Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grieving the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:29-32  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you."

I've come across two concepts that have the power to stop me dead in my tracks in personal embarrassment for the way I conduct myself at times.  One is the concept of "grieving" the Holy Spirit, which Paul mentions in the verses above.  The other is "embarrassing the angels", which I just read again in Dr. James Dobson's book, Bringing Up Girls.  Both express recognition of the presence of God in our lives, through the Holy Spirit that lives inside the hearts of those who have received His calling, and agents of God who dwell among us.  Both also express the reaction of God to the choices we make and the way we conduct ourselves at times.

Our society and our cultural norms have slid into the gutter.  All it takes is turning on the TV or looking at the ads in a magazine to know this is true.  Where has our collective sense of common decency gone?  Where has the concept of boundaries gone?  Is there no subject that is considered private or uncouth anymore?

Within this environment, we have a choice to make every day as to how we will conduct ourselves and what we stand for and project to those around us.  To conform to the societal norms of today in many cases is to project an image of crassness and an absence of class.  When we engage in conversations about subjects that are best suited for the privacy of our homes rather than the podium in a public place, or any other time we live and conduct ourselves in a manner that is less than worthy of what Christ died to give us, we are grieving the Holy Spirit.  We are embarrassing the angels.

I occasionally catch myself having just thought something, said something, or having acted in a way that is less than worthy of the Holy Spirit that lives inside my heart.  There are no doubt other times where I have thought, said, or done something equally unworthy and not recognized it.  The feeling of condemnation I feel is hard to describe.  But I can tell you what the feeling is not - it is NOT a feeling of blind conformance to a set of rules for the sake of following rules.  The feeling is one of recognition that those thoughts and/or actions were not a true reflection of the appreciation I have for God's grace and mercy.  The condemnation is a feeling of living in a less-than-authentic way, not because some book of rules told me I have to, but because I want to.  To live in a manner that is even remotely close to worthy of the Gospel is one of my deepest desires. 

Have your thoughts, words and actions today grieved the Holy Spirit and embarrassed the angels?  Recognize that and let it motivate you to live more authentically in light of the Gospel. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Paybacks are....?

1 Peter 3:9  "Do not repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

When we think of repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, it is natural to think of doing something directly to the person who previously offended you.  Saying something to them or doing something to block some path they are on feels like the most direct form of payback.

But what about those of us who take a more passive approach?  We may not directly confront the person, rather choosing to harbor ill will toward them, criticize them in private, voice to others where we think they are falling short of Christ-likeness.

One thing we most certainly are not doing for them is lifting them up in prayer.  By not directly confronting and taking a more passive approach, somehow we feel as if we are closer to what Peter is asking of us in this verse.  Although our means are different, we are no closer to the mark than someone who aggressively confronts in anger.  If anything, we are less courageous and less likely to restore real relationship with the person.

Let our starting point be lifting those who offend us up in prayer, and let the Holy Spirit guide our actions and reactions from there.