God’s strength needs to become our strength. But, when do you need that to happen?
One of the most common times of seeing your weakness is when you try to love somebody you do not like!
It is hard to do. You can try. You can do good things for people you do not like. By doing good things for people you do not like you may confuse your human ability to act with the empowerment of God’s Spirit and think you are loving them. There is no place in Scripture where God says He will empower you to use your human abilities to love people. That is not what God does. He empowers us with His Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 states, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit….” When you were born again, the Holy Spirit came to live in you. Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit–the Father will send Him in My name–will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you” (Jn. 14:26, HCSB). All the resources of God are available to a repentant heart. Paul states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23, NKJV). Not only does God empower us with these wonderful spiritual qualities, but there are also other things with which the Holy Spirit empowers us.
If God has placed His Spirit within you, then the simple but profound truth is that He empowers you with His Spirit of love which enables you to have genuine godly love instead of determined human acting ability to love somebody you do not like. He does not empower us with our human ability to be the best that we can be. He empowers us with His Spirit to respond as He wants us to respond by His power. It is His love for people that enables you to love–not your love for people.
God’s love does not bring up records of wrong. God’s love always hopes and God’s love always perseveres. Born again believers have within them this resident Spirit who empowers them to have God’s love, God’s peace, and God’s joy. Even though these resources of God are always available, why is it that many have trouble experiencing joy? If God’s Spirit lives within believers, and the fruit of God’s Spirit is joy, why are many believers unhappy and lacking real joy?
Dr. Henry Brandt used to challenge believers to simply practice this one verse for one week, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4, NKJV), and see if they could be successful at it. It is difficult if not impossible in our human ability. Do you know why a Christian would not be joyful? He is out of fellowship with the God of joy. The power of God’s strength is always present–resident within believers–but sometimes we do not live it out. Lack of joy is not because God’s Spirit is not available to us. Being filled, controlled, and walking in the Spirit is not a familiar daily practice to many believers.
Change Your Ways
Do you remember times when you repented and were refreshed by the Lord? Your thinking changed to God’s way of thinking instead of your way. You wanted to live for Him and you wanted to follow Him with all your heart. Returning to fellowship with God opened your eyes to see that you had been trying to live the Christian life by your own strength. Our nature is to do what the prophet Isaiah stated, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way…” (Is. 53:6). But repentance returns our hearts to dependence on God, allowing us to be more than our mere human strength can produce.
Is there any question which way to live? God’s way is a strength that is not of this world!
Copyright © 2006 by Kerry L. Skinner, “The Joy of Repentance”