Of all the sins to which we fall, none makes us feel so smug as vengeance. When we’re the injured ones, the hurting ones—acknowledged victims of some sin—we live a perilously long moment of unexpected power. The voices of our culture ring too loudly in our ears: “Retaliate. Require groveling. Make certain that they’ll never hurt you—or anyone—like that again.” And sometimes in our weakness, we savor the imagination of how much pain we could inflict—all righteously, of course. We picture those who hurt us getting stings that we’ve endured. It’s grimly satisfying on some scale of “eye-for-eye.” But then the gospel pierces through our fog of pain, and we hear again the words that once changed everything for us: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor 5:19).” Only people who have been forgiven every truly forgive. The memory of our undeserved redemption pushes through our injury, and we recall how we were once where our abusers are. The grace we give is built on memory of how we’ve been released, and how our hearts have been renewed. So we lay down the lance; give up the sword. We offer others peace and healing Jesus is still giving us. This is His way. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Humility is not in vogue—either in the magazine or in the culture. It’s an age of self-assertion, self-promotion, fueled by surging expectations that we should win an ever-larger share of likes, or votes, or ratings. And so we miss a central pillar of the “law of Christ”—that we should bear each other’s burdens. For the secularist, this makes no sense, for all of life is deemed a competition for vanishing resources—money, spouses, power, or fame. That we would slow our sprint to walk beside a weaker brother or sister—that we would take on wounds or weight not our own—is proof that we have “lost our edge,” and couldn’t be leaders of the pack. But still, humility is vital to the life of faith—before our God, and yes, before each other. I may say I’ve humbled myself before the Lord, but I’m then both observer and observed. Only grace received and grace enjoyed allows us to pick up the burden we don’t deserve, pray for the sin we didn’t commit, and stop to hold the one who so much needs a friend. Humility isn’t a label we award ourselves: it requires an “other” with whom we patiently obey the word of Christ. Grace gives us strength to walk with others in this great and human race. Christ won the race. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Jimmy Phillips is the network marketing director for Kettering Health Network.  www.adventistreview.org

Jared Thurmon is the liaison for strategic partnerships at Adventist Review Ministries. www.adventistreview.org

"Journeys with Jesus" is an intimate, personal look at the walk we all have with our Savior. Inspirational, heart-tugging, thought-provoking vignettes of life's journey and life's decisions. Most of all, it points us to our Father, our Friend, as the Source of all wisdom, comfort, and peace. Jill Morikone is the vice president and chief operations officer for Three Angels Broadcasting Network.  She and her husband, Greg, live in Illinois and enjoy ministering together. www.adventistreview.org

Gerald Kingbeil serves as associate editor of Adventist Review. www.adventistreview.org

What Christians call the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—is food the world needs. It’s not a banquet to which only believers are invited. These are all relational graces: each is only meaningful when there’s a lack of it. We’re never called to dine alone—to only private holiness. We learn these graces at the table from those who have themselves learned patience, peace and self-control in other times, at other tables. In community, in time we spend together, we practice the kindness the world needs. Your gentleness will teach me to be gentle: my faithfulness in staying with you may be the prompt to loyalty you need. In grace, we build each other up—and all for those who hunger to experience the goodness shown to us. This is no private dinner club: Grace always sets the table for great sharing. Come to the meal at which all hungry souls are filled. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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What we call “the gospel” is an announcement of our true standing before a holy God because of the saving work of Jesus, in whom we place all our confidence. It’s not the same thing as how we feel about ourselves, or an estimate of our progress in living a good life. Our emotions—including our assessments of our spiritual experience—are subject to the vagaries of weather, backaches, or what we ate too late for dinner last night. There are days on which for reasons we can’t fully articulate, we don’t feel “close” to God. That doesn’t mean anything more substantial than that we may be limited by arthritis, sports injuries, or indigestion. There must be—there is—a constancy about the gospel and its grip on our lives that isn’t changed by even our powerful emotions. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before Him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20). Jesus is more trustworthy than our feelings about ourselves. His word about our reconciliation to the Father is more true than any word we think or say. In living faith, our lives are hidden with Christ in God. From this deep certainty grow life and joy and peace and healing. Believe His word. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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It’s certainly part of God’s unfolding grace to not reveal how little we’ve understood until we’re further down His road. At first, we catch stray glimpses of ourselves—ungainly; sometimes tripping over stones; embarrassed, not repentant. We judge that we can quickly find our stride—that we can overcome our slowness by more practice. And then we learn that more is broken than we knew—that all that looked like confidence and legs was our attempt to fool ourselves, defend our pride, and keep our running reputation strong. We cancel all our marathons. At last, we learn how much we’re like that man beside the pool—the paralytic Jesus lifted from a life that hadn’t moved in years. Unless His grace renews our legs and hope, we’ll always miss the road the Saviour longs to share with us. If we knew all our weaknesses at once, and all up front, we might despair that even grace could lead us home. So it’s a mercy that we learn our ignorance and arrogance in pieces Jesus lets us know, accompanied by gentle, quiet laughter. His grace, just like His love, is always patient and kind. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Deliver me, O Lord, from cool and graceless places where the righteous cluster often to adjust their reputations. Save me from gatherings where no pulses ever quicken, where no tears are ever shed, where sinners are not swallowed up in oversized embraces. Keep me from walking into snares where theology is scrutinized, but no one wants to hear of Your tenacious love for me. Surround me, God, with those who know the pain of brokenness—and know how rich Your healing is. Encircle me with men and women unafraid of dirt—with those who know the words of hope. And do not let me stray from them. Appoint my steps to walk beside—among—the hurting and disheartened, for I will call to mind Your grace each time I recognize their pain. Anoint my lips with silence when I’m tempted to compare myself to those who just began their journey. Your grace is how I seek to live—to laugh, to weep, to learn, to grow—among the many You are saving. I want no better friends than those who pray with humbled heart: “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” Then my lips will sing Your songs: my heart will strike a higher key. Among those ransomed by Your love, my voice will be both loud and clear:

            “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me;

            Bless His holy name.”

So may I always walk with You, and stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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