There are some words that don’t belong together:
church and catty
grace and grudge
friends and fall out
Love and lash-out
We all make mistakes, and when we do, what we long for more than anything is active, determined, persevering grace. This longing echoes God’s merciful heart, and if we are men and women after God’s heart, we will–we must–offer that same grace to others. Because love always protects. It protects relationships. It protects hearts. Today, a fellow ACFW member, Scott Abel, shares a touching and thought provoking devotion with us. As you read it, pause to consider… do you, will you, offer this kind of radical and protecting grace to others in your family, church, and ministries?
Love Protects by Scott Abel
My father was a pastor for forty-two years, devoting his life to the calling of preaching God’s word and ministering to His flock. Over the span of four decades, he guided churches of all shapes and sizes, each having its own unique needs and challenges reflecting its congregation. He learned many things during the course of his ministry, things that can’t be taught in Seminary or by reading books. These were things that could only be learned by raw experience.
As I grew up in a preacher’s household, my father always imparted those lessons to me. Nuggets of wisdom or appreciative cautionary tales – I tried to absorb them, though during my teen years that was not always easy to do.
One lesson my father learned, a personal experience of his, has had the most impact on me. My father pastored a large church at the time, experiencing dramatic growth in a booming part of suburbia. With a massive surge in membership and attendance, and a need for new facilities and programs, growing pains were inevitable. My father made a leadership decision which ultimately backfired and resulted in some hurt feelings by many members of the church.
As the magnitude of the fallout descended upon him, he made his way to his church office one day with a heavy heart. He’d failed and disappointed many people, some of whom were very dear friends. When he got to his desk, he found a small 3×5 index card placed in full view. On it were written the following words:
When I hear good things about you, I will not be surprised.
When I hear bad things about you, I will not believe them.
And even if the bad things are true, I will love you anyway.
It was a powerful lesson in grace and forgiveness that my father never forgot, and it’s one that I’m trying to impart to my young children – before they hit their teens and stop listening to me.
As Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We are a designer’s original, cherished by our Heavenly Father, and no faults or failures can ever separate us from Him. What a blessed assurance to know of God’s unlimited, unmerited love and grace!
Scott Abel is a former high school football coach, law school graduate, and current State government employee. He writes Christian supernatural suspense and currently resides in the suburbs of Austin, Texas with his wife and two young, precocious daughters – who enthusiastically assist his search for the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
Let’s talk about this. Pause to prayerfully consider each word in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: 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. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Focus on the latter actions. Love:
trusts–expects the best rather than assuming the worst
hopes–for progress, growth, good to come
perseveres–continues to trust and hope even when our loved one messes up or times get tough
Now, pause to consider how those actions can be lived out.
Share your thoughts and stories in the comments before or on Facebook at Living by Grace.