Years ago “The Lion King” was a huge box office hit. The main character, Simba, was tricked into believing that his father’s death was his fault. Rather than face the consequences, he let fear drive him far away from home. That’s where he ran into Timon and Pumbaa who taught him their life motto: Hakunah Matata. It means no worries. Simba adopted it as His life motto as well until he had to face his past and find peace. It wasn’t until he adopted that philosophy that he became who he was born to be.
What’s your life motto? Is it helping you to become who you were created to be? Or is it keeping you away from it? Every one of us have two fingerprints on our lives. We have the fingerprint of Adam that pulls us toward sin and away from God’s presence. We also have the fingerprint of God which holds our true identity. Each one of us allow one of those fingerprints to define our motto and how we live.
Psalm 34:14 says, “Keep turning your back on every sin, and make ‘peace’ your life motto. Practice being at peace with everyone” (TPT). God desires for every one of us to identify with His fingerprint on our life and to adopt His motto of peace. He is the Prince of Peace after all. This is a great time to put the past behind you and forgive those who have wronged you. Doing that will help you find peace internally and then you can begin pursuing peace with others. It’s not too late to adopt a new motto.
Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Unsplash
Have you ever done something wrong and then tried to cover it up? Of course you have. You’re human. There’s something inside of us that think if we cover it up, no one will know and it will go away. I’ve been trying it since I was a kid. In fact, my friends and I once started a fire when we were young. When it started smoking a lot, we tried to cover it up…with dried up pine needles. The fire roared even bigger. Instead of asking an adult for help, we went to my friend’s brother who was only two years older. By the time he realized he couldn’t put it out either, a neighbor saw the blaze and called the fire department who came and prevented a huge forest fire. By then, there was still significant damage we could have avoided had we confessed sooner.
I’ve found that people are more willing to forgive your shortcomings when you’re open and honest about them. But there’s this voice in our heads that creates doubts and insecurities in us. It tells us, “If they knew this about you, they would never talk to you.” When we listen to that voice, we choose to cover up our sins, failures and shortcomings which compounds the problem. We know it doesn’t work, but we try anyway thinking we might get away with it this time. The temptation to cover things up is such a challenge that it’s often more tempting than the temptation to sin. The problem is that sin covered up is unconfessed sin.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “If you cover up your sin you’ll never do well. But if you confess your sins and forsake them, you will be kissed by mercy” (TPT). We confess our sins to God for forgiveness. We confess them to others for healing. We need to get better at showing people mercy for their confessed sins. That’s the only way to break this cycle of covering up sins. We all sin, and we all need mercy and grace from each other. Jesus said it was the merciful who will obtain mercy. Let mercy start with you today.
Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash
Several years ago I reconnected with a person that went to my high school. I watched silently as they posted pictures of the ministry they were doing. Inside, i would think, “What’s their game? Who are they trying to fool?” I had seen this person play the part of a Christian, but could tell they were faking it. Fast forward twenty years later and I felt like they were still faking it. I watched them for almost a year as they kept updating about their ministry. Each time it would burn me up. One day as I was stewing over it, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Why are you holding their past against them? Do I do that to you?”
I can tell you that was an humbling experience. God reminded me that as a person, I only look at the outside of a person, but He looks on the inside to see the true intent. I finally reached out to this person and found out that God changed their life in college. After they shared their testimony, I confessed how I had felt and what God spoke to me. From that point, I began to look for ways to partner with them in the ministry they were doing. Once I forgave them for their past, I was free for God to use me as well.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love” (TPT). Many of us are guilty of holding something against someone because of something they’ve done in the past. As believers, we must forgive them or we withhold our own forgiveness. If the depths of Christ’s love can cover any sin, we too must learn to forgive in the same manner. Who knows what our unforgiveness is keeping us from? Even if the relationship isn’t reconciled, forgiveness is our path forward in Christ.
Photo by Marta Esteban Fernando on Unsplash
We live in the age of offense where everyone seems to be easily offended by everything. As imperfect people, we are going to offend people and people are going to offend us. In the workplace, in friendships and at church, when you interact with others, you’re given the chance to not see eye to eye with someone. We all have different points of view. We all have different thicknesses of skin. We all have the choice to make room for someone to be human or to hold them to a state of perfection. In this current age, we’re holding imperfect people to a perfect standard when we don’t see eye to eye, and then we crush them when their imperfections show.
In Colossians 3:12, Paul is speaking to the people of God and tells them to clothe themselves in kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness and patience. I like the imagery of clothing yourself with these things. He’s saying, wrap up your imperfections and thin skin with these attributes. These are things that don’t come natural to all of us, but as believers we can adopt these attributes into our lives and learn to incorporate them into who we are. After he gives all of those attributes in one sentence, he makes a special note to add one more to the list. He says, “Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you” (GNT).
