The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Let us stop passing judgment on one another.” Ro 14:13 NIV
You can work alongside and pray for someone who’s having an extramarital affair, without having one yourself. Remember, you were a sinner before you were saved by the grace of God, so act with humility and don’t fall into the trap of self-righteousness. As Merv Rosell says, “When God forgives, He consigns the offense to everlasting forgetfulness,” so show grace when you encounter somebody whose lifestyle makes you uncomfortable. Learn as much as possible about them, and allow your interactions to dispel any preconceptions and prejudices. See them as hurting individuals loved by God—people who need the same grace you received. When you love the unlovely, you’re just doing what God did for you. Just because somebody’s “different,” doesn’t mean you should dismiss them or consider them inferior. You don’t want to be judged or demeaned because of your color, culture, or countenance, so don’t do it to others! Because the Bible is clear about not emulating others in their sinful practices, we can be tempted to think we’re better than they are. That’s the sin of pride! Sometimes we think if we love and accept certain people, we’re condoning their sin. No, the truth lies in remaining respectful, and accepting others the way Jesus did. Whether it was racial differences (Samaritans), lifestyle differences (the five-times-divorced woman at the well), or class differences (Nicodemus), Jesus loved and accepted people as they were, while inspiring them to a higher standard.
When someone says, “I can’t help myself; it’s just the way I am,” they are right, but only partially right! Researchers identified more than a hundred identical twins that had been separated at birth. They were raised in various cultures, religions, and locations. By comparing their similarities and their differences it became clear that as much as 70 percent of their personality—was inherited. Their DNA determined such qualities as creativity, wisdom, loving-kindness, vigor, longevity, intelligence, and even the joy of living. Consider the “Jim twins” who were separated until they were thirty-nine years old. Both married women named Linda, owned dogs named Toy, suffered from migraine headaches, chain-smoked, liked beer, drove Chevys, and served as sheriff’s deputies. Their personalities and attitudes were virtual carbon copies. What do these findings mean? Are we puppets on a string, playing out a predetermined course without free will or personal choices? Not at all. Unlike animals, we’re capable of rational thought and independent action. We don’t have to act on every sexual urge, for example, despite our genetic underpinnings. Heredity may nudge us in a particular direction, but our impulses can be brought under control. This is where the new birth comes in. God gives you a new nature, and the power to overcome your old one. Paul addresses it: “Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life” (vv. 12-13 NLT).
When someone hurts you, you have three options: (1) hurt them back; (2) avoid them altogether; (3) pray for them and look for ways to bless them (See Mt 5:44-45). Paul says: “As occasion and opportunity open up…let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but…doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing.” We’re so caught up with how others treat us that we’ve little or no concern about how we treat them. We’re afraid of being taken advantage of, especially if our past experience with someone has been painful. Not only do fear and dread make us supersensitive to everything they say and do, we may misinterpret their motives and see them in a negative light. Without question, it’s difficult not to be concerned that others will treat you badly if they already have a proven track record. That’s why it’s so important not to think about it at all (See Php 3:13 and Isa 43:18). Does this mean the person won’t have to account for how they treated you? No. The Bible says, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another” (Ro 14:12-13 NIV). Hand the situation over to God—and refuse to take it back. Then, “Be mindful to be a blessing.” In other words, occupy your thoughts with ways in which you can be helpful. When you do that you’ll have no time to dwell on personal grievances. Plus, it gives God an opportunity to work on them—and you.
“My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.” Job 23:11 NKJV
Many of our endeavors in life fail for one reason—broken focus. We allow ourselves to get distracted. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade; in short, in all management of human affairs.” Where should you focus your concentration? On your mission! And when you make a mistake don’t chase after it. Don’t try to defend it. Don’t throw good money after it. When you make a mistake acknowledge it. If you need to, seek forgiveness from God and the person you have hurt. And when possible try to make amends. Once you’ve done these things, refocus your attention on your mission and move on. Keep your eye on what it is you desire to do. You’ll never meet a person focused on yesterday who had a better tomorrow. John Foster Dulles, secretary of state under President Eisenhower, observed: “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is still the same problem you had last year.” A problem resolved is a springboard to future success, to bigger and better things. The key is to focus on what you’re learning, not losing. When you do that you open the door to future possibilities. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about a problem. The two together determine what you do about a problem.” And in the end, that’s what matters.