Already today we receive extra lessons from the Holy Spirit on the subject of serving and reigning. How exactly He goes about this is explained by District Apostle Helper John Schnabel from the United States in his Spotlight article.
In this year’s theme, our Chief Apostle alerted us to our purpose and how it relates to our conduct today. Certainly, we cannot expect that on the day of the Lord we will suddenly receive a complete remedial course on how to serve and lead! It will feel entirely natural, although with the capabilities of the new creature that we have become in Christ. However, even today, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are already serving and reigning in different aspects of life: over our nature, the spirits contrary to God’s will, and the souls the Lord has placed in our lives to love. But how do we do this effectively every day?
First, we must recognise the source of our power. This was laid out to us on Pentecost: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1: 7). This power comes from the gift of the Holy Spirit which points us to Christ. The Spirit dwells within us and allows us to live according to a new set of priorities which lead to new experiences, attesting that we are His children (Romans 8: 11–16).
Apostle Paul speaks of such experiences in 2 Corinthians 12. In the sixth verse he reminds us that we are permitted to experience God in our life only through grace: we can never take credit for it. The real proof that we have the power of the Spirit is what others experience around us in our conduct and speech. The gospel applied in our life must change us. This is not to say though that this change is automatic or even easy. Paul explains that a “thorn” in the flesh was given to him to humble him, making clear that all he accomplished was by the sufficiency of God’s grace. This is the Christian’s walk of life: strength and weakness working together. Often, we find that periods of strength are followed swiftly by challenges to overcome. And as we wrestle the power of God is made evident in our weakness. We all have thorns that humble us. They allow us to see God’s grace in our lives so that the power of Christ may rest in us (2 Corinthians 12:9).
It is not sufficient to recognise the thorn; we must see the message attached to it. I once applied for a graduate programme at a prestigious school and got rejected! What a thorn! I could have interpreted this experience as a message saying, “You are not good enough,” or, “It’s your professors’ fault”. But the Lord had a different message: “This is not the way for you. Be humble, depend on My plan.” Our weakness is sheltered in the strength of the Lord. That is our path of faith, but it requires us to reign over ourselves. The Apostle said it best: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” And when I am strong, I can help those who are weak as well as show them the source of my strength: Jesus Christ.
Photo: NAC USA