I’m Trying to Find a Christian Perspective on Bullying

*Disclaimer: I am not a professional/expert in theology (i.e., I do not have a formal degree/education in theology). Therefore, I encourage all readers to fact-check, and study for themselves the topics at hand–do not take my word for it! The purpose of this blog is to bring questions and potentially new perspectives to various topics related to theology and the Christian walk, from my own experience and growing study. The content I share is largely from my own life-experience, opinion, and drawn from the limited scope of books I have read. If there is something I share that is incorrect, questionable, or misleading, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me at zoeyalyward@gmail.com.*

This has been on my mind for a while now.

Throughout my life I’ve teased and ridiculed; I’ve had a hard time standing up for myself. Even “little” things like saying “no” to something planned with a friend–I usually bite the bullet even though I’m more than exhausted or have other things I need to catch up on.

I guess I’ve never thought about a Christian perspective on it though; I guess I thought I had to more-or-less “deal with it.” And in my recent research on the topic, I was intrigued that I hadn’t been able to find many writings at all about it. So I thought I’d contribute my own current thoughts and theories on it, with definitely much room to grow and develop upon.

Theory 1: Hyper-Grace’s “Treat Your Enemies like Royalty”

I call this theory “Treat Your Enemies like Royalty” because it appears to imply that one needs to launch beyond any kind of “forgive and forget” when someone hurts you, and immediately go the extra mile for your bully.

I don’t know about you, but it has always seemed that there is more to the bullying-reality than just loving your enemies. Right?

But I often get hung up on this theory, thinking and knowing it was what Jesus would’ve done, and what he did do when he died on the cross for the sake of those very souls who abused and ultimately killed him.

Jesus was a peacemaker.

And he wouldn’t pay back evil for evil.

No, he’d turn the other cheek.

And then go buy his accuser and destroyer eternal life.

Some of the verses that have contributed to this thinking-theory I hold include:

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

(Mt. 5:44-5)

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

(1 Pet. 3:9)

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

(Rom. 12:18-19)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

(Mt. 5:38-41)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

(Leviticus 19:18)

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Rom. 12:20-1)

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

(Lk. 6:27-28)

Still I find myself skeptical that this is the Christian’s sole response to hurt and bullying. I wonder if there’s more to the story.

Theory 2: Justice-Seeking Revenge


So if Theory 1 isn’t good enough, then what if we looked at the exact opposite perspective–paying back the bully the revenge and justice we deserve.

Didn’t Jesus also stand up for himself when he needed to in the temple when he flipped over those tables?

Some of the verses that have contributed to this thinking-theory I hold include:

Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

(Proverbs 25:26)

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’

(Mt. 21:12-13)

. . . Nevermind . . .

There isn’t that many supporting verses for this theory as I had originally thought. It was worth a try though.

It just looks at Jesus flipping tables, with the concept of “not being a doormat” for the wicked to come to one’s own conclusion of paying back evil-for-evil.

So scratch Theory 2.


But–and I don’t know about you–but I’m still largely unsatisfied about just holding tight to Theory 1.

It seems like there must be more.

There’s gotta be something I’m missing, because I don’t want to be a doormat towards others for the sake of “turning the cheek.”

Theory 3: Wait a Second! Justice Belongs to God!

Might I suggest a middle-ground? Is that even possible?

Some of the verses that have contributed to this thinking-theory I hold include:

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

(Exodus 14:14)

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

(Romans 12:17-19)

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:17)

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

(Hebrews 10:30)

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

(Isaiah 30:18)

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.

(Psalm 140:12)

Solution: A Marriage of Theories 1 & 3!

In all these verses (and probably more that still exist in the Bible!), we learn that the reason we can (Theory 1) Love our Enemies is that: (Theory 3) God will Repay and Bring Justice in Our Lives.

The Extreme Downsides to Each Theory, Exclusively

(A) Only Theory 1

We would be loving our enemies basically because “Jesus said so.” We have no hope in the fact that things would be made right. We would learn to become deeply disillusioned and hopeless because our bullies would get away with the hurt they have caused us without any recourse whatsoever. We would have a challenging and discouraging life; and we would face much fear and anxiety and the thought of what our bullies would do or say next, without anyone to prevent it.

(B) Only Theory 2

We would approach the world with anger and revenge, taking offense at what others did or said in our lives. We would take justice and revenge into our own hands and “pay back evil for evil,” no matter the cost. We would be anxious and fearful all the time. We would have a restless and never-ending-competitive life, as there would always be one more person to pay back. We would only contribute to the hurt within this world, instead of fixing and redeeming it, teaching the world another way.

(C) Only Theory 3

If we realized that God was on our side and was responsible and would accomplish all the justice we may otherwise seek in our lives, we may go to the extreme of not taking any personal responsibility for the justice-seeking and loving responses God has called us to embody. Although God is primarily responsible for the “justice out-workings” within our lives, we are not totally off the hook here. There is work to be done.

Not doing this work of love and justice in our own life-contexts, may inhibit some of the means and instruments of justice God desires to accomplish in our lives.

So . . . How Do You Live Out A “Loving-My Enemies, While Trusting in the Justice of God?”

Good question.

I believe it’s largely about faith. About trusting God no matter what. As we often have to respond with to most challenging circumstances in our lives.

Some of the verses that have contributed to trusting God include:

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

(Ps. 37:3-5)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

(Prov. 3:5)

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

(Ps. 46:10)

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

(Ps. 28:7)

Soft Conclusion for Today

The topic of how to respond to people who hurt you is something I’m just starting to tackle myself.

Today we talked about three theories I have on how we should respond to bullying, based on what the Bible says (or what I want it to say!) on bullying.

