Misplaced Attention

The thing that cripples relationships is focusing more on their flaws than on their loving or their goodness.  This misplaced attention makes no sense and underlies many of our difficulties with forgiveness.

Every spouse has enormous good to offer the other one; when we don’t pay attention to those gifts, we can kill the marriage.  We ignore the endless piles of laundry she cleans and folds, the jobs he goes to year after year, the ongoing effort she makes to tolerate our flaws.  Our anger blinds us to the ways in which our partner overcame his childhood difficulties to be a productive person, her simple dignity in how she acts under stress, or what a loving father he is.  We miss both the small indications of love we regularly receive and the larger moments that sustain our lives.  The list of our lover’s good qualities is endless and limited only by our effort and imagination.  We take our lovers and relationships for granted and do not notice our blessings until something goes wrong….

Love suffers when we focus on our partners’ difficult traits and problematic behaviors to the exclusion of their beauty and goodness.  We accentuate our painful experiences when we focus our attention on difficult traits.  By focusing on what is wrong, we immediately put stress into our bodies and minds.  By taking our partners’ good qualities for granted and focusing on their errors and flaws, we create more stress in our lives and relationships….  What brings love to our relationship and sows the seeds for forgiveness is simple:  appreciating absolutely everything we can about the person we are with each and every day.  There is nothing simpler to do, and no more powerful gift you can offer to your partner.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 128-130

A Rich Self

A rich self has a distinct attitude toward the past, the present, and the future.  It surveys the past with gratitude for what it has received, not with annoyance about what it hasn’t achieved or about how little it has been given.  A rich self lives in the present with contentment.  Rather than never having enough of anything except for the burdens others place on it, it is “always having enough of everything” (2 Corinthians 9:8).  It still strives, but it strives out of satisfied fullness, not out of the emptiness of craving.  A rich self looks toward the future with trust.  It gives rather than holding things back in fear of coming out too short, because it believes God’s promise that God will take care of it.  Finite and endangered, a rich self still gives, because its life is “hidden with Christ” in the infinite, unassailable, and utterly generous God, the Lord of the present, the past, and the future (see Colossians 3:3).

— Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge, p. 110

Our Way of Living

If we believe that God has given us everything, then giving will be our way of living.  We’ll still work to earn, because the gift of work is the primary means by which God gives what we have.  But earning and possessing will become folded into giving.  God gives us life, powers, abilities, and so we earn and possess.  We’ll earn and possess so we can give, as when we share our food with the hungry; we’ll give even while earning, as when we create goods and offer services with dedication, care, and wisdom; and we’ll give even by possessing, as when we open our home for others to enjoy.  Earning and possessing are not just a bridge between our desires and their satisfaction.  They are a midpoint in the flow of gifts:  from God to us, and through us to others.  We give because we have been given to; we don’t let others simply fend for themselves because we haven’t been left to fend for ourselves.

— Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge:  Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, p. 107-108

The Goal of Forgiveness

The ultimate goal of forgiveness, just as the ultimate goal of our whole lives should be, is to bring glory and honor to God.

Forgiveness in the life of a believer showcases the astounding, redemptive heart of God.  It puts on display the riches of His abundant mercy and His amazing grace, for all to see….

Forgiveness is not just an act of obedience for obedience’s sake.  Yes, we are commanded to forgive.  And yes, we who have been forgiven so much certainly have no right to be debt collectors.  But more than an obligation, forgiveness is a high calling — an opportunity to be part of something eternal, to shower back our gratitude to the One who forgave us everything….

Think of it as an offering, a sacrifice, a love gift to God . . . for Him and Him alone.  If He adds to the blessing by causing our forgiveness to be of help to us or others, so much the better.  But to know that He is pleased and praised — that is reason and reward enough.

— Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness, p. 214-215

God Is Not Mean.

Today, though, I choose to worship a God whose justice is beyond my understanding in all particulars but this one that my children have taught me:  God is not mean.

God gave me a husband who loves me and children who are not horribly sick and a job I like and a mother-in-law who passes on her cars to us for their bluebook prices and, two Sundays ago, eight newborn Labrador puppies who are just now opening their eyes….  God hears my prayers and answers them in my best interest, every one of them, although I sometimes don’t recognize that he has or agree with him about what my best interest might be….

God is not mean.  He chose me, despite my own frequent meanness.  He chose me when there were better people.  Better mothers.  Better writers.  Better Christians.  Better cooks, probably.  There are so many others that he could have chosen, others that I hope he will choose, every one of them.  And after he chose me he has kept on choosing me:  rewarding me, reassuring me, burying me in blessings.

Our God, I have learned from my daughters, is the God of promises — promises of healing and happiness and all good things — for those who look forward to their own fulfillment.  Promises available not only in the Word of God but in all creation, in newborn puppies with their eyes still closed and ditches and frothed milk and silly games.  In children.  In our ability to imagine heaven.

— Patty Kirk, Confessions of an Amateur Believer, p. 229-232


The way to increase our energy is to find lots and lots of things to be enthusiastic about.  Whether it is a clean house, a freshly stocked refrigerator, or a newly mowed lawn, there are opportunities everywhere for us to become excited and thoroughly enjoy what we choose to do.

— Alexandra Stoddard, Choosing Happiness, p. 49

Enjoying Yourself

Acknowledging your gifts and talents fills you with a sense of self-esteem — so you are not consumed by the need for approval to boost your reputation.  It allows you to own your personal power and not give it away to others.  When you have good self-esteem — which you develop by making commitments to yourself that you keep, valuing your personal code of honor, owning your gifts and talents, and letting go of false humility — you do not look for attention or validation from others….

The false modesty of ignoring or downplaying your gifts and talents is a slap in God’s face.  You received a gift, yet will not own it.

— Christel Nani, Sacred Choices, p. 240-241


The heart expands not by taking more in, but by giving more away.

We can be generous people because we have been given generous gifts.

We’re greedy because we think there’s a limited supply.

There is an unlimited supply of the things our hearts really long for.

Live with expanding hearts.

— Pastor Ed Allen, December 2, 2007