Sixty-nine percent of the folks out there are averse to change.
They like their routines, and doing things that are specific and predictable day after day, week after week. My mother-in-law is just such a person. She goes out to breakfast with my wife on Tuesday mornings. Always to the same coffee shop, always at the same time. On Thursdays they go out to do the shopping, and always stop at the same restaurant for lunch where they get the same waitress, the same drinks, even the same entre — week after week.
Another seventeen percent of the people are careful, calculating and detail-oriented. They don’t tend to change things that are going well. So right off the bat you’ve got eighty-six percent of the general population that prefers to pretty much keep things as they are. They prefer predictability. That’s one of the reasons the opening and closing segments of “Mornings with Bishop Robert,” the podcast version of this devotional, stay the same day after day. Pretty close to nine out of ten people prefer it that way.
Comfort zones are wonderful things. They minimize risk and build up your confidence, because you know what to expect and how to perform. Operating in your comfort zone allows you to maximize the benefit of your experience.
Of course, none of us is perfect; so we can all benefit from some calculated, deliberate changes. The trick to wisely expanding your comfort zone in a way that won’t be unsettling is to deliberately introduce worthwhile changes that have proven beneficial for others.
Today’s verse tell us —
WHOEVER HEEDS LIFE-GIVING CORRECTION WILL BE AT HOME AMONG THE WISE
Let’s face it, the only way to make the most of your comfort zones is to balance the time you spend inside and outside of them. If you use your comfort zones as reliable platforms, you can become deliberate about adding to the platforms in your life so that your comfort zones can be strategically expanded.
As I was thinking about the topic of embracing wisdom, I though it might be good to share a couple of the changes people I know have made; changes that have had a positive impact on their lives. I’m speaking about things that are life-giving, those bits of biblical wisdom that can have a transformative effect on your life. If you’re perfect, you can stop reading now. But if there are some areas in your life that you think could be better, I’d encourage you to consider whether either of these ideas might help you grow your comfort zone in ways that would help you become more like Christ.
Carrying a grudge is a pretty heavy load. Carrying guilt will drive you into the dirt.
Dealing with personal guilt is probably the most important place you can start. The gospel is good news for people who haven’t always been true to their best inner character and morals. (And none of us has.) Even if you’ve never read the bible, because we are created in the image of God the requirements of His law are written on our hearts. God has given us an inner sense of right and wrong. So our consciences act as a witness, and our thoughts sometimes defend us and at other times necessarily accuse us.
God offers us the means of complete forgiveness in Jesus. When we accept Him as our Lord, His Spirit washes us from our sin; this makes us clean. He also justifies us, thereby declaring us not guilty. You can think of the word “justified” as meaning “Just as if I’d” never sinned. The purity and holiness delivered by Jesus were paid for by His blood. They are a gift of grace, not our own works. His grace allows you to completely lay down the burden of guilt.
It’s not that the debt is unpaid, like you’ve walked away and abandoned your responsibility. It is that someone has stepped in and decided to pay your debt for you, and you’ve been left free and clear. Jesus has paid your price.
Once you’ve laid down the burden of your guilt, why not decide to forgive those persons who’ve offended you? The book of Proverbs talks about how committing adultery is like scooping a burning fire into your lap. Clutching resentment probably isn’t too far off that mark; it burns both your hands and your heart. It’s been said that holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Jesus can give you the grace and strength you need to be able to let go.
Corrie ten Boom and her family were Dutch Christians who protected Jews from the Nazis. Their defiance led to imprisonment, internment in a concentration camp, and Corrie’s father and sister died in the Nazi concentration camps. After the end of the war, she traveled back to Germany with the message that God forgives.
One night her message was given the ultimate test.
As she finished her talk, she spotted the guard who, among other atrocities, had made she and her sister strip naked and walk in front him at the prison camp where Corrie’s sister died.
He had been sitting among the group in the room, listening as Corrie said, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.” When Corrie saw him, he was walking to the front of the room, obviously intent on speaking with her. She tells her story far better than I ever could. Here it is in her own words.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”
And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course–how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.
“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein”–again the hand came out–“werden Sie mir verzeihen?" Will you forgive me?
And I stood there–I whose sins had every day to be forgiven–and could not. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it–I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
“Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place.
The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”
Forgiving and being forgiven; two sides of the same coin.
Corrie said best. “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
Both choices are life giving. Both incredibly wise. Both desperately necessary.
Both will require you to step out of your comfort zones, and each will bring incredible freedom. And extraordinary comfort as the weight of guilt and grudges fall away. Real comfort.
Forgiven. Forgiving. Two sides of the same coin.
So be wise. Get comfortable.
WHOEVER HEEDS LIFE-GIVING CORRECTION WILL BE AT HOME AMONG THE WISE