It is my plan to investigate the topic deeper when it comes to what the Bible says on bullying. Specifically in regards to the “three-strand cord” of Theories 1, 2, and 3, and how I can integrate “partial truths” from all three theories into one interwoven response to how to respond to bullying.

I want to specifically investigate and observe how Jesus responded to bullying when he walked this earth. And how can I bring the example of Jesus into my own life-context?


God, I pray for the reader, and myself, and all those worldwide who have been and are being and will be hurt by others. Unfortunately evil is part of our world. I pray that you would teach us, Lord, how to love others as you have loved us, and you would help us to trust you with these hurts in our lives, as we know that (although it is hard to accept sometimes), justice ultimately belongs to you Father. I pray that your justice would be shown in our lives. I pray for provision. I pray for strength and endurance for us to get through each day. I pray that you would show us, God, just how to walk on this earth like you did. I pray for insight and revelation into our life-contexts about #1 how you are working in it, and #2 how you want us to participate in the work you are doing.

Thank you Lord that you have not given up on us, and that you continue to watch over us, no matter how dark and complicated and challenging our lives may get. Thank you for your mercy, and your mercies new upon new each day.

Serving Self-Interest: A Reconsideration

*Disclaimer: I am not a professional/expert in theology (i.e., I do not have a formal degree/education in theology). Therefore, I encourage all readers to fact-check, and study for themselves the topics at hand–do not take my word for it! The purpose of this blog is to bring questions and potentially new perspectives to various topics related to theology and the Christian walk, from my own experience and growing study. The content I share is largely from my own life-experience, opinion, and drawn from the limited scope of books I have read. If there is something I share that is incorrect, questionable, or misleading, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me at zoeyalyward@gmail.com.*

Looking back in my drafts of posts I hadn’t yet published, I saw this gem on self-interest. So I’d like to share it with you all, but add in some “newfound insights” on the topic since I originally wrote this two years ago.

2020 Post

Yesterday I found that when I was helping others out, I had a tendency to think I was making myself look good. And it can look good to have some answers, or provide a suggestion that makes me look a little “cooler.” But what’s the purpose, what’s the point of helping others? Should I be making sure someone’s watching, or am I helping people because I genuinely want to. That’s the thought I’ve been considering. Am I serving self-interest or serving others truly, and really 100% geuninely?

In Economics, as I’m currently learning in university, they talk about businesses serving their social interest or serving their self-interest. Sometimes these concepts are at odds but other times, they work hand in hand. For example, when a company pursues their own self-interest (to make profit) and by doing so, they add more jobs, give back to the community, and provide a brand or a product that their consumers really find enjoyment and satisfaction in. Then you could argue that the company is providing both a self-interest and a social interest.

But, what about times when the firm’s self-interest brings about negative environmental concerns? What about times when we try to help others to only made us look good, but it never helped the person we were “trying” to help?

In Luke 22:26 Jesus says:

For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 

When we serve, when we help other people, we should model Jesus’ example. Even though Jesus was the King, He was God, He was the Saviour, He never used His position to “rule” over others; He didn’t make other people feel lesser than.

Now in my example, I may be overthinking my situation about my intention in serving others – whether it was for my benefit or truly for others. But with that thought, I want my serving to be always for the glory of God, not mine.

So today, whether in your serving or your perhaps not-yet-serving:

  1. Where is your intention? Is your first thought, priority, and focus on serving your needs or serving others?
  2. Read Luke 10:38-42. Do you relate more to Mary or Martha? Consider how your life could be changed if you embodied more of the traits of Mary or Martha (the opposite that you relate to): is self-interest sometimes good and/or is social interest always bad?

2022 Thoughts

A lot has changed in my life since I wrote that post. But I’m still amazed at the depth of the post, even though I know I was going through a lot when I wrote that two years ago. Possibly one of the hardest times of my life, to date.

My Aversion to Selfishness

And with all that said, I’m drawn to my thoughts regarding selfishness. Knowing myself, and my perspective at the time, it’s been a lifelong struggle. I more or less have an aversion to selfishness. I try to avoid it at all costs.

I find it much easier, almost as easy as breathing, to care for other people than to care for myself, which can often feel like pulling teeth.

Being brought up in the church and Christian environments, and being the naturally overly-responsible individual I am, I deeply internalized and took to the extreme the concept that I should never be selfish, but instead always be caring for other people. For most of my life, I’ve had a tendency to completely deny myself for the endeavour of serving and caring for others. I’m not saying service and caring for others is “bad” in of itself, but it can be quite destructive if it is at the expense of also seeing ourselves as a unique individual in need of care as well.

Boundaries are Important, ft. Dr. Cloud

But boundaries are really important. And I never really understood how the Bible could actually be supportive of that. The worldview I observed, internalized, and was taught did not include that understanding.

But it’s true, and I would go so far as to say that they are not only “nice to have” but they are in fact God-honouring, as Dr. Cloud dedicated an entire fourth of his book to in: “Changes That Heal.”

He simplifies the concept to say that as much as it’s important to bond with other people, we also need to be able to separate from others (“Section II: Bonding to Others (p.59-109); Section III: Separating form Others (p.119-219)).

And this separating piece goes back to God Himself.

God. God is a Person. Who is One God, is also (somehow) made up of three Persons. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Triune God (p.123-4).

Although I struggle to fully wrap my head around the logistics of this concept, these three persons have three different and unique personalities, roles, and responsibilities. These three Persons of God–who are also our One God–have a relationship with one another, as three separate People.

Now if we’ve been made in the image of God, then I think God would have the same expectation for us. To both: (1) have a relationship with Him and with other people; and (2) be separate, unique people from other people. Even God.

