Thursday, October 29, 2009

Forgive Your Neighbor

Owen Schmitt, Seattle Seahawks fullback, beat his head with his own helmet in pregame warm-ups recently and split his head. He was on the sideline with an open wound and blood running down his face. You have to admire a guy like that…. Not!

We know people do that kind of thing. There's no denying that. It's not as if people don't hurt themselves sometimes, but when they do we don't overlook their behavior as if it is normal. We know something is not right. Without thinking, the word "bonehead" comes out of my mouth every time I see the video of Schmitt whacking his noggin.

C. S. Lewis asserts that the same tendency we have to protect our head instead of hurt it is the same tendency we have to forgive ourselves when we do wrong (Mere Christianity, "Forgiveness"). You don't have to write me telling me that some people don't forgive themselves for shameful acts. However, when people don't forgive themselves, we usually know that something is wrong and we try to convince them that they should forgive themselves.

Upon what principle do people usually forgive themselves? In the context of loving their wives like they love themselves, Paul wrote about husbands, "… no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it…" (Eph 5:29). People forgive themselves because they love themselves.

Jesus said that the second greatest command is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." There are many things involved in love, and one of them is forgiveness. How would Paul say you can love your neighbor like yourself? Feed him like you feed yourself. Care for her like you care for yourself. Here's a key application: forgive your neighbor like you forgive yourself.

Here are two reasons why we find it easy to forgive ourselves out of love for ourselves: (1) We know the pain that accompanies blame and bitterness and we don't want to make ourselves live with it; and (2) we judge ourselves by our intentions rather than our actions.

What would happen if you began to let those principles of self-love begin to work in your unforgiving heart for others? What if your neighbors, those who need your mercy, were to be loved by you like you love yourself? Could you, in order to love your neighbor like you love yourself, determine that you are not going to make them continue to live with the blame of what they did to you? Could you, in order to love your neighbor like you love yourself, assume the best about them instead of the worst – judging them by intentions rather than actions?

You can forgive them. That's Life at Work!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When Someone Turns to the Lord

"When someone turns to the Lord…." Isn't that a great line?

Turning is about change. A sinner is headed in one direction. Jesus calls it the road to destruction. Then, the sinner determines there is a better direction, and she turns to the Lord! Jesus says that this is the way to life, and though it is difficult, though it's the road less travelled, this turn is a great turn!

Scripture tells us that some turned from idolatry (1 Thess. 1:9). Others turned from Judaism or The Law (Acts 3:18-20). Everybody turns from death to life when they turn to Jesus. I've made a lot of wrong turns in my life. That's why my family got me a Tom-Tom GPS for Christmas. One turn I made a long time ago, though, was the perfect turn. I turned to the Lord.

When someone turns to the Lord, they follow him where he leads. He leads to green pastures and quiet waters. He leads us to restoration. He also leads us in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Since he leads us in the paths of righteousness and as we walk his way, as we add to our faith the character of Christ we know him better and we become more like him (2 Peter 1:5-9).

"But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory…" (2 Cor. 3:16-18).

In what ways are you more like Jesus than you were twenty years ago? Or ten? What about three? Are you more merciful? Do you practice greater patience? How have you grown in generosity? How much more zealous for God's will in this world have you become? Are your more prayerful? Are you filling up with love for God and for your neighbor? Turn to the Lord and follow his lead! God will transform you with ever-increasing glory! That's Life at Work!

They Got to Sleep

My friend John Dobbs reminded me of the "Held" video. "Held" was the song that a friend here introduced us to when our family friend Brad Skelton was killed in his car wreck. It was important to me then. I listened to it a lot when John Robert, John's son, died. I'm not sure how I would describe what it does for me. Comfort? Not sure. Explain? Don't know. Challenge? Maybe. "Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?" Yes, I can; but it hurts while I'm waiting. At least the disciples got to sleep. And at the end of the song something is better. Maybe closer. Maybe.