The Character of the Spirit; June 5, 2019

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Even Jesus’ disciples sometimes misunderstood the character of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 9:56, in some manuscripts) Perhaps the clearest picture we can get of the Holy Spirit is Jesus Himself. After all, He’s the Spirit of Jesus! (Acts 16:7) Actually, that was a major reason for the Incarnation, so that human beings literally could see what God is like. That applies to the Father, (John 14:9) but it also applies to the Holy Spirit. WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) was quite a fad a few years back, but fad or not, it’s a useful yardstick. The more we know of Jesus, the better we understand the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. I remember hearing of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” in Sunday School as a child, but that is a considerable distortion. The last thing Jesus was, was timid! He was tempted, certainly, (Hebrews 4:15) but He was not lustful. He knew that He and the Father were One, (John 10:30) but He was not proud. The three terms in this verse certainly did apply to Him: power, love, self-discipline. (Some translations say “sound mind,” but that applies too.) What it boils down to is that if we want to be like Jesus, and we should, we need to be filled more and more with His Spirit.

Well, I’ve been given my sermon for Pentecost! This message is very appropriate for Japan, because the average Japanese believer is quite afraid of testifying to their faith, because of society’s attitudes toward religion and social harmony. Religion is seen as an identity – “We Japanese are Buddhist” – than as a personal faith. On top of that, uniformity is highly prized, in defiance of the reality that every human being is unique. It is very common that when a group goes to a restaurant, when one person declares what they are going to order, everyone else says, “I’ll have the same,” when food preferences are proverbially different. (There’s a Latin proverb to that effect that is over 2000 years old.) Saying, “I personally believe in Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him” is saying, “I’m different from you and it’s of vital importance to me.” It doesn’t matter that you’re also saying “I want you to be like me,” because that can come across as, “I want you to be weird too.” Right now I’m dealing with someone who is caught in an extreme form of timidity called hikikomori. (If you look it up, you’ll find articles and videos about it.) A person in that trap doesn’t want to come out of their room, even. The thing is, this individual is a genuine Christian. That makes his current behavior all the more a violation of the Spirit he has received. I am not to attack him personally, but remind him of the character of the Holy Spirit, just as Paul did for Timothy. The devil is not going to win this one!

Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Help me apply it as You intend, not just as Sunday’s message but in personal interactions for as long as I am on this earth, for the deliverance of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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