisites. So we wait to move, ‘until the time is right’ or ‘until we’re ready’.
I can’t and won’t presume to know when the time is right for anything. That’s in God’s hands. But I know what happened when Moses didn’t feel that he was capable of leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, and what happened was that God made him capable. Moses wasn’t a great speaker, but was called to speak. Because God called him to speak, God gave him the words to say and God gave him the fluency to deliver his speeches without a single stutter. God qualified him to meet his calling.
God qualifies all of us. Our own limitations don’t matter, because we don’t act on our own merit. It’s not by our skills, our talents, our achievements, and our strengths that we make things happen. It’s by God’s grace. And it’s in our weakness that we learn to be fully dependent on that grace and to accept it. So embrace your weakness, and step out anyway – God will provide everything you need. God qualifies us sufficiently to do the task He calls us to do. That sense of fear is merely a trick of the enemy, trying to thwart God’s plan. And we mustn’t give in to it. Because when it comes down to it, really all we have to do is show up. Go where God says to. Follow the path, and let God take care of what happens. It’s His calling for us, so it’s on Him to equip us. And He will. All we have to do is show up to let Him.
If any of you are struggling with stepping out in faith or in walking the next steps of your path, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pray for you.
“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 13:4-6
A few months ago, God was really emphasizing this verse to me. He called me to a Love Project of sorts – really looking at each aspect of what love is, and bringing my walk into submission with it. I got as far as “love is patient”, and have since realized just how impatient I really am! Learning to walk in true patience has been eye-opening, difficult, and amazing.
Lately, though, I’ve been feeling called to the next part of the verse: love is kind. I’ve been noticing something about myself: I’m a jerk. I have a problem with this person because they’re too abrasive; I have a problem with this other person because they try too hard to be funny and make jokes that are actually kind of rude. Sometimes I find myself distancing myself from somebody on the subway or walking down the street based solely on their appearance (and sometimes their smell).
This is expected and human. But not Godly. Jesus’ kindness was not conditional and wasn’t based on anything superficial. There was no such thing as “I love you but I don’t like you much”. That’s a mindset developed by the world, embraced by the world, and totally against what Jesus stood for. He walked with a level of deep compassion towards people that transcended their earthly qualities.
For me, tapping into the level of kindness required to walk with God’s heart towards people means taking my thoughts captive – those initial, judgemental reactions I have towards people need to go away. I need to catch them, submit them, and pray for Jesus to give me a new, less jerkish heart. There is no way that I can be spiritually prepared for anything if I’m harboring the judgements in my heart that I currently have.
As my friend Rebekah L said though, awareness is the beginning of change. So, Love Project Part 2 begins today. I would encourage you all to join me, and look at your daily interactions. Do they embody the kindness mentioned in this passage? Towards everyone? If so, you’re farther along than I and that is awesome. If not, feel free to join me in making a change!
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” –Matthew 26:41
Awhile ago I found myself dealing with a bit of a problem with someone I know. When I inquired to God as to what had brought this on, God showed me something I had done months earlier that had started the chain reaction of events that led me to the point I found myself in. I realized had I followed the Lord’s principles as laid out in the Scriptures, I would not have had to suffer the way I was. I repented and told God that if a similar situation ever presented itself, I would not make the same mistake twice. I would say no to the temptation.
A couple of nights ago I had a dream that the very situation I had dealt with before presented itself again. In the dream I was very tempted to repeat my prior error, but then I remembered my vow to the Lord. I reminded myself that following after God is the most important thing. There is no temporary fulfillment of the flesh that is worth sacrificing eternity. I said no to the temptation.
But then as sometimes happens in dreams, I suddenly became aware that I was dreaming! Once I realized I was dreaming, I revisited the temptation. I reasoned within myself that since I was dreaming that meant none of this was really happening so it wouldn’t be so bad to give in to the temptation; to give in to sin. It wasn’t even real I told myself. When I wake up, I will go on as before and no one will ever know. I’m not sure if I went through with my intention to sin as the dream seems to have ended at that point, but I woke up clearly remembering how I was justifying my desire to sin for the simple reason that I knew it wasn’t real. Our flesh will do as much as it can get away with!
