Reliance Upon the Holy Spirit (Part 3 of 4)
The Holy Spirit plays a much more important role in our lives than I realized prior to wrestling with how Jesus led and what that meant for me as a parent. As I studied Jesus and how He handled issues in broken people’s lives it was challenging. Whether it was the woman at the well, the adulterous woman or the disciples wanting to know who was greatest among them, Jesus’ response was caring, kind and vastly different than how I responded or reacted as a parent.
Jesus was not surprised by failure or sin and handled it so much more lovingly than I did. As I dug into love it became clear that I was not loving in the way I handled my kids. After spending hours in 1 Cor. 13:4-8, I still could not envision what love was and how it should function in my home. I expanded my study and read every Bible verse on heart, love, spirit, mind, and truth trying to understand how truth and love coexist in a loving way.
1 Cor. 13 4-8 says
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
As I read all the verses, I tripped across a verse that indicated that the Holy Spirit pours love into our hearts. What a thought, I could see love poured into my life by the Spirit. I did not have to somehow conjure up a Godly unconditional love but it would be given to me by the Spirit.
When I stopped and pondered whether this made sense I realized that the elements of love were aligned with the fruit of the Spirit. This is made even more amazing when we consider that the Spirit takes up residence in our hearts!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, and it is not easily angered, The famous passage on love and the fruit of the Spirit echo each other in a profound and powerful way.
If we want to lead like Jesus the good shepherd whose sheep wanted to follow him, we need to love like Jesus. Jesus said to his disciples, it is better that I go and the Spirit comes. It is clear that the Spirit needs to play a significant role in our lives if we want to be loving faith-based parents who will raise kids who stay in the faith.
Yet the question is, how? Clearly we can pray and seek God to fill us with his Spirit and ask Him to grant us love and patience with our kids. Yet I know from talking with many moms and dads that they feel like these prayers are not being answered. Something just keeps getting in the way. Pressure mounts, things happen, our kids push back and we find ourselves not looking and sounding like Jesus at all.
Here are some things to ponder if you find yourself in a cycle where you try really hard and it goes better, but all of a sudden, in spite of prayers and your best intentions, you do the very thing you have been working so hard to change. What may be arresting the power of the Holy Spirit to change your heart and life? The Bible clearly indicates that we can often unconsciously quench the power of the Spirit in our lives.
- Are you hard on yourself? Do you second guess what you say, relive mistakes, get down on yourself or easily become negative about yourself? When we have little compassion, understanding or grace for ourselves we will be harder on those around us. Why? Because we hold ourselves strictly accountable and as a result perform better in our own eyes. We come to believe that if everyone else was doing the same thing, the issues would stop happening.
- Do things your family says to you create significant hurt inside? Does this pain cause you to react with harshness, anger, retreat in tears or a mixture of these?
- Is it hard to see what you are doing wrong but very easy to see what your family members are doing wrong? Unfortunately I have seen how easy it is for me to live in denial of an issue. When we are hard on ourselves, it often makes it easier for blind spots to develop.
All three of these are signs that we have wounds in our past that drove us to perform well, or made certain actions, words and tones of voice very painful for us. These feelings become triggers that cause us to overreact. When our hearts carry wounds and pain from our past, even if we believe intellectually we have dealt with them, our internal emotional memory can play with our minds. It can also distort our ability to hear and even access the Spirit in our lives. He resides in our hearts where we carry what some call soul wounds from our past that can interfere.
To address such wounds is not a fun process; I am convinced great faith-based parents do not avoid pain. Instead we aspire to be humble by taking out a mirror and looking at ourselves intently with the help of friends, family and often a godly counselor. Jesus, while being God, did not equate equality with God as something to be grasped. Instead He humbled himself becoming a servant. (see Phil 2:5-7)
To be great faith-based parents we must humble ourselves and realize that we cannot change or even control ourselves. We need the healing touch of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to truly change.
In next weeks blog we will look more into how the Spirit can begin to change our hearts and lives from the inside out.