STAGES

In my short span of life, I’ve found that the Christian faith comes in all shapes, sizes, and stages – each one different than the one alongside you. We never stop the learning process, the drifting process, the roller coaster we call the Christian Walk. Just when you think you’ve got it all together, you realize you don’t. It can be a very discouraging road at times, and even as Christians we are capable of making huge mistakes. But do not fear. He knows we aren’t perfect, and He never leaves our side.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

From birth, I was taken to church where Sunday school teaches you all the basics. Jesus was born in a manger and died on the cross, David survived the dangerous lions den, Jonah was swallowed up by a fish, Palm Sunday means you get to cut up green construction paper and wave it at your classmates, and Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. We knew it all, and we weren’t afraid to say we believed in Jesus and talk about it to anyone and everyone.

Then you move up to junior and senior high. In high school is where I felt I was truly coming into my own. I was super involved in our youth group, went on as many church trips as I could, did all the Bible studies available, and ta-da!! I didn’t struggle with peer pressure! Gee I sure am glad I loved Jesus back then! Oh but plot twist, after high school came the independent world of college…

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1

Alas, the crazy stage where the “out of sight, out of mind” lie creeps in. I learned a few things in these four years. One, alcohol is demon juice. Two, it is absolutely true that Satan works long term; I started out committing ‘harmless sins’ my freshman year that turned into harmful chains by my senior year. Three, cutting out church, prayer, time in the Word, and Christian fellowship (especially all at once) is deadly. When you’re not spending time with God, and you aren’t surrounding yourself with friends that will hold you accountable for it, you stand no chance. Thankfully, if we are true children of God, He won’t let us go far. But that doesn’t mean we’re safe from learning a few lessons the hard way.

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2

Next came the self-righteous Christian stage. This stage is dangerous because it can cause us to come off as judgmental and holier-than-thou. It’s the stage that gives nonbelievers a bad taste in their mouth. I slowly began obtaining more information about the gospel, and everyone around me suddenly got on my nerves. For me, I felt so overwhelmed by the grace I was being shown that I forgot to show others that same grace. I didn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t on my same level or wasn’t accepting the information I had to share. What I was forgetting is that we don’t choose God, He chooses us when He wants to and how He wants to.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44

We’re all at different stages in our faith. Some are ahead of you, some behind, and some aren’t walking at all. What we are called to do is be like Jesus and spread the word, not just with our actions but with our tongues as well. Patience and grace are pivotal in the growth and invitation to Jesus. 9-year-old Lauren thought she had it going on, 18-year-old Lauren knew how to say no, 21-year-old Lauren didn’t, and 26-year-old Lauren thinks she feels secure in His grace and mercy, but I can guarantee you that 40, 50, and 60-year-old Lauren will look back and laugh at how little I actually know.

Here’s the good news, we never stop growing. Here’s some more good news, pressure’s off – as long as we live on this earth, we can never attain full knowledge of Truth. Paul tells us that Christ gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). Until Jesus returns and brings us all home, we continue to work as the Body of Christ. But then and only then will we be given full knowledge and become like Him. For now, we pray, read, worship, fellowship together, and endure these stages until we reach our final stage: fullness of life in Heaven.

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved

JOY

“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?” George Gordon Noel Byron

The word happiness evokes thoughts of newlyweds on their wedding day, children unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, birthday parties with all your friends, and vacations to exotic lands. Everyone longs to be happy; it’s our life’s greatest pursuit. We spend money, collect things, search for new experiences. But if happiness depends on circumstance and the life you lead, then what happens when your marriage turns into something it didn’t start out to be? What do you do when your toys rust, friends turn on you, and traveling no longer does the trick?

People spend each day desperately attempting to be happy, but daily success, failures, and inconvenience toss and turn us upside down. We’re at a loss when we don’t get that promotion or find out our best friend has been talking bad about us. When we have car trouble that keeps us from affording vacation or the doctor gives us bad news, our world is shattered and ‘life isn’t fair’ anymore. So what’s the cure? How do you escape the unavoidable disappointment of something good gone wrong?

Christ.