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” –Romans 7:18
Our thought life is important to God. The things in our hearts are important to God. While I may not have been completely conscious of my activities, and though I was “only” dreaming, the dream revealed the state of the inner man. My flesh was rising up. Somewhere deep down, that desire for sin is within. The carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:7). My flesh is weak. I know that the wages of sin is death. I know that nothing good can come of it, and yet I was so quick to go down that road because I could get away with it since it wasn’t “real”. The trouble is that the unconscious mind that brought me to that place in my dream is real. The dream came from somewhere and it revealed an area in my life that I need to deal with. So what’s the solution to this problem?
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” -Galatians 5:16
Walk in the Spirit! We have two natures, a spiritual nature and a fleshly nature. There is a battle raging between the old man and the new man. Paul said, “I die daily.” We have to crucify the flesh every day. I’ve recently been re-sanctifying parts of my life as I have found I need to do from time to time. I’ve started treating my temple better with healthier food and exercise. I’ve started reading my Word regularly again. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account. I’m praying more and allowing time for worship in the privacy of my home instead of just during song service at church. Perhaps, my flesh is rising up in part due to this sanctification process. The flesh doesn’t like the things of the spirit!
I’m doing my best to take up my cross to follow Him, but my flesh is still weak. I must remind myself of this so that I don’t fall into temptation. The Bible says to confess your faults to one another and to pray for one another (James 5:16). We know that sin leads to death yet we are still tempted by the flesh to fall into sin! We must die daily. We must walk in the spirit so that we don’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
Lord, Help me to walk after the Spirit and not after my own flesh! Help me to live clean and righteously before You in my thoughts, in my body, and in my spirit. I cannot do it on my own; I need your Holy Spirit directing my every step. Thank you Jesus for your loving kindness and your enduring mercy. I don’t know where I’d be without You.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, whom is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
At Church on Sunday, we had a special time set aside to pray for healing. I have an autoimmune disease, and for the past almost-year or so now I’ve been fighting a weird eczema-type rash on my hands and arms. It hasn’t been fun, so if healing prayer is being offered, I’m all over it! But as I prayed for Jesus to just take my body and touch it with His healing hand, the hand of the Great Physician, He answered me with “I can’t. You’re not mine to heal.”
Excuse me? What do you mean I’m not yours to heal? Don’t I blog about you and love you and worship you and serve you? Trust me, Jesus – I’m all yours. Go ahead and heal me!
Still the words resonated, “You’re not mine to heal”. I have to say that Jesus and I had a slight difference of opinion when it came to this ruling….but since He’s usually right about these things I figured I’d listen. What He essentially said was, my body is a temple. It’s consecrated space. At least, it should be. Right now though, it really isn’t. There are too many distractions and external things I’m letting in. When my body truly becomes a temple for Jesus, it will be His to heal.
This got me thinking. I used to have a weekly fast day. I’ve stopped doing that. From fasting to eating habits to workout habits to how I spend my free time, every action I make is either consecrating or desecrating this temple. It was almost like God was telling me it’s not enough to have prayer time set aside. Our very bodies are temples – places of worship and praise, dedicated to our Creator. Our spirits merely inhabit it. We were created for God, not for ourselves.
Then I had another thought. We literally spend our whole entire lives inside of a temple. We can’t leave it even if we want to – after all, it’s not like we can step out of our bodies. We can’t say “Today my body’s a temple but tomorrow I’m hanging out with my friends and I think there’s gonna be a cute guy there so I’ll wear clothes a little tighter so I look good.” That’s not how it works. Our bodies are temples all the time. They were created for that purpose, and 1 Corinthians 6 is very clear about that. The question becomes this: in this moment, is your temple consecrated or desecrated? Are you worshiping Jesus or have you invited in an idol? You can’t leave your temple ever, so all you can do is either keep it clean and polished or let it get dirty; you can either serve Jesus in its altar or serve something else. And truth be told, every thought in your head, action you take and word you speak serves something. You are serving something in every second of the day. Today I ask you, who?
So clearly, Jesus is calling me to walk more intentionally in Him, not just in thought but in my actions as well. I trust Him that the healing will come in time. Meanwhile, I have some cleaning of my temple to do.
