Quote of the Week | My Job is to Love People

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“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
— Billy Graham

How would it change the church if we poured our efforts into loving people instead of judging them? How would it change the world?

As Christians, we sometimes assume it is our job to act as the “spiritual police” in our communities. We take it upon ourselves to root out and expose any sort of potential sin or heresy or dissent that we perceive to be wrong or harmful.

While there is a place for spiritual interventions and calling out sin, I think many times we’ve lost sight of the necessary balance and inadvertently crossed the line into pharisaical territory. We’ve become our own spiritual versions of accuser, judge, and jury without leaving enough room for the power of love or mercy. We shake the dust off our hands in satisfaction that we’ve done God a service by refusing to allow any perceived offense to go unchallenged.

In our well-meaning attempts to foster holiness and righteousness in our communities, have we unwittingly become like the stone-throwing religious leaders that Jesus spoke out against time after time?

Have we taken the teachings of Jesus and the inspired words of the Holy Spirit and used them not to save but to condemn? Have we become so short-sighted as to draw our own box of restrictions in the sand that Jesus never intended to be drawn?

Coming from a background of legalistic thinking, I think I understand this tendency better than some. When we are so convinced that we have it right about life, about God, about theology, we want to let that be known clear and strong all around us. We feel the need to promote the truth and expose the falsehood according to our tightly-held convictions. We feel morally obligated to view the world through those specially tinted glasses and set our friends, families, and faith communities straight if they waver from that standard the slightest bit.

But why do we do that? Is it because we love God and are trying to do the right thing? Or could it be because that hyper-vigilance makes us feel righteous?

Motives are wide and varied and sometimes we don’t even really know why we do something. Beliefs and corresponding actions can be so deeply drilled into us that they feel more like instinct than a conscious choice.

In light of that, maybe we need to make an concerted effort to dig beneath the surface and figure out just what is driving us, what is the impetus behind our words and actions.

And if, in the process of soul-searching, we discover motivations that aren’t so pure and innocent as we thought, then maybe we should take a step back and seek the heart of love and compassion and mercy demonstrated by Jesus.

His actions were never tainted by self-righteousness or impossible-to-keep legalistic strictures. His love was free, sacrificial, genuine; he loved not from any ulterior motive or to gain anything, but because he simply was Love. He was illustrating God’s heart.

I know just how hard it is to keep my mouth shut when someone is doing something I think is wrong, especially if it’s someone I care about.

Maybe it is an issue that, from my perspective, is legitimately wrong. But is it always worth it to put in my two cents? Is getting my point across and winning an argument worth possibly hurting or alienating my brother or sister in Christ?

Most of the time, I’d say it’s not. In my experience, getting the last word in is not usually so satisfying in the aftermath as I thought it’d be. In fact, many times it’s just the opposite.

Sometimes love means that we have to step back and let someone make their own mistakes and then clean up their own messes.

That doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to potentially problematic issues. It just means that we are doing our job and leaving the rest up to God. He won’t let any of his children fall out of his line of sight, and his care and concern far outweighs even our best efforts. He doesn’t exactly need our help.

So let’s just focus on loving each other and trust that God can fix anything else that needs fixing.