The contrast to happiness is joy. Happiness is dependent on happenings, but joy is dependent on Christ. The key to immeasurable joy is living in constant intimate contact with Christ. He is the source of all joy – through suffering, serving, believing, and giving. You can fake being happy for a time, but no one can pretend to have the joy of Christ.

While Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he wrote a letter to Philippi counseling them about humility and unity. Though he was locked up, he did not let that discourage him or keep him from sharing the gospel. Paul shared Christ with his prison guards and lead them to becoming believers. Paul taught us that our current circumstances aren’t as important as what we do with them. How we act in certain situations reflects what we believe.

When Morgan got hurt last year, it was tough. I really struggled with anger over having to go to LA by myself. I spent so much time worrying how I was going to move there alone and questioned why God had allowed this to happen. But the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). I realized that even though I didn’t have Morgan there with me, I had God. Even though I’d lost the comfort of my husband’s presence, I had the comfort of His Word. I learned that sometimes when things don’t go your way, it’s for a reason; and despite how unhappy your circumstances may be, Christ’s joy encompasses all.

If I measured my success in LA by how happy I felt all the time, how many auditions I went on, how many jobs I booked, how much fun I had, or how many friends I made – I would have failed by everyone’s standards. But because I followed Christ out there and did it for Him, I succeeded.

Paul could have viewed his imprisonment as a limitation, but instead, God used Paul’s placement in Rome to bring the gospel to the center of the empire, as well as to give Paul plenty of time to write letters that would one day end up in the New Testament to teach you and me. Whether it is an actual prison or a place that feels like one, God wants you to serve Him faithfully. Faith in Christ will make you happy, not your own interpretation of life’s successes and failures.

As Christians, we must not rely on what we have or what we experience to measure how happy we are. We can find joy in all things, both good and bad. Look for ways to demonstrate your faith in the highs and lows. Our prayer should be to desire to know Christ above all else. Rededicate your life to finding joy in Him.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him… I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:8-10

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

#thingsadored


Photo by Anna Grace Photography

YOU ARE _______

For just a minute, I want you to be honest. How many times a day do you compare yourself to others? Your coworkers, siblings, neighbors, classmates, celebrities; the big family with the amount of kids you want; the lady down the hall whose cancer is disappearing faster than yours… How often do you look at other people and say to yourself, “I’m not as good as them” ?

Stop.

There’s absolutely no need for that. We don’t have to be slaves to the world’s standards, especially when the world’s standards are constantly shifting. The world tells us we need big cars, tons of money, lots of friends, and beauty beyond measure to be happy. But God tells us we don’t.

In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul begins to defend his authority against those who think he’s timid and weak. They don’t believe he’s as strong a speaker as others, so they begin to doubt what he’s saying. And this is Paul’s response:

You are judging by appearances… We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you… For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Paul was responding obediently to God’s calling, and therefore, was completely adequate for this work – contrary to what the Corinthians had to say. God sets the standards for us, not others. If we are doing His work, then we use His scale.

I’m sure there’s many out there dealing with similar issues right now. I know I am. And it’s been placed on my heart to address some of these in the hopes that you will be encouraged to find your strength in the Lord and not in those you compare yourselves to.


I’m not as successful as her. “Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

I’m not as rich as her. “The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.” Proverbs 28:22 // “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

I’m not as pretty as her. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 // “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

I’m not as popular as her. “It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Proverbs 18:19

I’m not as happy as her. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 // “For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:20

I’m not as healthy as her. “The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desires of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.” Psalm 41:2-3

I’m not as talented as her. “God has given each of you a gift from his variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10

I can’t find a husband like her. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 // “An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 7:34-35 (Paul is not saying it is better to remain unmarried, but he is reminding those without spouses not to be discouraged; some serve the Lord more diligently without a significant other.)

I can’t have children like her. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 // “Because to every purpose there is a time and judgement, therefore the misery of man is great upon Him.” Ecclesiastes 8:6

I’m not as wise as her. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

I’m not as perfect as her. “For we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

I’m not as sure about my faith as her. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19


Theodore Roosevelt said it best: Comparison is the thief of joy. And he’s right. We’ll never amount to someone we’re jealous of, so don’t place your value in how you look standing next to someone else. We find our value through the eyes of Christ. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and God made no mistake when He made you.

