God’s wisdom and the world’s autocorrect

You’re texting someone. Just a quick reply. Nothing complicated. But you’re in a hurry, so you don’t read over your text before you send it. And then you see it: a word that doesn’t belong. Autocorrect strikes again!

Isn’t it amazing how omitting one letter can make a huge difference in what you’re trying to say? Sometimes one letter is all it takes to turn a perfectly acceptable sentence into something profane or obscene or entirely nonsensical.

I do appreciate Autocorrect at times, but it causes me more headaches than it prevents. I know what I’m trying to say. I know what I’m trying to spell. And Autocorrect may just be trying to help, but it’s only causing a lot of confusion.

As I was cursing the Autocorrect feature on my phone this morning, I got to thinking about the Autocorrect function of my own brain. We all have it, you know. Whether it’s our consciences or our life experience or common sense or whatever you want to call it, there’s a voice in our heads that tells us what decisions we should make, how we should treat others, and what’s fair. Sometimes, that little voice is right. But in my experience it’s more like uninvited editing from Autocorrect that only results in confusion.

woman-smartphone-girl-technologyToday’s verses are 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.

You can’t overestimate the value of common sense. It’s a priceless gift, and if you’ve got it, cherish it. I truly believe that some people just aren’t born with it. But even common sense has a limit. What we’ve experienced in life can only take us so far. The same is true of our consciences. The source we should rely on to help us sort through the problems in life is the Word of God.

The Bible contains God’s wisdom, and it’s not irrelevant or hard to understand. But it does require that you take God at His Word and that you accept His terms.

The world has its own wisdom, but it has nothing to do with God’s wisdom. The world places value on status and wealth, influence and rank, possessions and personal achievement. The world advocates doing what’s necessary to get to the top, regardless of how many people you have to climb over to get there. If you hurt others, it doesn’t matter. Showing mercy is a sign of weakness. Forgiving people only invites others to take advantage of you. And you can’t be successful and generous at the same time.

That’s the world’s wisdom. The world’s wisdom is good business. It’s common sense. Right?

That’s my Autocorrect. Because see, God’s wisdom is the opposite of all of that. God’s wisdom places value on humility, generosity, and faith. God’s wisdom elevates those who treat others better than they treat themselves. God’s wisdom commands us to forgive those who hurt us. God’s wisdom says that the harder you hold on to your life, the more of it will slip through your fingers.

When I’m trying to make decisions in my life, I want to follow God’s wisdom, but my Autocorrect feature keeps popping up. God says I’ll be blessed if I give to His work, but my Autocorrect pops up to remind me that I haven’t had a paycheck in a few weeks, so I’m not required to tithe. Which one is right? My human thinking isn’t wrong. The first tenth of my earnings belongs to the Lord, and I gladly bring it, but what if I haven’t been paid?

The thing about tithing (and that’s probably a whole different blog post) is that it’s always about faith, whether you make a regular paycheck or not. It’s giving back to God what He’s given to you as an act of faith and humility, showing God with your actions that you aren’t trusting in your finances.

Does the world think it makes sense to give money to God when you aren’t making any? Heck, no. The world would say you’re crazy. And foolish.

And that’s the point. If the world calls you a fool for doing something God says, you might be wiser than you think. The world won’t understand the things you do for Christ. You could be a great businessman but still be a fool where God is concerned. It’s up to you to decide what matters more–the world’s wisdom or God’s.

Don’t let the wisdom of the world sway you from doing what God says is right. God’s wisdom trumps the world’s wisdom every time, and even though people might call you a fool for doing things God’s way, remember that everything is topsy-turvey here. God’s wisdom will seem like foolishness to those who don’t know Him.

Oil rig lit up before sunrise in the Gulf of Mexico from Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Living like salt and light is a calling

Have you noticed that if you start living the way the Bible says to live that people kind of look at you funny? I mean, it’s one thing to tell people that you’re a Christian. It’s another thing to live like one because people who don’t believe (or people who believe but don’t follow) don’t understand.

If we start living our lives focusing on the things that matter to God, we’re going to stand out. That’s just the way it is because the way God-followers live is different from the way other people live. And that is the point.

