Starting OverHave you experienced a fresh start in Jesus?
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I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on . . . (v.12).
Recently, my wife and I had the privilege of speaking on the topic of Loving One Another at a marriage retreat. Attendees included couples of all ages—those who had been married just a year to a “golden” duo who had spent 50 years together. That couple, Joe and Arlene, blessed the younger couples as they transparently revealed some of the struggles they had experienced in their marriage. They candidly acknowledged their imperfections but also stated that they had chosen to cling to God and their vows as they went through rocky times together.
Speaking the truth, letting people see some of our “warts,” can be greatly encouraging to other believers in Jesus. Even super-apostle Paul admitted that he was no Superman! He wrote, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12). Paul’s relationships were also a bit rocky at times, including famous falling-out episodes with Barnabas (Acts 15:38) and Peter (Galatians 2:11).
By God’s wisdom, the Bible is full of accounts of those who knew God but still had feet of clay . . . those who were far from perfect. You and I should live our faith by being honest about our failures and struggles. And, when appropriate, we should communicate these things to help encourage and build up other believers. We can plainly state that we “have not achieved [perfection], but [we] . . . press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13).
As we open up, we show that our confidence isn’t in our own “human effort” (v.3) but in the righteousness of Jesus (v.9).
The Psalms are full of real, raw words of personal fear, pain, and failure. Read a few right now and consider how you’re encouraged by the honesty and transparency found in what David and others wrote.
How can you use your past failures and challenges to bless and encourage others? What kinds of failure are not helpful to share?
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- Stay or Run Away - How might God want you to display His glory in your life?...read more
- Jealousy and Generosity - To help His followers understand what the kingdom of heaven is like and the dangers of comparison obsession, Jesus told a parable about a landowner who hired workers to tend his vineyard....read more
- On the Fringe - Who sits alone at church that you can befriend?...read more
- Taming Anger - Think back to a time when you lashed out in anger, or when someone lashed out at you....read more
- Full of Joy - How can you tap into God’s joy more fully?...read more
- Mistaken vs. Hard Hearts - How have you experienced a hard heart toward God in your relationship with Him?...read more
- The Narrow Door - How can salvation be a free gift simply received and yet still require our response?...read more
- Last Dance - How can you focus on thoughts that are lovely and admirable today?...read more
- Free to Forgive - How has God’s forgiveness changed your heart?...read more
- Friendly Wounds - What does it mean to “speak the truth in love”?...read more
- Hope Awakening - Do you tend to see the glass as half empty or half full?...read more