I normally write an extensive list of all the goals I’d like reach in the coming year (like this), but this year one single, simple, life-changing resolution is pressing into my heart above other things.
I want to stop quenching the Holy Spirit.
I simply want to make the decision to listen to God in the moment.
I don’t want to ignore that small voice telling me to call a particular friend, telling me to keep my mouth shut when I have a nasty comment brewing, telling me to avoid food or drink, telling me my anxiety is being fueled by lack of time in the Word.
“Do not quench the Spirit.” — Thessalonians 5:19
Other versions say /stifle/extinguish/turn away/restrain.
How does one quench, even grieve the holy spirit? I like this explanation by gotquestions.org (if you have a lot of faith questions, this is a great resource!):
“Ephesians 4:30 tells us that we should not grieve the Spirit. We grieve the Spirit by living like the pagans (4:17-19), by lying (4:25), by being angry (4:26-27), by stealing (4:28), by cursing (4:29), by being bitter (4:31), by being unforgiving (4:32), and by being sexually immoral (5:3-5). To grieve the Spirit is to act out in a sinful manner, whether it is in thought only or in both thought and deed.”
How easy it is to justify our actions, thoughts, words and ignore urgings from the Spirit. What would happen if we just did what we knew we should do in that very moment? Even if it wasn’t convenient. Even if we didn’t feel like it in the moment. Even if we feel another person doesn’t deserve it.
I’ve got an idea of what would happen. We would experience a new kind of freedom we have never had before. No looking over our shoulder, hiding an addiction, hoping someone wouldn’t hear what we said behind her back, suffering physically for lack of control of what we eat or drink, experiencing new connections with God … And those are just the benefits to ourselves. What about others and the kingdom of God?
The Spirit does guide us to refrain from things, but he also guides us to do things. When it occurs to you to randomly tell our spouse we love them even though you might not want to in that moment, do it! When you know it would be better to go to bed when he goes to bed, do it! When you think of a way to help someone with no benefit to yourself, do it! When the urge arises to do something kind for a stranger, do it! Don’t stuff it down, put it off or make excuses. We have no idea the light that can come from these gestures.
I imagine that as this becomes the brain’s new way of doing things, the waters of the living God pour out and joy will abound. I don’t know about you, but I want that experience.
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” John 7:38
I don’t want to build dams in my heart so that living waters can’t flow wildly. Not only do I want to listen to that voice who longs to guide me to freedom, but I want to do it immediately.
Read this verse about God speaking to Abraham:
When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him.” — Genesis 17:22-23
What stands out to you? What stands out to me is that Abraham did it that very day! Circumcising yourself at 90 years old and your entire household would probably be something most of us would put off until at least tomorrow, right?! But he did it that very day.
What a monumental gift those of us living on this side of Jesus’ resurrection have. The people of the old testament longed for this day, to be holy enough to live with God.
Because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice we don’t have to wait for an angel to appear or a prophet to speak. We have spiritual access to God every moment of our lives!
You can accept it and prosper in it or you can build up a dam, attempt to contain it, and limit your union with God here in this life.
Let’s break down the dam and swim in the deep waters this year. Let’s never reject or neglect this unmerited, monumental gift of the Holy Spirit.
If you have questions on who the Holy Spirit is, start with this video. I love the Bible Project and their explanations of complicated subjects!