Tag Archives: Forgiveness

There’s a Plank In Your Eye, Miss!

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  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 7:1-3 ESV

Ah…this scripture. I love it and yet…I find that it drives a stake right into my heart every time I read it. Yes, it kills the monster in me that just want to scream “You’re a fool!” to some random person. You see, I can’t do that because I’m a fool, too.

We all are going to make mistakes daily. We’re all struggling in some way to do something right all the time, but we’re never going to reach perfection. We’re not God. We are called to sharpen our brothers and sisters by gently rebuking them, redirecting their attention to the scriptures and by praying for them, but we are never called to monitor their every move in order to harshly judge them or call them a fool. Search your hearts, brothers and sisters. You may not be doing exactly that, but there may be something similar going on in your life right now and you…as well as I, need to stop it right now.

We are not loving our neighbor when we’re people watching only to create websites that display the foolishness of humanity. ( Yes, I’m talking to you, People of Wal-Mart.) We are not loving our neighbor when we call out their insecurities and make fun of them for it. We are not loving our neighbor when we feign friendship only to gain insight for scholarly gain. (Term papers, social studies, etc.) And we are certainly not loving our neighbor when we’re consistently, without love, calling out our neighbor for mistakes they’ve made in life. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done some variation of this. We have to check our hearts, folks. If we’re not correcting out of love and concern for their souls, we’re judging harshly and inappropriately. Check your heart and then lead your heart.

Most of us will naturally become annoyed with anyone with whom we’ve spent too much time. We’ll step on each others’ toes and make silly mistakes that don’t feel silly. They’ll hurt feelings. We’ll intimately get to know our neighbor and yes, we’ll discover hot buttons that when pressed, will create deep wounds. We are not to take advantage of this, or even use this to “correct” our neighbor when we finally find out “what’s wrong with them.” Chances are that whatever “issue” you are finding fault with in your neighbor is more your problem than theirs. We will see our own issues and insecurities manifest themselves in others when that is what we’re placing our focus on. Regain focus. Look to Jesus and pray for your own heart, then look back to your neighbor with a heart full of Grace and love. What do you see? If it’s not a person made righteous by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, then you’re going to need to look away again and refocus your eyes and your heart on Jesus before you can safely (without sin) look at your neighbor again.

I am speaking to you, too…self. I am having such a problem with this issue as well. I really struggle with making harsh judgments towards those with whom I am spending too much time. God has placed my family in an interesting and sometimes extremely uncomfortable situation right now. I’m learning that God doesn’t care too much about my own comfort as He sets my heart right.I am very grateful for this and that He checks my motives before giving me the desires of my heart!

Jesus has already died to set you free. You are no longer a sinner, but a saint. (read: 1 Corinthians 1:2) You are made perfect in God’s eyes because Jesus absorbed all of your punishment on the cross. (read: 2 Corinthians 5:21) We are not called to obey the law in order to retain our salvation. (read: Matthew 5:17) We’re called to obey the law out of love. (read: Romans 13:10) We need to live this out every day, to the best of our ability. When we can’t or don’t, there is grace. Please don’t abuse that! (read: Romans 6) We are all in need of grace. None of us are in competition with anyone else for our salvation. We already have it. Just look to Christ to grow you and mature you more each day. You can do this! God has equipped you with everything you need.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, we come to You boldly, in the name of Your son, Jesus. We thank You for the Holy Spirit that loves us and guides us. We ask that You would make us sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Help us to hear it more clearly and know when we’re making harsh judgements and when we’re truly seeking to correct or rebuke a brother or sister out of love. Help us to focus first on You, Lord and correct our behaviors, thoughts and attitudes before we even dare to look to others. Thank You for growing us and for fulfilling Your word that You began a good work in us and You will see it to completion. We confess that sometimes we don’t trust that. Sometimes we also try to do things on our own and that leads to burnout. We get frustrated with ourselves and become critical of others. Our focus is lost and we sin against You by sinning against Your children. We are sorry and we humbly repent, admitting that all sin is against You and Your will for our lives. Thank You for Jesus who has borne our sin and those of our neighbors as well. Fill our hearts with Your love as we reset our focus back onto You and away from idols and sin. In Jesus’ Holy and perfect name we pray. Amen.

 

Take My Heart

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.  – Frances R. Havergal

Often, when Anthony and I enter into a time of trial, we will pray for God to use us and our situation to edify other’s faith. Only recently have I gained the foresight to plead with God to edify my own faith. It’s been wonderful, the results.

During a recent Bible Study, I read the words “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” It blew me away for many reasons, but the part I’ll write about today is this – Your enemies. 

What’s the significance? Everything. These aren’t my enemies, King David’s enemies or even my neighbor’s enemies – they’re God’s enemies. All of them.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

You see, all of “our” enemies don’t hate us, nor do they want to hurt us. They’re fighting against God. We are physical representations of Christ, so we become the target.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Matthew 5:11

We are blessed because we’re God’s children. Because He’s been working through us and because there is a gain in His Kingdom. We know He’s been glorified because the enemy is mad.

Understanding this key spiritual truth has been a major breakthrough for me. I don’t need to stay low or stay angry when someone strikes me. It wasn’t me they were aiming for! I can forgive because really, there wasn’t much to forgive in the first place. I was not the target. Christ was.

Jesus laid up on that cross and asked God to forgive the very men who murdered Him. I can forgive those who’ve offended me, abused me, hurled insults at me. I can stand strong in the faith because I know

God has been at work in me

God has worked through me

God has been glorified

I’m important to God

And Satan is mad.

 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 5:44

Know that you’re important to God. The enemy will come because you’re His and that is something to be glad about. Dust your shoulders off, fall to your knees and pray. The enemy will come again so repeat, daily.

