Meaningful Bible Verses about Love and Marriage

Love. There is probably no other topic that has been spoken about more through articles, books, novels, sonnets, songs, and visual art. With a plethora of definitions and interpretations, it’s hard to know what to make of love and marriage.

Helpful Bible Verses about Love and Marriage

Christians are not lost at sea on this subject, although the Bible does give guidelines and direction about what love is, and it shares some thoughts on that age-old, yet still relevant institution called marriage.

What is love?

The question, “What is love?” would probably top the list of FAQs of all time. The Bible turns this question on its head in several ways. One way it subverts our expectations is to instead ask “Who is love?”. The answer we get is that God is the very definition and source of all love. “God is love”, says one of Jesus’ followers repeatedly in a letter to other Christians.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love,” he says in 1 John 4:8. If you want to know what love is, you need to look at God; then you’ll know. God’s nature, actions, thoughts, and impulses are rooted in, emerge from and erupt in spontaneous acts of love, so much so that to see God in action is to see love personified.

Love shows itself in what it does. “It is patient and kind… does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude… irritable or resentful… does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). To show us what love looks like, and to demonstrate this love, God gave us His Son to die for us.

Another of Jesus’ followers, Paul, put it this way – “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

It is this type of love, the sort of love that shows up for the other, even to the point of laying down your life, that husbands are told to exemplify toward their wives. In another of his letters to Christians in Ephesus, Paul writes “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). That’s a pretty high bar.

Marriage is a union

The love between a husband and wife ought to be one of the hallmarks of the marriage relationship. The profound mystery of marriage is that it is a union of two people becoming, somehow, one flesh. In the beginning, before our world was a mess, marriage existed, and it was described in this way: “…a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Marriage brings together two individuals who leave their families and cleave to one another, forming a new union. For clarity, in talking about leaving one’s family, it’s not talking about cutting emotional and physical ties, but the act of setting up your own family unit.

This union, we are told, is a profound mystery because it isn’t just talking about our human relationships. Again, from Paul – “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). Human marriage is somehow an echo of the relationship Jesus has with his people. Jesus is united with his people, died for his people, and in many places in the Bible, the church is referred to as the “bride of Christ.” This is, indeed, a profound mystery.

The marriage bed

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). One facet of being married is spouses having sex with each other. This is a beautiful act of celebrating the marriage union by spouses sharing themselves with their partner.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time”, as one Biblical author wrote (1 Corinthians 7:5). The positive side of this is for spouses to enjoy one another sexually. The flip side of that is to preserve your marriage. Don’t defile the marriage bed by inviting others into it, via adultery or other means.

Forgiveness and kindness

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). If you ask couples that have been married for any length of time, you’ll find that being kind and considerate to one another, and forgiving each other is something to be practiced often, possibly even multiple times a day. We’re not living in the Genesis 1 or 2 moment, when all was right with the world, but in the Genesis 3 moment, sin is a present reality we must contend with every day.

Being considerate and tenderhearted challenges us to look beyond ourselves and to think of the other person’s thoughts and feelings. When two sinful people live side by side all the time, it’s certain that things will go wrong – the wrong thing will be said, done or implied; feelings will be hurt, and expectations disappointed.

There is a need for forgiving each other. It’s also quite challenging that we are to forgive one another as God in Christ forgave us. Consider for a moment how much we offend God with our sin every day. God forgives us, wiping the slate clean and not treating us as our sins deserve. This is remarkable, and quite daunting if we were planning to do this in our own strength.

Rejoicing through the years

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe… be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19). Most relationships, like people, go through seasons. There are seasons of hardship, joy, youthful zeal and so much more.

If and when kids come into the picture, that changes the dynamic of your relationship by introducing new stresses and strains into the marriage (with new joys too, of course!). As we grow older, changes inevitably come, especially to our bodies, but also to our priorities. Hot bods become mom bods and dad bods, our interests shift, and we mature into different people.

There is a need to keep drinking from one another’s fountain, to remain intoxicated with one another through the seasons. It won’t always look the same, but at bottom, we’re talking about a consistent and persistent love that grows as you grow. Date night is one powerful tool in your arsenal to help you continue rejoicing in each other.

Divorce

As we speak about the beautiful symphony of marriage, there is the harsh and somber note of divorce, something many of us are familiar with from our parents, relatives or friends who have gone through it. When the union of marriage goes bad, the all-too-common reality of divorce looms large.

There are many complicated reasons why marriages fail, and why couples contemplate divorce. If marriage is a leaving and cleaving to one another, divorce separates what has been joined together and sunders the union. This is usually very painful, not only for the parties involved but for their children and extended family.

One startling way in which God addresses the reality and pain of divorce is by saying, “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. For the man who hates and divorces, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2:15-16).

Conclusion

Marriage is a beautiful union of two people coming together to form their own family. It is an echo of the relationship between Jesus and his church, which is itself a profound mystery. This lends gravitas to the institution of marriage; it is not simply a human thing we invented, but a meaningful and significant relationship inscribed in deeper realities.

In marriage, two sinful people join together to do life together. They need to show grace, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness toward one another, and to rejoice in each other as they go through life.

