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People's Opinions Matter So Much (Or Do They?)

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Someone has said, "If you live for the encouragement of people, you'll die by their discouragement." 
I love that quote. It's so revealing. 
Think about it, if we have to wait until someone praises us for our efforts before we feel good about what we've done, we're going to tire quickly and become unnecessarily enslaved. At the same time, if we're hoping that no one is waiting in the weeds to say something discouraging, we're going to find ourselves frequently paranoid and eventually disappointed. 
Feedback is great. But if we nervously pine after instant encouragement or guard ourselves against overly enthusiastic criticism from others, we're going to ride a very bumpy, emotional rollercoaster. 
Look, people matter. People matter in that they are to be loved and cared for and prayed over. But... people aren't meant to be the Simon Cowell's [think American Idol] of our lives. We're not to look to them to hold up a perfect "10" in regards to our parenting. Or a mediocre "4" in regards to our career choice. 
Be careful. Don't let the opinions of people ruin your joy. People aren't perfect, and neither are their opinions of you perfect. 
There's no way for them to totally understand all that God is accomplishing in your life. How could they perfectly tell if your parenting deserves a ridiculous "3" or an incredible "9?" They can't. And you know what? 
Neither can you. 
You can't even judge rightly your own life, let alone hand over the keys to let someone else judge you or rate you. 
So, don't hang on to every encouraging or discouraging opinion as if your personal worth depends on it. Accept encouragement, you could never have enough. But don't let it foolishly feed your joy. Prepare yourself for discouragement from others, but don't let it manhandle and destroy your confidence. 
Remember what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
God's working in you. He knows what He's doing. He has a plan. It's perfect. And only His opinion truly matters. His opinion will never change. He loves you as much today as He will 500 years from now. 
You Are Loved!

Sin Is Not Merely Forgotten

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Forgiveness is easily one of the greatest gifts on the planet. Can you imagine if your lifelong pile of wrongs were never completely covered by grace? How stressful would it be to keep piling up one failure after another without forgiveness? 
Can you imagine never being able to forget your sins? Awful. It would be awful to be reminded every single day of the many ways you fall short of perfection. 
That's where memory loss would be super convenient. It'd be awesome to lose the ability to remember failure. "Hey, if I can't remember then I can't feel guilty. If I can't remember that I lost my patience with my wife and hurt her really bad, then I'll feel better about my myself and my marriage."
You can see how that would be helpful, right? But, at its core, forgiveness isn't about forgetting sin. When God forgives us, it's not that He loses His intellectual ability to recall our individual failure. Even though you're forgiven, he can still recall to mind the time when you stole a Milky Way from the local gas station. And actually, all you have to do is read the Bible and see all the ways people's sins are still clearly documented. 
The power of forgiveness isn't in the forgetting. 
The power of forgiveness is in the SEPARATING.
True forgiveness only comes from God. And true forgiveness is only possible because Jesus Christ put all of our sins upon Himself and died on the cross for our sins. The shedding of His blood covers our sins. 
And when God forgives us, it's not that he simply removes the failure from His mind. It's that He actually separates the sin from us. In other words, he removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. 
Because of this, He never counts our sins against us again. Ever! So, you could be in a room with your sin and God at the same time, and God could see it but He wouldn't hold it against you. He wouldn't remind you of it and he wouldn't expect you to be held back because of it. He removes the guilt and the penalty. You are free!
So, by faith, ask the Lord to forgive you today. He will. He will because Jesus made it possible.
You Are Loved!