November 9, 2018

The Spirit is holy . . .

If thoughts of the Holy Spirit put images of ‘turn-or-burn’ fire-breathing preachers to mind, or images of people falling backwards in a trance, or becoming babbling fools, it is time to read what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. Here is just one passage that describes His work:

“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:7–12)

The Spirit is a source of power but that power is not about domination or ruling over others. It is about love as defined by: “a strong, non-sexual affection and regard for a person and their good as understood by God’s moral character; especially characterized by a willing forfeiture of rights or privileges in another person’s behalf.”

This love is about wanting the best for others without putting self first. This love requires the next characteristic in this passage: self-control, which is another fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Self-control is self under control — under God’s control.

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) Plainly, the love of the Holy Spirit does not rage out of control at sin or sinners nor does it turn them into zombie-like characters.

The Holy Spirit also helps God’s people be brave to tell others about Jesus Christ. In our humanness we can be fearful, even ashamed to be known as Christians, partly because we know there can be ridicule and persecution. But because of what Jesus Christ has done for us and because the Holy Spirit reminds us of what He has done, we are willing to suffer for what we believe. We are convinced that God will watch over and care for all that He has entrusted to us.

Life in the Holy Spirit is not a drama on a stage nor a spectacular series of events. While He can do amazing things, it is more about simple obedience that loves others and is not afraid to share with them the gospel of what Jesus Christ has done for me. While I love hearing the dramatic stories and having God answer prayer in startling ways, I know that these are not the norm for one simple reason: I would begin to glory in them instead of glorifying the awesome God who is responsible.

Lord Jesus, I know that I’m to honor You in everything. Every breath that I take is because of Your goodness and grace. All that I have and am is because of Your generosity and kindness. This life is not mainly about the mountain top experiences but ordinary life and daily work on level ground — living in a way that honors You and does not draw attention to myself. Thank You for being here, for Your daily faithfulness and constant care.

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