If you and your spouse are going through a rough patch, or if you’re thinking to simply refresh your marriage, consider speaking with a Christian counselor who will guide you in thinking about marriage from the Bible, and developing skills for conflict resolution and communication toward a flourishing relationship.

Photos:
“In Comfortable Silence,” Courtesy of Vladimir Postovit, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Romance,” Courtesy of Sasint, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Together,” courtesy of William Stitt, Unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Enchanted,” Courtesy of Annette Sousa, Unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License

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Quotes about Losing a Loved One: Comforting Bible Verses to Soothe Your Soul

Grief. It’s not something that we can emotionally prepare ourselves for, regardless of whether we’ve had time to consider that a loved one will leave us through illness or if it’s a sudden death that turns our world upside down.

Grief also doesn’t follow an orderly timeline – friends and family may encourage us to “take the time we need,” implying that after a “reasonable” period we will move on and life will continue.

But the pangs of anguish can sweep in at the most unexpected moment; such that we can also resist the grieving process and block it out because it is just too painful.

Grieving is critical, however, and has even been described as medicine. A season of grief is what God gives to us in order to cleanse our souls from the agony and to set us on the path towards healing and wholeness.

He also gives us comforting Bible verses for death and Bible verses about grief that we can meditate on, knowing that it is the truth contained in his Word and the power of the Holy Spirit that will give us the daily help that we need.

Bible Quotes about Losing a Loved One

Here are some Bible quotes about losing a loved one to reflect on in this difficult time:

In our sadness

These Bible verses about grief and sadness show us that life here this side of heaven will not be easy. In our lives, we will experience heartache, suffering, and struggle, but God’s Word promises us that Christ will be there with us.

He won’t give us more than we can handle with His help, and even our lowest times can be used to glorify God. God loves to draw close to us when we are most vulnerable, tending to us like a loving father and being compassionate and full of mercy.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Grief can be overpowering. It can make us feel as if we are in a long dark tunnel with no light at the end. But this verse teaches us that even in the midst of soul-crushing grief, God has mercy on us and heals our inner hurt.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

David knew grief and this is why many Psalms address the topic. Psalm 23 is possibly the best known of all of David’s Psalms. In it, he describes the rest and peace that God provides.

When David was facing death (whether his own or that of someone else is not clear), he found solace both in God’s discipline (God’s “rod”) and guidance (God’s “staff”). In other words, God is taking care of David both through daily guidance, instruction, and wisdom.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.Romans 8:26

Prayer is the way we communicate with God. But because He is a holy God and we are sinful people, we don’t know how to pray properly. This is even more the case when we are in the midst of grief.

However, Paul informs us that though our prayers may seem ineffective, scattered, or distracted, the Holy Spirit stands between us and God and makes intercession for us. There is a great deal of mystery here which is beyond our ability to understand, but at the very least we have the comfort that our prayers are heard by God no matter how insufficient they may seem to us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you’re seeking strength

As we read and meditate on Bible verses for grief, we see that we do not need to muster up the strength to get through each moment and day; God calls us to hold on tightly to Christ and He will give us the strength and grace to carry on. He is an ever-present help in need, and, even when life circumstances seem unbearable, he can give us peace which transcends understanding.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

This verse has provided comfort to many in their grief. No matter what we are going through, the grace of God is enough for us. We may be weak, but His power is demonstrated in the midst of our weakness as he lends us his strength.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3 

When our world seems to be crashing in and trouble and grief are on every side, this verse offers us the comforting knowledge that God will defend us and strengthen us. Even though everything around us might be falling apart, God is the one source of stability in life.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73: 26

Though we may feel ourselves to be at the end of our rope we can count on God to be our strength and our inheritance. This means that no matter how bad things are God will still do good to us and help us to get through the though times.

How we see death as Christians

If the loved one you are grieving was a believer in Christ, it is encouraging to remember that, while the pain of loss is arduous, you will be reunited with them for all eternity when Jesus returns! The following verses about death point to this amazing hope. Reflecting on the reality of heaven is uplifting.

If they did not know the Lord, you can seek refuge in the knowledge of God’s absolute sovereignty and that this life, with its pain, is temporary – we can fix our eyes on what is unseen and rest on the truth of God’s Word.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.Revelation 21:4

This verse speaks about the world to come. The New Heavens and the New Earth will be free of sadness, tears, and pain because this present world will be renewed. Whatever grief and misery the Christian may experience here in this world will be done away with by the presence of God, Himself.

Additionally, even the source of the grief will be no more because the old world will be forever gone. Though for now, we live in this world, we can be comforted by the thought that this life is not all that there is and that all will be made right in the next.

May the Lord meet you where you are at in your grief, and may you rely on him, through these Bible quotes about losing a loved one, and grow ever deeper in your knowledge and faith of God.

Christian Grief Counseling in San Diego

If you’re looking for a grief counselor in San Diego, we invite you to browse our counselor directory or call our scheduling assistant to make an appointment. It would be our privilege to walk alongside you as you navigate the various stages of grief with the Lord’s help.

