Don't Grieve the Spirit

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” - Ephesians 4:30

As I continue to go deeper with Christ, I find that there is more freedom in the Christian life than I’m comfortable with. We don’t live out a black and white faith. We don’t get formulas or step-by-steps or strategies. We get the Holy Spirit. So when these questions start to emerge:

  •  How much is too much?
  •  How far is too far?
  •  Should I listen to ________? 
  •  Should I watch _______? 

We are often left feeling …

http://gph.is/1fdfma8

Or worse - In an attempt to control God and/or master our faith, we decide on hard and fast rules for ourselves… and sometimes force them on others.
 
That’s exactly what the Pharisees did. They rushed to fill gaps in the law with man-made rules and rituals. In doing so, they lost God’s heart behind the law. It was no longer about protection but prestige. They didn’t care about being set apart as much as they cared about being successful.
 
When Jesus came, “not to abolish the law but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17), he took that corrupt power out of it. He knocked the rigidity out of it and returned it to a divine order, an overflow of God’s heart for His people. And the Spirit continues this work in each of us. And we wrestle. Our flesh longs to break the law or control it - to ignore it or subdue it. But all brings grief to the spirit.
 
What does it mean to “grieve” the spirit? I love the way Charles Spurgeon said it in one of his sermons,

“Grief is a sweet combination of anger and of love. It is anger, but all the gall is taken from it. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offense.”

God’s heart is for us. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is prompting us. The Holy Spirit is guiding us. The Holy Spirit is wooing us. When we live out of our own strength, when we act on our own wisdom, our words and actions can have a weak or foolish ring to them. But when we heed the Spirit, even our most meager efforts reverberate with power and love.
 
“I grieve the Holy Spirit by wandering around in the desert of my own thoughts and ways, too busy or too lazy to drink from the fountain of faith and power that is in God’s Word,” Helen Simmons wrote in this Active Christianity article.

Of course there are hard and fast rules for the Christian. But we do not get to create new ones. We reach a point when we have to stop painting by numbers. We have to let the colors bleed and see where they go. We have to step out into more with the spirit. It will be messy. There’s no guarantee of what the picture will look like. There’s only another brush stroke. And evaluation. And another brush stroke. And evaluation. The Artist is with you. The Artist is within you. He gently guides your trembling hand. Are you heeding his touch?
 
Author | Claire Jordan

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