Forgiveness is the act of releasing someone from something they’ve done to you that has offended or hurt you. As Christians, we must learn how not to have a chip on our shoulder looking for offenses and to learn how to make room for the faults in others. When we get offended, we need to release it. Unforgiveness truly hurts ourselves more than the other person. It can create a root of bitterness within us and affect every area of our life. It causes us to look for payback and to try to hurt the other person in some way. Forgiveness releases us of that burden and keeps our hearts pure before God. When we quit looking to be offended and when we release those who have offended us, we become more Christ-like.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
To me, one of the saddest things anyone has said is, “I can never forgive you for what you’ve said and done.” That’s a pretty strong statement and it’s usually spoken out of hurt and anger. It’s meant to hurt and cut to the core the way that person has been hurt. If you’ve ever spoken them or had them spoken to you, you understand. The problem is it creates bitterness and hate within a person. Pain mixed with a grudge is an incubator for anger. Nothing good comes from situations where one side isn’t forgiven.
If you’ve had those words spoken to you because of something you’ve said or done, and you’re truly sorry, it’s also difficult to handle. Every one of us makes mistakes. Every one of us hurts other people whether intentional or not. When we’ve said or done the unforgivable, and the other person won’t release us, we can either spend a lifetime trying to prove how truly sorry we are or we can walk away knowing we’ve done our part. Either way, there’s an incompleteness to being unforgiven.
In Matthew 12, a Pharisee said some hurtful things to Jesus. He accused Him of being demon possessed and that His power came from Satan. After Jesus explained to him how a house divided can’t stand, He then addressed the sin inside the man. In verse 31, Jesus said, “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven” (MSG). That’s a powerful statement that you and I need to grasp and meditate on today. Read it again.
There is nothing you can do or say that can’t be forgiven by God. No matter how bad or how wrong, He’ll never say He can’t forgive you. If you’ve been holding back asking forgiveness for something, I want you to release it today. Get rid of that incompleteness that’s created from unforgiveness, and be made whole at the cross. God isn’t human. He doesn’t hold grudges or harbor resentment against us for things we’ve said or done and been forgiven of. Give it to God and be set free today.
Photo by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash
Have you ever failed God by sinning? Did you feel like you let Him and yourself down? If you’re human, then the answer is yes. When we sin, we feel that same shame that Adam and Eve felt in the Garden of Eden. We want to hide ourselves, and cut ourselves off from God for a while. We tend to punish ourselves and beat ourselves up when we mess up. I know that i do all of these things when I sin. Then, a voice reminds me about grace.
Grace is one of those things that the human brain has a hard time understanding. Our whole lives we’ve been conditioned to get punished when we do something wrong. When someone else doesn’t punish us for doing wrong, we tend to punish ourselves mentally. But grace doesn’t do that. It comes and offers God’s unmerited favor of salvation and the covering of sin for free. It’s foreign to how our mind works, but we are called to live by grace through faith.
When Paul was on one of his missionary journeys, a town asked him to speak in the synagogue. Some accepted this grace, and others rejected it. They were used to having to pay for their own sins, and couldn’t accept that someone else had. To those who did accept it, Paul encouraged them. In Acts 13:43 it says, “The apostles spoke to them and encouraged them to keep on living in the grace of God” (GNT). That’s a great word for you and I today too. Keep on living in the grace of God.
The next time you sin or fail God, thank God for His grace, seek forgiveness and ask Him to help you to turn from it. No matter how many times you fail God, His grace will always be sufficient. No matter how bad you sin, the blood of Jesus is strong enough to wash it white as snow. Quit beating yourself up and cutting yourself off from God. Accept what Jesus did for you and keep on living in the grace of God.
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash
I went to a high school that gave out demerits. If you got a certain amount, you went to the office. The next level was that your parents would be brought in. Finally, if you got a certain level, you would be expelled from school. I had one teacher that loved giving out demerits. In fact, when I would walk into class, he would hand me a blank one and say, “Go ahead and fill out the top. We can keep a running total throughout class and you can write down the final number at the bell.”
It always felt like a threat, but more than that, I couldn’t concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing. In my head, I was just thinking about how not to get a demerit. I would tell myself not to talk to anyone so I wouldn’t get one. But then again, he was demerit happy. I could just have the wrong look on my face and get one. It was the same every day in his class. While I can remember the teacher and location of the room, I have no idea what class it was.
Sometimes it’s easy to think that God is like that teacher. We think He’s up there waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. It can cause you to live in constant fear of God, and to worry that you’re going to mess up and ruin everything. It can even distract you from fulfilling your calling and cause you to be a fruitless Christian. In the words of a friend of mine, “Relax! God’s in a good mood.” He’s not angry all the time looking to smack you for doing wrong.
Psalm 130:3-4 says, “If you, GOD, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped” (MSG). Don’t fall for the lies of the enemy that God has handed you a demerit and is waiting for you to fail. God wants nothing more for you than for you to succeed and to fulfill your purpose. Forgiveness is His habit, not punishment. Put down the demerit you’re holding on to. Walk in the forgiveness that has been bought for you by a His son.