Photos:
“Reading”, Courtesy of Lisa Fotios, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Grieving Alone”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Contemplation”, Courtesy of Yogendra Singh, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “The Long View”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License

Turning to Scripture for Loss: Comforting Bible Verses about Grief

Loss can take many different forms, and you may be suffering from one right now. When losses hit you, you can find lasting comfort in Bible verses about loss. Scripture can lift you up no matter what type of loss you are facing.

Perhaps you have suffered a loss due to the literal death of a loved one or a pet. Maybe your loss is related to a life transition, like divorce, the empty nest, or a cross-country move. Other losses like breakups, getting laid off from your job or a sudden friendship change can hurt, too. In each of these losses, you can find a Bible verse for comfort in a time of loss.

Scripture for Loss: What Does the Bible Say?

When we look up loss in the Bible, we can find all kinds of examples. Job experienced sweeping losses of his children, flocks, and health, all within a swift time span. Sarah and Hannah experienced the painful loss of infertility. David suffered the losses of at least four children and his dearest friend, Jonathan. Jesus felt the painful loss of companionship in his greatest time of need.

The Bible shows us real examples of loss to give us affirmation and comfort. It never sugarcoats our pain. God knows each of our losses and cares about every one of them, no matter how small they may seem to others. He offers us comfort and hope when we study Scripture for loss.

A Time for Loss

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Because we live in an imperfect world, loss is inevitable for each of us. God designates times of loss in his great sovereignty. He saw your loss coming before you did, and he weeps alongside you.

This verse tells us that there is a chosen time for weeping and mourning. We must do this to get past the pain of loss. If we deny it or put it off, we will only suffer longer. God will walk through our time of loss with us. Then, as we get to the other side of the loss, we can laugh and dance with God again.

The Lord Offers Comfort

For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. – Isaiah 49:13

When you are experiencing a loss, you need comfort to get well. It can be tempting to numb ourselves with the wrong things when we need comfort. Food, alcohol, drugs, social media, unwise relationships, and a myriad of other activities may offer temporary relief.

However, this type of comfort never lasts and can even leave us with guilt and additional pain. The Lord himself offers us comfort that is everlasting. Because he is all-powerful and mighty to save, he can comfort you better than anything or anyone else.

As you rest in his presence, you will feel his comfort and compassion. Draw close to him in prayer and meditate on Scripture for loss, and you’ll experience the comfort that you need.

Relax in God’s Comfort

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem. – Isaiah 66:13

Babies often will not stop crying until they are resting in their mother’s arms. Then they calm immediately because they feel comforted and secure. Hopefully, you experienced a loving relationship with your parent, relative or guardian when you were a child.

Perhaps you have offered comfort, yourself, as a parent or watched others offering it tenderly. God wants to offer you loving and tender comfort in the way a mother comforts her child. He wants to hold you close and let you cry it out. He wants to offer you the security you seek.

The Lord Strengthens You

You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. – Jeremiah 8:18

Does your heart feel faint with loss? Maybe it’s hard for you to get through a single day, much less a week or month, without feeling overwhelmed with loss. This Scripture for the loss of loved ones can bring you the comfort you seek.

You don’t need to do anything except to receive the comfort of the Lord like a warm blanket wrapped around you. He is holding it out to you now in love. When you find comfort for your loss in God’s presence, you will feel stronger.

The word “comfort” can be broken down into two parts“with” and “strength.” God wants to be with you in your sorrow to offer you his mighty strength, which will help you get through your loss. He will help you through the days, weeks, months and years ahead with his strength.

The Holy Spirit Gives Comfort

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor – Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you. – John 14:16-17

When we believe in the One True God, the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be our Comforter. He also helps us through our struggles. He intercedes for us in prayer.

The Holy Spirit strengthens us and continually stands beside us. If you believe in God, you already have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside you! He will comfort you with Bible verses for mourning. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to remind you of everything God wants you to know.

He will speak to you through God’s Word, sermons, podcasts, Christian books, counselors and Christian friends. As you ask the Holy Spirit to help you, you will find comfort in many different ways.

God is Faithful

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

You may only have a glimmer of hope in your heart right now. That is enough for God to use. Cling to that hope like an anchor in a storm. If you hold tight to it, God will prove himself faithful to you.

He will not let you sink or be cast away. God will never leave you nor forsake you in your loss. He is watching over you every minute, growing your faith as you hold onto hope in his promises.

The Value of Courage

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

It takes courage to face our losses and ask God and others for help. In Bible verses on loss, we learn that as we take courage and hope in the Lord, he will strengthen us. It’s similar to weight training. Muscles become stronger only when they are pushed past their limits.

The muscle fibers break down during a workout but become stronger when the fibers grow back together. Courage is like the weight we use in a loss challenge. With each repetition of courage, our faith in God becomes stronger. Choose courage instead of disappointment, and God will strengthen you.

Your Loss Has Purpose

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

You may have heard the phrase, “God never wastes a hurt.” This Bible verse proves the statement to be true. As you begin to heal from your loss with God’s comfort, you will be able to comfort others in the future.

