“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spit the Truth

My two preschool aged boys (3 & 5) have a habit of lying when they know they have done something wrong. They don't want the discipline that is due to them for the choice they have made. So they try to lie. The truth is they get in significantly more trouble for lying than for the actual act itself.

I'm not sure where youngsters come up with the idea to lie, maybe it's our sinful nature, maybe self-preservation, or maybe it's a learned behavior from the other kids they're around. Regardless of the reason, as their Mom it is my job to teach them about truthfulness and also about discipline. It's my job to ensure they mature into honorable young men.

How much more then is it Jesus' job to teach us to mature into righteousness? He teaches us to love the way he loves. Thus to live harmoniously together with others He teaches us to abide in Truth and Grace.

Sadly most people, and most Christians for that matter, do not understand this imperative teaching of Christ about how to relate to one another. So we go on surviving our lives stressed, burnt out, bitter and angry. We perpetuate gossip and hold grudges that produce nothing worth sustaining.

The principle of Truth and Grace is the Answer to the squabbles and bad relationships we endure. To live in Truth and Grace means to be truthful (I wish we all learned this as a child, but we didn't), and then give unmerited forgiveness (aka Grace) to others and ourselves. In theory it is an incredibly simple, incredibly potent way to live. In practice it is much harder to break old habits.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17; emphasis mine)

Some of the keys are:
Not gossiping - if you have an issue with someone you bring it to whomever you have the problem with. And you don't talk it over with your 5 best friends first! You don't bring someone with you to "back you up" because then you're ganging up on that other person.

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (Matt 18:15)
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Prov 11:13) 
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;  they go down to the inmost parts. (Prov 26:22)

Then after you’ve talked with the person, you forgive completely…even if they don’t apologize. Take the sin that has been committed against you and lay it at the feet of Jesus. Ask Him to heal you where you've been hurt and then let go. Holding on to a grudge against someone does not hurt them; it only brings agony to you. Revenge should not be a word in our vocabulary, always love.

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!" (Matt 18-21-22) 
'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt 18:32-35)
“Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” (Prov 20:22)

Reflection Question: Where do you need to let go (gossip, grudge, anger, bitterness, etc) in order to start living your life in Truth and Grace?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Don't Have

I got an award for my 5 years in the Army and the first thing I thought was "I deserved more than this". Why do I do that? Because I know how much I have sacrificed, and I had expected something significant for that, and I didn’t get what I thought I deserve.

Frances Chan says "we are programed to focus on what we don't have... We forget that we already have everything we need in Him" (Crazy Love 30).

I have been fairly anxious lately about my future and whether I'm making the right decision. In so many ways this solidifies my plan for the future. People, like my leadership in the Army, will always leave me wanting more, but God is more than enough.

When I think about the lessons I learned, the skills I gained and the people’s lives I touched during my time in the Army, I realize how much more those things are worth than a piece of metal and ribbon on my uniform. I don’t do the things I do, for awards, I do them to glorify Christ. 
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt 6:1)
I do not want to forfeit my reward in heaven for a few “Atta boys” here on earth. Jesus loves me who I am and where I am in my life right now! He will Justify me by His blood and perfect me through the circumstances I am placed in each day.  
Reflection Question: Are you looking for accolades here on earth, or are you storing up your rewards in Heaven?