Inner healing is greater than outward success
You cannot go through life without wounds. The last few months I have been able to think of quite a few of the wounds in my life. Childhood hurts, that hidden outrage that you tried to put a lid on, the horrific memories of abuse from an old man that I didn't even dare to confess to my parents, or the times when a friend you had invested everything you knew in, then turned back and hurt you. I was thinking the other day about the NIV battle in the late 90s, when I was threatened by a pastor, who wanted to shoot my family, as he had done with the "holy" NIV he mailed to me (of course unless I changed my mind and agreed with his position.) You tried to laugh it off, but the accusing mail and comments and articles left deep scars. I even thought of other recent hurts that have produced some blistering scars.
If you try to deny the hurt it just gets imbedded deeper. You can hide it with more success, but it does not satisfy. The real task is to dig deep enough and let the healing power of the Lord Jesus sift through it all and cleanse and heal. Retaliation does never heal - it only makes it hurt more. The balm in Gilead has such a deep meaning for the healing power of the work of God's Spirit.
Mercy is greater than justice
When people have hurt you, it is easy to want them "to get what is coming to them." There is such shortness of mercy in our churches and Christian organizations today. We gloat over the sins of others, humiliate the fallen and demand that justice be made.
I have just been to a pastors' conference where we studied the Sermon on the Mount together. In that powerful message - Jesus blessed the merciful. Competitiveness and legalism are the death of mercy. Mercy makes love real, makes acceptance and understanding a practice and shows tenderness as a way of life.
Kindness is better than being right
If I could turn the clock back in my life, I would try to be kinder and less concerned with being right. I read a lot of Tweets and notes, emails and Facebook comments these days. A somewhat younger generation seem often to be mocking, acidic and unkind. They are more concerned about being thought clever than being kind. My prayer today is, "Lord, help me to think kind thoughts and express them with kind words."
Serving is better than being served
Throughout my ministry around the world, I have run into many evangelical "popes." They expected everything to be served to them, from people taking care of their every whim, to receiving the best of everything.
Serving is better and brings more rewards. I wished I had been home to help my wife more. Having been alone for two weeks and done the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking and no end of daily chores, I appreciate her "serving" for 45 years so much more. I should have been home changing more diapers! I should have carried more bags, opened more doors and lightened more burdens.
Brokenness is the doorway to wholeness
Over the past month the Lord has spoken to me so much about brokenness. Somehow we think it is spiritual to be tough, it is OK to have enemies, even treat them like such. The Lord has made me search my heart over people I may have hurt in my life. He has a way of bringing such people to the surface. Some I have asked for forgiveness. Some are not with us anymore. Others I don't know how to get hold of. But I have one desire, "Lord may I be broken before you and before people." And then I also want to be broken because of the condition of this world.
Through my life I have tried to do what I could to affect other people for the gospel. You never feel you did enough. So Lord, keep me broken about this world, and help me in my latter years to do what I can.
There will be no wholeness in my or your life if it doesn't emerge from real brokenness. Am I there yet? Absolutely not! There is still more ground for His Spirit to break up and attempt to penetrate.
Truth is both liberating and devastating
Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free." That may be true, but the truth will sometimes also make us miserable. I remember a message from Billy Graham when he stated how he felt slighted by a person. But then The Lord told him, "Be glad they don't know the real truth about you!"
Let us not fear the truth - about ourselves, about the Lord, and about truth itself. The truth brings absolute freedom. And when you focus on telling the truth, you never have to struggle to remember what you said.
Learning is greater than education
Some people are so focused on their titles and on their degrees. The more I get to know people with the highest degrees I notice they know a lot about a very narrow band of knowledge. But if we are going to help people around us, we need more learning than education.
Many years ago I was determined that I would learn something new every day. That began when I was a teenager and we had a single volume encyclopedia at home. I read it every day, and learned a little about many things.
Today I want to learn something new from the Lord, from His Word, in prayer and meditation every day. What will He tell me today, that I can then help someone else with tomorrow?
Think about these things and see what the Lord wants to do in your life this day, this week and this month.