Oil rig lit up before sunrise in the Gulf of Mexico from Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Oil rig lit up before sunrise in the Gulf of Mexico from Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are Matthew 5:13-16.

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Christians are often called salt and light. If you’ve spent any time in the church, you’ve probably heard that statement–that we are called to be salt and light. And as a child, I used to wonder what on earth that meant. I just knew it was in the Bible so it was important, but I didn’t really get how it was supposed to happen.

But here’s what I’ve learned about things we are “called” to do: We can’t do them on our own.

Yes, we can prepare for them. Yes, we can expect them. Yes, we can hope for them. But as far as accomplishing our calling, I don’t think we have the power or the ability or the foresight or the strength to make it happen on our own. We can know what we’re called to do, and we can be ready for when it’s time to move. But we have no control over when that starter pistol goes off. That’s up to God. We just have to be prepared for when those marching orders come.

An example? I’m called to be a writer. I have been since I was young. I have always had a gift with words and communication, and it’s always been my dream to use my gifts to help other people get to know who God is, whether they believe in Him or not. But being a writer is a difficult task. Anyone can write, but being a writer takes a lot of practice and a lot of rejection and a lot of time. A lot of time, which means it also requires a lot of patience.

I prepared to be a writer as much as I could. I learned how to write. I learned what to do and what not to do and when I can do the things I’m not supposed to do (that’s the trick with writing because there are no hard and fast rules). And I expect and hope that one of these days I will get to use my writing on a greater scale than just a blog or three-minute sketches at church. That’s my calling, but I have no control over when that’s going to happen. All I can do is be ready.

And I might be wrong, but I think it’s that way with any calling. I don’t think God is going to call us to accomplish something that we can do in our own strength. Otherwise, what’s the point?

If you believe in Christ, you are salt. If you believe in Christ, you are light. What does that mean?

That means, Christ in you is like salt to the world. A preservative and an irritant. Salt both preserves things and irritates things, though usually that irritation comes when salt is cleansing a wound. And the part about being a light? It’s the same thing. Christ in you is like light to the world–shining in darkness, obvious and beautiful, and revealing. But it’s not you or me who is the salt. It’s not you or me who is the light. It’s Christ in us.

We are called to be salt and light, but we can’t do that without Christ. We are called to live different, but we can’t do it without Christ. But if we focus on the things that matter to God, if we live the way the Bible says to live, our lives will be different naturally. If you love God, love people, do right, love mercy, walk humbly, and keep believing, your life can’t help but look different. And being different matters to God? Why?

Because the more like salt you are, the more like light you are, the less likely people who don’t believe yet will be able to ignore you.

So live like the Bible says today. Live according to the things that matter, and your life will be different. You will be happy, and the people around you will wonder what you have that they don’t. And then you can tell them.

Beach chair overlooking the waves on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

The one thing you have that God wants

God expects a lot from those who have chosen to follow Christ. There’s a verse in Luke that says that people who have been given much have a responsibility to accomplish much, and as Christians we’ve been given a precious gift. Salvation is priceless and a relationship with God through Jesus is something we can never earn or buy.

We know about loving God and loving people. We know we’re supposed to do the right thing. We know we’re supposed to show mercy. We know we’re supposed to live humble lives. We know all those things because the Bible talks about them over and over, although it’s easy to talk about them and much harder to live them. But have you ever wondered what you can do to make God happy? In a way, all of those other things (loving people, living humbly, doing right, showing mercy, etc) all stem from this one concept, and this one thing you can do will please God because it’s the one thing we have that we can give Him.

Beach chair overlooking the waves on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Beach chair overlooking the waves on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are Matthew 8:5-13.

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”

Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

If you want to make God happy, you have to trust Him. The one thing we have that we can give God is our trust–our faith. Faith isn’t something God will just take for granted. It’s not something He’ll ignore. Faith matters to God on a level that supersedes anything else. This story about the Centurion is just one of many stories throughout Scripture showing how God rewards faith. There are other stories of healing, stories of salvation, and there’s even a story about how the faith of four friends saved another friend. Faith is a powerful thing, and it’s the one thing that Jesus pointed out over and over and over again as something God wanted.

