Choosing Far More Life

Can I be honest? This is one of those weeks where I don’t feel like I am living far more life. I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. So I’m going to choose far more life by reviewing some of my favorite Bible verses — those that remind me of truths richer and steadier than my shifting emotions — and invite you along for the journey.

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Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8, NIV)

Thank you, God, for offering rest and hope. And for being a safe place in the struggles and storms of life. I love that you are: a rock I can cling to when strong winds blow; a fortress that keeps me safe inside strong, tall walls; and a refuge I can run to when my enemy attacks.

Far more life is trusting, resting, and hoping in God and pouring out my heart to Him. Although I am weak, I choose far more life.

* * * * *
And my God will fully supply your every need, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, EHV)

Thank you, God, for having all that I need — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — and willingly supplying it. You supply the perseverance I need when I want to quit. You supply the perspective I need when my focus is selfish. You supply the peace I need when I am overwhelmed. I am not hesitant to ask for help because Your glorious riches are abundant — blessing me doesn’t take away from You or others.

Far more life is looking to God to meet my needs, even my need to know what I truly need. In my moment of need, I choose far more life.

* * * * *
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, NLT)

Thank you, God, for reminding me to keep doing what is good. I confess that I want to pull into my shell today and only do what I want, which may feel good right now but is not truly good. I am so glad You know exactly when to send the harvest of blessing. I know I won’t see some of those blessings until heaven, but thank You for giving me a preview just when I need it.

Far more life is remembering that God sees the good I do and will bless me for it at the perfect time. Although I may not see the fruit until heaven, today I choose to do good. I choose far more life.

* * * * *
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. (Ephesians 1:13b-14a, NIV)

Thank you, God, for guaranteeing my inheritance and giving me a piece of it now. Your choice to deposit something precious in me — Your Holy Spirit — gives me confidence that You will redeem me one day. It is humbling to recognize the value You have placed on me. You are with me — inside me — every moment of my life until we can be together in heaven. This inspires me to be better for Your glory.

Far more life is realizing God chose to become a permanent part of my life. Because God has chosen me, I choose far more life in Him.

* * * * *
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! He heals the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:1, 3-5)

Thank you, God, for being both high and nigh. You are big and powerful enough to name every star and have limitless understanding. Yet you are near enough to know when my heart is breaking and tend to my hurts. You truly are great and deserve my praise! It is pleasant and fitting to give praise You.

Far more life is giving God the praise He deserves. With a humble heart, I choose praise-filled far more life.

* * * * *
I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. (John 10:10, PHILLIPS)

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth and bringing us far more life. You left perfection and subjected Yourself to the pain and struggles of this world. I will never experience as much pain as You did. And yet, despite taking the punishment I deserved, you offer me far more life. What amazing love!

Far more life is embracing Jesus’ gift.  With thankfulness, I choose far more life.


Sisters,
What Bible verses remind you to choose far more life?
-Shari

Far More #momlife

This post was written by guest blogger Jenna Huether. Jenna pursued a friendship with me and it has been a wonderful blessing! I’m thankful she carved time out of her busy #momlife to share these thoughts with us. They are a great reminder of far more life for women in all seasons of life.
-Shari

Shari’s weekly reminders that Christ came to bring us far more life have been both refreshing and challenging for me. I know very well that the Christian life isn’t meant to be glamorous or comfortable, yet somehow my heart won’t stop yearning for my life to feel like far more. My circumstances right now aren’t defined by abundance, but endurance. My husband is in the thick of grad school on top of working full time, and I am a stay-at-home mom to our three kids, three and under. I constantly find myself asking God for more: More energy. More patience. More resources. More time. More help. More life.

As I read the Bible this week, I came to a favorite verse:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2, NIV) 

That command is very grounding (ironically) when I get upset about the perceived “lack” in my circumstances. Why am I setting my mind on those things anyway? The things above are greater, significant, eternal. Those are the kind of things that will fulfill me in a lasting way. In fact, it was pretty much the main point of Shari’s previous post: “focusing on our future brings joy.”

