“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)
I tweeted on Monday that I was praying for those for whom stress in overwhelming. I was concerned that over the recent past, I have been listening and praying with people that are stressed beyond the norm. I’ve watched some dear people say and do things that are just incredible. It has amazed me what will set folks off on a path of stressful personal and public destruction.
As I was walking after a particularly troublesome moment, I pondered what it would be like for some of these persons if they could look back two years from now and say this stressful action was a pivotal moment. At least for the issues I’ve witnessed, most will look back and be stunned that they let such trivial behaviors become seminal moments in their lives. Molehills became mountains.
And, I’m not sure I’ve helped, either.
The passage of times offers a much clearer perspective. Most of these situations will be chalked up to what these people were dealing with at that exact moment — loss of job, stress at home, issues with another persons actions — factors that, in the future, won’t be in play. And, each will grieve what has been lost.
So, I thought, why not encourage those to look forward from this point — and work to make grace happen now.
When I got back from my walk, I took a moment to review some scripture and the above passage is where I landed. We should be reaching forward from this point on, working on the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Not spend time spinning out of control . . . and hurting so many in the process.
Our senior pastor, Dr. Lynne Settlemyre, preached on the first of John Wesley’s 3 Simple Rules for Living — Do No Harm. She said that most of us don’t wake up in the morning and decide to do now harm. It’s something that just happens — our emotions get the best of us, or sin, in some cases. She implored the congregation to take home a sticky note and place it in a place where you are tempted to do harm. In most of the scenarios I have seen, that is sage advice.
[You can listen to Lynne’s full sermon here.]
If I could say anything to you today, I say find the grace to move forward. Forget those things that are behind you now. If you have to go ask forgiveness of another, go do that immediately . . . just remember, this moment, it’s about grace and doing no harm. Above all, offer the grace to others that was freely given to you . . . when you didn’t deserve it. That’s what I plan to do — encourage grace.
Do no harm.