20 Bible Verses and a Prayer about Gentleness

versesgentleness

  • Deuteronomy 32:2 ESV
    May my teaching drop as the rain,
        my speech distill as the dew,
    like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
        and like showers upon the herb.
  • Psalm 18:35 ESV
    You have given me the shield of your salvation,
        and your right hand supported me,
        and your gentleness made me great.
  • Proverbs 15:1 ESV
    A soft answer turns away wrath,
        but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Proverbs 15:4 ESV
    A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
        but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
  • Isaiah 40:11 ESV
    He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
        he will gather the lambs in his arms;
    he will carry them in his bosom,
        and gently lead those that are with young.
  • Matthew 11:29-30 ESV
     Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
  • 2  Corinthians 10:1 ESV
    I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!—
  • Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
  • Galatians 6:1 ESV
    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
  • Ephesians 4:2 ESV
    with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
  • Ephesians 4:15 ESV
    Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
  • Philippians 4:5 NIV
    Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV
    But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
  • 1 Timothy 6:11 ESV
    But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
  • 2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV
     And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone,able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth
  • Titus 3:2 NIV
    to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
  • Hebrews 5:1-2 ESV
    For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
  • James 3:17 ESV
    But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV
    Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
  • 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

prayergentleness

Announcing a Winner and Redefining Gentleness

Last week, I announced that I’d be giving away a copy of Mary Ann Froehlich’s book, Courageous Gentleness, and today I’m announcing the winner!  I used a random number generator to chose the winner from the comments you shared and the winner is:  Lisa Preuett.  Congratulations!  I’ll get the book on out to you!

*******************************************************************************************

“Mom, why do turtles have shells?”

My youngest daughter draped herself across the sofa, seemingly inert and bored, but truly thinking about the great mysteries of the world.

“The shell keeps their soft body safe and protected.”

“Oh.  Okay, mom.”

So far, so good.  Her questions simple, her mind and heart trusting and easily satisfied by easy answers.

My middle daughter was never so quick to accept and move on.  A conversation with her could go something like this:

“Mom, why do turtles have shells?”
“To protect their soft bodies from harm.”
“Why are they in danger and need protection?”
“Other animals might try to catch and eat them, or they might be stepped on or run over…
“Why do some animals like to eat turtles?
“Some animals are herbivores and eat only plants and some are carnivores and eat meat.  Turtles are meat.”
“Why do animals eat other animals?”
“Because after the fall in the garden of Eden….”

Falling back on theology or “because God said so” became my frequent defensive position.

This curiosity about the world, I love.  This exploring and questioning and wondering “what if” and “how come”–while it occasionally makes me explode and bluster out  “because galatians5-22, photo by Wacharaphong Sakoolwongveroj; God made it that way” or “because I said”– ultimately I appreciate.

Ultimately I understand.

I’m a questioner, too.  I want to know “why” and “how come” and “what about” and “why not?”  I want to pester God with question after question like a three-year-old first discovering the world around her.

More than that, more than asking God true and honest questions, I nag and whine and push and nudge.

Oh, and it’s even more than that.  I’ve been Jacob up all night wrestling the angel of the Lord.  I’ve locked my grip with God’s and fought hard for what I thought constituted a blessing, for a victory, for triumph over circumstances and over the Enemy who’s been battering at the walls of my life.

Yes, I’ve pummeled the chest of Christ with my fists, fighting and demanding, manipulating even, making promises, issuing threats, and crying for mercy, help, deliverance—for rescue.

I’m being honest with Him, I tell myself, and honesty is something God treasures in us.  He never asks us to fake it or play happy-faced Christian when life is a mess and this mask we wear becomes increasingly ill-fitting.

God desires truth.  Job, Habakkuk, David, Asaph, Elijah, Jonah, Mary and Martha laid their complaints before God, plead their case, and He listened and answered with awe-inspiring mercy.

He didn’t strike them down with lightning.  He let them empty out hearts filled with fear, hurt and anger and then He answered, not always in the way they expected or wanted, but still He met them in the place of pain and questioning and carried them on out.

Now, though, I’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit and found I didn’t really get it before.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).

Gentleness is on that list.  All those years of sermons and Sunday school lessons and I thought this meant “being nice, not hurting others with our words, kindness and tact.”

The Message translation however, describes gentleness as: “not needing to force our way in life.”

Is this Gentleness?

In Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, Beth Moore defines the root word here “praotes” as “the complete surrender to God’s will and way in your life.  The term basically means to stop fighting God” (p. 178).

