Positive Pain

Steve Arterburn

Sometimes forgiveness involves pain. When we confront people regarding betrayal, abandonment, abuse, deception, or other offenses, we’ll likely experience sorrow. We need to accept this as part of the consequences of sin and learn to freely express it to God. He can transform the pain associated with wrongdoing and bring about good for everyone involved.

Remember men: not all sorrow is bad for you. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth that made them sad because he confronted them about wrongdoing. He initially regretted hurting them. But after reflection he wrote these words, which you can find in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10: ‘Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed’in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow.’

The grief Paul described was good. It was caused by his love for others in action, and accessed in light of honest self-evaluation. Like Paul, we too must learn that sometimes sorrow is a positive part of our spiritual growth. So when you’re confronted with it, don’t run from it and don’t reject it. Enter into it asking God to use it to direct the course of your life along redemptive paths.

Respect

Steve Arterburn

Everyone knows Rodney Dangerfield got no respect. His twin brother forgot his birthday, and his bank offered him a gift if he’d close his account!

 

Can you relate? Men’especially married men’often feel their need for respect has somehow gotten lost amidst the world’s preoccupation with love. It’s not that men are against love. It’s rather that they perceive it differently than women. For a man, love is spelled r-e-s-p-e-c-t. They usually express and receive love via respect. And that’s something women often miss.

We men, however, are guilty of forgetting the flip side of this coin. We prefer to mope around doing Rodney Dangerfield impersonations, taking solace that our friends are equally disrespected. But the truth is there may be a good reason why we’re missing out on respect from our wives: maybe we’re not loving them well!

‘Husbands, love your wives’ is a repeated instruction that the apostle Paul gives us in the book of Ephesians. It isn’t rocket science. To get respect requires giving love. And whether you’re single, a newlywed, or married forty years, loving that special someone involves a universal yet entirely unique ingredient: loving her the way she wants to be loved.

Don’t do the typical ‘man’ thing and toss out generic signs of affection. Discover’or in the case of you relationship veterans, remind yourselves’what things matter most to her, and what she appreciates receiving from you the most.

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.