Pay It Forward

By Linda Tancs

In the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus likens the forgiveness of grievances to the forgiveness of debt, exhorting that one should “pay it forward” when experiencing mercy from another. The power of the parable is amply illustrated in real life by a letter sent from statesman Benjamin Franklin to an individual named Benjamin Webb in 1784. It reads:

Dear Sir,

I received yours of the 15th Instant, and the Memorial it inclosed. The account they give of your situation grieves me. I send you herewith a Bill for Ten Louis d’ors. I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you shall return to your Country with a good Character, you cannot fail of getting into some Business, that will in time enable you to pay all your Debts. In that Case, when you meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money. I am not rich enough to afford much in good works, and so am obliged to be cunning and make the most of a little. With best wishes for the success of your Memorial, and your future prosperity, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant, B. Franklin.

We often use the expression “on the hook” when someone is compromised in some way, like owing money. Who’s on your hook? Are you willing to cut bait?

 

A Brain, a Heart and Courage

By Linda Tancs

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy meets up with three characters, each seeking a different attribute. The scarecrow wants a brain. The tin man wants a heart. And the lion wants courage. That’s a pretty good summation of what we need to persevere through life: wisdom, love and courage.

The Bible exhorts us to gain wisdom (see, e.g., James 1:5; Proverbs 3:13-18). How do you do that? By reading the Bible, the source of all God’s knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is a gift from God, the means to discern the truth in all things. We’re told to love wisdom, and wisdom will protect us (Proverbs 4:6-7). Above all, though, we are commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 10:12) and extend that love to our neighbors (Luke 10:27). It’s fair to say that the pursuit of wisdom and love takes courage. It’s so much easier to hide one’s head in the sand, avoiding truth and neglecting the work to build strong relationships. Yet we’re reminded to be strong and of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:6). That’s because fear, insecurity and anxiety undermine the courage we need to foster effective personal and professional relationships. But you’re an overcomer! Stand firm and apply the power formula of wisdom, love and courage to persevere through life’s tasks and struggles.

The Challenge of Love

By Linda Tancs

Is there anyone in your family who is difficult to love, who pushes all the wrong buttons? Maybe it feels like you’re surrounded by fiery beasts or tongues like sharp swords, as David described in Psalm 57:4. Perhaps your nemesis is a child, parent, spouse, sibling or extended family member, or even many of the above. You might be tempted to think ‘well, I don’t have to love anyone who won’t love me back or treats me unfairly.’ Don’t give in and fail to accept the challenge of love. Love is, after all, the foundation of our existence and evidence of our oneness with God. There is no commandment greater than love, as Paul reminded the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:13) and John told his readers (1 John 4:16). Likewise, Jesus exhorted his followers that everything hinges on love of God and love of others (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28; John 13:34-35).

We should give thanks for the difficult people in our lives because they teach us how much work we may still need to do in the love walk. Those who are easiest to love actually teach us very little. So put on an “attitude of gratitude” the next time you feel tormented, and work on walking it out.

Who’s Your BFF?

By Linda Tancs

BFF (best friends forever) is a sweet sentiment, a cherished part of our digital culture. But friendships don’t last forever. After all, we all die. And, sometimes, relationships fail. That doesn’t mean we should neglect pursuing friendships in this life, but it’s comforting to remember that we do have an unfailing BFF—Jesus.

Paul recognized the value of the Lord’s fellowship when he remarked to the Philippians that he counted everything else as loss (Philippians 3:8). For each of us, Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is our refuge, fortress and shield (Psalm 91). He promised never to leave us nor forsake us, not to abandon us physically or emotionally (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). He gave His life for us.

What would you give for a friend like that?