Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Answer to Arguments

From "Grace for the Moment" by Max Lucado

"Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

Unity doesn't begin in examining others but in examining self. Unity begins not in demanding that others change, but in admitting that we aren't so perfect ourselves...

The answer to arguments? Acceptance. The first step to unity? Acceptance. Not agreement, acceptance. Not unanimity, acceptance. Not negotiation, arbitration, or elaboration. Those might come later but only after the first step, acceptance.

from "In the Grip of Grace"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taking the "hit" for Jesus

A dear friend's mother shared this short devotional with me the other day. She shared a lesson the Lord had taught her long ago in hopes that I would gain wisdom from it. It's been reverberating through my heart and mind ever since. I'd like to share it with you.

This excerpt is from "My Utmost for His Highest (An updated edition in Today's Language)" by Oswald Chambers

Suffering Afflictions and Going the Second Mile

"I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also" (Matthew 5:39)

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus - it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, "Do you r duty," but is, in effect, "Do what is not your duty." It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, "Oh well, I just can't do any more, and I've been so misrepresented and misunderstood." Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling "up in my flesh what is lacking int he afflictions of Christ..." (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord's honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is - Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this principle. It's very much against our nature to give up our rights...to apology...to vindication...to whatever, but this perspective is very humbling to me. It's going to be working on my heart for a while.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

System Restore Point

Do you ever have one of those days, one of those moments, that you'd just like to take back? How many times have you wanted to return to the moment just before you made that choice, spread that gossip, ended that relationship, or crossed that line?

I've read a couple of books this week that have started my thoughts in that direction. I've started to think about and visualize that moment just before our lives change; that moment we completely take for granted. When we look back, we see it as the place we'd return to if there were any way possible. That fork in the road where things somehow got off track.

As I was logging into my computer this morning, I reached my maximum level of frustration with its performance and decided today is the day I spend time working to make it work properly. As I started the process of clean up and recovery, I came across the option to set a system restore point.

Wouldn't that be nice?

What would it be like if we could stop, in a good moment, and hit the save button? What if we knew, no matter what choice we were about to make, we could return to that safe place in time?

I don't know if I would want that option. My mistakes have made me who I am just as much as my good choices have. We learn (hopefully) when things go wrong and make better choices the next time.

And, although we can't have a clean reset like a machine, there are ways to get back to that restore point in human relationships as well.

What choice did you make that took you down an unfavorable path? Is there a way to get back?

Did you spread gossip? Make it right. Confess it, repair the relationships, and try not to do it again.

Did you end a relationship? Was that the right choice or do you wish it could be restored? Be brave. Make it right. Ask for forgiveness. Give forgiveness. Move forward.

Did you cross a line that you shouldn't have? Apologize. Deal with the damage. Make restititution. Make it right.

Make it right. It's possible. We can't get back to a clean restore point, necessarily, but I'm learning that if we just do the right thing, sometimes we end up in a much better place than we ever imagined. Sometimes a repaired relationship is stronger and more honest than the original one was.

What are those things in your life? Where would you set your restore point if you could go back and do it again? What's stopping you from making it right?