I’m not saying that as a Jesus-follower, I can now do whatever I want, even if that’s in complete rebellion to God.


I’m recognizing that I am a separate person from God, and that I will never be God. I recognize God’s ways are not my ways. He has thoughts, emotions, and wills that are unique and set-apart to Him. And I recognize that I have my completing wills, desires, challenges before God that often go against what God wants.

But even though I am a separate person and God is a separate person, I recognize that God can reveal to me his thoughts, emotions, and wills in the context of our relationship. So the goal is not for me to “become God”–I will never ever ever ever become God. It’s impossible. I’m Zoey, and God is God. That’s just how things are.

Boundaries of God

God does not shy away from saying who he is (i.e., Genesis 15:1; Exodus 20:5). And God clearly identifies what he loves and what he hates (i.e., Psalm 103:11; Proverbs 6:16-19) (p.125).

And throughout the Bible God says what behaviour he will accept, and what behaviour he will not tolerate; what he will reward and what he will punish.

Looking back on my 2020-brain, I’d think that would sound pretty selfish if I were to translate that into my life. I personally thought it was wrong to share my likes, dislikes, opinions, disagreements, or values. To draw boundary lines in the sand saying “no,” to evil and/or unacceptable behaviour.

But here, firsthand, we see God doing just that. Making boundaries.

And as Dr. Cloud says, boundaries are good, because they’re what keeps the good in and the bad out of our lives (p.145-5). To protect us.

Okay…so what does all this have to do with selfishness?

Well, in response to my previous post, I’m not exactly critiquing the content, but the mindset that I had when writing it.

Although I agree with what I was saying, it was limited in the scope of the full picture of caring for others AND myself.

Because God demonstrates boundaries and selfishness in His Personhood, I believe we also are called to imitate and follow after this behaviour. Not (now on the other extreme) at the expense of not caring for other people (Jesus definitely cared and served other people, as in my example with Jesus serving his disciples in Luke 22:26.

So in response to my questions:

So today, whether in your serving or your perhaps not-yet-serving:

  1. Where is your intention? Is your first thought, priority, and focus on serving your needs or serving others?

My intention.

When I serve others, I (not the mindless lack-of-self machine) have a will that is choosing to withhold what I’d prefer to be doing in a given moment for myself, and choosing instead to serve someone else I see in need.

There is a combination of selfishness and selflessness wrapped together in this. Both are needed.

2. (a) Read Luke 10:38-42. (b) Do you relate more to Mary or Martha? (c) Consider how your life could be changed if you embodied more of the traits of Mary or Martha (the opposite that you relate to): (d) is self-interest sometimes good and/or is social interest always bad?

(a) Luke 10:38-42.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

(b) I guess I have a tendency to relate more to Martha than Mary if I had to pick between the two. But, if I’m honest, I do see more of a “Mary” side of myself developing, as I learn to value my relationship with Jesus above all other competing demands, and to reflect my life more in accordance to that value.

And I would consider Mary’s behaviour to be selfish. But, as we talked about, that is not a bad thing.

In fact, Jesus praises her for her choice to sit at his feet, instead of rush around mindlessly serving like Martha was doing.

(c) I’d actually say that even though I have a tendency to be more like “Martha,” I’ve been living more like a “Mary” in this last life season I’ve been in. I have not been actively serving in my life, and I feel the Lord’s prompting to do that more in my life, and notably at my church.

So, if I started serving more like Martha (as I feel God is leading me to into this next upcoming season), I guess I would be a more well-rounded Christian. Not just spending time with God, but going out and serving and loving other people in the church and the world, as God calls us to do.

(d) Okay, now getting into Economics.

I believe both are necessary, and interconnected.

Social interest is fueled by a “self” deciding to help the social interest. And sharing and living out one’s selfish and boundary-centric values, opinions, loves, and dislikes to other people, even if that has a negative or “no” response, promotes a honest and emotionally-healthy community. So in these cases, “selfishness” is directly tied to the social interest.


Dr. Cloud, Henry. (1992). Changes That Heal. Zondervan. Book

Another Post on Shame: Learning to Look through God’s FULLER Perspective vs. Mine

*Disclaimer: I am not a professional/expert in theology (i.e., I do not have a formal degree/education in theology). Therefore, I encourage all readers to fact-check, and study for themselves the topics at hand–do not take my word for it! The purpose of this blog is to bring questions and potentially new perspectives to various topics related to theology and the Christian walk, from my own experience and growing study. The content I share is largely from my own life-experience, opinion, and drawn from the limited scope of books I have read. If there is something I share that is incorrect, questionable, or misleading, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me at zoeyalyward@gmail.com.*

“Experiencing God” Study

I’m going through Blackaby and King’s 12-unit study on “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” I’m only on Unit 5, but so far I’ve learned day-after-day the importance of seeing life from God’s perspective over mine.

Available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Experiencing-God-30th-Anniversary-Bible/dp/1087741688

In Unit 5: Day 3, Blackaby & King (2022) talk about this concept further (pp.121-3).

They look at the example of a widow who just lost her son in the passage of Luke 7:11-17.

“If you had asked the widow in her only son’s funeral procession [cf. Luke 7:11-17], ‘What’s the truth of this situation?’ she might have replied, ‘My husband died several years ago. I had a son, and I anticipated he would comfort and care for me in my old age. Now my son is dead, and I must live the rest of my life without anyone to care for me.’ Was this the truth?

No, Truth [Jesus] was standing in front of her!”

Blackaby & King. (2022). Experiencing God: Knowing & Doing the Will of God. Lifeway Press. Book. pp.122.