Some days it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that God doesn’t need anything from me. I feel like I need to do something. I feel like I have to earn His love or perform in order to show Him that I’m truly devoted. But that’s my pride talking.

Why is faith so important? Yes, the most important commands are to love God and love people. Yes, it matters to God that we do the right thing, that we love mercy, and that we live humble lives. But how do you expect to accomplish any of those things without faith? Faith is the foundation of the Christian life. You can love God, but first you have to believe He’s there. You can love people, but if you aren’t loving people for God what’s the point? And you can’t love people for God until you believe He’s called you to do it. Same with everything else. Faith comes first.

I’m at a place in my life right now where I’m so stressed out I hardly even know how to function. I don’t want to admit that, but it’s the truth. I knew all of these things I’m dealing with were coming. I’ve been expecting it, and none of it’s bad. It’s all good. And on one hand, I’m so excited to see how God is going to use it all–but on the other hand, I’m just so tired I want to quit. But in those moments when I feel like quitting, I just need to remember what matters. I need to go back to basics.

Faith is as basic as you can get. And it’s the simple truths that sustain me when life gets too complicated to keep track of anymore.

I believe Jesus. He’s my best friend. He wants the best for me, and He has wonderful plans for me. And even though I live in a broken world with broken people and broken circumstances, He can use all of those broken pieces to make something beautiful from my life. I haven’t seen it yet. I have no idea what it’s going to look like. But it’s going to be good.

None of my plans are worth holding on to because they’re not big enough and they’re not complete. God’s plan is better.

Is it easy? No. Letting go of what you want is never easy, especially if (like me) you’re prone to taking things back after you’ve let them go. But once you let go and continue to let go, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Maybe it’s hard to release it, but the relief is sweet. And when you’re not weighed down with worry, you’re free to focus on other things that matter.

 

Scarlet macaw at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Live like a messenger who’s about to get shot

What do you do when people lie about you? How do you react when people talk behind your back? How do you respond when people make fun of you?

I’m a people pleaser, and even thinking about the fact that some people don’t like me makes me feel sick inside. I want everyone to like me. I want every person I meet to feel better because they’ve met me. But while that’s a great goal to strive for, not everyone is going to feel that way. I’m going to rub some people the wrong way. Some people will misunderstand me. And it won’t be because of anything I’ve done, necessarily, but their reaction to me will stem more from their personal experiences than my personality. We all make snap decisions about people.

But as a people pleaser, I like to make people happy. So when they’re not, I am crushed. I can’t focus on anything else other than what I could have done differently to make them happy. But is that important? Is making people happy something we need to spend a lot of time on? When it comes to pleasing people, what does God think?

Scarlet macaw at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Scarlet macaw at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Matthew 5:10-12.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

We’re still in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, studying the things that matter to God. The first time I read through this verse this morning, I actually thought I wouldn’t use it. The rest of the verses at the beginning of Matthew 5 were pretty straightforward when you’re trying to discern the things that matter to God, but this one? Not so much. Because peace matters to God. Humility matters to God. Doing the right thing matters to God. But what about persecution? Persecution matters to God? He wants us to be persecuted?

Does He really?

True, the verse says that we’ll be blessed or happy when we are persecuted for doing the right thing, and that goes back to what’s been said many other times–that God cares about us doing the right thing. But I think this verse is about more than that. Like I said above, I’m a people pleaser, so I’m often tempted to make people happy at the expense of what’s right. I don’t want to be persecuted. I don’t want to be mocked. I don’t want to be lied about or have “evil things” said about me.

But guess what? If you’re living for God, the world is going to say mean things about you. If you’re following Christ, you’re going to be made fun of. People are going to make up stuff about you. It’s what they did to Jesus. Why do we expect things to be different for us? The world hasn’t changed.

So what’s the bottom line here? What does this have to do with God’s expectations for us?