#thingsadored


Photo by Anna Grace Paulovkin

GOTTA BE SOMETHING MORE

I love thinking back on the simpler times of being young, back when worries were small. I miss the days when winning your Saturday morning soccer game was the most important thing going on. I wish all I had to worry about was getting my book report done on time and making sure my goldfish was still alive. Nowadays, it seems like we’re all on this hamster wheel, get up – go to work – come home – eat dinner – watch TV – go to bed – repeat.

There’s got to be something more to life than this.

We’re always yearning for more – more purpose, more fulfillment, more excitement, more answers, more life. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something bigger. In fact, we were made to want more.

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:4

The ‘tent’ Paul talks about is our earthly body, and ‘life’ is eternity. We don’t wish to be rid of our earthly body, but we yearn for it to be better. While on earth, it is not unusual for us to groan and long for something more because “the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing us what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

Human beings have an innate sense of transcendence and longing for the ultimate reality only experienced in the eternal presence of God. We are wired to want more because God “has set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Because of this, we can never be fully satisfied with earthly pleasures + pursuits. Because we are made in God’s image, we have a spiritual thirst that nothing but God can satisfy. The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee of what is to come.

We spend so much time searching the land and sky and sea for bigger things, when in actuality, the search itself is what we’re looking for. We search because there is something to find. We find it in a baby’s cry, a loved one’s death, in the feeling of hope and the feeling of loss. The Holy Spirit fills us with emotion and conviction because those feelings are a promise to us that God has something better waiting.

Friends, if you know the Lord, I encourage you to use this as reassurance that the Holy Spirit is present and working in you. It is calling you to a perfect and holy home. And for those of you who do not yet know the Lord, this urge you have for fulfillment and answers is God calling you. It’s His way of showing you that there IS something out there that’s safe and eternal, and it can be yours. The solution to your restless yearning can only be found in His perfect rule.

#thingsadored

TRUE FAMILY

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to them, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 13:46-50

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my recent experience in LA and how it had impacted my Walk. A friend of mine that I grew up in school with but hadn’t spoken to in a while wrote me an email in response to it. She said that she was in Jordan doing mission work, and my testimony touched her because she deals with the negative impressions that America’s entertainment has in other countries. She thanked me for being open about my faith and for enduring the struggles of doing the Lord’s work.

A few months ago, I met up with two of my friends in Baltimore at the mall. We shopped around for a while and then went to the food court to grab some lunch. Before we began our meal, we bowed our heads to pray and went back to whatever it was we were laughing at. As we were finishing, a lady walked up to us with tears in her eyes and said, “I saw you pray before you ate together, and I just wanted to say that made my day. It’s so great to see friends do that.” Then, she walked away.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a book called “Love Does” at a Starbucks in LA when a cute little blond girl walked up and said, “I love that book! I read it not too long ago.” We continued talking. Her name is Allie. We’ve been friends since.

This morning, I was studying my Bible at my favorite coffee shop in Collierville. I felt someone tap me on the shoulder, so I turned around and kinda freaked out because I was thinking I should know who this person was, and I definitely didn’t. The girl smiled at me and said, “I just wanted to say that I saw you studying your Bible, and I’m really proud of you for doing that.” We spoke for a few minutes, then she and her husband went on their way to continue the celebration of their third anniversary.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Friends, we should be doing this daily. I can’t begin to express how uplifting it is to have a total stranger, or a friend from the past, encourage me in faith. As Jesus points out in the verse above, we are all each other’s brothers and sisters, and we should love each other as such.

Before that sweet girl tapped me on the back, I was reading in 1 Corinthians where Paul is describing us as the body of Christ. He explains that we all have spiritual gifts that are are to be exercised in love for the advancement of the kingdom. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). When we belong to God’s family, we love each other and encourage each other with kindness and patience, and we protect one another.

