Imagine a terrible situation. Imagine yourself off at some point in the future, and that you have ruined your family or friendships; you’ve brought great pain and misery to those who trusted you. Imagine yourself in a moment where it hits you: how much you’ve done, how much you’ve lost, how deeply you’ve hurt people – imagine how hard you’d cry; imagine the heart-ripping regret you’d feel, how you’d do anything and give anything to go back to this time in your life, this very day, this very moment, before any of that horror happens so that you can keep far from the path which led to that destruction. Such joyful thoughts! In a way, they are. Here’s how.
Everyone loves to be encouraged and praised and valued. We all know instinctively that “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good work makes him glad.” (Pro. 12:25) Yet many of us struggle to build habits of regularly encouraging others. Perhaps many are worried that too much praise and honor will result in big-headed pride, so the best thing to do might be to keep our compliments to ourselves. Certainly complimenting and praising aren’t the only ways to encourage others (Scripture often shows us how to encourage with good and hopeful theology), but they should be tools we use often for the good of others.
Paul’s example in Romans 16 has always stood out as a great way to show honor and pay compliments in a way that continues to glorify God even while lifting up his servants. Here are just a few observations from the “farewell” chapter in Romans to get us started on showing others how much we value them.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
What do we mean we say, “I forgive you”? More importantly, do we mean what the Bible means?
When we really dig into Scripture’s teaching on forgiveness, we find that it stretches and challenges us, forcing us into the uncomfortable territory of being more like Jesus. Without further ado, taking our cues from God’s Word and God’s forgiveness, here’s what we should mean when we say “I forgive you”:
A church without conflicts. The ecclesiastical unicorn. Looks great in pictures but doesn’t actually exist. The right question isn’t so much, “How do we create a church without conflict?” but “What do we do when conflict comes?”
Here the Philippian church helps us greatly, particularly two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche. These poor women have had their fight inscribed into God’s Word, and for the rest of this age we will be able to benefit from their disastrous disagreement.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2-3)
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. -1 Corinthians 4:6
What’s the quickest way to a fight? What’s the fastest way to transform a small conflict into a raging fire of anger? While my answer to this question may be somewhat subjective, it is based on the text of Scripture above and the opportunities I’ve had to see this in action many times over.
I was reviewing parts of Wayne Mack’s Strengthening Your Marriage and came across this helpful list of “twelve practical suggestions for developing and maintaining good marital communications.” I believe it would apply well to other relationships as well.