Now I totally agree with Blackaby and King that the widow in Luke 7 did not have the full perspective of her situation when she was weeping over her son–but contrary to their quotation, I do believe that the widow did have a piece of truth (not “no” truth, as they claim). And that piece of truth (albeit limited) manifested a need. And her need (comfort and care in her old age) if realized within her limited-scope, ideally should compel her to reach out to God to provide and satisfy her need.

To look at another way, when I approach a situation (i.e., where should I work?) on my own intellect and wisdom, as the finite human creature that I am (i.e., lacking the unlimited knowledge and wisdom of God), I will only look at half (if not less) than the full reality of my situation. On the other hand, when I seek God’s will on where I should work, inevitably, I have the opportunity to see things from a fuller perspective because I am consulting and partnering with the All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Powerful God.

So what should I do with that?

Looking at both the widow’s and my example, it seems most logical to consult and partner with God. Why?

  • I. Help see the bigger picture of the circumstance.
  • II. Provide/satisfy the individual’s need(s) in the circumstance.

In the same way–as in any and every circumstance I encounter–I believe it is very important to consult with God, to find out his perspective. Whether that includes my physical needs, or a battle overcoming shame–

I need God in everything.

My Perspective vs. God’s Perspective

Forgive my amateur pie-chart drawing in Google Docs haha, but this is the (generous) reality of God’s understanding vs. my understanding of our circumstances. Clearly, I can see why it’s important to increasingly over-elevate and over-emphasize God’s perspective and say in our lives, instead of mine.

I. My Perspective

My Perspective.

As you can see from the diagram, my perspective has a bit of truth perceived from my circumstance, but it is a very very very very very limited perspective.

Very very very very very generously I could provide a statistic (for those fellow math people out there) around 0.00000000000000001% of the full Truth of the situation. Make sense?

Due to this teeny tiny perspective I have on the matter, wouldn’t it make tremendous sense for me to ask Someone who knows more about it?

II. God’s Perspective

God’s Perspective.

You might ask why I took out “my perspective” from this diagram completely. Originally I was going to include it, but I realized that if God is omniscient (All-Knowing) and possesses All-Wisdom, He will also know my perspective in the grand scheme of the circumstance–however erroneous and limited it may be.

So, in comparison to my perspective of the situation at a generous estimate of 0.00000000000000001%–God’s perspective holds 100% knowledge of the situation.

Let that sink in for a second.

God knows more about your circumstance than you do. Not just “more,” but He knows everything. Like He’s got the answer key to an impossible test.

It might seem obvious. Like you’ve heard it for the hundredth-and-first time, from your years in Church and Sunday school.

But it’s true.

Whether or not you want to accept it or deny it, God knows more about your circumstance than you do. Not just “more,” but He knows everything. Like he’s got the answer key to an impossible doctorate-level physics test.

OK, OK. So that’s all good and all, but what does this have to do with SHAME?

Great question.

In a previous post, I talked about the two realities we face when it comes to shame: (I) my own past mistakes, and (II) my identification as a new creation by salvation by God’s grace.

The issue is that both of these realities are true

God’s Fuller Perspective on Shame

Both are true, but I believe one of these two must take precedence based on whose perspective is given.

I. It could be said that “my perspective” errs on the side of self-condemnation, hopelessness, and shame based on my past mistakes.

The 0.00000000000000001%.

II. Whereas “God’s perspective” errs on the side of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and newness through Christ’s work of salvation

The 100%.

So, with all that in mind–without invalidating either side: which perspective is Truth?

If you’re following my thought-train, you’d likely say that God’s perspective is Truth. If we only hold onto our truth, then the very very very very very limited information we know can be very misleading, given the close-to-99.99999999999999999% more of the puzzle we do not know if we do not seek further understanding from God.

This is huge!

Therefore, to defeat shame, in the tireless battle that it can ensue in our lives, I believe we must increasingly over-elevate and over-emphasize God’s perspective over ours.

It is not to say that our (limited) perspective is invalid, because, as mentioned, it does convey a certain truth. But in comparison to God’s truth, our perspective is very very very very very minute in regards to “Truth.”

How do we do this?

As Blackaby and King (2020) repeat throughout their study guide, it is important to fill our minds with God’s Truth–by prayerfully reading the Bible.

This is the key to understanding our situations.

For myself, the trickiest part is that it will take some time to renew my mind (Romans 12:2), but it will be worth it, as God transforms me more and more into the woman He has created me to be (2 Corinthians 3:18).

As I have been teaching myself, I encourage you to not be discouraged as you struggle through the battle of shame.

Pep Talk

I. It will take time.

It will likely be an ongoing battle, and an ongoing journey for the remainder of this life (Philippians 1:6).

As Dr. Henry Cloud (1992) says in his book “Changes that Heal,” there is the concept of “good” time and “bad” time.

“Good time is time in which we and our experiences can be affected by grace and truth” in the present [through relationship with Christ, and other healthy people]. Bad time is the time that we do not allow to be transformed by grace and truth in the present, because we are either caught up in the past or the future (pp.47).

Dr. Henry Cloud. Changes That Heal. Zondervan. Book. pp.47. (Bold/underline, mine).

When I say that it “takes time,” I don’t just mean “any time will do.” I want to clarify and agree with what Dr.Cloud says: it does matter if it is “good” time or “bad” time.

So, I want to encourage myself, and others who are willing and committed to this work of renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) to go about the battle of healing from shame through “good time.”

II. We are not alone.

Christ is with us, and He will never forsake us (Matthew 28:20).

III. We cannot do the work alone.

Although, the act of renewing my mind is tough work, it is ultimately Christ transforming me more and more into His image, as I turn to Him for help (2 Corinthians 3:8).

