Do You Make The Holy Spirit Cry?

dont-make-me-cry

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30).
 
The Holy Spirit begs each of us, “don’t make me cry.”
 
What is it that makes the Holy Spirit cry? What breaks His heart?
 
Interpreters of this verse often present a wide array of thoughts on what it means to “grieve the Holy Spirit.” Ideas range anywhere from crediting Satan for the actions of God, living in unrepentant sin, or falling away from faith.
 
However, each of these interpretations break one of the cardinal rules for Biblical interpretation … study the context. Let the context define what an unclear statement might mean.
 
Paul does just that with this verse in Ephesians 4.
 
Take a look at verse 29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
 
Now look at verse 31 and 32: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
 
We don’t need to go any further than these verses to guess what Paul means in verse 30! Paul provides matching bookends to verse 30. Sandwiched right between is the plea to not bring the Holy Spirit to tears.
 
The verses, immediately before and after, mentions actions that are destruction to relationships within the body of Christ. In each couplet, a negative action is rejected for a positive option. In both verses, Paul is telling the believers to guard against these negative actions: destructive words; and bitterness and malice. The Ephesians are told to exchange these negative actions for positive relating: words that encourage and strengthen; and tender forgiveness like God.
 
Why does he tuck this verse about grieving the Holy Spirit between these verses? Because Paul’s sandwich is meant to make clear to the reader that it is these very harmful activities that threaten the harmony and unity of the body of Christ that make the Holy Spirit cry?
 
Have you made the Holy Spirit cry? How are your relationships within the body of Christ? Have you conducted yourself in a manner that leaves tears streaming down the face of God? Or have you exchanged the actions that bring the Holy Spirit to tear with the actions that place a smile on His face because they grow and bless the body?


Soft Hearts

soft-hearts“Be kind to one another tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
 
Right relationships are not just about the don’ts — don’t hold grudges, don’t speak badly of others, don’t seek harm toward others.
 
Right relations are also built by positive actions. Paul tells us to have soft hearts toward one another. That means be sensitive toward one another, allow your heart to be moved by others. Bitter hearts become calloused. Paul encourages that to be replaced with softness and compassion.
 
He, also, tells us to forgive each other. That is the positive reflection of softening of a heart of resentment and anger. It isn’t enough to discard your bitterness. Bitterness needs replaced by forgiveness. We need to relate to one another as God relates to us because of the sacrifice of Christ.
 
Paul’s very clear implication is that since all of us needed forgiveness at the expense of Christ, we ought to demonstrate forgiveness to one another. How is it possible to hold someone hostage in unforgiveness for the very things Christ has forgiven?
 
Does your heart need some softening?


Gangs, Clubs & the Church

Blog Gangs Clubs ChurchWhat do gangs, the “club” culture and the church have in common? Now before you say, “Nothing!”, I want you to look past the violence, the drug culture and the general pandemonium of the gang and club culture. Look even deeper than the fact that these are groups of people who get together. Take a moment, and I want you to see that there is something fundamental which is shared by gangs, the club and church members.

The thing that these three groups share is a common need and desire for a sense of community – real friendship where there is no relational pretending. The problem is that those who are seeking community in gangs and at the club have concluded that they won’t find community in the church.

Yet one of the hallmarks of the early church was that they “continued steadfastly in … fellowship”, and cared for each other’s needs. What has happened to the average church?

Perhaps our biggest problem is that we have so narrowed the definition of fellowship to potluck dinners and other meals that we have missed the real meaning of the term as community for the church.

So let’s review what fellowship really looks like:

  1. Fellowship is acceptance. As believers we can accept one another no matter how different we are or deep our struggles with sin because God in his grace and mercy has already accepted us.
  2. Fellowship is authenticity. We, as believers, can put away the masks and pretentions because none of us can hide the fact that we are sinners struggling to live lives consistent with Christ’s will.
  3. Fellowship is accountability. We cannot go it alone. We need other believers, not to gossip or pick or cajole, but to help us grow and mature in faith through encouragement, teaching and correction.
  4. Fellowship is availability. Communities make individual resources available to help with the needs of others.

The whole character of the church is wrapped up in the issue of community. Love one  another. Pray for one another. Encourage one another. Serve one another. The church is “one-another” community.

When you begin to get a grasp of what church is meant to look like, would you be satisfied with a potluck dinner? I know I wouldn’t.

Let’s offer those who are looking for community within social clusters that give them a false sense of belonging a real place to belong.