A Spirit-filled life – that’s the goal, right? But what does that look like in the life of a believer beyond simply offering a definition we have read or been taught somewhere in our walk with the Lord?
According to Kenny Luck, three things will be evident even as they were in the beginning as seen in the book of Acts:
“Three things characterize the first community of Spirit-filled believers: uncommon attitudes, uncommon actions, and an uncommon unity of life and purpose.”
That translates into a desire to truly see, lift up, and encourage others and set aside the tendency to self-focus that can so easily occur to any and all of us. To see others means we are not so consumed by our agendas, schedules, thoughts, and goals that we miss the words you say, the inflection in your tone when you say them, the demeanor on your face when you share them, or the bearing of your body as you express yourself.
It can be so easy to be not only engaged in the busyness of life, but also the many ministry involvements of ministry that we can miss the ministry opportunity right in front of us. Are we so busy being a Christian that others miss the reality of Christ within us?
So many challenges bombard us each day. All of us could be buffered from that bombardment with some little moment of encouragement, especially when it is unexpected. Yet, that moment of thoughtfulness when we acknowledge the waitress that serves us or the clerk who checked us out can pass by when it would cost us so little to express it.
We can only do that if we are connected to the One who never fails to encourage and lift up. It can only happen when we are not walking through each day in a state of weary ambivalence that dulls the nudge of the Spirit within us.
“God tells us that the hot and searing sun of ambivalence, disconnectedness, and self-absorption bakes and hardens a soul unwatered by encouragement. A hard coating forms over people’s minds, which isolates them and makes worse any part of their life that is broken, selfish, discontent, cynical, or skeptical. Without life-giving encouragement, over time, people will begin to believe lies…” Kenny Luck
And there is another important truth to be aware of – those who are under-encouraged cannot be great encouragers.
I recall so well the upheaval the deaths of my parents resulted in for me. They died just three months apart from one another and with a sibling who was mentally ill and handicapped, all the details fell to me. Then when family had gone back home and I was trying to sort through my parents’ clothing and personal items, a friend called. She learned that I would be going to my parents’ home again to work on dealing with those details and she simply said she would bring banana bread and coffee and help me. I had not asked her, she offered.
When she arrived with the banana bread still warm from her oven, she sat with me in my parents’ bedroom as I pulled out various items. She listened as I shared memories of certain things and she didn’t rush me. When I felt overwhelmed about what to do with things, she suggested a way to sort them into categories: sell, donate, throw away, or ‘no idea.’ When she left that afternoon, she also took each stack to deliver to the place or person I had decided would be best. How well she loved me that day! This was a Spirit-filled life in action.
It has been 23 years since that day and Shirley’s Spirit-filled action remains imprinted in my mind and heart.
The Lord has placed each of us in close proximity to many people each day even if we live alone. How can we be a means of encouragement and grace to them? It starts with an understanding that each person we meet is suffering from encouragement deficiency.
To be one who notices, responds, and moves in encouragement will be so unusual to most anyone around us that it will clearly be evidence of the light within us.
But remember…it isn’t supposed to happen only on certain days or when we are not too busy…as believers, it is supposed to be our lifestyle.
“Dangerous good behavior is Spirit-empowered behavior that is counterintuitive to a watching world. It’s show stopping: Just when they expect you to do the self-protective things, you do a Spirit-filled thing out of love for God and people. You take the road less traveled, and the tension inside of you releases itself into faithfulness to Christ for the sake of another.” Kenny Luck