A few years ago, I hopped on the bandwagon of picking a word to define the new year, rather than setting resolutions. This year, my husband and I both chose the word “invest.” It has proven to be an apt word. When I’m exhausted at the end of a long day alone with the kids, Matt reminds me, “Jenna, you invested today.” When he collapses into bed after hours of studying and an intense night at work I remind him, “Matt, you invested today.” Between parenting, grad school, moving, eliminating student debt, etc., there are so many things that we are pouring ourselves into this year with the hope that we will eventually see a return on our investment.

But the truth is, there really is no guarantee that we will. We think that we will. We hope that we will. We pray that we will. But we know that investments can be risky at times and the results can be outside of our control. Focusing solely on all the returns we long to see in the coming years will never feel like far more life. Even if they all come to fruition. That is why I found such encouragement this week in Colossians 3:2. Setting my mind on things above will bless my life, because the things God has promised to those who follow Him are absolutely guaranteed.

If I want to feel the far more life that Jesus promises, I need to focus on investing in something eternal. So that leads me to an item that I would like to add to Shari’s list from last week: Focusing on our future brings joy because God will reward those who follow Him.

If I diligently serve and love the Lord, there will be a return on that investment:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20, NIV)

It doesn’t matter how trivial the task seems:

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. (Matthew 10:42, NIV)

It actually doesn’t even matter whether anyone notices:

…and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:18b, NIV)

These promises are what can take #momlife and make the mundane tasks meaningful. My son won’t remember me nursing him in the wee hours of the morning. My husband will never notice half of the things I do to make his life easier and his home nice. My friends can’t know how often I pray for them when their struggles or joys come to mind. God is the one who attends to such things, and He will remember them forever. His promised rewards are what make even a season of scarcity feel like far more life.

Jenna

Sisters,
Do your circumstances reflect abundance or endurance?
What earthly things are you tempted to set your mind on or invest your hope in?

How are you investing in the eternal?
Which of God’s guarantees about your future life above will you focus on this week?
Thank God for making far more life possible now on earth and in heaven for all eternity!
-Shari

Future Focus

We face numerous problems in life. Many situations cause pain and suffering. Difficulties pound us like the surf pounds the shore; sometimes there is barely time to recover from one wave of trouble before the next one hits. We are tempted to focus on surviving today — it feels like all we can do. But these truths give us perspective and far more life:

But I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand. You give me wise advice to guide me. And when I die, you will take me away into the glory of heaven. (Psalm 73:23-24, NIRV)

Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life, and I will live forever in your house, Lord. (Psalm 23:6, CEV)

We don’t have to wait until heaven to be with God; He is already with His children! Eternal life doesn’t start when we get to heaven. It starts as soon as we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We face the challenges of this life with God’s Spirit living inside us. He showers us with kindness and love every day — including our hardest days. His presence gives us far more life in every situation we face. If we are willing to ask, He will guide us through every difficulty; recognizing His response deepens our understanding and love for Him. And one wonderful day we will leave this earth and move into His house forever!

Choosing to be future-focused allows us to rise above our circumstances and embrace far more life. We suffer because our world is filled with sin, illness, heartbreak, and injustice. It is easy to think we will always face those challenges. But God wants us to see the big picture: our relationship with Him will continue for eternity, and after a short time on earth we will live with Him in His perfect home forever. A future focus enables us to view our present, temporary difficulties from His perspective.

These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, TLB)

What joys in heaven can we look forward to?

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4, NIV)

Can you imagine living without death, mourning, crying, or any kind of pain? We have to endure them for a few years on this earth but not in heaven. Focusing on our future brings joy because our pain will end.

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27, NIV)

In heaven, there will be no sin. We will never have to say we are sorry or ask forgiveness. We will be free from evil thoughts, words, and actions. And no one will ever sin against us or hurt us. Focusing on our future brings joy because heaven will be safe, pure, and holy.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:3-4, NIV)

The curse that separated us from God will be lifted. God and Jesus will be among us in all their glory. We will look Them in the eye without shame or fear; They will know us fully and we will know Them. We will live with Them forever as daughters of the King! Focusing on our future brings joy as we anticipate being reunited with our true Father.

And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5b, NIV)

We will be secure under God’s loving leadership forever. Perfect love and justice will guide all of God’s decisions. Focusing on our future brings joy because the perfect King will lead us forever.

