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The Stronghold of a Critical Spirit

How do you relate to someone who has wronged you but actively seeks your forgiveness? When you begin to feel hurt and angry, you most likely want to sit and stew and not submit to forgive. What do you do with your emotions, if you can’t take them out on the offender?

Tom and Sally (not their real names) were having marital problems over Tom’s anger. Sally prayed for years that Jesus would change Tom’s heart, and over the course of time, He did.

The next time Tom and Sally had an argument, Sally treated Tom as always, for after all, he was still the culprit. The only problem was Tom didn’t lash back with anger. He actually loved her with much grace. Now, all of a sudden, Sally was the offender, and she was the one who needed to seek forgiveness.

Sometimes answered prayer means we have to change too.

Sally didn’t like that, however. Tom treated her poorly for years, and Sally had developed a taste for being the offended. No longer could she talk about her husband in her usual tone. Her prayer requests in her women’s group had to change. Others stopped viewing her as the victim, and she had to begin addressing her own issues.

As one author wrote, “Sometimes going to a new place of gospel freedom together is lovely to dream about and frightening to take hold of” (Zach Eswine, The Imperfect Pastor, 205).

In a letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul described church discipline, grace, and forgiveness: “I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4).

Do you sense the deep emotion with which Paul must have written those words? In his first letter to the Corinthians, he chastised them for their willingness to overlook sin and not confront someone for his crass immorality (1 Corinthians 5). But in his second letter, he reminded them that church discipline should lead to the transformation of the one caught in sin as well as those who did the catching.

“For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:6-8).

Punishment need not be eternal, where the offender must always “wear the grey overcoat of having sinned and never be able to dress in the bright clothes of forgiveness” (idem.).

You might find it difficult to forgive, believing that forgiveness removes consequences. But it doesn’t. Rarely does forgiveness lead to a fairy-tale ending in this life, but it can lead to a redemptive ending in the life to come.

As offenders, let’s be genuine in our godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). And when offended, let’s take the divine approach of confronting sin, turning to forgive and comfort, and reaffirm our love for those who seek our forgiveness.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Living in a Culture of Crave

We live in a culture of crave. People crave more pleasure, more entertainment, more sports, more news, more money, more food, more shoes, more convenience, more technology.

In our quest for more, we yearn for new experiences to surpass the old. What once was exciting is now dull. What once was trendy is now passé. We search for the latest to overcome the emptiness. We crave to consume in order to fill the painful void. The longing. That hollow feeling. We fill the silence so as not to think about the cause of our soulful ache. And so we turn up the volume in order to tune out our heavy hearts. The problem is, this never works. It might for a moment, but then reality returns with a vengeance.

This may sound radical, but we do the same thing with our churches. We crave more, but are we craving the right things? Are we using our churches as another “fix” to an emptiness that can only be satiated with Jesus? Don’t get me wrong, the Church IS the Body of Christ, but church experience and church community are two different things.

If we’re looking for church experiences to fill the void, what once was exciting will soon become dull. What once was trendy will soon be passé. And we will keep wandering and searching for…more.

Fulfillment comes through Christ; community comes through His body, the Church. When we seek fulfillment through a church service, or the latest, coolest, trendiest church program, we will always crave more but never find what we’re looking for.

Our emptiness is filled with Jesus; our belonging is supplied through the bond of the Church. Both are needed, but one cannot replace the other, or else we continue to crave the wrong things.

Crave Christ and community will follow.

The Church is not an experience for a spiritual high; it is a place of belonging so that the craving of others is complete in Christ. Don’t misunderstand me. Jesus doesn’t call us to a boring faith but a fulfilling faith, and that doesn’t come through seeking experiences but through seeking Him.

Jesus said, “Come to ME, all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Drink from the endless supply of the water of life. When we drink from the cup of Christ, we “will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14).

What do you crave, and what do you hope will fill the void of your life? Another marriage, a better job, more money, a better church? May your craving be for Christ, so that God will be your “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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