So on that note, here’s some Truth about shame, from the following verses. I encourage myself, and others who are interested to repeat and remind yourself of these verses frequently (whether hourly, daily, weekly, or other). Why? Because that is the work of renewing your mind. And it is through that challenging work, where Christ transforms us (Romans 12:2).

Encouraging Bible Verses to “Romans 12:2”

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.

Isaiah 43:25-26

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

Ephesians 1:7

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; (Daniel 9:9)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:13-14

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:10-14)

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19

Then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10:17).

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:34

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.

Hebrews 8:12

[A Maskil of David.] Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Thank You for Your Time

Thanks y’all for reading; and remember to stay curious out there folks 😉

Please don’t hesistate to respond or reach out if you have any further curiousities you’d like to bring to my attention at zoeyalyward@gmail.com.

I’d love to hear from you!


Blackaby, H., Blackaby, R., Blackaby, M., & King, C. V. (2022). Experiencing God: Knowing & Doing the Will of God. Lifeway Press. Book.

Dr. Cloud, Henry. (1992). Changes That Heal. Zondervan. Book.

Continuing on the Faith-Journey to Combat Shame: Identifying Who I Am and Am Not, in Christ

“When it comes to guilt and condemnation, we should all regard ourselves as alcoholics. One little sip of the stuff goes straight to our heads and we lose all perspective. … Don’t take that first drink! Stay away from condemnation! One sip ruins our freedom.

Self-condemnation never works: it only digs the hole deeper. Though we may feel pious, we’re indulging in a weak-willed excuse for not living life to the full. Sitting sullenly at the top of our own dung pile, we cut ourselves off from God’s love. Meanwhile our Father is inviting us to get up and walk into the light, to come and live in a place that is beyond all shame.”

Mike Mason in “Practicing the Presence of People.” Chapter 16: Beautiful You, pg. 73-4 (bold text mine).

Before meeting Mike Mason’s “Practicing the Presence of People,” I hadn’t heard “shame” explained so well before.

If you’ve been following my journey on shame, you know that I’ve been wrestling with a definition for shame, and how to thereby overcome it in my life.

I have heard it before that shame is rooted in pride, but I hadn’t really understood that concept until I read Mike Mason’s take on it today. I hadn’t realized how deadly shame and self-condemnation really were until I read Mike Mason’s metaphorical imagery on it today.

And, as I may have already been pointing to in my last blog post, I believe shame is a lot more easier to overcome than I have made it seem. The issue is that I’ve made it WAY MORE CHALLENGING than it ever needed to be–and now I’m required to take down my overcomplicated web of scaffolding I’ve built up in order to see the situation clearly:

Who I really am now in Christ–despite how I may feel about my identity (or lack of identity) in Christ.

So the goal of this blog post is to do just that. To tear down my “dung pile” (as Mason terms it), and allow Christ to paint the picture of my reality in Him … but I’m sure that’ll be a lot easier said than done.

As Plato records Socrates saying in “Phaedo”:

“And it [the soul] reasons best, presumably, whenever none of these things [bodily sensations] bothers it, neither hearing nor sight nor pain, nor any pleasure either, but whenever it comes to be alone by itself as far as possible, disregarding the body, and whenever, having the least possible communion and contact with it [the body], it strives for reality.”

Plato in “Phaedo.” Pg.11, 65c5.

Socrates says that he, or rather that all true philosophers, see the “truth” or “reality” better when they are able to reject the body and its sensations, and focus solely on the soul, by meditating.

Although I do not share in all of Socrates’ beliefs on the soul, I do believe that (1) this method of distilling something to its bare-bones definition is helpful to identify the particular “something” in of itself, if possible. (2) The flip-side of distilling something to its bare-bones is to help identify all that the “something” is not (ie. “the body,” in Socrates’ case), to help identify what the particular “something” is.

I don’t think I’ll be able to cover all that my identity in Christ “is” and “is not” in one blog post, but I’ll take an “initial jump” at it–with the understanding that I’ll be building on this definition as my understanding grows.

As Socrates recommends, the way to figure out what something “is” is by sitting with it, and turning away from what “it” is not. So in this case, I will turn towards what Christ says about my identity in Him, and turn away from what myself or anyone else says my identity is. But in order to more fully appreciate Christ’s definition of myself, I will identify all the things Christ says that I am not, or no longer.

1. My Identity in Christ

A. … is defined by my past mistakes.


A. Jesus does not define me by my past mistakes, because He has made me into a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

B. … is rejected.


B. Jesus does not reject me, but accepts me.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

C. … classifies me as a “stranger.”


C. Jesus classifies me as
His child and friend.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:12

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:15

D. …is an accident.


D. Jesus created me with “workmanship” intention, in His likeness.
I am not an accident.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

E. …classifies me as a hopeless wreck, “beyond help.”


E. I am a hopeless wreck, but through the grace of God, Jesus, I am not “beyond” Jesus’s help.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Ephesians 2:8

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

Normally when I read through a list someone’s compiled on “our identity in Christ,” I don’t get much meaning from it.

And to be honest, as much as I’ve heard and read and almost-memorized these verses over the years, distinguishing the lies from the truths–as I did just now–don’t fully rupture my stone-cold, prideful heart as I would’ve wanted it to.

I know these truths did something in my heart, I felt a glimpse of hope and a glimpse of breakthrough–but at the end of the day–if I’m honest with you–I still feel the shame. I still don’t feel like I have everything together. I still feel like I haven’t “gotten it” yet–and that’s a little bit frustrating because unanswered questions bother me.

A lot.

No, I realize that “time” takes a significant process in my faith-journey on the ever-furthering goal in this life of sanctification. And I realize that I cannot accomplish this sanctifying goal on my own strength.

