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For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

During a very difficult time in my life I was unemployed and unable to get work in the area of my training. It was a very difficult time for me. Few jobs were available in the first place. Secondly, there were some jobs that I’d have liked to have, but I didn’t have the training. Other jobs required experience that I didn’t have. In an act of desperation I even tried to get a job at McDonalds and was told I was too overqualified.

Needless to say it was a very tough time for me financially, but it was even more damaging emotionally. I ‘realized’ at that time that I wasn’t able to meet anyone’s standards. I felt defeated, worthless, and hopeless.

When we don’t feel like we measure up it affects our entire outlook on life. We can give up on relationships; bury our frustrations in food, drugs or other addictive behaviors and activities. That kind of behavior leads to a negative spiral. We do something stupid and feel guilty about it. We look for relief for our actions which usually leads to more activity of the same, which of course makes us feel guilty so we find some way to comfort our feelings of failure by…yep, engaging in some inappropriate activity of feelings.

Rehab centers and counseling offices are full of people who have, at some time in their lives, felt they didn’t measure up. ‘New religions’ and changes in church policies are put in place to try to make you feel better about your lifestyle. Nothing is working though. We continue to struggle with ourselves.

Part of the problem is we try to meet up to people’s standards. But that’s a losing battle because some people are impossible to please. Others standards are much lower than your own or fickle. What we need is to find a standard which will show love and acceptance. A standard that will make us feel fulfilled no matter what life throws at us. A standard that will lead us to eternal life.

Sound impossible? You are right, it is. That level of standard only comes from God. His standards are perfect. His standards are loving, kind and full of mercy and understanding. So to feel good about yourself and what you do the trick is to live up to the standards of a Holy, Perfect God.

Sound impossible? It is. We are all human. Whether you are gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, regardless of your political persuasion or religious affiliation, you have fallen short of the standards God requires for a good life here and eternal life with him.

So what’s the solution to not meeting up to the standards God demands? Jesus. There is nothing you can do in and of yourselves to meet up to Godly standards. Only through the free gift of Jesus Christ can you find the success to live the life God and you desire. It’s not your power. It’s not your striving. It’s accepting the fact you can’t and living according to the grace given through Jesus.

Stop depending on your own actions to succeed. Stop striving to kick the old habits. Let God take that away. Through Jesus you can meet his standards.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank and praise you for your gift of salvation through Jesus. I’m tired of doing the same stupid things over and over again. Forgive me for the things I’ve done to hurt myself and others. Empower me with your Spirit to live free because of Jesus. In your name, Amen.


See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

‘I don’t get mad, I get even!’. We hear it said, or even say it all the time. Most of the time it’s meant in jest, but if we are honest, there are many times we get even when we’ve been hurt or offended. There are a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways of retaliation, but all have the same goal, to make sure the other person ‘pays’ for hurting us or crossing us.

Getting even is usually counter-productive. We are hurt by others so we hurt others in hopes of making our pain less. I’m not trying to minimize the pain of being attacked. Whether the attack is physical or emotional, the pain can be unbearable. Sometimes I think the emotional pain is worse because it leaves no visible bruises and we suffer alone.

It may be hard to admit it to ourselves, but many times our desire to ‘get even’ is a result of our own self-image. When we’re attacked, the enemy likes to whisper in our ear and tell us we are unworthy, unlovely, ugly, fat, stupid, weak and a whole list of other lies. The enemy loves to get us to think badly of ourselves so that we forget who we really are. We are children of the King!

Retaliation almost always leads to a negative spiral. You hurt me so I hurt you so you hurt me so I hurt you…and on and on. Many marriages and other relationships are destroyed because no one steps out of the circle.

When Christ-followers are involved in a negative spiral it shows the world that we are no different than they are. We talk of love and forgiveness but show none! In fact, sometimes the ‘evil sinners’ of the world are far kinder and forgiving than those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica and reminds them that retaliation (paying back evil for evil) should never be a part of the body of Christ. Rather, we are to do good to each other. This should be the defining mark of every church. People may not always agree with our stands on issues, but they should never question our love for each other and for them.

There’s an old Christian song that says “We are one in the Spirit….they will know we are Christians by our love’. If we are to impact our corner of the world for Jesus this should be our way of life. We will be hurt and offended. We will be attacked and misunderstood. We’ll be lied about. Our response should always be one of kindness even in situations where we have to separate us from our attacker because of the physical/emotional damage they have done to us.

Remember this. You are loved by God. He made you just as you are. If God had a chance to make you over again, He’d make you the same way that you are now! Let Him handle the crabby customer at work, the jerky driver on the interstate, the know-it-all gossip at your church. Rely on the Holy Spirit to empower you to show kindness and wisdom every time you are attacked. In this way, the world will know what it means to have the love of Jesus in our lives.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that it’s far easier for me to retaliate than to react with love, kindness and forgiveness. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m harder on my ‘Christian’ friends than I am on the ‘evil sinners’ I pray for each day. When someone hurts me, remind me that I’m yours. Empower me to remove myself from danger and rely on you for justice. Anoint my wounds with the healing oil of your love. If there is anyone to whom I should ask forgiveness please show them to me today. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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