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WHAT MANNER OF SPIRIT
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"But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit ye are of’ Luke 9:55
Most people, if not everyone, can relate with being tempted to hit back at someone who hurt or offends them. Christians are not immune from this. Years of studying, knowing and living the Word is sometimes not a safety valve from the outpourings of emotions that overrun us as we battle to deal with the wounds and pains of abuse, betrayals and offences. Shepherds or sheep, we all seem prone to retaliation or revenge!
In Luke 9:51-56, we read the account of Jesus’ journey through a village of the Samaritans. Sadly, the Samaritans rejected Him. A few of His disciples, offended at His rejection asked if they could call down fire from heaven to consume the offenders, just as Elijah did.
Jesus rebuked them saying:
- That the wish to exercise their spiritual authority to destroy the offenders showed their lack of understanding of the ways of the spirit they had received from the Lord;
- That His purpose (and that of every Christian) is not to destroy men’s lives but to save them.
This counsel is much for us as it was for them.
In Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus taught them a new way (different from that in Exodus 2:24 and Leviticus 24:20) on how to respond to their enemies. Rather than the eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, they were to do good to those who hate them and pray for those who persecute them.
I believe that His words in Luke 9:55 was an explanation for the change of attitude towards their ‘enemies’ - the spirit they have received from Him will not work in them to destroy those who hurt or offend them.
The New Testament resonates the newness of heart on how to treat our 'enemies':
Romans 12:19 - Dearly beloved, do not avenge yourselves, … for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.
Romans 12:17 - Repay no one evil for evil.
1 Peter 3:9 - Not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling: but on the contrary blessing; knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Beyond the issue of retaliation or revenge, the spirit we have received of Him also brings a newness of life in virtually all aspects of our being – 2 Corinthians 5:17. Old things pass away and God is now at work in us both to do and to will for His good pleasure – Philippians 2:13.
We must open up our hearts to humbly receive from the Lord, not only the knowledge of the new ways to handle us, people and situations but also the power to do of His good pleasure.
Concerning dealing with pain or hurt from rejection, abuse, humiliation or betrayal, rather than hit back, we can chose to:
- Pour our hearts out to the Lord;
- Ask Him to heal our hearts
- Ask Him for and receive the grace to forgive
- Pray (in love) for the person who has hurt us
-And if the person is unrelenting in their wickedness, ask the Lord to arise and avenge us.
The spirit we have received will of itself provoke changes to how we think, handle people and situations. But change can be difficult and a change from the natural man’s (as opposed to the spiritual man’s) way of handling life is never going to be easy. But change is part of the new life in Christ:
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God…
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
You see, our former conduct is not the manner of the spirit we have received; and given that there is no fellowship between light and darkness, we must give room for Christ to be our all and for Light to truly overcome darkness.
The peace and rest we desire can be only be found as we yield to the Holy Spirit and commit to doing things God’s way.
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