Extending Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

 

 

Emotional pain never dies of natural causes. Old age doesn’t sap its strength. And you can’t bury it alive. If you try, it’ll kick and scream until you acknowledge it, feel it, and work through it. And working through it usually requires you to forgive. Of course, you can try ignoring the pain ‘ we call that denial. And this may work’to some extent and for some short period of time. But the only way to get it out of your heart is through forgiveness.

Unexpressed grief festers and swells, waiting to erupt. It may explode in uncontrollable rage, gush out in unstoppable tears, seep out in unexplainable depression, or ooze internally, resulting in undiagnosed illness. But men, the one thing you can be absolutely sure of is this: pain you’ve shoved deep down never leaves on its own.

People carry all kinds of pain from disappointments, failures, betrayals, and losses. In our hectic world, the most efficient and acceptable way of dealing with emotional pain is to get yourself so busy that you simply have no time to think about it. This eases your discomfort, so you can carry on, seemingly no worse for wear. The avoidance of pain, however, will keep you from going through the process of forgiveness. When you refuse to feel the full impact of your pain, you don’t allow it to do its necessary work on your character.

Men, please don’t settle for temporary and inadequate fixes. Extending forgiveness is the only real way toward healing.

The Cross-Shaped Christian Life

Steve Arterburn

 

 

The triumph of the cross is the pattern for the Christian life. In the death of Christ we witness the death of death itself. Through the cross, Christ defeated your worst and last enemy. He won the war. And in this same way, you’re to fight the remaining battles, confident that the outcome is decided and in your favor.

 

Reading the gospel sets your thinking in a completely different direction than that of personal potential and self-empowerment’things our society put such a high value to. The gospel calls you to be out of step with the world. You and I must die in order to live. We lose our lives in order to find them. We become strong by becoming weak.

 

Yet we too often lack the courage and conviction to embrace these gospel paradoxes. Instead, we look at our needs, wants, and desires and formulate a plan we expect God to honor in order to meet them. This keeps us focused on getting our own way rather than on releasing God’s redemptive power in our lives.

 

How different this is from praying ‘Your will be done”Jesus’ prayer as He went to the cross. The world looks upon this and sees weakness, vulnerability,’and foolishness. Yet, if you believe the Bible, you believe the apostle Paul when he says the cross is the power and wisdom of God.

 

Men, we’re not better than our Master. Jesus Christ’s life was cross-shaped, and ours should be also.

Spiritual Leadership

Steve Arterburn

 

 

In an article in Psychology Today, psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple wrote that twenty years earlier, when he first began to practice, no one ever complained of a lack of self-esteem or of hating himself. Now, he wrote, hardly a week goes by without a patient making that complaint. One young man concerned about his low self-image came to visit him. In fact, the young man and his mother said this condition caused him to beat up his pregnant girlfriend, which resulted in a miscarriage.

The doctor said to him, ‘It couldn’t be the other way around, could it?’

‘What do you mean,’ replied the young man.

‘That your behavior,’ said the doctor ’caused you to have a poor opinion of yourself.’

The patient, of course, wasn’t too happy with this suggestion.

I like the question Dalrymple posed to this young man, and I think it bears consideration. When a man sees himself as inadequate it is for one of two reasons:

Either he literally doesn’t have the ability necessary to be adequate (for example, I am inadequate to perform brain surgery)

Or, he has the ability but has retreated into a passive place.

Have you allowed your passive behavior to create a self-image of inadequacy? Perhaps you don’t feel adequate to lead your family or to love your wife. I think a change of behavior would go a long way toward dispelling this image. Sometimes the head and hands have to lead, to show the heart where to go.