You should greatly rejoice in what is waiting for you, even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials. (I Peter 1:6, VOICE)

Our future in heaven is so wonderful, so satisfying, so glorious that it far outweighs the suffering and hurt of this life. Jesus has already paid the price to rescue us from this broken earth. And one day He will return and take us home to heaven. Until then, focusing on our future allows us to praise God for all He has done and will do. We are not alone in this life as we wait for deliverance. God’s Spirit already lives inside of us, giving us all we need to overcome the challenges each day presents. While we focus on the future amidst our struggles, we can praise Him for meeting our needs in the past and present. The best is yet to come, but thankfully we can embrace far more life with Him today.

Sisters,
When facing struggles, is your focus on surviving or far more life?

If you have accepted Christ, how does it help you to know your eternal relationship with God has already started?
What aspect of heaven is most exciting and appealing to you?

Thank God for specific needs He has already met in your life.
This week, memorize a future-focused truth from His Word you want to remember and offer as praise when difficulties arises.
-Shari 



Perfectly Imperfect

We face so much pressure — within ourselves and from others — to be perfect. To never make a mistake. To know all the answers. To always make the right decision. Even in areas where there is not a right or wrong choice. Or areas where we have no experience. This pressure can be immobilizing. And we struggle with guilt and shame over our wrong choices. Does God expect us to be perfect — is that far more life? The Bible says:

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14, NIV)

According to this verse, when we seek perfection we are working for something Christ has already attained for us! Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and return from the dead paid the penalty for our sin. Those who accept Christ become perfect in God’s eyes; He sees us wrapped in Christ’s righteousness. Being perfect means we are forgiven. We don’t have to work to be perfect, it is a gift that God offers us!

But this does not automatically make us sinless. In addition to being made perfect, God wants us to be made holy. Once we are in Christ, our position with God is secure despite the many wrongs we commit. But these wrongs do have negative impact on us; they keep us from reflecting His flawless moral virtue. God wants us to keep growing in understanding and living out His holiness so we become more like Him. Not because that earns us His favor, but because it reflects the new creation we become in Him. And because being holy is living far more life.

God knows we will spend the rest of our lives on earth growing in holiness. In the process of becoming holy, God allows us to be perfectly imperfect. He knows we are sometimes fooled by Satan, our past experiences, and the hurts we bear; they lie to us about what is best and convince us that holiness is not possible or not a worthwhile pursuit. God is not surprised by our sins and mistakes. He is patient with us and does not judge or criticize us when we are slow to recognize our sin. He sees each person’s heart and knows who is loving and following Him to the best of their ability. (He also knows when His children have rebellious hearts and still loves and forgives them.) He clearly sees who we were before we joined His family, who we are today, and who we become in the future. He knows being perfectly imperfect is simply part of our individualized holiness journey.

As God’s obedient children, never again shape your lives by the desires that you followed when you didn’t know better. Instead, shape your lives to become like the Holy One who called you. (I Peter 1:14-15, TPT)

Before we come to Christ, we pursue counterfeit perfection. We believe that doing the right thing — performing perfectly — leads to the acceptance, security, and significance we desire. We think perfection protects us from pain and leads to a satisfying life. But no matter how hard we try, we can’t be perfect. So we work harder. And fall short again. By depending on ourselves and our own efforts, this vicious cycle actually leads us away from the perfection God offers us through Christ. Away from far more life.

When God comes to live inside of us, He gives us a new desire: holiness. We understand that acceptance, security and significance come from Him, not our performance. We want to BE the right person, not just DO the right thing. We want to be like God in our actions, thoughts, beliefs, and values. We desire to know God and His perspective. Pursuing holiness gives us courage to examine our motives and admit when we are wrong; we don’t have to hide behind a perfect image to feel acceptable. We act from love rather than fear or obligation. But we don’t always get it right; we resort to old patterns of thinking and acting more often than we would like. But this does not bring condemnation; instead we are free to be perfectly imperfect. Not because we are happy about our sin, but because sin does not define us. We know God loves us unconditionally. And we know He gives us the desire and power to overcome our sin and live far more life.

