“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor. 7:1
I was hurriedly writing an email in response to someone who had written me when it was as though the Spirit of God seemed to figuratively raise His heavenly hand and STOP ME.
I had just received an email from the person to whom I was writing. I had been frustrated, hurt, and jealous when I had first communicated with the person. I had subsequently repented. Now with the latest communication from the person, I was irritated and disappointed. And I was pridefully looking down at the person for not acting the way I had wanted and for doing something I felt offended by.
Why was the Holy Spirit STOPPING ME from responding right then? I felt I had every reason to tell the person exactly what I thought and felt. Surely I was justified to put that person in that person’s place. To state what I felt needed to be stated. To tell that person off. To make the person see how differently the person could have acted. According to my expectations and hope, quite frankly. This was precisely why the Holy Spirit was STOPPING ME, and this is why I am compelled to share this message with you.
My heart like it had been the first time I communicated with the person was filled with sin. I had allowed my heart to get clogged up again with pride, hurt, bitterness, discouragement, judgment, jealousy, etc. That was problem number one. I needed to repent again. The second problem was I had started to write an email to the person based on MY FEELINGS rather than based on THE LORD’S WILL FOR ME in how HE wanted me to respond to the person. I was so wrapped up in my SELF that I had essentially shoved the Lord and His Word off to the side and was hastily, selfishly, and wrongfully plunging into my self-willed response to this person.
The Lord had STOPPED ME to lead me to repentance so I could get my heart purified, be re-filled with His Spirit, and seek and wait on Him to hear how HE wanted me to respond to the person. Interestingly, as soon as I repented, I realized I could respond in a loving humble manner and then immediately realized perhaps by doing so I could get something for myself out of the communication. The sin was no sooner gone from my heart than I was tempted to let more of my self-centered sin back in! I realized I needed to get rid of that sinful thought as soon as it popped into my mind. Next I needed to ask God to lead me in my response to the person, making clear to Him I wanted HIM to get the glory in all this. Then I responded to the person. In Christ’s love from a pure heart. By God’s grace. For God’s glory.
Is there a message in this for you? The hearts and lives of Christ’s followers belong to HIM, and we need to be vigilant in maintaining pure hearts for the Lord so His Spirit and Word can pour through us to the world around us. Sometimes we hurriedly respond to people from a position of our hearts being filled with sin rather than being filled with Christ’s love, mercy, grace, peace, joy, graciousness, patience, kindness, etc.
We should NOT respond to people based on our sin-filled hearts. Nor should we respond based on our feelings at all. Our feelings are NOT lord of our lives. The LORD is LORD! We should respond to people based on how HE wants us to respond which above all else should be in Christ’s love for God’s glory.
Need that reminder? I do!