Peel Back the Layers to Find the Truth of Healthy Relationship

The truth is the truth and the stuff we add onto it and around it is not. We take the truth, add our experiences, preferences, feelings and perceptions but that doesn’t change the truth. It just changes our foundation. When we alter the truth, we weaken our footing. To get back on solid ground, we peel back the added layers and get to the core.

God loves us and He loves community. He gives us a framework of truth to guide and lead us through the challenges that come with living in community. We sometimes add to it, subtract from it and twist it to fit our preferences but if we’ll get back to the foundation, we can relate in healthy community.

With some regularity, I experience people coming to me or observe them going to someone else to let the other person know that they are forgiven for some otherwise unknown offense. They will typically offer some detail to the thing that fueled the offense, followed closely by “but I have forgiven you.” While the exercise is well intended, it’s not based on truth. Whether or not the offense is legitimate or imagined, it’s not the way to handle forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not dependent on an apology nor recognition.Forgiveness is just given from within. If there was a thing against us, we have the power to choose to release it but we can do so without informing the forgiven of their pardon.

One of the times to go to another person to discuss offense is when you think they may be offended by you (Matthew 5:23). Think about that; when I think you’re upset with me, it’s legitimate for me to go to you. That’s a time when you need to know about it; when it’s my fault. The humility of that is noteworthy.

A different time for healthy confrontation is to call out sin (Matthew 18:15). This requires and presumes relationship. This is intended for community, not judgment or legalism. It is intended for the benefit of the individual who is struggling as well as the culture of the community as a whole. With the benefit of constructive confrontation, there is an opportunity to repent.

When it’s me that’s offended, I get to forgive. Forgive as I’ve been forgiven. I get to operate in the grace that I’ve received and grace doesn’t demand acknowledgment. Grace is sacrificial and feels forsaken. Grace gives without expectation and submits without reciprocation. Grace is the foundation for healthy community and grace is the fuel for personal transformation and nobody needs to know about it; they’ll recognize it without words.

Just Today

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Last week was rough. Nothing tragic, just challenging, and the battle which we all fight within ourselves was raging. I was losing the battle of doubt, fear, insecurity and other associated turmoil that comes in the wake of difficult circumstances.  Not losing to the point that I was giving up, but certainly not having any fun in the middle of the perseverance.

Throughout the week, several things happened. Different people, in different ways, reached out to encourage me. Their effort was intentional and timely. It came in several forms:

  1. Words of encouragement while we were interacting on the phone or in person. Just words to assure me that I’m not alone and that there is enough in me to get through this and the next thing.
  2. Texts and messages which were not prompted through interaction, but offered by the other person’s initiative. Just a short note to affirm the positive things that they saw in me.
  3. A somewhat unique endorsement from a person that I only know from a distance. A word of encouragement to me and a promotion of me to others. The timing and source of this endorsement could only be counted as God’s hand moving for my good through another.

Hebrews 3:13 says this, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

For as long as today is called today, encourage one another. Speak courage, text courage, impart courage. Give courage through encouragement. Today . . . and every other day that is referred to as “today.” In case anyone got confused by the math, that is every day. Every day encourage one another.

Why? So that nobody around us is hardened by the lies of doubt, fear and insecurity that come like a flood in the wake of circumstances that are challenging. So that the unbelief inherent in those lies doesn’t take root and give fruit as greater miscues of a more destructive nature. So that the community we affirm, preserve and build through our encouragement towards others can also, on some day called today, encourage and affirm us when we need it.