This is the time, readers, to reflect on your daily habits and your lifestyle and see if any of them are in fact less than godly. This is the time to pray for strength and make some changes so that you, too, can polish your temples and let God’s light shine out in all its glory. I wish you luck and am keeping you in my prayers. As always, write to me with specific prayer requests at email@example.com.
“‘My son’, the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” ~Luke 15:31-32
If you didn’t recognize the above passage, it’s from the parable of the prodigal son, which you can read here. But essentially, a father had two sons and gave them each an inheritance. One went off and squandered it, while the other stayed close to home and was a dutiful son. When the prodigal son found himself penniless, having gone through the entire inheritance, he went back home to his father. His father, rather than being upset with him, threw a feast in his honor. The above verse is the response the father gave when his obedient son asked why they were celebrating the other brother, when he himself was the one who’d done right by the father.
It’s also the response I gave recently, when someone asked me if I ever found it offensive that some people only became believers on their deathbeds. Here I was, living this life by a righteous and godly – and difficult! – standard. Meanwhile, someone else could live their whole life doing whatever they wanted, come to know Jesus at the very end, and be just as heaven-bound as I was. Didn’t I find this unfair?
Truth be told, no. I don’t. For so many reasons. One being that we store up treasures in heaven and I know I’ll have many waiting for me. Another being that getting ‘offended’ for not getting more credit for our obedience than the other guy is getting is a pride issue, and we aren’t supposed to have any pride in the first place. But the main reason is this parable.
This son was lost and now is found. That person on their deathbed was indeed headed to death, and now is headed to life. They were lost and now are found. That’s a cause to rejoice, not a cause to begrudge! It’s not about comparing ourselves with the other person. It’s not about us at all. It’s about them. They were lost. Now they’re not. And when ‘lost’ can send a person to hell….I’d much rather they come late to the party than not show up at all!
So check your hearts – and your egos. Comparing ourselves to one another has no place in our lives. Everyone’s heart is different, and there is room in God’s house for all of us. So get out of the mindset that we are ‘better’ for our obedience. Rejoice in the fact that we have a God who honors both our obedience and has mercy on disobedience – we know how often we’ve needed that mercy too! Rejoice in the fact that we have a God who is mighty to save, who can do a work in any heart. Rejoice in the fact that a lost heart can be found, and check with Him to see if you have a role to play in making that happen. Pray for the hearts that labor in darkness still, and rejoice in those who have found the light.
This is from an email I was going to write someone …
I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this with you- a virtual stranger, but I’ve found when I allow myself to be transparent, people are encouraged, challenged, or touched by Jesus. This whole “seeking Jesus thing” is really not going as I have planned.
I know what I need to do and yet I just am fighting it- I’m fighting Him. I just… don’t want to push so hard anymore. Dig so much. He provided all that I needed/wanted during my desert time and yet a huge part of me is soo hesitant to go back into that…. both guys I dated I felt so strongly that God was in it… at first… I prayed so much against meeting my most recent ex if Jesus didn’t have anything for us to learn/grow from it. Clearly He must have, but part of me is angry, frustrated that once again, He allowed some guy to come into my life and rip into me. Just like how He allowed the first to rip me to shreds.
How is it that I can charge Him with the sins of others and yet not see that although He willingly takes the blame, He did not actually inflict the pain? Why is it that I feel like I need to forgive Him for not watching out for me when He is the one who has forgiven me of so much? Why do I always feel like I give so much of who I am so freely to others and all they do is see it, rip it to shreds, and throw it in the trash? Where is my Isaac that I thought would be here and why can’t I learn to fully be content in my moments? Why can’t I just truly wait in peace in Him and the promises He has for me? My heart wants to cry “Where are You Jesus?” and yet I know where He is… He’s waiting… but just like how I’m afraid of trusting any guys again, I’m afraid of trusting Him since part of me blames Him for even allowing them in my life in the first place. Why must growing and learning hurt SO MUCH? I miss the safety of not knowing. I miss the bliss of being naive to the world.
I realized while talking to a close friend of mine that I had become the Ex#2 in my relationship with Jesus- texting no more than once or twice a day and talking once or twice a week on the phone. Jesus doesn’t want that. Jesus doesn’t want me to be Ex #2 in my relationship with Him. He wants to hear from me every day as much as I wanted to hear from Ex #2. It doesn’t detract from His worth when I don’t talk to Him, it just means that He just wants to get to know me better and let me know Him better.