Gentleness is submission to God, His will and His way, His plan and His timing and all He has determined for us.

It means dropping to our knees and pouring out the honest struggles of our heart, but deciding at last, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

It’s singing with true conviction, “Have Thine own way, Lord,” and “I surrender all.”

No more fighting God.

How then can I still be honest with Him?  How can a prize-fighter like me lower the hands and open the fists, cease fighting and nagging and choose instead to trust?

There is my answer in the verse itself, “but the fruit of the Spirit is…” not the fruit of my own discipline or maturity, strength or ability.

This is what the Spirit at work and alive within me does—the impossible, the new, the Christ-like—As I yield and grow in the Spirit, so slowly I trust more, believe more, fall in love with Jesus more and understand how much He loves me more.

And I stop fighting Him.

I drop the knee, I bow the head, I cry the tear, I confess the pain, I trust my God and the Spirit works out Gentleness in me.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Wind-Up Toy Caterpillar Versus Four-Year-Old, A Lesson in Gentleness

“Be gentle,” I tell her.

She’s cradling this tiny wind-up caterpillar toy, purple with polka-dots, in her four-year-old hands.   Last week, she re-discovered it in the toy bin and declared that it was worthy of show-and-tell.

So, she’s waited with excitement all week for that one morning when she could tote it into school and show it to her classmates.winduptoy

I slipped that tiny $1 caterpillar into her stocking two Christamases ago and here he is a survivor.  More or less intact, he’s only lost one antenna.

But is he up for the trip to the school?  Is he hardy enough to face one four-year-old and her 19 classmates?

I test him out on our coffee table.  Wind, wind, wind and then I let him go.  He inches across the wood quickly and my daughter giggles at the sight.

We scramble that morning to the minivan, though, all breathless with feeling late, feeling busy, feeling overwhelmed by the day and it’s not even 9 in the morning.

And I say it quickly to her because I’m a mom and I have to say certain things, “Be gentle.   He will break easily.”

She nods like I’m such a worrier.  Silly mom.  As if I didn’t already know that. 

I hear that toy buzz, buzz, buzzing during the drive.  I hear her tossing that cheap plastic around in her hands.

And then I hear her, “Oh mom, he broke!”

Sigh.

I refrain from “I told you so” and mom speeches.  I choose grace.

We arrive at the school and she finds the pieces that had fallen into the pile of lost fruit snacks, french fries and broken crayons on the minivan floor.

Then, I hold three separate parts of a purple plastic caterpillar and hope my English-major brain can figure out the engineering difficulties of a wind-up toy.

Somehow I manage to snap those pieces together.  I test him out–success!  And then I carry him into her classroom and set him on the show-and-tell table.

She flashes me a smile and I know I have earned my Super-Mom cape (and maybe some chocolate as a reward).

Later, she tells the whole story to her sisters: How mom saved the day by fixing him just in time.  She pauses for dramatic effect and then says, “Really, Mom did that.”

I am now the stuff of Super-Mom legends.

But she leaves out one little part of the story….how he broke in the first place.  How she hadn’t been gentle enough.

This gentleness with others, isn’t it what we leave out so often?

Paul writes it here:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5 NIV).

We can can make excuses about how we’re just “honest” or we “just tell it like it is.”  That’s just who we are.philippians4-5

We can assume the worst, lose patience, rage, condescend and degrade into sarcastic mocking.

Or sometimes we have this way of being gentle to strangers, but that harshness, that short temper, that criticism oozes out to the loved ones sitting at our own dinner table.

Too often, we know the weakness of the ones we love.

Our husbands.  Our children.  We are their protectors.  We should be the healing salve to the hurts, treating wounds with tenderness and grace, overlooking failures, encouraging strengths, applauding efforts.

When we’re hurt, angry, frustrated, impatient, though, we tend to stab where it hurts most, highlighting faults and bruising the same feelings again and again.  It’s our self-defense; we wound others when we’re wounded.

Yet, gentleness isn’t a God-request.  It’s not a Holy Spirit suggestion or an option for good days that can be ignored on bad days when we’re stressed, tired, overwhelmed, or haven’t slept all night because we are, in fact, moms.

Paul tells us in Colossians that gentleness is the garb of Christ:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12 NIV).

Gentleness is part of living Christ to the those around us, in our home and out of it.  We are to wrap ourselves in it so others see Jesus in us.

“Be gentle.  People break easily.”