His comfort is designed to fill up your heart and overflow onto others. That’s why it’s important that you take steps to heal now. You can find purpose and strength with God’s help.

Christian Counseling for Loss

You may get stuck after a loss and need help to move forward. Study and meditate upon these Bible verses on loss, but don’t be reluctant to ask for help from a Christian counselor. A counselor is equipped with the right tools to help you handle your loss. Please give us a call at Seattle Christian Counseling to learn more about how counseling can help you.

Photo credit:
Kate Motaung, copyright 2019, all rights reserved

Learning to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Lovable

How Forgiving Others Can Positively Affect Your Mental Health

Why is forgiving others so hard to do? How can forgiving others benefit the person who is forgiving? Learn more in this article about forgiveness and mental health.

Forgiving Others from the Heart

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Forgiving others is very hard to do in this day and age. Nowadays, society emphasizes much the love of self, encouraging people to always stand up for themselves.

While this is good to an extent, as abuse and other forms of injustice should never be tolerated, it has also made it increasingly difficult for people to forgive as they believe that they need to protect their personal honor, even if it is just a minor slight.

Sadly, when one is unable to forgive, the hurt and pain linger in the mind, affecting a person in many different ways. Though contrary to the ways of the world, biblically, forgiveness is something everyone should strive to do, for their own sake and others.

The Effects of Not Forgiving Others from the Heart

Lots of people today continue to hold on to their hurts. Some claim the bitter memories serve as motivation to become better than whoever stepped on them in the past. Others choose not to forget so that they can truly savor their triumph when they defeat their rival. And then there are those who cannot forget and forgive as their past trauma continues to haunt them and stir up hateful thoughts.

Regardless of the reason, harboring such negativity can really take a toll on a person. Mentally, such bitterness just adds to a person’s daily stress, affecting one’s concentration and even memory. It can also lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

This can also be felt physically. The stress of recalling past hurts lowers the body’s immune system, making a person more susceptible to sickness. There may also be daily body pains (e.g. headaches, muscle aches) and difficulty sleeping or eating.

Relationally, the past pain affects a person’s bond with those who have slighted them – be they colleague, friend, or family member – preventing the relationship from growing stronger. Such hurt can also cause additional problems as the bitter memory may hinder a person from widening their social circle or becoming intimate once more (e.g. fear of loving again).

Moreover, this bitterness affects a person spiritually as this hate for our brother or sister-in-Christ is directly against what God wants us to do, which is to forgive. Because of this, the person may choose to avoid spiritual activities, like praying or going to church, believing they are no longer worthy of God’s love.

Misconceptions and Clarifications about Forgiving Others

Many times people do not forgive because of their misunderstandings about forgiveness. These, however, need to be corrected for the person’s sake and for others.

Misconception 1: Forgiveness excuses the offender

One wrong idea is that forgiving means condoning the offender’s actions or behavior. Not only does the offender get a free pass, but it also makes the victim feel powerless about the incident. Since no one wishes to feel that way, the person continues to feed their anger – through negative thoughts and even actions (e.g. backbiting) – which may make them feel more in control of the situation.

The Clarification:

Forgiveness, however, never means approving the wrongs done, as everyone should be loved and respected. Instead, forgiveness means NOT allowing the past hurt to have a hold on one’s life. As earlier mentioned, the more such bitterness lingers in the mind, the more the person suffers internally, and even physically. But when a person forgives, the mental and spiritual burden is lifted, allowing them to feel at peace once more. It may also heal a lot of physical ailments.

Misconception 2: Forgiveness means granting legal mercy

For victims of crime or abuse, it can be difficult to forgive as they mistakenly think it means allowing the offender to escape punishment. As there may be a fear of possible retribution or future harm to someone else, forgiveness for many is often out of the question.

The Clarification:

For legal matters, forgiveness does NOT mean pardoning someone of the crime. For the public’s safety or for the recovery of resources, legal proceedings should generally continue on (with possible exceptions if it really is a very minor matter). Again, the point of forgiving someone, even one who has caused much pain to a person or their family, is to free up the mind and spirit so that the person can live normally again.

Forgiveness here also means treating the offender with dignity and compassion, even if the crime was grave. If not, then a person may become prejudiced against similar offenders or even suspected offenders in the future.

Misconception 3: Forgiveness means reconciliation, even if you do not want to

Others choose not to forgive because they believe it means they have to reconcile with the other, even if they do not want to. For former sweethearts, this may be a big no-no as they have already found someone else or they have already realized they were not meant to be. For business partners, this may be seen as a useless endeavor as there may be no point of working together again.

The Clarification:

Choosing to forgive does NOT mean one has to always get back together again. In situations like exes or business dealings gone sour, it really is not logical to do this. As in the first two misconceptions, forgiveness here is to stem the spread of internal negativity, lest a person continue to hold back in future relationships with others. Forgiveness also means still respecting the rights of the one who hurt them to prevent other untoward incidences from occurring (e.g. defaming the offender or other acts of revenge).

It should be noted, however, that in family matters, particularly when the issue is between spouses or children, reconciliation should generally be the goal for the family to properly function once more.