He is our Father, Savior, Creator, etc. He’s got it handled.

~~~

Do you have a personal story about loving people (or not loving people) that you’d like to share?

Thanks so much for reading, and as always, I’d love to hear your comments in the section below!

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Don’t Get Stuck in the “Aspiring” Mindset

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I used to say that I was an aspiring writer. Now I just say I’m a writer.

What changed?

Well, I realized that I’m not just aspiring at writing anymore. I am writing.

Aspire: verb (intr) (usually followed by to or after) to yearn (for) or have a powerful or ambitious plan, desire, or hope (Dictionary.com).

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aspiring to be something. Aspirations are cool; they’re necessary. If we didn’t have any dreams or aspirations, we wouldn’t get very far in life. However, I do have a problem with getting stuck in the “aspiring” mindset. And I think it’s way too easy to get stuck there if we keep labeling ourselves as someone who is aspiring to be something even once we’ve left the planning stage.

To aspire means to hope and dream of something that you desire to happen in the future. If you’re aspiring to do something, you have yet to step out and take the first step of doing it. But for some reason we often still label ourselves as “aspiring” even after taking that first step.

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Quote of the Week | Peace in the Storm

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“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.”
~ Unknown


Peace in the storm. That sounds sort of contradictory, doesn’t it? But think about it. Do storms and peace have to be mutually exclusive? Continue reading

On Change: It’s Not Easy But It’s Good

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Here’s the truth: I’m not a huge fan of change.

I’ll start this out with a more innocuous example. Writing.

One thing I’ve learned about writing is that your writing style and persona changes as you grow and mature in writing skill and in your personal life.

Sometimes I cringe when I read an old blog post or story of mine and shake my head at how I used to write. I seriously learned a LOT about writing between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four or so–and it shows. (Fortunately for you, I won’t force you to see that for yourself. Just take my word for it.) Not that I’m anywhere near perfect now, but I do like to think I’ve improved at least some since then.

But then there are those other slightly rarer times when I look back and see some surprisingly quality, insightful content from my fourteen- or twenty-one-year-old self and I wonder, have I changed for the better? Or have I let myself stray off in a detrimental way? Have I lost a part of my style that was actually good and valuable? Should I go back to that previous style of writing and try to keep flowing in the same vein? Continue reading

Negativity: The Cancer of the Soul

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So, we’ve probably all known someone at some point in our lives that fits in the “negative” category among our acquaintances.

You know who I’m talking about…

…the one with the extraordinary gift of finding something bad in every single situation, the reverse-Pollyanna character, the “glass half-empty” type, the guy with a “woe-is-me” complex.

…the one always posting depressing social media statuses and depressing comments on everyone else’s posts.

…the one that comes into your vicinity and you can literally feel the positive energy being sucked out of the air before they even fully enter the room.

…the one that would probably have their picture superimposed over Eeyore’s in the Disney character index.

Any of those descriptions sound familiar? Continue reading

Like and Follow A Writer’s Reflections on Facebook

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Hey everyone, just wanted to give a little update/announcement:

I’ve just created a fan page for A Writer’s Reflections on Facebook (I don’t know why I haven’t done this before now), so if you are a Facebook user and would like to support me on there, I would be thrilled if you clicked the link below and liked or followed my page. I will now be posting links to my newest blog articles to that page.

A Writer’s Reflections blog on Facebook

Thanks so much!

You Can’t Change People Overnight, and That’s Okay

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It’s not easy being wrong.

I mean, it’s hard on the ego and forces us to admit that we don’t know everything.

But I think it might be even harder when other people think we’re wrong.

What’s worse: being wrong about a certain issue and admitting it to yourself and others, or believing that you’re right about the issue and being misunderstood, ignored, belittled, or falsely accused anyway? Continue reading

If you love me… | Reflections on Valentine’s Day

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Originally posted on February 14, 2016:

https://writersreflections.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/if-you-love-me/

 

 

I read a statistic that said that this Valentine’s Day, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold. About $1.7 billion will be spent on candy, $1.1 billion on greeting cards; $2 billion on apparel; and $1.9 billion on flowers. The average consumer will spend about $147.

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One Simple Way to Potentially Transform Someone’s Day

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Merry Christmas! How’s your gift shopping going? I finished all of my immediate family Christmas shopping several weeks ago and I’m so proud of myself. I think that’s pretty good for a master procrastinator like me.

Moving on . . . would you like to know a simple way to help make someone’s day so much brighter and more positive? It’s simpler than you think and often overlooked.

If you don’t already know, I’ve been working as a library aide with my county library for the past year and a half. My job primarily involves covering the customer service desk, so I’ve seen quite a few unique and interesting people come through the library.

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Happy Thanksgetting! — I mean Thanksgiving

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This year Kohl’s holiday ad campaign is “Give Joy, Get Joy,” because you get Kohl’s cash for every gift you buy. It’s just one of many advertisements and commercials that promote the buying-crazy culture every Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

It’s not a bad thing to give and receive during this season of festivity and generosity, but if that’s our motivation for giving–to get something in return or to be lifted up as a paragon of magnanimity–then we have gotten something seriously wrong.

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