How do we grow in holiness? I think it boils down to 5 steps:

  1. We discover who God is by studying His word.
  2. We are alert to areas where our thoughts and actions do not reflect His character.
  3. We prayerfully search our heart to uncover the beliefs which motivate our unholy thoughts and actions.
  4. We seek truth from His word to replace our false beliefs with His beliefs.
  5. We enjoy the benefit of this new step of holiness as we rest in God’s unconditional love!

As we make pursuing holiness a lifestyle, we are free to be perfectly imperfect without being stuck in sinful habits. And we live far more life with each step of the journey! 

Sisters,
How have you been pursuing counterfeit perfection?
How do you feel about being perfectly imperfect?
If you have accepted Christ, how have your desires changed? What were your desires before? What are they now?
Do the steps to growing holiness look helpful or intimidating?
(If you have questions about them or want support on your journey, please reach out to me at farmorelife@gmail.com.)
-Shari
 

Lavish Love

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. (I John 3:1a, VOICE)

Want to know the formula for far more life?

Accepting God’s lavish love
+ Being transformed by it
= Far more life

Love is the key to far more life, but not just any love: only God’s lavish love. When I hear the word lavish, I imagine a warm bagel topped with a thick layer of cream cheese — so thick that taking a bite leaves teeth marks. This is an extravagant amount of cream cheese, more than anyone needs. But it makes eating the bagel an unforgettable experience. No skimpily-covered bagel can compare with the lusciousness of that lavish bagel.

God lavished His love on us. Calling us His children demonstrated an extravagance that reshaped our definition of love. But He didn’t stop there; He continues to lavish us in love. He doesn’t give us the minimum we need to get by. He wraps us in so much love that all other love looks skimpy by comparison.

The more we understand and embrace God’s lavish love, the fuller and richer our lives become. Lavish love has the power to change us from the inside out. It can transform our beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. But most of us do not reap the maximum benefit of His lavish love. Rather than throwing open our hearts and saying, “Go anywhere!” we put up “Do Not Enter” signs at the places we need Him most: our most vulnerable and painful places.

We limit God’s lavish love because we misunderstand it. We may think God’s love is defined by what He does for us. Or we might assume it comes with strings, that He expects certain responses from us. Too often we believe we have to earn it and fear He will find us unworthy. These misperceptions are not surprising since His love is so different from the imperfect human love familiar to us. Sometimes we pull back from God’s lavish love in fear. But fear is actually the opposite of what He offers:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18, NIV)

God’s children have no need to fear Him because He will never punish us. We can be confident that God will always love us perfectly and lavishly! He will not withdraw His love when we disagree with Him. He will never manipulate us or take advantage of our vulnerabilities. He does not lay guilt trips on us. He does not berate us for failing to make Him look good. He knows our weaknesses and is not surprised by them. He knows all of our sins (in advance, even!) and has willingly paid the price for them. When we accept His love, we also gain His unconditional acceptance and unshakable security — now that is truly lavish love! I remember the peace I felt when I finally grasped this truth: I was set free to love God without reservation. I was released from fear that my imperfect love for Him was not enough. I found far more life and felt free to enjoy it. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord, you have this freedom, too!

God’s love is vastly different than human love. Not only is His love unconditional, it also comes from a different source:

God is love. (I John 4:16, NIV)

We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:19, NIV)

God’s love is not a response to us. It is not what He does or feels for us. Love is who God is; lavish love is part of His character and identity. He doesn’t have to generate love; it simply flows from Him and infuses His interactions with His children. God does not show us love because we deserve it; He simply offers Himself to us. His love blesses us in the deepest way possible because He knows us — and our needs — intimately. Grasping this truth changes how we look at God. It brings far more life.

I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know his love — although it can never be fully known — and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19, GNT)

As we grow in understanding the limitlessness of God’s lavish love, we are transformed. We stop seeing Him as a harsh judge and start realizing He is a wise and loving Father. We recognize the emptiness of many pleasures this world offers and instead focus on making an eternal impact. We grow in trusting Him and His motives even when life doesn’t match our expectations. It becomes easier to trust the parts of His Word that seem to contradict our human experience. We are permanently and profoundly changed by God’s lavish love. We grow in confidence and security. This allows us to eagerly embrace the mindset and practices of far more life.