No, I realize, without a doubt:
I need Jesus.

And on that note, I will ponder all of this further.

Because, at the end of the day, I realize that as I sit on that dung pile I have built of my own twisted “pride” in my shame, I have rejected the love of God countless times. And that rejection has taken a toll on my heart, where shame has somehow strangely felt “safer” for me to accept.

I know I have become a shame-a-holic, as Mike Mason might term it from his imagery on shame I shared above. And I do not deny that I am addicted to shame–I know and admit that I am.

But I also know that I am not condemned to that life. I know that God calls me to a “holy life” of following Him instead (2 Timothy 1:9).

And so as monotonous as it seems, I must learn to teach myself to accept the love of God.

To “renew my mind” as Paul says–from rejecting God’s love, and accepting shame; to accepting God’s love, and rejecting shame.

“Meanwhile our Father is inviting us to get up and walk into the light, to come and live in a place that is beyond all shame.”

Mike Mason in “Practicing the Presence of People.” Chapter 16: Beautiful You, pg. 74.

The Believer’s Choice of Freedom or Condemnation

After some further “putting-it-on-the-backburner” pondering of the Gospel, I got another insight.

And one I wasn’t expecting to be as easy.


It started when I went for a walk with a new friend from church. She is a really wise and kind woman, I wanted to spend some more time learning from and getting to know. We stopped at a bench overlooking a beautiful sunsetting ocean scene, and started to share about our stories–and I notably shared about shame, and how I’d been wrestling with that. As we both shared, I think we were both surprised at the amount of similarities we had between our two pasts.

And then she said something that was very significant, and something I don’t think I’ll forget:

Zoey, you are free. You just need to accept that. You don’t need to hold onto shame anymore. You choose whether you live according to shame or freedom now–and it looks like you’re choosing to live in freedom.

Immediately after we walked back to our cars post-walk, I wrote down the insight.

Puzzle Piece Insights

To be honest, for the last number of months, I’ve been keeping a notebook on my phone of “puzzle piece insights” I’ve been calling it, whenever a friend shares something insightful in my journey to understand the Gospel. Here’s a few others from various wise, God-fearing women and men in my life.

Choose to be grateful for God’s grace and forgiveness over you. In so doing, you will teach your soul to appreciate this truth, even if you don’t “feel” His forgiveness.

Evidence of repentance is a change from your old way of living, and now choosing to live in accordance to how God wants you to live out of your love for God. It is your love for God that is the evidence of you being a new creation.

You are not your past; you have a new identity in Christ.

You are free now to walk in a new way, out of your old weaknesses and habits. And sometimes it’s even the good things we have (ie. compassion) that we can use in bad ways. God understood why that happened, even though others may not, and so they may condemn you, but God will never condemn you. And so you have a choice: you can side with God or others; condemnation or freedom.

God knows we’re human; He knows we will mess up. But when we do mess up, he does not shame us, but brings us back to the campfire, and calls us to walk differently–to repent and follow His way now.

As you need to learn how to get up when you fall in skating, so you need to return to God when you sin. It’s that easy, and that necessary to not overcomplicate this profound reality–just return to God!

You must understand that you are not perfect. And so you need to learn to extend grace to yourself.

It doesn’t matter where you start, but it matters where you end. So no matter what your past has looked like, press into the goal of freedom in Christ. And keep returning to Him.

At-the-Moment Conclusion

Not sure if you picked up on the theme threaded throughout of those quotations from wise individuals I know, but two stand out to me in particular.

  1. Repent

Throughout many of the quotations, I was suggested to repent: to turn from my way of doing things, and do things God’s way instead.

And it’s not just these wise, God-fearing individuals saying this, but the Bible talks about this too.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (bold, italics mine)

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:8 (bold, italics mine)

For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

2 Chronicles 30:9b (bold, italics mine)

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Acts 3:19 (bold, italics mine)

Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 1:3b (bold, italics mine)

And the reality is, that I have done that. I don’t live the lifestyle of sin I used to, and so it really doesn’t make sense to me why I choose to carry onto the shame and condemnation still.

This leads me to the second insight I gained from God speaking to me through these wise individuals.

2. It’s My Choice

At the end of the day, I can choose whether to sit in my shame and condemnation–or as a new creation in Christ stand in the freedom He has, by grace, given me.

And again, it’s not just me or these wise people saying it. The Bible, again talks about this truth as well.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36 (bold, italics mine)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusationif you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 1:21-23 (bold, italics mine)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Romans 6:22 (bold, italics mine)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4 (bold, italics mine)

I think–in my pride–I just preferred to overcomplicate the Gospel. But at end of the day, it is truly that simple: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


The Mystery of the Gospel, Part 1

The mystery of the Gospel.

It’s strange because for the majority of my life, growing up in a Christian-saturated environment, the Gospel is a pretty “elementary” concept.

The Gospel

(1) Paraphrased from the “Three Circles” version, which can be accessed in video-form below.

-God made the world full of love, joy, and peace.

-But people sinned, and the sin drove them into brokenness.

-People try to get out of the brokenness with good and bad things in this world (ie. drugs, friends, religiousity, etc.), but all of these “things” only drive us back into the brokenness. We aren’t actually saved from the brokenness itself.

-But God knew this would happen, and so he sent Jesus down to the Earth to make a way, a doorway, out of the brokenness. Jesus died on the cross and rose again, cancelling the effects of sin, so that freedom from our brokenness could be possible.

-So then if we turn from our sin (repent) and choose to make Jesus “Lord of our life” (not ourselves), we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

-Now, we, as new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), leaving our past behind us, are able to experience the love of God, as God originally intended. We are now made whole.

