Take InitiativeThis past Sunday morning the news broke that Will Muschamp was out as the Florida Gators head football coach. I couldn’t help but think about a similar story that developed several years ago about the athletic director of a major university that fired their head football coach. When asked by a reporter if he was bitter, the coach replied, “Not at all, but I plan to buy a glass-bottomed car so I can watch the look on his face when I run over him.”

How do you handle seemingly unfair treatment?

To a degree, Jesus is responding in Matthew 7:12 with proper teaching on how we should respond to our critics and those who may try to cause us harm or damage our reputation.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” – Matthew 7:12 (NLT)

I kind of like how the Message Bible paraphrases this same verse: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.

The point is, Jesus really is concerned with how we treat other people. It’s not enough to just love Him and say that we love others.  In fact, Jesus expects us to take the INITIATIVE by loving others with the same passion that we love Him!  After all, “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40, NLT).

So, where do we start? We need to start by taking the lead and setting our personal feelings aside, walking in faith, trusting God to move in every situation and relationship.


When God’s love fills your heart you begin to change on the inside and something supernatural takes place… you begin to see people, even those who offend you, through Jesus-filtered lenses. You actually begin to see broken people, who likewise need healing, restoration and victory in their lives, with tremendous compassion and mercy. Now, when you begin to be moved with compassion, even for those who mistreat you, you really know that the Holy Spirit is doing a deeper work in your life and that you’re becoming more and more like Jesus!

Check out the Jesus model for life and ministry in Acts 10:38 (NLT):

You know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

Jesus had a reputation for being good and doing good. Can the same be said for you and me? If you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus, perhaps the next step in your faith journey is simply to TAKE INITIATIVE and do something good for someone, unprovoked and unannounced, and see what God will do.

Are you ready to take that next step? I know I am… let’s do this together!


Grace “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? Matthew 7:7-10 (NIV).

A few weeks ago, as I was studying and preparing for a message based on this particular teaching from Jesus in Matthew 7, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me that I needed to pause for a moment and allow Him to reveal something to me that I hadn’t previously considered. (Don’t you just love it when He does that!)

At first glance, I had already assumed that He wanted me to talk about our need for PERSISTENCE in our prayer lives, for when Jesus said ask, seek, and knock He used the present tense, which indicates continuous, persistent prayer. In other words, He was saying, Ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking; and knock and keep on knocking…” I mean, come on, this has persistence written all over it, right? Well, while this is an obvious understanding of this particular teaching, I quickly came to realize that there was more than I had anticipated.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that persistence was merely the secondary truth being communicated here; the primary truth leaped out at me from v. 11 where Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

The focal point of Jesus’ teaching here really isn’t about how grand our prayer life is (our asking, seeking, and knocking) but about how good our heavenly Father is!

Here’s a truth you can hold onto…


Psalm 84:11 says, “He gives [which means we cannot earn nor gain through human effort] us grace [favor] and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. (NLT)

He gives us good things, but also protects us by not giving us some things we may ask for. For example, if my son, Andrew (who is 9 years old) came up to me after church one day and asked for the keys to the van so he could drive us home, what do you think I’m going to say? If I say no, am I being a bad or unreasonable father? Of course not! In actuality I’m being a responsible and caring father!

HOWEVER… if Andrew somehow got the keys to our van and drove off and got in an accident, that would be called disobedience, which would very likely lead to his and possibly other’s harm.

Here’s the deal… Your heavenly Father is not only good (full of mercy and grace); He is also responsible, and will never provide something that will cause you harm!  In fact, He will cover those who follow Him with grace.

“Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor [grace] as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12, NIV).

Take comfort in knowing that you serve a good heavenly Father that is gracious and kind toward you and  who loves to provide everything that you have need of… yes, even when you don’t deserve it. After all, when have you ever deserved anything good from God? Isn’t that the very essence of GRACE?


If we viewed others as broken people, who are JUST LIKE US–Broken, I’m convinced that there would be less criticism, condemnation, and judging in the world. Much like the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, we would all have to drop our stones and walk away. I mean, who are we to condemn anyone?

The reality is we live in a broken world, full of broken people, who do what broken people do. And as broken people, we tend to only point out the brokenness in others, while ignoring or worse yet… denying that we ourselves are broken.

Before we can truly grow in spiritual maturity, we must all come to the same conclusion that apart from Jesus and His finished work on the cross, we are all doomed; we are undone; we are insufficient. However, I truly believe


Putting God first, in effect, puts a lens over our eyes so that we see others through the eyes of Jesus! As a direct result, we should treat people differently; we should be more compassionate and filled with grace, understanding that we likewise are imperfect, and the benefactors of God’s great grace and compassion.

On one occasion, while pastoring in another state, I have to confess that I pre-judged another pastor who was in a neighboring town and was overly critical of his church and ministry. You see, this guy was a well-known pastor in the area that was on Christian TV, pastored the largest church in the area with more than 15,000 people, whose picture was plastered on billboards all over town… you know, “Pastor Big Shot” as I called him.

One day while meeting with another pastor/friend at Starbucks, guess who strolls in… Yep, big shot pastor guy! I thought to myself, “Oh boy, here we go. Look at him stroll in with his shades and leather jacket hanging over his shoulder.”  To my surprise, and I might add, dismay, he recognized my friend and asked if he could join us for coffee. We sat there for over an hour talking about ministry and the Kingdom of God, just encouraging one another. I walked away from that conversation with a whole new respect for this pastor, who just happened to be a “Mega church pastor on TV.” I can honestly say that he was a genuinely nice, caring pastor who had nothing but the best interest in mind for the people in our community. I know this to be true because just a few months prior he had led an initiative to help those in our community who’s homes had been flooded due to a major storm in the area. His church pumped thousands of dollars worth of clothing and water and other supplies to those in need. Sounds like something Jesus would want! This guy was Kingdom-minded par none! Not only that, but he shared some valuable insights that I took away that day at Starbucks that has molded some of my ministry thinking to this day.

I decided after that moment that I would always sow good seed and not pre-judge anyone or be too quick to criticize someone I didn’t understand or who didn’t think like me, dress like me, or talk like me.

Kind of brings to mind what the Apostle Paul said, “You will always harvest what you plant” — Galatians 6:7 (NLT).

Perhaps that’s why Jesus Himself, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” – Matthew 7:1-2 (NLT).

Be careful not too jump to conclusions by criticizing or condemning someone, for someone else may just return the favor. Let’s walk in love as children of the Light (1 Thessalonians 5:5).