That’s the message I remind myself as I put that wind-up caterpillar back in the toy bin after his show-and-tell adventure.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4 ESV).

The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18 NIV).

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24 NIV).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Lowering the Hands, Releasing the Fists

“Mom, why do turtles have shells?”

My preschooler draped herself across the sofa, seemingly inert and bored, but truly thinking about the great mysteries of the world.

“The shell keeps their soft body safe and protected.”

“Oh.  Okay, mom.”

So far, so good.  Her questions simple, her mind and heart trusting and easily satisfied by easy answers.

My middle daughter was never so quick to accept and move on.  A conversation with her could go something like this:

“Mom, why do turtles have shells?”
“To protect their soft bodies from harm.”
“Why are they in danger and need protection?”
“Other animals might try to catch and eat them, or they might be stepped on or run over…
“Why do some animals like to eat turtles?
“Some animals are herbivores and eat only plants and some are carnivores and eat meat.  Turtles are meat.”
“Why do animals eat other animals?”
“Because after the fall in the garden of Eden, one of the curses was the destruction of the peace between animals in the animal kingdom and now some animals would be food and others would eat other animals.”

Falling back on theology or “because God said so” became my frequent defensive position.

This curiosity about the world, I love.  This exploring and questioning and wondering “what if” and “how come”–while it occasionally makes me explode and bluster out  “because God made it that way” or “because I said”– ultimately I appreciate.

Ultimately I understand.

Because I’m a questioner, too.  I want to know “why” and “how come” and “what about” and “why not?”  I want to pester God with question after question like a three-year-old first discovering the world around her.

More than that, more than asking God true and honest questions, I nag and whine and push and nudge.

Oh, and it’s even more than that.  I’ve been Jacob up all night wrestling the angel of the Lord.  I’ve locked my grip with God’s and fought hard for what I thought constituted a blessing, for a victory, for triumph over circumstances and over the Enemy who’s been battering at the walls of my life.

Yes, I’ve pummeled the chest of Christ with my fists, fighting and demanding, manipulating even, making promises, issuing threats, and crying for mercy, help, deliverance—for rescue.

I’m being honest with Him, I tell myself, and honesty is something God treasures in us.  He never asks us to fake it or play happy-faced Christian when life is a mess and this mask we wear becomes increasingly ill-fitting.

God desires truth.  Job, Habakkuk, David, Asaph, Elijah, Jonah, Mary and Martha laid their complaints before God, plead their case, and He listened and answered with awe-inspiring mercy.

He didn’t strike them down with lightning.  He let them empty out hearts filled with fear, hurt and anger and then He answered, not always in the way they expected or wanted, but still He met them in the place of pain and questioning and carried them on out.

Now, though, I’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit and found I didn’t really get it before.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).

Gentleness is on that list.  All those years of sermons and Sunday school lessons and I thought this meant “being nice, not hurting others with our words, kindness and tact.”

The Message translation however, describes gentleness as: “not needing to force our way in life.”

Is this Gentleness?

In Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, Beth Moore defines the root word here “praotes” as “the complete surrender to God’s will and way in your life.  The term basically means to stop fighting God” (p. 178).

Gentleness is submission to God, His will and His way, His plan and His timing and all He has determined for us.

It means dropping to our knees and pouring out the honest struggles of our heart, but deciding at last, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

It’s singing with true conviction, “Have Thine own way, Lord,” and “I surrender all.”

No more fighting God.

How then can I still be honest with Him?  How can a prize-fighter like me lower the hands and open the fists, cease fighting and nagging and choose instead to trust?

Does this require me to be fake after all?

There is my answer in the verse itself, “but the fruit of the Spirit is…” not the fruit of my own discipline or maturity, strength or ability.

This is what the Spirit at work and alive within me does—the impossible, the new, the Christ-like—As I yield and grow in the Spirit, so slowly I trust more, believe more, fall in love with Jesus more and understand how much He loves me more.

And I stop fighting Him.

I drop the knee, I bow the head, I cry the tear, I confess the pain, I trust my God and the Spirit works out Gentleness in me.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

When the Wax Melts

Betty Ramsey won the first prize for her tulips year after frustrating year.

Lucy Ricardo decided this was the year to change that tradition.  She tended her garden carefully and begged her husband to mow the lawn before the judges came by to evaluate her flower-bed.

He promised to do it, but quit halfway through, playing hookie so he could go to a baseball game instead.

