“Thy Sweetness, Lord”

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

Missionary Amy Carmichael once crossed paths with Bible teacher F. B. Meyer, who told her he frequently had trouble with his temper when he was younger. But a wise man gave Meyer some practical advice. The man suggested that Meyer pray, “Thy sweetness, Lord” when he felt irritated. Dr. Meyer turned the suggestion into a lifelong habit.

Amy Carmichael took the advice to heart and built upon it, saying, “I have found it a certain and a quick way of escape. Take the opposite of your temptation and look up inwardly, naming that opposite: Untruth—Thy truth, Lord; unkindness—Thy kindness, Lord; impatience—Thy patience, Lord; selfishness—Thy unselfishness, Lord; roughness—Thy gentleness, Lord; discourtesy—Thy courtesy, Lord; resentment, inward heat, fuss—Thy sweetness, Lord, Thy calmness, Thy peacefulness.”

Remember, our prayers do not need to be long. Sometimes only a word or two will suffice. Sometimes just a whispered word can change the atmosphere in a room or in a relationship. The next time you’re tempted to react with irritation, try saying, “Your gentleness, Lord”—and see what happens.

I think that no one who tries this very simple plan will ever give it up.
Amy Carmichael


When Not to Rejoice

[Love] does not rejoice in iniquity.
1 Corinthians 13:6a

Throughout the 2016 presidential election, the press often spoke of a possible “October surprise” that would sink a candidate’s chance of election. October did not disappoint. There were federal investigations and accusations being reported almost daily. The sad part is that each candidate’s camp of supporters rejoiced at the revelation of their opponent’s bad behavior.

When we rejoice in the iniquity, sin, failure, or misfortune of another person, we have ceased to love as God loves. The apostle Paul wrote that true love “does not rejoice in iniquity.” Why? Two reasons: First, sin is a grievous thing whenever it is committed or revealed. Sin should produce compassion and empathy on our part. We should hope that sin will be overcome and that the person will discover God’s grace and forgiveness. Second, true love always seeks and wants the best for other people. We should “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). But we should never rejoice over someone’s failure or sin.

When you learn of someone’s failure, do what you can to love and encourage that person toward the forgiveness and grace of God.

Christianity is all about relationships with God and with others.
David Watson

Drinking Poison

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.
3 John 9

Actress Carrie Fisher got it right when she said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Resentment eats away at our joy. It is a thief that must be removed from the premises of our hearts. Resentment caused Cain to kill Abel, enraged Saul against David, pitted Jonah against the people of Nineveh, caused Herodias to seek John’s head on a platter, prompted Judas to betray Jesus, and bedeviled Paul by those who resented his prominence.

The apostle John, too, faced resentment from those who wanted to feel self-important. In the little book of 3 John, we have thumbnail profiles of three men. The first, Gaius, was known for his generosity (verses 1-8). The last, Demetrius, was known for his good testimony (verses 12-14). But between the two was Diotrephes (verses 9-11) who resented John and wouldn’t let him minister in his church. Imagine! Turning away the venerable apostle John! That’s what resentment will do to you.

Do you harbor any resentment toward another person? Confess it to God and let Him wash the poison from your heart. Let His love rule the day.

[God] bears no grudges. The Lord would not have His people harbor resentments, and in His own course of action He sets them a grand example.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Spring Cleaning—Our Thought Lives

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
Romans 12:2

Inside your head is a three-pound lump of jellied cauliflower that, arguably, represents the crowning achievement of God’s creative genius. It contains billions of neurons, each as complex as a miniature computer. These neurons are interlinked in as many as a quadrillion synapses that work from the moment the mind develops in the womb until the day God takes us to heaven.

The brain isn’t just the headquarters of our personalities; it’s the battlefield for our souls. Every spiritual battle is won or lost in the mind, and that’s why it’s important to fill our minds with God’s Word. The Bible says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).

It’s hard to control our minds, and we can’t do it alone. We need the Lord Jesus to come with His broom, dustpan, mop, and disinfectant. Our greatest obligation is to find, read, memorize, and meditate on the verses of Scripture He gives us.

Seek to have a “clean heart” (Psalm 51:10).

We cannot keep pure minds in our own strength. Instead, we need to rely on God’s wisdom, trusting Him to help us grow in the knowledge of God.
Gary R. Collins

A Clean Rap Sheet

Love . . . thinks no evil.
1 Corinthians 13:5b

A rap sheet is often referred to as a Record of Arrests and Prosecutions, though that likely wasn’t its original meaning. Centuries ago it referred to a punishment as in a “rap on the knuckles.” Regardless of origin, today a rap sheet is a record of an individual’s criminal history. Unless a crime is officially expunged from the record, it stays there forever.

What if God kept a rap sheet in heaven on us—a permanent record of all our sins and failures? Every time we violated God’s righteous standards, our rap sheet would grow longer. Fortunately, the New Testament says that God took the list of all our violations against His law and nailed it to the cross of Christ, forever to be cancelled (Colossians 2:13-14). Our rap sheet has been erased and made clean. We have been forgiven by God. And because we have been forgiven, we are to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and Paul writes that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5b, NIV). If we are to love as God loves, we will keep no record of wrongs either.

There is no escaping being hurt and wronged in this life. Just make sure you forgive as God forgives and keep no record of those wrongs.

Forgiveness is God’s command.
Martin Luther