Well, the way I see it, we’re supposed to be living a life that’s so obviously sold out to Christ that we welcome mocking and scorn. Not accept it. Not necessarily expect it. But that we don’t let it shake us when it does come.

Why do people make fun of us? Why do Christians become the brunt of so many cruel jokes or the object of so much hate? Well (just being 100% honest here) in America many Christians I’ve met are so full of themselves that they need some persecution to help them get their heads back on straight. But around the world in general, bring a Christian is very different than being a Christian in America. There is true hate for Christ in the world. There are more Christians martyred for their faith today than there were in Rome.

It comes down to the fact that Christians who are truly following Christ shine light in the darkness, and people like darkness. They like to live the way they want to live. They like to do what they want to do regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, and when a Christian comes by living according to God’s love, that light reveals to them that they are accountable for how they’re living. The light makes them uncomfortable. And at the crossroads, they are faced with the choice to either turn to Christ or to shoot the proverbial messenger.

What they think doesn’t matter. What they say doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that they react at all because that shows you that you’re touching a nerve, you’re striking a chord, you’re making a difference–at least enough so that it catches their attention. If your life isn’t different enough to cause a stir, you might want to double check your priorities.

I’m not saying that God wants us to seek persecution. That’s not it at all. But what I get from this verse today is that what matters to God is how we live. It matters that we do the right thing, yes. It matters that we love others, yes. It matters that we do justly, love mercy, walk humbly, etc. But it also matters that we live the kind of life that shines a light into the darkest corners of an unbeliever’s heart so that they are faced with the choice to either turn to Christ or turn away from Him.

Facing north at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Peace doesn’t just happen

What does peace mean to you? To me, it’s a quiet evening at home, sitting on my back porch step with a cup of coffee and watching the sun set over acres and acres of wheat, listening to the wind in the tree limbs and marveling at the depth of the sky. Peace is having things right. Peace is not worrying. Peace is being where I need to be, doing what I’m supposed to do, and being able to face God with a clear conscience.

But peace is one of those achievements that doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it. Everyone wants it, but it doesn’t come naturally to us. And I think it’s something that matters to God, otherwise He wouldn’t talk about it through Scripture so much.

Facing north at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Facing north at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:9.

God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.

In this study of what matters to God, we’re still in the Beatitudes, which are found in Matthew 5, the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I always want to make sure I’m understanding the word meaning as close as I can without knowing Greek, so I also checked the Amplified Version for this verse too:

Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!

What does it mean to work for peace? To make peace? To maintain peace? This verse is saying those people who strive for peace will be happy because they’ll discover their place in God’s family (according to the Message, which is how it puts it). But what does it mean?

I guess, before we can understand what it means to strive for peace, we really need to understand what peace is to begin with. If you go by the dictionary definition, it’s going to say peace is either a nonwarring state between nations or a general state of mutual harmony between people or groups of people. And that’s great. Both of those are great. But I want to go even further than those generic definitions.

Some people would say that peace is a lack of conflict. And on one hand, I would agree with that. Conflict is the opposite of peace. Conflict, whether it be war or disagreement or dislike or any sort of negative emotion, will keep you up at night worrying or fretting or fighting. But I think peace is more than just a lack of conflict, because conflict is never going to go away–not as long as we live on earth.

The only relationship in our lives that lacks conflict is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ–on God’s part. God has no conflict with us if we have accepted Christ, although there are times when we will have conflict with God because we refuse to do what He tells us, because we think we know better than He does, because we want what we want in spite of what He says is best.

But as long as we live on earth, we will experience conflict. So how can we have peace while we’re here?

To me, peace is reconciliation. And maybe that’s trading a ten-cent word for a fifty-cent word, but think about it. The word reconcile actually originates from a word that means “to make friendly again.” Reconciliation is the act of returning harmony between two people. Reconciliation is making peace where there wasn’t peace before.

Like I said at the start, peace doesn’t just happen. Human nature precludes peace from being a natural state for us. We’re always going to be fighting each other. We’re always going to be in conflict with each other unless someone is actively making and maintaining peace in your relationships. So how do we do that? If the key to being blessed and grasping what God says is important is to make and maintain peace, how do we do it?