Misconception 4: Forgiveness means forgetting what happened

Another misconception is that forgiveness means erasing one’s mind of the incident. However, with our God-given minds, it can be very difficult to simply forget. And if the experience was particularly painful, most really do not want to forget to prevent similar future mistakes.

The Clarification:

Forgiveness NEVER means forgetting the painful lessons of the past. If this were to happen, then definitely history would repeat itself. People are meant to remember past experiences to prevent the bad ones from occurring again. Choosing to forgive the bad that has happened allows the person to appreciate the present and positively move forward, rather than always wallowing in the past.

The Phases of Forgiveness Therapy

Despite the very clear benefits of forgiveness, it can really be difficult to forgive. A person’s natural instinct is to protect themselves which makes it hard to let go of the negative emotions. Fortunately, there is a four-step method to work towards forgiveness.

The Uncovering Phase

In the uncovering phase, the one offended objectively views the transgression to see how it has affected their life. Has it disrupted many key areas in their life? Have they changed for the worse because of it?

By doing this, the person may begin to understand the results of an unforgiving heart in their life. Once understood, the individual may then begin the necessary steps to overcome its effects.

The Decision Phase

In the next stage of therapy, the person is taught more about the nuances of forgiveness. Proper knowledge of this allows the person to truly decide if and when they decide to forgive.

But as in many big decisions in life, people may need more time before they can forgive and move forward, and that is alright. This stage may be revisited later on once the person has had more time to reflect.

The Work Phase

In this phase, the offended person is asked to understand the perspective of the offender: What was their past like? What might have been their motivation for the transgression? The hope here is that the person’s heart will begin to change as they are able to comprehend the reasons behind what had happened.

The Deepening Phase

In the final phase, the person is asked to find new meaning in the experience. Instead of simply thinking of themselves as a hapless victim, they are encouraged to identify the positive changes that have occurred. Did they become more loving? Are they stronger now or more confident?

By acknowledging the positive growth in their life because of what had occurred, it may become possible to finally forgive.

Understanding God’s Forgiveness

Despite the availability of such therapeutic steps, many still have difficulty learning how to truly let go and forgive without dreaming of vengeance in their unguarded moments. This is because of mankind’s sinful nature that seeks self-protection and the uplifting of self.

Real forgiveness, where the spirit is at peace, cannot truly be understood without knowing Jesus Christ. The way He lived on earth, obeying the Father while humbly showing his disciples how to live and love, is the best example of what it means to be human. And the way He died for us, even if we did not deserve such a sacrifice, is the perfect model for forgiveness.

If a person wants to be able to let go of the past hurts that are holding them back, they need the love of Christ in their life. And this can only be done by intentionally getting to know Him through prayer and the reading of Scripture.

Seeking Christian Counseling for Forgiveness

In Christian counseling, the latest counseling methods will be used to help the individual better understand what had happened, their current emotional state, and the effects on their life. They will then be taught what can be done to positively change their perspective so they can forgive.

But most importantly, the person will be introduced to the love and mercy of God through prayer and Scripture. By knowing more about Jesus’ compassion for sinners (of which we all fall under), the person will be able to truly understand what forgiveness entails, allowing them to have true internal peace.

If you or a friend is having difficulty forgiving others, seek professional help soon. God is asking you to forgive so that you can experience life to the fullest.

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“Forgiveness”, Courtesy of Felix Koutchinski, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Empty Hands”, Courtesy of Jeremy Yap, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hand Across the Water”, Courtesy of Lukas, Pexels.com; CC0 License; “Touch of the Other World”, Courtesy of Akshay Paatil, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

What Does God’s Forgiveness Really Mean?

In almost all human relationships, conflict eventually occurs since nobody is perfect. Unrealistic expectations, uncontrollable emotions, stress, or other difficulties may cause someone to react in the wrong way, damaging the relationship. This is why forgiveness is important to make things right.

Forgiveness, however, is easier said than done. Because of pride or fear, people have difficulty forgiving one another or seeking forgiveness which is why their relationship stays broken. Yet it is not only their relationship that is affected; bitterness and regret eat away at personal peace, affecting a person even after the wrong deed has been done.

Understanding More about God’s Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the action of making things right when something wrong has been committed. True forgiveness, though, is given at an unequal scale, since the damage done – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – is more than the one seeking amends can every hope to repay.

However, in human terms, the “forgiveness” people seek and bestow is more of a restoration of balance. If someone loses something of ours, they are “forgiven” when that something is replaced and a heartfelt sorry is offered. Without said replacement, the sorry is often not enough (unless what was lost did not cost much).

And many times, even after the “forgiveness” has been given, negative thoughts (e.g. anger, doubt, guilt, regret, shame, suspicion) may still persist on both sides as their hearts and minds are still holding on to the event. It is why the relationship may not be the “same” as before, especially if the transgression was very serious.

God’s Forgiveness

God’s forgiveness is deeper and truer than anything people can ever give. Scripture clearly shows us that because of our sin, the separation of humankind and God is so vast that there is nothing we can do to bridge it on our own.