Inevitably, Lucy cranked the lawnmower up with her friend Ethel’s help.  Then she hopped on and zoomed across the yard, totally unable to stop, and ultimately mowing most of the state of Connecticut (it seemed).  The worst part is that she also mowed over Betty Ramsey’s prize flowers.

Of course Lucy wanted to win that blue ribbon for her garden, but not by knocking off the heads of Betty’s tulips. What would Betty Ramsey think?

So, in a classic “Lucy” brainstorm, she planted wax flowers in Betty’s garden, hoping to fool Betty and the judges.

Then when her husband Ricky sauntered in after the baseball game, Lucy sent him outside to finish mowing the lawn.  Since it was so dark, though, he couldn’t see well enough to avoid Lucy’s own precious flower bed.

His solution?  Plant wax tulips to replace Lucy’s ruined flowers!

It’s one of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes and the ending is unsurprising.  The problem with wax flowers in the heat of the day is that they melt into a messy puddle of mush.  That’s what the judges found in Betty and Lucy’s gardens, earning them both a disqualification instead of a blue ribbon.

Wax fruit has the same weakness as wax flowers.  It may be deceptively shiny, catching the light and gleaming in an appetizing way.  The apples may be deeply red and the oranges the color of the sun.  They may be shaped to perfection, each grape a perfect juicy-looking sphere.

But in the end, it’s still fake. It can’t hold together in heat and one mouthful would send you spitting and gagging to the nearest glass of water.

Fake flowers for Lucy, fake fruit for us—it’s the appeal of the moment and the sacrificing of what’s genuine for what’s currently convenient.

Paul tells us exactly what real fruit looks like, the kind that grows when we’re abiding in the One True Vine:

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23b).

Everywhere I turn, I learn about this fruit.  I started a new Bible study–on the fruit of the Spirit.  I picked up a book from the church library on this same fruit. It’s in the devotionals I read and the lessons that I hear.

It’s tempting then, since this fruit matters so much, to skip to growth and maturity without the process.  How can I have the fruit without the tending and pruning and remaining in the vine?

Can I discipline myself into patience?  Can I watch my tongue closely enough to constitute gentleness?

Is this fruit that I can fake with my own personal strength and resources or because I’m generally a nice person?

In her devotional, Diamonds in the Dust, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:

It’s impossible to manufacture the fruit of the Spirit …you can paint a veneer of joy and put up a facade of self-control, but invariably you will be found out.  You can only deceive yourself and others for so long with false love and plastic peace (p. 257).

Yes, eventually the heat of life melts the fake fruit you’ve tried to attach to the Vine with super-glue and wire.

The problem, as the devotional notes, is that when we try to fake our own life fruit, we do it by skipping to the end result.  God, however, “grows genuine fruit in the opposite order” (Joni Eareckson Tada 257).  His emphasis is on planting His Word in us and growing our relationship with Him.

This fruit of the Spirit must be supernatural makeup in order to be genuine.  No amount of “nice girl” qualities can fake the love, kindness, goodness and gentleness of God’s Spirit within us.

And we might try to mosey along on our own good manners and general likeability for a while, passing off our own character traits as holy fruit.  But we’ll ultimately melt into a puddle of wax mush.

Scripture tells us, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).  So, don’t pursue blue-ribbon fruit; focus on abiding in Him.

It’s not patience we seek, it’s Jesus.  It’s not faithfulness we ask for; it’s the Holy Spirit alive and real in our lives.  As we feed on the Vine and refuse to disconnect regardless of life, busyness, circumstances and other temptations, God will grow the fruit in us, genuine Spirit fruit, lasting and beautiful, a testimony not to us, but to the Vine itself.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 06/16/2012: Happy Father’s Day

Hiding the Word:

Happy Father’s Day weekend!

One of the things my husband and I have learned (and perhaps are still learning) in this whole parenting life is that each of our daughters is a unique original.  Her gifts, talents and weaknesses don’t mimic her sisters’.

They don’t respond to the same discipline strategies either.

With our youngest, we’ve discovered that even the slightest remonstrance, a serious look and the word no, can catapult her into deep sobs.  She’s just that sensitive.

The other night, she was perky and giggly at bedtime instead of the tired and obedient toddler we’d prefer to see at 8:00 or 9:00 or even 9:30 at night.  Even her older sisters complained.

My husband called her out of the room and she emerged with a sheepish grin.  He looked her in the eye and practically whispered the words, “It’s time to sleep.  You need to go into your bed quietly. No more playing around or talking.”