Many people have said it but most people attribute the statement to Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.”

There’s a lot going on in that statement. So many times people get the idea that peace will come about just because we are not actively at war with someone, that is will just happen if we’re not fighting with anybody. But here’s the deal, folks. We will always be fighting with someone. We will always have conflict with others. Why? Because someone is always selfish. Because someone is always looking out for number one. Because someone is always going to do what they want to do no matter how much it might hurt someone else.

Welcome to life on planet Earth. Nothing has changed since we were created.

And the way to make and maintain peace in any relationship is to ensure that justice has a place in it. We have to do what’s right. Someone has to take that stand, someone has to point out truth. If we don’t, the relationship will fall apart. Relationships based on lies never work. A relationship is only going to work if both sides are truthful, if both sides do the right thing, if both sides understand what justice is–and that is true for people, for governments, for nations.

We will always face conflict. It’s not going away until Christ comes back for us, but peace matters to God. He wants us to return to that place of real relationship that we shared before Adam and Eve fell. When it comes to our relationship with Him, the only way to make peace there is through Christ. But when it comes to our relationships with each other, making and maintaining peace comes down to doing what’s right. And unfortunately, sometimes doing the right thing will cause more trouble between people than it solves, but true peace isn’t the absence of conflict. True peace is knowing what’s right and doing it.

Sunrise east of Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Check your insides

Do you ever wish that you could see God? I do. It’s not that I have a hard time believing in Him. It’s just that I would appreciate being able to actually look Him in the eye when I talk to Him. Eye contact means a lot to me, and not being able to see His face is frustrating sometimes. Not being able to see Him smile can be frustrating. Not being able to see Him frown is frustrating. Some days I would give ten years of my life to spend ten minutes in His presence when I can actually hear His voice and see His face.

But that’s not how our relationship works. As a human being, I can’t be in God’s presence–not physically. But is there any way to see God? My life is so wild and crazy all the time that I would dearly love to be able to see God so I know I’m going the right way, but is there actually a way to see Him? Well, according to today’s verse, there is.

Sunrise east of Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunrise east of Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:8.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.

The pure of heart will get to see God. That’s what this verse says. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be pure-hearted? Does it go back to attitude? Does it come from your motivation for living? Does that mean you never do wrong?

When I think of being pure of heart, I think of some fictional knight in shining armor, one of those valiant chivalrous types who rescues damsels in distress and never does anything wrong. Maybe some people think of innocence in children. Or maybe others think of people who are just generall good. But is that what being pure-hearted means in this context?

Most of the time when I’m doing a word study, since I don’t know Greek, I use the Amplified Version, but for this verse it uses the same phrase: “the pure in heart.” And that doesn’t help much. Pure-heartedness is one of those identifiers that can mean so many different things.

So my other go-to translation is the Message, a paraphrase. It’s not as “accurate” as the Amplified Version or the NLT, but the Message is really good at capturing the essence of what whole passages in the Bible mean. And this is how the Message puts our verse today:

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

Whoa. Did that rock your world or was it just me? According to this paraphrase, being pure of heart means getting your heart and mind in order. It means focusing your heart and mind on the things that matter. It means having the correct perspective about God, about yourself, about your life. And when you have the right perspective about what’s going on inside you, then you’ll be able to see God outside.

But does that really work?

I’ll be the first to tell you it does.

On those days when I’m so distracted that I can’t tell which way is up and which way is down, I know my inner perspective isn’t right. I know I’m not putting God first. I know I’m not living the way the Bible says. And on those days God seems far far away.

But on the days when I’ve got my head on straight, when I’m paying attention, when I have a healthy perspective on who I am and who God is, then I can see Him. No, not physically. I don’t see Him standing in plain sight, but I see the results of Him. I see Him working in my life, in others’ lives, in situations.

When I’m not focused on the things that matter (like loving God and loving people), I’m focused solely on myself. But when I start taking God at His word, He changes me from the inside out. And it’s not that He suddenly starts working in the situations around me then; it’s that I finally begin to see Him working.

God is always working. God is always there. He’s always in plain sight. But we’re the ones who have our eyes closed.