In today’s time, it’s extremely difficult to fight for Truth. But what if we didn’t have to do it alone? What if we kept an eye out for each other and let others know we’re there for them, we’re encouraging them, we’re protecting them? That’s what these strangers did. They expressed selfless love for their sister, and in doing so, they spoke volumes to me on what it means to be a part of the body and family of Christ.

My hope is that we do seek each other out and find ways to lift one another up. I hope I can pass this love on to someone else reading a book or studying their Bible or praying. You never know what kind of impact that could have on them or what type of friend you may be gaining in the process.

And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

#thingsadored


Photo from Pinterest

OVERALLS

Summer is coming to an end, and I’ve been reflecting on a few things that made this summer so great. There were quite a few contributions, but one stuck out.

Sometimes the world does us a solid and brings wonderful things into our lives. Today, there’s something specific I want to thank it for. This particular piece I’ve loved since childhood, it’s gotten me through all phases of life. Devin Kelley agrees, “I grew up in the 90’s, so I’ve definitely resurrected many looks from my youth lately…” They’re dependable, practical, stylish… need I keep on? And yes, I’m talking about you, overalls.

Thomas A. Edison said it best, “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.” There’s a good chance this was spoken in an alternate context, but no matter! I agree! A friend in overalls is a friend for life.

I recently purchased my favorite pair from Madewell. They cost a few months wages in some countries, but at the rate I wear them, I’ve justified that cost. Plus I had a giftcard.

But how do I pull off overalls? I don’t think they’re my thing.

Good news – overalls are no one’s thing and everyone’s thing. They are one of the only multifaceted articles of clothing in history. What other clothing item fits such a broad range of usability?

For some, they are a work uniform covered in dirt by the day’s end, for others they are a regular outfit to be worn with stripes, polka dots, V-necks, flip flops, and Keds. Then you’ve got Kimmy K and the Pretty Little Liars clique in leather versions that TOTALLY up the game.

In all seriousness, you can’t go wrong.

But I wouldn’t even know the correct time or place to wear them?

Don’t fear. We’ve got you covered there. The answer is e) All of the above.

Overalls are perfect for so many occasions – school, lunch dates, brisk afternoon walks, ice cream outings, jumping in front of random walls.. I mean, what don’t they go with?

Friends, countrymen, literally I’m talking to all of you – go buy a pair. And don’t worry about the cool girl in school that’s all “OMG she copied me.” That’s impossible. Overalls have been around way longer than any of us. They’re amazing. Don’t miss out.

#thingsadored

Photography by Anna Grace Paulovkin


Overalls | Madewell

White Top | Target

Striped Top | Madewell

Converse Shoes | Macy’s

WOOD-BURNED ITEMS

So I’m obsessed with Disney. Like a lot. Ask me a movie question, I’m going to know the answer. Play any song, I’m going to know all the words. I’ve dressed up as just about every princess there is, and I’ve been to Disney World at least 10 times.

A few months back, I was trying to find some new items to add to my Etsy Shop – STUMPandSCRIPT. I went walking through Michaels and saw these slabs of wood. I thought to myself, “Hmm I wonder what those are used for?” A few aisles over I see wood burning pens and think again to myself “Ahh! Found an answer!” So I loaded up on wood burning pens + letters + wood slabs and headed home to play!

I picked out a few of my all-time favorite Disney songs, pulled a chunk from the lyrics, and started making my new shop items! They’re time consuming, but so fun to create. I may have burned myself a time or two because I was so anxious to get to the finish line, but all in all, I really enjoy making these items.

I give them as baby gifts all the time, and a ton of people have also bought them for shower gifts as well. They look adorable in nurseries, playrooms, etc. I put hooks on the back of them so that they can be hung on the wall, but they also look great on bookshelves and nightstands. Feel free to look through my available items, and if you have a favorite song that you don’t see, I’d be happy to come up with something for you!