She bawled.  It was perhaps the most tragically despairing cry I’ve ever heard.  So, he scooped her up and hugged her, stroked her hair and promised that he loved her, but that she needed to obey. Slowly, she progressed from sobs to sniffles to calm and toddled off to her bed . . . laid down quietly . . . and went to sleep.

Aren’t you thankful that God our Father has compassion on us, knowing exactly the grace, the guidance, the blessing, the provision, and the discipline we need?

Here’s a Father’s Day verse to meditate on this week that reminds us of God our Father’s abounding love for us:

‘As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13 NIV)

Weekend Rerun:

The Writing on The Wall
Originally posted on October 5, 2011

 ”There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake”
(Ecclesiastes 7:20, Good News Translation).

My two-year-old created a masterpiece with a purple marker and a piece of paper.

Then she made a masterpiece on my kitchen wall.

I caught her standing back to admire her mural, giggling with pride.

Walking her back to the paper, I reminded her where art belongs without yelling or even raising the volume of my voice a decibel.  She took one look at my stern face, listened to my firm “no” and burst into truly remorseful tears.

I scooped her up to hold her, but she ran out of the room and I found her lying face down on a pillow, pouring out heavy sobs of brokenness.

All because she had made a mistake and done something wrong.  All because she wasn’t perfect and because I had to correct her.

Surely we all can shrug our shoulders and say, “We all make mistakes sometimes.”  Some of us can even get theological about it and quote “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But then there is that moment when you need grace because it’s not “all” who sinned or “all” who made a mistake.

It’s you.

It’s me.

Please don’t tell me you missed that part of the blog where you discover I’m not perfect.  The part where I sin.  The part where I have a bad attitude sometimes.  The part where I make silly mistakes and stupid decisions and act like I’m in an I Love Lucy episode.

And every time I’m the one in need of grace, I react like my two-year-old—-run away, bury my face and sob.

Grace sounds so wonderful when you’re explaining it to someone else or extending it to another. But when you are the one who needs grace, oh, how painful it is sometimes

Grace addresses sin.  Forgiveness always requires a wrong.  Erasing always requires a mistake.  Strength always highlights weakness just like perfection always reveals imperfection.

Admitting that we need a Savior requires personalizing the message of redemptive grace.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake” (Good News Translation).

So, that means we’re doomed to imperfection sometimes?  Guaranteed to need forgiveness?  Certain of mistakes and assured of being wrong occasionally (or often)?

Yup, that’s us.  That’s you.  That’s me.

So, when we mess up, we can engage in the horrors of self-condemnation.  We can become weighed down by shame and guilt—

that we are a mess
that we’re stupid
that we’re an idiot
that we never do anything right
that we deserve whatever punishment we get
that God can’t ever use someone so broken

Or we can accept the gift extended to us by a God who specializes in forgiveness. As Emerson Eggerichs wrote, “Mistakes can’t be undone, but they can be forgiven.”

But how do we move on after a mistake?  How do we walk humbly, yet not live paralyzed by shame?  How do we serve gratefully rather than withdraw altogether, unworthy as we are? How do we let the past shape us and not destroy us?

David experienced this same struggle.  He was a godly king turned adulterer and murderer.  Faced with the magnitude of his sin, still he continued serving on the throne of Israel, still he wrote Psalms of praise to God.

It wasn’t easy.  In Psalm 51:3, he says, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”

But David acknowledged the need for grace, accepted forgiveness and moved forward in joy.

He brought to God the only acceptable sacrifice: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

God doesn’t desire our brokenness because He rejoices in our shame or needs our degradation.  He wants us to remember that He is God, not us.

We can begin to feel perfect, strong, capable, worthy in our own strength. But if we really are all those things, then who needs grace?  Who needs a savior?  Our worship and ministry can become tainted with self-exaltation. It becomes all about us and not at all about Him.

But when we accept grace, we acknowledge that we’re never worthy, not now, not ever.  Thomas Merton said,

“God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness.  And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous ideas of ‘worthiness.’ ~Thomas Merton~

Yes, we advance in His love.

We don’t need to be shamed by our sin, by our foolishness, by our scattered-brains and accident-prone clumsiness.  We should be humbled.  We are reminded that even though we are not perfect; He is.  Though we are not good enough; He is always sufficient.  Even though we are never worthy, He is worthy of all our praise.

And so we ask Him to forgive us.  We accept His grace.  And then we, like David, ask him to help us move on.

David prayed:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.   Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you”
(Psalm 51:10-13).

We pray this as well.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King