So if you’re tired today, if you’re struggling and feeling lost and abandoned, take a moment and check your insides. Make sure your heart is where it needs to be. Make sure you’re focusing on the things that really matter in life–like loving God and loving people, like doing the right thing, like loving mercy, like living humbly. And once you get those things under control, try looking for God again. I bet He’s closer than you think He is.

Mountain lions chilling under a ledge at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Mercy enough to share

Do you ever wonder why writers repeat words or phrases? Or why public speakers introduce, summarize, and wrap up their talks by repeating their points? On one hand, repetition is a literary device. Sometimes it makes paragraphs easier to read or it can help the flow of the text. But the main reason si because it helps people remember. If a point is important, both a writer or a public speaker is going to emphasize it. This is true in Scripture too. If you see a word repeated in close proximity, slow down and pay attention because it’s important. And it works the same way with concepts. If you run across a concept that is repeated, you might want to take it seriously because repetition means it’s important.

So, have you picked up on any recurring themes in this study of what matters to God? What about doing what’s right? What about living humbly? What about loving mercy? Today’s verse echoes one I already touched on.

Mountain lions chilling under a ledge at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Mountain lions chilling under a ledge at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 5:7.

God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Love mercy. We’re supposed to love mercy so much that we look for opportunities to share it. But unlike our last passage about loving mercy, Micah 6:8, Jesus gives us more of a reason why we need to, other than it’s what God requires. We’re supposed to be merciful because we will be shown mercy. And what’s more, you’ll be happy if you show mercy.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Oh, but don’t forget human nature. Human nature is not so easily thwarted. We’re not geared to show mercy. We love to receive it, but showing it is a different story. It feels so good to pounce, to overreact, to jump to conclusions about someone who has hurt your feelings. At least, it feels good at first. But if you’re a Christ-follower, that good feeling won’t last because pretty soon the Holy Spirit is going to start talking to you, and He’s going to start pointing out why you shouldn’t have done it.

Why? Well, friends, because if you follow Christ, you will be shown mercy at the end of your life, but you also receive mercy every day you wake up. Every time you jump to the wrong conclusion or attack an innocent, whether in your mind or out loud, or think something you shouldn’t, Christ’s mercy paid for all of that on the cross. We are still benefiting from Christ’s mercy today.

And if God can show us that kind of mercy, why can’t we extend mercy to someone else? It doesn’t matter what they’ve done. It doesn’t matter what they’ve said. Give them a break. If you were in their position, wouldn’t you want someone to stop being so hard on you? I’m not saying to lower your expectations because that doesn’t help anybody. But there’s no need to jump down someone’s throat because of a mistake.

Maybe it’s the time of year, but I swear everyone is walking around half-angry all the time. I’ve noticed people get like that around here as winter is on the way out and spring is on the way in. Here in Kansas, the weather can never make up its mind. It will be 70 one day and 30 with ice the next, and when you’re really looking forward to life coming back to the world, waking up to see everything coated in half an inch of ice can be dispiriting. So maybe that’s why people have such short fuses.

But it’s no excuse, especially for a Christ-follower.

We have been shown mercy through Christ’s sacrifice. For us to withhold mercy from someone else is prideful and selfish and arrogant. Yes, mercy has many forms, but chief among them is love. However you react, make sure you’re reacting in love. Speak truth, but speak it in love. Do right, but do it in love. Don’t compromise, but reach out with love. I fully believe that half of mercy is how you show it. Again, it all goes back to attitude, because if you’re demonstrating mercy to someone without loving them, it won’t make a difference to either of you.

Attitude isn’t easy to hide. It shows in everything you do, everything you say, and people can tell more about you by how you react than you think they can. And those who don’t believe are always watching.

So no matter how someone has hurt you, don’t strike back. Show mercy. Love them anyway and forgive them. It will be good for you, and it will be good for them, even if it feels like a sacrifice. And if it feels like your sacrifice is going unrewarded, remember what Christ has done for you and remember the future you’ve been promised. You have mercy aplenty coming your way. You have enough to share.