#thingsadored

BABY BOARD

Back in March, my sister Lindsay had a precious baby girl that I happen to be completely obsessed with. Emerson Gray Duncan is the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen. Aside from showering her with gifts I’ve spent countless dollar amounts on (we aunts tend to do that), Lindsay asked me to make something for Emerson’s room that turned out to be SUPER cute. I’ll share…

“As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was going to happen” -Winnie the Pooh

Lindsay had picked out this adorable Winnie the Pooh quote and asked that I put it on a canvas to go above her changing table. So, we set out for the supplies! I usually buy all my products from Hobby Lobby, but if I can’t find what I’m looking for there (which is rare), I’ll check Michaels or JoAnn’s. I like Hobby Lobby best because their prices are great, they’ve always got coupons, and they’re a wonderful company run by followers of Christ. I know, too good to be true.

We picked out a larger white canvas to put the quote on, and then worked on the layout she wanted. After a few rough drafts on some plain white computer paper, I got to work!

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I used paint sharpies to apply the script. Once the full quote was written, we set out to add some color. To keep it simple, I grabbed some watercolor paint and lightly brushed a leaf pattern around the calligraphy. Once that was complete, Emerson gave us the thumbs up, and Lindsay took it home with them to put in her nursery!

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These projects are so fun and affordable. Don’t be afraid to try out something yourself! And if you’re interested in purchasing an item, check out my Etsy Shop STUMPandSCRIPT! I’m happy to personalize anything and everything for ya :)

#thingsadored

DON’T BE POLITE

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

In these passages, Paul is showing us how to put our love into action. These days, we are masters at pretending to love each other – speaking kindly, bringing dinners, avoiding hurt feelings, appearing to take interest in one another. We might even be skilled enough to fake compassion when we hear of injustice and are made aware of the needs of others. But God calls us to a greater love. He calls us to a love that’s sincere, that goes far beyond politeness. This love is selfless. It requires time and effort that will point others in the direction of becoming better people.

Too often we find ourselves helping others with empty hearts and ulterior motives. We serve food to the homeless and take flowers to the sick so that our weekly good deed checklist can be marked. We don’t really love those we are serving, and we’re not actually crying with those who are mourning. These deeds are done to make us feel better, not them. We convince ourselves we are good people, but we’re not loving people. We’re nowhere near it. God’s love is genuine, compassionate, endearing. It spreads to all without picking and choosing who is worthy of receiving it.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:14-16

Now here’s a tough one to swallow in our society – be willing to associate with people of low position. So we have to love and serve those beneath us? Oh, but I’m a lawyer, I’m a doctor, I’m a professional athlete! Wouldn’t it just be easier for people to stay within their class? Come on now, let’s not make things messy here…

Paul says we are to live in harmony with others and not become too proud to enjoy the company of all people. Many today use their contacts and relationships for selfish ambition, selecting people as friends that will help them climb the social ladder. What if we befriended people that helped us off that social ladder? What if we humbled ourselves to serve those who normally serve us – cooks, trash collectors, cleaning ladies, construction workers? After all, isn’t that what Jesus did? He included a tax collector as one of the twelve, he allowed a prostitute to join him in his mission work, he washed other people’s feet. He loved.

But what if those people cause negativity? What if someone mistreats me?

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:17-21

These verses summarize the core of Christian living. If we truly love as Christ loves, then we are able to forgive. Once we experience God’s grace for ourselves, we can pass it on to others. By loving our enemy, we aren’t excusing the misdeed; we’re recognizing him, forgiving him, and loving him despite his sin. Isn’t that what God’s grace does for us daily?

Forgiveness helps to break a cycle of retaliation. Repaying evil for evil hurts you just as much, if not more, than it hurts your enemy. It shackles your heart with hate and pride and anger, turning you into a poisonous person. Don’t allow someone else to bring you to that level of animosity. Instead of taking it upon yourself to get even, allow room for God’s wrath to handle it justly. He promises us that He will.

When we love people with more than surface level love, our hearts are invested in them. We spend our time and resources making sure that they see Jesus through us. Our goal isn’t to come off as a compassionate person, our goal is to be one. We need to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1). It’s time to quit being polite and put our love into action. Not only will we lead people to Christ, but we will be glorifying Him as well.

#thingsadored