If being broken, abused, insulted and persecuted means that God is glorified, so be it! My life and everything I own belongs to God and He can use me however He sees fit.

Are you willing to let Christ use you however He sees fit? Have you ever considered that He is glorified through your trials? Do you struggle to forgive? Do you struggle to see your enemies as His?

Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to help you forgive. He will! He will also strengthen you, prepare you for the road ahead and surround you with loving kindness. He will never forsake you or leave you. There is power in His name, so call it out whenever you need help. And remember, your enemies aren’t coming for you. They’re coming for Him.

In Christ,

Mandy ❤

Matthew 6:26

Nest Full of Birds

Very recently, someone wrote a really scathing blog posting about me. This person is not only a Christian, but an ordained Pastor’s wife. Everything she said about me was true. As I read the blog posting, it was all I could do to sit upright and not fall over as if in deep, deep pain. What she wrote exposed me. It exposed the ugliest side of me. I’ve moved on and I’m no longer that woman, but in her eyes, I still was. She never saw past that. It hurt so deeply. It still hurts, being compared to Jenny from Forrest Gump, but…that’s who I was for a season in my life. I was a mess. A terrible, ugly, ragged mess.

I smiled anyway. I laughed anyway. I danced in the rain and I shot arrows at the moon, hoping to catch a star anyway.

Unlike Jenny from Forrest Gump, I was smart enough to marry the right guy. I was smart enough to find God before I sat in the Judgement seat. I was smart enough to look in the mirror.

But I wasn’t smart enough not to hurt people.

I understand completely why she wrote what she did, and I sincerely hope it edified other’s faith. I’m glad she learned something from our exchange. I’m glad I learned something! Something I’ve been learning to do lately is to find things about myself that I really like and then focus on developing those areas. I like that I have a teachable spirit, and I like that I’m strong and willing to challenge myself and reach out beyond my comfort zone. I’m learning Hmong (slowly) which is incredibly difficult and scary for me, but I’m doing it! (Check out my YouTube video here of my first words!) I’m doing it because my Pastor and his family are Hmong and I’m learning that there is a huge population here in Southern Oregon and California that are Hmong and are losing a bit of their culture, as they’re expected to (or perhaps even desire to) adapt to North American ways. They’re my Brothers and Sisters. I want to meet them where they are, not expect them to come to where I am.

Something else that I am learning is that it is very difficult to be a Christian. As time passes and I meet new people, have new experiences, I begin to understand the importance of Jesus’ telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s so easy to love ourselves more – to do things that benefit ourselves, rather than reach outside of our comfort zone. It’s easier to take care of four or five people, than to reach out and lend a hand to someone outside of our family. Reaching out may cause us to become burned. I’ve already been there, why would I subject myself to that again? Because we’re all birds, being raised up in the same nest, so to speak. We may sing a different song, but we are all from the same Father. He feeds us variations of the same food, but we are all fed each day without fail. We simply have to choose whether or not we will allow ourselves to be fed. I’ve found that it’s more fun to eat with friends than to eat alone. God help me, I never want to go back to eating alone again.

I’m not Jenny anymore. I don’t wear the same tattered dress, but make no mistake – I carry many scars. Scars I am proud of and will boast in Christ about. He sewed them up! He held me and carried me and changed me. He gave me Life, showed me the Truth, and lit the Way. He sent His people to scar me, to speak His Word, to hold me, to dine with me, to dance with me, to celebrate with me, and to cry with me. Each little bird He’s sent has sung a different tune, but they’re all beautiful and I’m glad to be in the same nest with them.

Teaching Forgiveness

This week I was talking with Anthony about something I felt I was doing all wrong, and he suddenly stopped me and said “You know what? You teach me about forgiveness more than anyone else I’ve ever known has.” I just sat there, slack mouthed. I mean, really? Me? I’m the woman who holds grudges from middle school because some kid bullied me for eight years, non stop. (I still don’t speak to Matt G and I have no intention to ever speak to him again!) So when Anthony told me this, it was all I could do to close my mouth, and then reopen it again to ask “What do you mean by that?”

He went on to tell me that it’s not usual for someone to forgive their abuser and then go on to have an actual relationship with them. (Non romantic in this case, folks! We’re related.) He told me about a person he had a recent encounter with who was going through a rough time in her life, seeking retribution for a similar type of abuse, and wasn’t getting it. He said that he still struggles with forgiveness, and he doesn’t get how I can move on from something so awful and pray for my abuser to find peace.

I’m not sharing this to praise myself. I’m sharing this to praise God! Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, God worked some massive healing into me and gave me a heart for all His people. I’m not sure how He did it, but He did. I pray for my enemies. Not just my abuser, but others as well, which Anthony pointed out. That is a miracle. That is something to stand up on the rooftops and shout praises to the Lord about! That is a miracle straight from God, isn’t it? (And now I need to look up Matt G on the internet and pray for him!)

I want to encourage those of you who feel like you’re doing absolutely everything wrong to stop and consider these words from my own husband. “You are beautiful and your life means something.” I know that he meant these words for me, but they’re also a universal Truth from our Creator God. You are beautiful and your life means something. You are not struggling or suffering in pain.

This is why I blog and I share such humbling, hard experiences. When we struggle, people are watching to see how we handle it and sometimes we really reach someone in that moment. It’s ok if it’s only one person, or even just one time that we reach someone. The fact is that our struggle was not in vain, and we helped to further the Kingdom of God. With our actions, we can spread the Gospel. Isn’t that amazing, brothers and sisters? No words necessary.

In Christ and In love,

Mandy T.