I wrote a paraphrased version of this above.

(2) Another version from my own understanding of this profound mystery, –albeit maybe more “wordy” than some of those versions.

-People and God lived in harmony at the onset of creation. They had a beautiful relationship of peace, honesty, vulnerability, and love with each other, but most importantly: with their God.

-But people are bad. And in the event of temptation, they fell. People’s sin drove them away from harmony with God. A broken relationship with their God, and with each other.

-Many years later, people try to escape the brokenness they either consciously or unconsciously experience with “anything else under the sun” (Ecc. 1:14-15). But there is nothing in a sin-stained world that can save them from their sin. And so nothing saves us.

-That is, apart from Jesus. Jesus–who is fully God incarnate into the matter of man, walks a perfect life on earth, frought with temptation and trial, to eventually die on a cross, in the most gruesome, inhumane way possible.

-He did this out of love, because he wanted to repair that gap of sin that made us so irreconcilable to our Creator. Paul, in other words, called us “dead in our sin” (Eph. 2:1). Basically, things were completely hopeless for us, apart from a Saviour, we so desperately needed.

-So when Jesus died, he murdered sin. When he arose, he escaped the sin, once and for all–and with the potential for every human on earth to be saved from it, if they would choose to (1) believe this, (2) put their full trust-faith in Christ, and be (3) exclusively committed to following Jesus from here on out–giving forgiveness from Christ by turning from the wrong to right path, when we fail to follow as we should. It’s a learning experience. Aka: we are justified again–sinless like Christ–and to restore a bad relationship with our Creator and have our chronic illness of sin “voila!”–completely restored.

-So now, post-salvation, we enter into the journey of “sanctification.” A fancy word that is the Spirit’s full work within us (not our own) of transforming us more and more, day by day into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). YES, we’ll mess up, as the humans we are (albeit new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 3:18)), but we are measured more so in whether we are committed to returning back to God when we do mess up (highly recommend “Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme,” by Stephen Westerholm. He provides a better explanation to justification than I do here, as, in a nutshell, to justification as: “walking by faith” (Rom. 1:17, Eph. 2:8-9, Heb. 11:6). Ultimately: when we fall down–by the grace of God–are we willing to step back up to follow in Christ’s steps and guidance?

That second-last sentence is the “issue” I’ve been wrestling with. That concept itself is the heart of the mystery of the Gospel for myself. And I am still striving to wrap my curious brain-strands around it.

Issue: how can we, as new-creation-Christians, simultaneously have a (1) real identity of new creations (2 Cor. 5:17; John 1:12), completely forgiven, free, and redeemed from the effects of sin–as now slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:15-18); AND (2) have a past of committing those heinous sins of our past, and likely of our future also (Eph. 2:1; Romans 7:14-25)?

How can these two identities or realities “co-exist” (for lack of a better term)?

The Wrestle

Apart from the pat-answer understanding I already have of “that’s just what the Bible says, so believe it:” I am lost.

The wrestle I have is this: I can understand just fine the “idea” of two identities in my brain on surface-value–but as a Jesus-obsessed individual, I want to thoroughly understand how I now shall live this reality out.

If I have a new identity in Christ, but do not live according to that identity–even if for a moment–is it really fair for me to identity with Christ? I ask this, because it is by the fruit of someone’s life that they are known; your identity comes from what you do (Luke 6:43-45). But if I do the evil things (though I hate that reality alongside Paul), then it seems logical that I should have an identity based on the bad that I do.

I will wrestle with this further over this next season.

The Why and Motivation

The “motivation” why I desire to reconcile this wrestling, is because I struggle with shame.

I have shame based on my past. Of past relationships. Of evil I have committed. And lately I have felt bogged down from that. Trapped. And I struggle to see how God still loves me despite all the wrong I have done. I struggle to see how it is in fact I am a new creation. Because if I was God, I would not forgive me. But I know the LORD is more kind and compassionate than the fullest glimpse of what I am or ever will be.

And so on one hand, I understand that I will never understand the LORD’s ways nor the full mystery of the Gospel (at least in this life), I still desire to know how my reality should therefore shape how I live. I still desire to know how I should “identify” myself, as a (1) sinful yet (2) new creation.

Again, this wrestling cannot be confined to a meager blog post, but will be the focus of this and further blog posts.

Thanks y’all for reading; and remember to stay curious out there folks 😉

Please don’t hesistate to respond or reach out if you have any further curiousities you’d like to bring to my attention. I’d love to hear from you!

June 28th Prayer

Dear God,

Today we want to thank you for your goodness, that you are always with us, and that you never give up on us. You are our refuge and strength, and you are always ready to help us in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Today, with COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement and many other oppressed minority groups striving to make changes against the evil effects of racism and exclusion, we need your help, God. Lord we know You are close to us when we are brokenhearted and you save us when we are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Please heal and transform us, both physically, emotionally, spiritually, completely.

In the places of our lives that the media doesn’t see, in our families, workplaces, friend groups, and everyday places of our lives, we pray for healing, breakthrough, provision, and redemption in every area, in Jesus’ name. This time of social distancing is an opportunity for us to turn to You, God, for your help and restoration in our lives. Please help us focus during this time on what really matters, and has always mattered – You. Please change our perspectives, change our minds from scattered, anxious, and complacent, to finding your goodness in every area of our lives.

Thank you God,


Power of the Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5
  1. Jesus is the Word, He is the Life, He is the Light.

As Christians, we find our Life and Light in Jesus. There is power in Jesus, the Word; there is power in the Bible, the Words of Jesus.