As the party wronged, it is only God who can choose to forgive us and restore our fellowship with Him. It is a supernatural gift from Him to wipe clean our slates even if we are still sinners and undeserving of such forgiveness. So when God forgives, it is NOT that we were able to pay off the debt, not even partially; it is because God makes it so that our debt is no more.

God’s Continuing Grace

Though all should be now good between people and God, the problem is that everyone continues to sin. Thankfully, God chooses to continually forgive. In 1 John 1:9, it is said that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As unfair as it may sound in human terms, simply confessing our sin to Him is enough for God to forgive again. And as we are cleansed of our unrighteousness, we are then able to live according to His righteousness until we stumble again, get up, humbly ask for His forgiveness, and try once more.

Why People Have Difficulty with Forgiveness

Most people struggle with forgiveness – both giving it and even receiving it. This is because forgiveness requires a humbling of the “self,” something that most people have tried so hard to build up over the years.

The Struggle to Forgive

As earlier stated, when a transgression has occurred, especially a major one, much has been damaged. The human ego often wants the offender to somehow satisfactorily repay all the physical, emotional, and spiritual hurt that has been rendered to them.

For example, if a laptop has been broken, it is expected that it should be fixed, and quickly! But even better, if a newer and better one is given instead, then definitely all will be good. In short, in human terms, it is from a position of power, pride, and even selfishness that a person may be willing to bestow “forgiveness.”

But “true forgiveness,” like the one God offers to us, means the offended party must step down from that lofty position and simply forgive, even if it means not receiving anything in return.

And that is really difficult for most people, particularly if the transgression hurt them directly like betrayal, assault, or abuse. Unfortunately, if such anger and bitterness still linger, the person may continue to experience that hurt internally even years after the wrong deed.

The Struggle to Receive Forgiveness

Although forgiving is a challenge to most, of greater difficulty is receiving forgiveness. In sincere situations of remorse, the transgressor sits in a place of shame. In their heart, the debt they owe is something they can never pay back.

So although they may have truly been forgiven by the one they wronged, in the transgressor’s heart they still feel ashamed, so the relationship that was broken is still not truly mended.

In some cases, though the transgressor may desire forgiveness, the one who was wronged cannot be found or has passed away. Though it may seem to most that the transgressor is now “free,” the heart again still feels much sorrow and disgrace, breaking the spirit of the transgressor themself.

What the Bible Says about Forgiveness

In the Bible, forgiveness generally comes from two angles: God’s forgiveness of us and our call to forgive others. In Ephesians 4:32, Christians are told, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

As mentioned earlier, when we ask forgiveness from Him (repentance), He wipes our slate clean. It is a gift of grace from God who chooses to forgive. This gift, however, is not something that we are to keep to ourselves. If God was gracious enough to wipe our slates clean, it is expected that we too must wipe clean the slates of others who have wronged us.

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter approaches Jesus and asks, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus then answered, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Thus, just as God keeps forgiving us for our continual transgressions against Him, such continuous forgiveness must be extended to others as well.

Such forgiveness is not just a mere balancing of the scales, of paying back what was owed. It is true forgiveness. Impossible as it may seem, it is the standard that Jesus asks us to follow since God did even more for us. It has been said that “we cannot give what we do not have.”

Thankfully, when we receive God’s supernatural forgiveness through repentance, He then empowers us to be able to forgive the way He forgave us. It is this type of forgiveness that can truly restore relationships which is why everyone is asked to do so.

Accepting God’s Forgiveness

Just as people have difficulty receiving the forgiveness given by others, many have much difficulty accepting God’s forgiveness in their heart. Feelings of shame and unworthiness usually plague them, causing them to believe that such mercy and love are only meant for the “good” and “loveable.”

In 1 John 1:10, Scripture states, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” As one sin is already enough to label us a sinner, there is nobody who can claim to be sinless.

This is why God gives His supernatural forgiveness to everyone freely, not because anyone deserves such grace, but because He loves everyone and wants all to be restored to Him. So if one is personally asking, “Is God’s forgiveness meant for me?”, then the answer is “yes”.

Seeking Help from Christian Counseling

For many non-believers and even new believers, this concept of God’s forgiveness is very perplexing. It often takes time to wrestle with it in prayer before it becomes clear in the heart, empowering them to forgive the way He wants everyone to.

But in other instances, underlying factors like major depression, anxiety or other mental issues may be clouding the heart and mind, preventing the acceptance of what God has to offer. If this is the case, it helps to speak to a Christian counselor who will use the latest counseling methods to discover what internal issues may be preventing this.

But most importantly, the Christian counselor will connect the person to God through prayer and Scripture so that God’s love and mercy may be felt personally.

If you or a friend you know has been struggling with forgiveness in your life, believing that you are “unforgiveable,” then seek help soon from a Christian counselor. Inner peace may only be achieved once you have been forgiven by God, and have learned how to forgive.

Photos:
“Forgive,” courtesy of Tony Webster, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Bible,” courtesy of Aaron Burden, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Empty Hands”, Courtesy of Jeremy Yap, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Asking God”, Courtesy of Daniel Reche, Pixabay.com, CC0 License

Do Codependent Relationships Exist in the Church?