Sisters,
How have you experienced God’s lavish love?
Where have you put up “Do Not Enter” signs? What do you need in order to let God into those areas of your heart and life?
Are you afraid of fully embracing God’s love for you? If so, confess that to Him. (If not, thank Him for that freedom!)
Thank God for the ways His lavish love has transformed you.
Enjoy far more life this week!
-Shari



Letting Go

In the last post we talked about forgiving others. But there are two more people everyone needs to forgive. These people have probably disappointed and hurt you more often than anyone else. And we hold on to their hurts tightest and longest. Who are they? Ourselves and God.

We are our own worst critics. Despite our outward bravado, we hope others won’t see our sins and failures. We are ashamed. We kick ourselves for not doing better, for not being better. Everyone feels this way. Some people hide the extent of their negative self-talk. Others are clearly drowning in a sea of self-loathing and worthlessness. But this doesn’t have to be! God wants awareness of our sin to lead to spiritual change. For those who don’t have a personal relationship with Him, He offers hope:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24, NIV)

You are not alone! ALL have sinned. EVERYONE has felt the shame that you feel. But God, in His love, doesn’t want you to be stuck there. He offers forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son’s life to make restitution for your sin. It’s the largest, most important gift you could ever receive! If you’ve never accepted it but want to, take a moment right now and tell Him.

Once we accept God’s gift and enter a relationship with Him, we have a clean slate before Him. Nothing — not even our own sin — can separate us from God. Since He can see our whole lives and knows every thought, word, and action — past, present and future — nothing will ever surprise Him or change His view of us.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:34, 38-39, NIV)

If God never condemns His children for their sins or draws back from them, why do we condemn ourselves and draw back from Him? Why do we forfeit the far more life He offers?  Because we see ourselves from a different perspective than God does. We still see ourselves as we were before Christ changed us while He sees who we are after Christ’s work in us.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Forgiving ourselves requires letting go and letting God.  It means we entrust the situation — and any negative consequences — to Him. We trust Him to restore what was lost or taken away that is needed. We trust Him to heal the damaged emotions of everyone who got hurt in the situation. While it is good for us to confess our sin to God and thank Him for His forgiveness, we don’t need to punish ourselves; Jesus has already taken that punishment for us. Forgiving ourselves separates us from our sin and brings far more life.

Are you hesitant to let go and let God? If so, maybe you need to forgive Him. God doesn’t ever sin; He is perfect. So he doesn’t technically need to be forgiven. But there are times we feel hurt, abandoned, disappointed, or misunderstood by Him because we are unable to see His actions and intentions correctly. Our negative emotions cause us to pull away from Him. To question His character, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and His intentions toward us. We are hesitant to believe His promises and obey His commands because Satan’s lies about God resonate louder inside us. We are afraid to get hurt again.

It is important to work through these hurts. Don’t be afraid to reveal your ugliest thoughts and feelings to God — He already knows them!

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  (Psalm 139:2-4, NIV)

It is hard work to uncover Satan’s lies and embrace the truth about God. But He is big enough to handle our questions and doubts. He compassionately meets us where we are. He patiently walks us through each step of faith. This wonderful promise He made the Israelites when they were far from Him is still true for us:

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29, NIV)

The same promise is true for us!  God isn’t offended when we confess our hurt, anger, and distrust to Him. He doesn’t get angry when we admit He isn’t who we want Him to be and doesn’t do what we want Him to do. When we forgive Him, we let go of the false expectations that caused us pain. That releases us to see and experience Him — and life — the way He intended it. As a result, we see His true character and our desire to mold ourselves to His likeness grows. We discover that letting go brings far more life, life we had not even imagined was possible.

Sisters, 
For what to you need to forgive yourself?
For what do you need to forgive God?
Are you willing to let go of these hurts?

Thank God for character His qualities and promises that are most meaningful to you.
Commit to seeking Him this week; as you find Him enjoy far more life!
-Shari

Forgiveness is…

As we journey through life, we encounter hurt and disappointment. What do we do with this?  Some of us give it right back, wanting to get even. Others withdraw or build walls to protect themselves. Some ignore it, hoping it will go away. Others replay it over and over in their minds, seeking to understand and learn from it. Some cover it with humor or activity to minimize the pain. Some bury it deep inside and try to forget it ever happened.