2. As Christians, like John, we have a responsibility not to be the life and light to others on our own strength, but to point others to Jesus, who is the Life and Light of the world.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

John 1:6-8

It changes how we talk to others about Jesus if we realize it’s not dependent on us evangelizing to others, but rather understanding that we are simply bringing light to the fact that Jesus is the True Life and Light, we are only witnesses pointing to Jesus.

This is Good News indeed.

Hopeless and Confused

When Jesus rose from the grave, most of the world was still sad from His death not too long ago. And that’s where these two guys were at. They were moping along the Road to Emmaus when Jesus meets up with them and asks them what’s wrong. But they didn’t recognize that it was Jesus.

So, they’re like “Dude, don’t you know what’s up?” And so they explain to Him about the hope they had in Jesus, thinking that He was going the one to finally save them but now that Jesus was dead, and so everything was lost.

They were hopeless and confused.

Luke 24:25-27, “He [Jesus] said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

See in our lives, we find ourselves hopeless and confused too. Even though Jesus has saved us from our sins, even though He is watching over us and providing for our every need, there are still a lot of times where we think we should give up.

I’ve been wanting, and feeling called to be a pastor for the last three or four years now and I finally had this conversation that nobody could have orchestrated except Jesus Himself where I finally opened up about wanting to be a pastor. I had been scared to open up about this for a while, and when I finally had the opportunity and the truth rolled off my tongue, it was only a work of Jesus.

Jesus had saved the day.

In those times when we start to believe that we’re approaching a dead end doomed for hopelessness and confusion, stop yourself. If Jesus rose from the dead, He can get you out of your situation, He can give you an alternative, He will make a way, because He’s done it before and He will do it again. When He died on the cross, it wasn’t permanent and neither is that problem on your mind. God will get you through it. All you need to do is trust Him.

Because Jesus has saved the day. And He’ll be there to provide in your darkest hour too. He’s always claimed the victory when He rose out of the grave, it’s time you changed your perspective toward this victory too. Halleujah!

Luke 21:34-36

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be countedworthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Jesus is warning here about being prepared for His return as the entire Bible talks about from the Old Testament to, especially, Revelation. In my search on BlueLetterBible to define some of the key words in this passage:

1) “watch” or “be careful” is defined as being sleepless, keeping awake, watching, to be circumspect, attentive, ready. I really like the terminology of “being sleepless” as a way to compare to how we should be alert to Jesus’s approaching return.

2) “pray” is defined as recognizing a lack, wanting, desiring, longing for, asking for, begging, make supplications for. I love this because prayer shouldn’t just be another thing we do in the mornings or evenings since we call ourselves “Christians,” but really something that is the CORE of our beings, something that we NEED to do, as we have problems, recognizing how much we need Jesus and constantly asking for His help, because we need it.

Okay, so we need to be careful and we need to pray.


But then why is this so important? What’s the point?

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In Luke 21, leading up to these verses, Jesus talks about different events and themes that we can expect when things are leading up to His return. Famine, war, disesase, earthquakes, breakdown of morals, confusion, persecution, and division in families and between friends. Some of which we’ve already seen in our recent history with COVID-19, World War 1 and 11, the popularitiy of relative truth over the aboslute truth of God’s Word, etc.

So Jesus is coming, whether we’re prepared for it or not.

And if we’re not prepared, we will live an eternity apart from Jesus. So in order to avoid the pain, suffering, and eternal separation from God in Hell that will come to the Christians who are not prepared, we need to watch and pray during this time, in order to not get distracted; to stay focused on Jesus.

This is the reason why.

3) “escape” is defined as seeking safety in flight, flee out of, or flee away. I love the definition of “seeking safety in flight” because it reminds me that this world, this earth is not our home. As Christians, this world is temporary which points to the whole point of “in flight,” where we are moving towards Christ in the glimpses and encounters we receive of God, that we will one day be able to witness God in His entirity in Heaven.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Our peace is not attached to anything else except Jesus. No matter what our lives look like, no matter what’s going on, we can find peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7) in whatever circumstance, understanding that this is all temporary and that we have a responsibility as Christians to escape the distractions, temptations, and anything that fulls our attention away from God by watching and praying as Jesus says in this passage.

Acts 20:24

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Last week I was so caught up in studying for my final exam that anything interfering with that, whether it be a loved one asking me to watch a movie or just wanting to chat with me, was a chore. I didn’t want to do anything but get just a little further in my studying and things needing to be done. And watching a movie or simply playing a board game was just painful. Not to say that working hard is not good, but I think my intentions were not in the right place. I was working more that I’d “look good” in my work than actually doing the work for others, or even God.

Image result for gif running

The word “life” in Greek is psychē which refers to the physical life we humans experience on earth.

Last week I was clearly more focused on a very insignificant (though very real) part of life, which is work. But here Paul is saying that his earthly life is not worth much to him, instead his earthly life is dedicated all for Jesus. But it’s interesting that he still values his ministry, which the act of telling others about God and discipling them is still an “earthly work”. The difference is that Paul recognizes that his ministry is for God and not primarily for his self- glorification or for the churches he goes to help. He concludes that it is all for God, to “complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

So how can I change how I look at work?

  1. Instead of getting narrowminded in only seeing me and my work, I need to open my mind to see the bigger picture that God is on the throne (and I am not).
  2. Spending more time with God in gratitude (everything I do is a “thank you” back to Him) and recognizing that I need His help in everything I do

Romans 2:29

“No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

God cares more about who we are on the inside other than what others or even ourselves say we are.

So then why do I care so much what others think of me? Why do I struggle to find my identity when God has already adopted me and called me his daughter (Romans 8:14).

All that matters is Jesus. Just Him; no one else.