Codependents are people that come to the rescue time and time again. This could look like saving a drug-addicted child from his toxic choices or entering into a caretaking relationship despite the cost. Maybe it sounds good in writing, but codependency creates unhealthy relationship patterns.

The term “codependency” has been around for decades and traditionally refers to the adjustment that a family member would make in their life to accommodate the addict’s dependency on substances.

Codependents are magnetically drawn to people who are constantly in crisis. They find purpose in pouring themselves out through extreme self-sacrifice, neglecting their well being to serve others.

Codependent Relationships in the Church

Codependents will go to great lengths to be the hero. When codependents place other people’s welfare before their own, they can lose touch with their own needs and identity.

Getting lost in service to another sounds like what an obedient Christ follower should do, but even Jesus gave us a different example. If Jesus recognized and implemented boundaries in his ministry, what makes today’s Christians think they should operate differently?

He went around healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and preaching about the Kingdom. The needs that would need to be met were unending, yet he gave us a perfect example. Luke 5:15-16 tells us, “Yet the news about him spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Even in his days of serving the needs of a community, he didn’t lose sight of the need to spend time in prayer and solitude.

Relying on the Holy Spirit instead of the Flesh

A codependent is addicted to control as much as an addict is addicted to a substance. Codependents interfere with the growth of addicts by not allowing them to face consequences. The codependent person’s emotional state is influenced by how well the other person listens to their advice.

The Bible provides a principle that can’t be avoided, “A man reaps what he sows.” It’s hard for a man to reap what he sows when another person is constantly rescuing him from negative outcomes.

A good way to gauge if you are helping people in a constructive way is to ask the question, “Am I trying to be their bread (strength) or just trying to show them where to get some?” A good follow-up question might be, “Now that I have shown them, are they taking steps to feed themselves or are they depending on me?”

Every Christian is responsible for working out their own salvation. We may want people to follow our advice, heed our instructions and avoid painful situations, but growth is hindered when a person relies on someone else for all the answers and not on God. What happens when that man is removed?

If that person wasn’t clinging to God, his world will crumble. Christians must learn to seek God’s direction in prayer and search Scripture for answers. This creates a mature, strong Christian that doesn’t rely on being fed by man to be alive in Christ.

In church, it’s easy for young followers to become enamored with more mature followers. To prevent any type of codependent relationship from forming, lend a listening ear and instead of giving answers you can ask questions like, “How does this passage of Scripture speak to you?”

The goal of a healthy spiritual relationship in the church is to encourage, empower and equip each other to constantly grow in Christ. Codependent relationships can rob people from experiences that they need to go through to learn how to depend on God.

Motives of the Codependent

We live in a fallen world. One result of living in a fallen world is growing up in broken homes. All families have some form of dysfunction, meaning not all our love needs are being met when we are adolescents.

Individuals who are more prone to codependent relationships are often looking for a reliable way to gain a sense of value that was lacking during childhood.

Often, the church environment creates the perfect place to prove your worth. The more you serve, the more visibility and recognition that’s given. Codependents thrive when they know they are needed and praised for always being present.

Only the codependent truly knows if they are doing good deeds out of the overflow of God’s love in their heart or secretly wanting to secure a feeling of worthiness from those around them. Performance-based love can become completely ingrained in a codependent person to the point that when she experiences “unearned” love it feels almost foreign and uncomfortable.

Interdependency is the answer

Codependent relationships run counter to true abiding in God’s unconditional love. It is an effort to control what others think or feel about us through rigorous engagement in socially acceptable “church” behaviors. Creating a church culture of interdependency begins by taking our focus off ourselves and placing our focus on Jesus.

Jesus often asked his followers and crowds questions. He pushed them to use their minds to think for themselves. The people left empowered instead of Jesus dictating their next move. When we try to make other people like “God” in our life it has devastating effects.

Being helpful is natural. Serving is the hallmark of a Christ follower. Even Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. He humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. But a Christian must constantly point back to God, not to herself. People must put their hope in Jesus.

The one person who never fails forgets or breaks His promises. Putting our hope in anything or anyone else will only end in disappointment and dismay. Interdependency in the church means we help each other daily to deepen our dependence on God and strengthen the church body as a result.

Photos

“Seesaw Crossing”, Courtesy of Rachaelvorrhees, Flickr.com;CC BY 2.0 License; “Help,” courtesy of Cristian Newman, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Face-off”, Courtesy of Silvia and Frank, Pixabay.com; CC0 License; “Lean on me,” courtesy of Rosie Ann, peels.com, CC0 License

Three Vital Stages of Spiritual Growth for Women

Just as there are identifiable stages of physical growth, there are likewise stages of spiritual growth that Christians must pass through. Using the book “Lies Women Believe, and the Truth that Sets Them Free” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss as a template, this article explores the stages of spiritual growth that women pass through on their way to spiritual maturity.

Stage One: Seeing the Consequences of Eve’s Sin

We can only imagine the flood of thoughts that raced through Eve’s mind when she was kicked out of Eden with her husband, Adam. Looking at the desolate land they now stood in, it is likely she regretted her earlier decisions.