These responses may enable us to feel better temporarily, but none resolve the hurt. Sooner or later unresolved hurt becomes baggage that restricts us from experiencing far more life.

How can we unpack the hurt in a healthy way and move forward unencumbered?

 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13, NIV)

Forgive. As the Lord forgave you. What does God’s forgiveness look like?

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12, NIV)

Then he adds, ‘I will no longer hold their sins and their disobedience against them.’ When sins are forgiven, there is no longer any need to sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:17-18, GW)

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19, NASB)

God’s forgiveness removes our sin from us; we are no longer defined by that sin. God does not hold our sins against us; He doesn’t ask us to keep making up for them. After dealing with our sins, God gladly treats us with mercy and compassion; our relationship is restored.  This is the forgiveness He empowers us extend to others as well.

  • Forgiving is a choice to obey God. Since God instructs us to forgive others, He empowers us to do so. This is hard, but it is worthwhile. Lack of forgiveness keeps us hooked to the hurtful situation; obeying God brings peace and joy. God wants us to have far more life!
  • Forgiveness comes from the heart. Saying the words “I forgive” without engaging our heart is not effective. Forgiveness requires us to admit — to ourself and to God — what negative emotions and false beliefs the person’s action or inaction triggered in our heart. We must resolve the belief about ourself that is causing the pain by replacing it with God’s perspective. Did the hurtful incident communicate we were unloved, unimportant, not good enough, or something similar? We must reject those messages and let our heart dwell on what God, our perfect, all-knowing Father, says about us.
  • Forgiveness is between us and God, not us and another person. God is our primary source of forgiveness because only He can heal our wounded hearts. Forgiveness is releasing our hurt to God and letting Him administer justice and punishment against those who hurt us. We may reconcile with the offender, but first we must privately forgive them before God.
  • Forgiveness is letting go. It is choosing to not retaliate or seek revenge. It does not mean we automatically trust the person or let them resume their old place in our life; that may not be safe or wise. But even when strict boundaries are necessary, forgiveness allows us to let go.
  • Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequence of another person’s sin. In reality, we always live with the consequences of others’s sin. But forgiving frees us from anger and bitterness that suppress far more life.
  • Forgiveness is letting God. It is trusting God to provide all we need for far more life, even things that others’ sin has taken away.  It is also trusting God to mete out justice in His perfect timing, whether that is in this lifetime or at Jesus’ return.
  • Forgiving is not forgetting. It does not erase the incident from our memory as if it never happened. Our life may be profoundly changed, but Christ can heal our wounds so the memory is not painful.

Sometimes when people sin against us it doesn’t even hurt.  This happens when we can see their actions for what they are: reflections of their pain that have nothing to do with us. One day I was cut off in traffic and my first response was to pray for the safety of the other driver.  I was surprised because that was not my normal response! As I pondered the difference in my heart I realized I hadn’t take their actions personally.  They clearly acted on whatever pressure or stress or negative emotions they were experiencing, which had nothing to do with my driving. Since I knew their decision wasn’t about me, their wrongful actions against me didn’t prompt a painful emotional response. Forgiveness was easy.

This isn’t always the case. Often others actions feel like personal attacks. In reality, they are revealing areas where we aren’t seeing ourselves as God does. Forgiveness gives us the opportunity to trade our misperceptions for God’s perfect perspective. As forgiving becomes our lifestyle, we are hurt and offended less often. We clearly see that people sin against us because of their own hurts. We feel compassion for them rather than pain. And living with less hurt and more compassion is far more life.

Sisters,
How do you react when others hurt you?
Is the baggage of past hurts weighing you down?
Which bullet points describing forgiveness are hard to believe? Tell God.
Talk to God about your hurts, admitting how you feel and what they tempt you to believe about yourself. Drink in His truth about you.
Ask Him to heal your damaged emotions.
Thank Him for the gift of forgiveness and emotional healing.
Enjoy far less pain and far more life.

-Shari