Yet part of me fights…. I realize I haven’t allowed myself to fully grieve over the fact that once again I was dumped. I hurt from the shame of being dumped again. I hurt from feeling like I was ready to put my heart out there and was once again pushed away. I hurt and part of me wants to blame God since I can’t take my anger out on my ex.
Just take it. Bind me up again. Release me from this pain. Purge me of the darkness and dirt. Help me find what You wanted me to take away from the relationship. I’m going to stop fighting You. I see now- it wasn’t Your fault and it’s not fair to be angry at You when I really want to be angry with myself and my ex. If You want me to be single forever, so be it. If You want me to marry, whomever it may be, so be it. I give it all to You now. Whomever or even no body, You make that choice for me. You lead and guide my steps. You show me what I must do. Be my everything again. Help me not be distracted by guys but let the right guy become an encouragement to me.. if there is to be a guy. Let him edify my walk with You as I edify his. Let our future children (if I have any) glorify Your name from the moment they can speak. Nothing would be better than if their first word was “Jesus.” Lord, I so badly want all that I am and do to be consumed by You and the things of You. I’m sorry I was angry at You. I’m sorry I blamed You when all You wanted was for me to find comfort in You. I love You Jesus with all my heart.
A few months ago, I was talking to some friends, only to find that they actually weren’t friends with me anymore after all. We had never had a fight, we’d never had a falling-out of any kind, but somewhere along the line they decided they didn’t like me. They had all kinds of reasons – I was mean-spirited, I was vain, I was Republican, I was this that and something else too. They never told me why they thought these things about me. They had no reasons. They had just made assumptions and stereotypes, and based their opinions from that. They didn’t talk to me first, they didn’t pass go. They just decided. People who were supposed to be my friends. And meanwhile, they have all these quotes and sayings all over the place about not judging people. Today, I had a big urge to get in touch with them again, if only to point out the irony of their words vs their behavior.
I curbed the urge, but I was confused on what to do. They aren’t Christian, and if they knew how wrong they were and I could forgive, maybe it’d give them a piece of God’s love. Or maybe it’s a lesson for me in how to get over things. Without further direction, I didn’t act one way or the other.
Then, I skyped in to my old church tonight. And what was the message God had for us? How we need to drop our expectations of what people should be. Drop our expectations of what a good friend looks like, what a good parent looks like, what a good leader or boss looks like. Not drop our standards for our own behavior, but drop our expectations. We need to drop those things because they don’t affect how the other person acts; they affect how we perceive them. And in the end, since nobody is perfect, our expecations only get in the way of how we can love the people in our lives. Because at some point, everybody will fall short of our expectations, sometimes far short, and then we might harbor unforgiveness. Will we forgive? Sure. We’re Christian. But getting to a place where we have to forgive someone for something, when their only fault really is that they’re as broken and imperfect as we are, isn’t necessarily a good idea. Rather than placing expectations on people, putting that yoke on them and allowing them to fail (because that’s what expectations do, really), and then having to forgive them for failing to carry the yoke that we placed on them, we should just drop our expectations and love them as they are. That’s the way that Jesus loves us. Yes we do wrong. Yes He disciplines us. And there will be times where He moves us to intervene for someone or speak up against sin or a certain mindset. But ultimately, Jesus loves us as the broken, imperfect, failures that we are. Who are we to say we deserve it but the person who insulted us doesn’t? What do we really know of the other person’s heart anyway?
Someone put it really well when she said there are a lot of times in this life and in relationships (be it friend, spouse, or family member), where we genuinely are wronged. We genuinely are insulted, and we have every worldly right to be angry about it. But because we are citizens of Heaven, and we have God’s heart inside of us, we can’t claim our worldly right to anger. We know Jesus and He has remade us – all we can claim is our new identity in Him, that doesn’t depend on others. So in these situations, she literally asks herself “what would love do? How would love act here?” And with that simple question, she gets through a lot of situations.
What would love do? I would encourage us all to ask this. Another person’s behavior is not up to us. What is up to us is loving people regardless of their actions and their responses. If we were grounded in Christ’s love to the point where our identity and our thoughts and our actions came from Him, truly came from Him, it wouldn’t matter what other people did to us; we would be able to love them anyway.