It was only that morning that she had been leading a perfectly harmonious life yet now everything had fallen apart. Eve experienced firsthand the reality of failure, defeat, and isolation, feelings that women from all walks of life relate to.

Ms. DeMoss describes today’s Christian women as being in bondage, “They are not free to enjoy the grace and the love of God.” This lack of freedom has resulted from regret over bad decisions made in the past or bad things they have experienced. Bondage also takes the form of “fear of man” and the need for to be approved of by others.

We need to remember that the Bible tells that we have been set free. Bondage has no hold over us, we are supposed to be joyful, radiant, full of peace and a whole lot more

Unfortunately, women are not experiencing this freedom and the root cause is that we have believed lies that we have been told our whole lives.

These lies started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent lied to our First Mother, Eve and the web of lies in all its forms was passed down to every generation after her.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins. – James 5:19-20

We can trace all the problems in the world back to that first deception, the consequences of believing an untruth. It is time to reclaim our lives!

Stage Two: Seeing the Lies for What They Are

Ms. DeMoss lists eight lies that have been told and although the list is not exhaustive and not every woman wrestles with each of them, these are the most common eight.

Lie #1 – God: Are there lies about God that you have believed? A common question heard during counseling is, “If God is a good God why did ___________ happen to me or someone I love?”

The Devil asked Eve a similar question. He created doubt in her mind in her mind, diverting her attention (and our own) from the abundant blessings she was already enjoying. This doubt causes us to justify holding what God says up to our own ideas of what is right and wrong.

Psalm 119:68 reminds us “God is good, and everything He does is good.” In spite of our knowledge of this Scripture, we often doubt God’s love for us. This is especially true when God does not answer our prayers as we think he should, or the answers are delayed. The doubt magnifies until it becomes bondage.

Our misconceptions about God lead us to compare Him to the men in our lives. We expect him to fix all of our problems and even consider him unresponsive, inadequate and far too restrictive. If any of these lies sound familiar, then you should study DeMoss’s book in-depth. Our view of God is key to the way we live our lives.

Lie #2 – Self: We often believe that our poor understanding of God is reflected in His understanding of us. Ms. DeMoss writes, “If we do not see Him as He really is – if we believe things about Him that are not true – invariably, we will have a distorted view of ourselves.”

When we view God as unable or weak it further affirms the various lies we have believed. We consider ourselves to be worthless. DeMoss reports that 42 percent of the women surveyed in preparing to write the book reported that they believed this lie. These lies started in our childhood and continued into adulthood, lies that have resulted in bondage and even caused mental health afflictions.

Jesus is acquainted with our sorrows, he understands our pain. 1 Peter 2:4 tells us that Jesus was “rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him.” Jesus knew who he belonged to and how much the Father loved him. It is because of the love that flowed from the Father to him, that Jesus laid down his life for us – truly amazing love!

Other lies in this section of the book include the lie of needing to love ourselves, the lie that we cannot change the way we are, the lie that we are entitled, the lie that physical beauty is more important than beauty on the inside, and the lie and all of our longings should be fulfilled.

Every chapter includes specific Scripture passages that provide truth to help fight against the lies. There are also questions for reflection to help you think about whether these lies have a foothold in your own life.

Lie #3 – Sin: Because we live in a fallen world sin continues to be an inevitable part of our lives. As Christians, we know that Christ died for our sins but there are some lies that we have believed about sin.

Part of Satan’s lie to Eve was to deny the consequences of sin. God had expressly told Adam and Eve that the day they would eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would die but Satan countered this by saying, “Did God really say?” he (Satan) went on to add “you will surely not die”

The book spends quality time on this particular lie, expanding it to cover lies such as my sins aren’t really that bad, my sin is beyond forgiveness, my actions and reactions aren’t my fault, and overcoming over sin is a myth.

In order to combat these lies, we must: 1. Align our thinking with God’s; 2. Take full responsibility; 3. Believe what is true; 4. Do what is true; and 5. Pray for help.

DeMoss concludes by addressing five other lies that relate to our priorities in life, marriage, children, our emotions, and our present circumstances. Like the other chapters, these end by dealing with specific lies, and the Truth of Scripture.

Each chapter concludes with a written prayer to help you seek God’s help in finding the truth. Our goal is to ultimately live free of Satan’s lies!

Stage Three: Walking in the Truth

The two big ideas in this book are: 1) Believing Satan’s lies enslave us, and 2) God’s truth has can free us. As we mature in our Christian walk and pursue intimacy with Christ, the yoke of lies begins to slip off.

As a final step, DeMoss takes us through a series of Bible verses that deal with bondage. We will keep the review of this section light because you should study these steps prayerfully. Galatians 6:2 tells us as believers to help carry each other’s burdens, Christian Counseling San Diego can be a good option for help if you find yourself believing a lie or need help breaking some sort of bondage.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

 

Photos
“Fruit of the Tree,” Courtesy of Georgia de Lotz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Snake,” Courtesy of David Clode, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Light from Heaven,” Courtesy of Dawid Sobolewski, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Death,” Courtesy of Anton Darius Thesollers, Unsplash.com, CC0 License