Don’t waste your spiritual resources!
God has given us unlimited resources to help us to grow into the people he desires us to be, but are making use of them? asks Michele Morrison
Despite my best intentions, I am guilty of squandering natural resources, and my negligence of spiritual resources is equally shameful.
Within the Godhead there are intrinsic resources available to us which, too often, we treat with contempt or indifference. Think for a moment of God’s grace, his mercy and forgiveness. These shower down on us all the time and, when we really receive them, they free us to be generous towards others. The joy of being set free from envy, jealousy and bitterness is a gift of God.
Scripture reveals a deep vein of spiritual riches available to us because we are “in Christ”. Jesus said, “Abide in me”(John 15:4), and it’s as we do so that we lay hold of his wealth of resources. But how do we abide in Christ?
Our spiritual antennae need to be constantly alert to his voice. We must acknowledge our total dependence on God and ask for his help. When we do, he throws open the floodgates of heaven and pours out blessings.
The password to those floodgates is no secret: Jesus is the name that unlocks the gates of heaven and his Holy Spirit brings with him a treasure chest of goodies.
We have Jesus
The top treasure is Jesus himself, the great I AM: light of the world, bread of life, the way, the truth and the life, the resurrection, the good shepherd. Scripture tells us that “All things were created by him and for him . . .He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16 & 17). Our task is therefore to remain focused on Jesus.
In practical terms, this can mean posting texts on the fridge or dashboard, playing praise music, carrying a cross in your pocket or a WWJD band on your wrist. Think creatively, prayerfully, guided by the Spirit, about making adjustments in your life.
Jesus told his disciples to remain in him, promising that he would then remain in them (John 15:4) – in order that they might bear fruit.
The fruits of his Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galations 5:22-23) - are products of our relationship with our Lord. We ourselves are nourished deep within when, for example, the patience of Jesus replaces our own impatience, (note that some of these fruits are extremely slow-growing!), but the real miracle is that as we bear these fruits, we become partners with God in providing supernatural resources for the world!
We inhabit a hate-filled, violent world, desperate for true love and real peace. It’s as these God-given fruits in us are evident within many situations at work or in the home that people glimpse and are touched by the love of God.
We have the Holy Spirit
When the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the cowering disciples were delivered from their fears and filled with faith and power. They spilled onto the streets preaching in a symphony of languages. They did not then drop back from the dangerous public scene, but pushed forward, and their preaching of the Gospel was followed by signs and wonders which attested to the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth.
As believers, we have each experienced our own Pentecost, and the fervency of that first flush of faith. Paul recognised the temptation to fall back, however: he urged Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6). Perhaps Timothy was retreating into his comfort zone, but Paul challenged him: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (v 7). We don’t have to muster up courage ourselves; God has resourced us with his Spirit.
Are you and I living victoriously, relying on God’s power, love and self-discipline? Or have we retreated into our comfort zones? In what areas are you and I keeping silent, our failure to speak out in effect condoning the increasingly godless standards of our society?
Let’s fan into flame the gift of God that is in us!
We have the mind of Christ
The apostle Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ – access to the thoughts of the Creator himself. “The spiritual man makes judgements about all things . . . (for) we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthains 2:14-16). What does this mean?
As I walked the dog this morning, I wrestled with anxiety over a health issue within the family. How could I apply my access to Jesus’ mind to this problem?
I believe God guided me to a couple of insights: when Jesus was tempted by Satan, his response was to use the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – Scripture. Scripture counsels that we should take our thoughts captive to Christ, so as my mind wandered back towards the dark tunnel of anxiety, I deliberately took those thoughts captive and counter-attacked with Scripture.
The Holy Spirit reminded me of the promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). In this situation, God is working. It opened my mind to considering the possibilities of that and introduced praise and thanksgiving rather than desperate pleading. Moreover, when I looked up the above reference, my eye fell on the preceding two verses and I was greatly comforted to be reminded that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us”.
We have the armour of God
I won’t pretend that I have ‘got’ that now and am not tempted to wander back down those dark corridors of worry. But again, God has provided us with supernatural resources to combat these temptations. We have been given the armour of God (Ephesians 6), but it is up to us to put it on! I need to deliberately, prayerfully, don the armour and then repel the attacks that come. Satan loves for us to live in fear rather than in faith. Let’s not give him that satisfaction.
We have the Word of God
The above illustration demonstrates the importance of soaking ourselves in Scripture. We need to be familiar with the Word of God so that when the temptations and attacks come, the Spirit can speak to us clearly in words of Scripture.
We are given spiritual gifts
Effective husbandry of spiritual resources includes valuing the various spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit bestows according to his wisdom. These are to be used in harmony with other believers’ gifts in order to build the church here on earth.
“We were all baptised by one Spirit into one body” (1 Corinthains 12:13). “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good,” Paul declares (v7). One body; the common good. “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthains 14:1). The gifts of the Spirit, exercised in humility and love, bless us as we serve him as conduits for blessing the church. Prophecy, words of wisdom and knowledge, gifts of teaching and preaching – these are all resources God gives us so that he can more effectively build his Church.
John writes, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). This then is the sign that we abide in Jesus: we live in love. And we do it not because we are holy, but because he enables us through his indwelling Holy Spirit. We draw on his resources, and further the Kingdom here on earth.
May we all come before God in true humility so that, enabled by him, we never waste the spiritual resources he provides.