Carrying Our Own Load
The power of the Holy Spirit is first manifested in our lives as we experience the transforming grace of God. It is the Holy Spirit who gives revelation of Christ and allows us to understand the grace we have been given. However, we make the decision to follow Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us see the way, and gives us strength when we are weak, but we still have a responsibility to make a decision and take action. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Walking in the Spirit requires a few things:
- Recognition of the Spirit
- Obedience to God’s word
- A perseverance to continue doing these things
In order to walk with the Spirit, we must first know Him and recognise His leading. People have described His leading as a small, quiet voice, a feeling, in visions and dreams, and as a word in season. The Holy Spirit may speak in any of these ways, and the way to test if something is of the Holy Spirit, is to test it against God’s word. The Holy Spirit leads us into truth and God’s word is truth; so we test if the impression we are receiving is in line with God’s word. The Holy Spirit gives revelation of God’s way, but we also have a part to play in obedience. Without obedience, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives cannot be fully expressed. Finally, we need to persevere in walking with the Spirit because if our lives are not lead by the Spirit, we will stray from God’s way. Our relationship with Christ is our responsibility. It requires continued time and investment. In Song of Songs 1:6, we see the consequence of neglecting this relationship. Even ministry is no excuse for neglecting the vineyard of our own relationship with God.
“Do not look upon me because I am dark,
Because the sun has tanned me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
They made me the keeper of the vineyards,
But my own vineyard I have not kept.”
In Galatians, we are further reminded that our actions, and decisions have consequences.
- [Galatians 6:4-5] – “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”
- [Galatians 6:7-9] – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Our relationship with God is our responsibility. No amount of teaching, prayer from others or ministry can override our need for Jesus. We need to grow daily in our relationship with Him, and we need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit to us is revelation of Christ, and our response to this revelation is our responsibility.
More on how the Spirit intercedes for us: https://lostnowfoundk.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/the-interceding-spirit/
Stewards of God’s Love
Relationships are a big part of life. The way we treat others can have significant consequences – a person may be healed and encouraged, or broken and destroyed. John 13:35 says, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is powerful, as 1 Peter 4:3 says, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.” Being a good steward of love is one of the most wonderful things, yet it can be difficult and wearisome if are not being continually filled with the love of Christ (carrying our own load). There is a lot that can be said about loving each other, but I’m going to focus on just two things here.
- Who does love point to?
- When to love in person, and when to love in absence
These are two aspects of loving people which I have thought about, journeyed through, and grown in through the years. Each of us has been equipped with various spiritual gifts, and these express themselves as we live our lives and grow in relationship with those around us. It is important to recognise our spiritual gifts so that we can steward them well, recognise the opportunities around us, and exercise them appropriately, for the glory of God.
I recognised through the years that people would often tell me things, even strangers, people who I just happened to sit next to at a bus stop, or those I had not known for very long. Initially, in my immature zeal for the Lord, I invested greatly in any need mentioned to me, and I spent a lot of time talking with people via email, phone or in person. However, over time, I saw how important it was to have discernment and wisdom in ministering to these people. I found myself in some difficult situations, even as a high school student – older men who sought my advice on broken marriages, mothers whose children did not respect them, and who asked me to speak the words they could not speak to their children, people whose own sorrows began to weigh heavily upon my own heart. I am so grateful for the people in my life then – my parents, and my pastor – who helped me discern God’s plan for some of these situations. There is a time to help, and a time to allow others to minister. There is wisdom to be learnt in this, and in knowing when you are out of your depth. A couple of times, I felt like I became stuck in the middle of a situation where people expected me to continue a cycle of deceit that I felt really needed the truth and grace of God to heal. So, how could I love these people, and at the same time uphold God’s standards? Here I learnt a couple of lessons.
1. Who does love point to?
The answer is Jesus. If I am helping someone so that they become dependent on me, I am not loving right. When I love, I want to love with God’s love. I want others to know that they are loved and liked, not only by me, but also by God. Ultimately, the power in my love, comes from the power of God’s love. It is His love I am stewarding here on earth, and I want to steward it well. [1 John 4:8] – “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This means that in order to love, I must first know God. This is something I desire that people would know – that love comes from God.
2. When to love in person, and when to love in absence
Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” We are commissioned to bear one another’s burdens, but to do so gently, and with discernment of where we ourselves stand. There are times to stand for God’s truth, even when it challenges a friend, and times to let a close friend travel a journey they need to , but with other people. It has been painful for me at times to let go, and let God take someone into another season for growing, but there has been fruit from this. I have been encouraged to hear some of these testimonies, and glad to see some transformed lives. In other situations, as we live a life set apart and holy to God, we simply cannot journey with another person in what they are doing. All these things require discernment and communion with God because situations are diverse and unique in their nature. However, God always has a plan – we just need to be aware of it.
In relationships, there is also potential for misuse of trust. I am wary of bringing God into things by saying “God said you should do this or that”. Prophesy, a spiritual gift, is available to all God’s people, but it is for the edification, exhortation and comfort of men [1 Corinthians 14:3]. If I do have an impression from God that I feel to share, I always pray over it and ask God to speak. Sometimes the person will share a testimony, confirming the word. Sometimes, this word of confirmation comes much later. At other times, I don’t hear anything. Mike Bickle’s book “Growing in the Prophetic” helped me understand how to steward this spiritual gift when I first began to exercise it more. It is available in PDF form here: http://www.renewgyn.com/Resources/Bickle_Growing-Prophetic%281%29.pdf
Stewards of God’s Possessions
This is something I am still learning, and will learn about more as I start work this year. I want to use everything I have for God’s glory and, as Paul says, “… I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now I do this for the gospel’s sake, that I may be a partaker of it with you.” [1 Corinthians 9:22-23] I once said that I never wanted to be rich. Then, someone described the financial situation of the world. It was at a conference aimed at those in marketplace ministry, and I began to understand the significance of marketplace missionaries. If God’s people refuse to work in the marketplace, who will lead companies, control resources, and distribute the finances? Who will demonstrate the leadership and characteristics of Christ in this sector? Who will support the local missionaries and those going out to train them? We need to stop looking just at ourselves, and see the greater picture of God’s church. We need to recognise our role and work together. We cannot do everything by ourselves, but when we build each other up, looking at Christ as our leader, the church rises up as a powerful witness in the world. The abuse of this power comes in pride, and in chasing after the things of this world, rather than looking toward God.
In Proverbs 30:8, Agur says, “… Give me neither poverty nor riches…” He explains this further in verse 9, “…Lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” My husband and I are learning to be both generous and wise in the way we use our money. Living in this world, we still need to set an example in paying our bills on time, and we still need to do the mundane task of grocery shopping and filling up the car. Where do we invest my money, and how much? It’s a question we are still discussing but we recognise the importance of our 10% tithe, our commitment to our local church, and our desire to support the house of prayer we so desire to see worldwide. We don’t have a house at the moment, but perhaps in the future, we will be able to accommodate people at our home, or in neighbouring homes if we eventually invest and build these. Perhaps we will set up a medical clinic for the disadvantaged, or help build a house of prayer in Adelaide. We do not know all these future plans yet, but we want to be prepared for them. At the moment, we give, and we share from what we have.
“All I am is all I have
And all, all I have to give, and I give it all to You”
These lyrics, from Julie Meyer’s “Alabaster Jar” describe the way in which we want to steward our resources – all that we are in heart, soul, mind, and all God has given us, we give to Him for His purposes and for His glory. There are many things to think about in stewarding our possessions, but there is one question I always ask – how can I bless another, and how can I bless the Lord?