With the many ways we can grow in our spiritual gifts – through study and meditation of Scripture, reading great books, and simply putting into practice what we’ve learned, to name a few – there is an area that I feel a greater invitation to explore at the moment. It’s in the fabric of my character, and in maturing into another level in the fruit of the Spirit and in the nature of Christ. I’m feeling this deep drawing into a place of cultivating greater wholeness in the realms of my inner person, so the Father can entrust me with more as I steward that which He has given to me.
GROWING IN THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
One of my spiritual gifts is the gift of discerning of spirits. This gift operates primarily through the senses and emotions, and at times can feel very overwhelming. Sometimes the sensation in my physical senses is like sitting next to both an enormous roaring fire and an icy-cold freezer at the same time! With this gift, atmospheres can be very overwhelming, and the things happening in the spirit realm feel like they’re happening right under your skin. It can be intense, but it IS a gift!
In her book, Jennifer Eivaz relays an experience she had where she was discerning something, and puts it this way: “What I was experiencing was overwhelming discernment, which can lead to an overreactive response. Overwhelming discernment is not wrong in itself to have, but it is our response to accurately discerned information that makes it either right or wrong. We need to learn from these situations so we can manage our responses better”.
As I’ve been looking at how I manage my responses better, I’ve been looking at how to walk in a greater depth of meekness and humility. Humility and meekness are themselves expressions of love, and of preferring others (Rom 12:10). We know that love is inseparably linked to growing in discernment. Philippians 1:9 says: ‘And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…’
If the Lord is entrusting you with His eyes to discern the human spirit and to see into the spirit realm, then it’s crucial to learn to see redemptively and handle the insight with grace and humility. The inevitable mistakes are the pathway to learning and growing, and meekness and humility are part of the formation of this gift.
The two character traits are very similar, as they are about the posture of the heart towards others and about having the right view of oneself. Here’s a little of what I’ve discovered as I’ve dug a bit deeper.
Meekness is how we relate to others. I love how a friend recently described this attribute to me: ‘Meekness is strength under control.’ Meekness is not weakness though, as Moses was considered to be the meekest person on earth (Number 12:3), and he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:5 that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Psalm 37:11 also says “the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” In verse 9 of this chapter it says that those that wait for the Lord shall possess the land. So from Psalm 37 we learn that the meek are trusting of the Lord as to His timing, they are quiet before the Lord and wait for Him, and they don’t give in to anger and worry.
Another great scripture on meekness is found in James 1:19-21: “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Again here is this picture of being patient and long-suffering, not being quick to react but being teachable and humble.
Where meekness is about how we view ourselves in relation to others, humility is how we see ourselves (although this is still seen by others). Humility is not timidity. In our humility we are still confident of our seated position in Christ, and knowing we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him (Eph. 3:12). However, we position our hearts to have the right view of ourselves in relation to others, and put away all pride and self-promotion. We are exhorted to humble ourselves so that the Lord will exalt us (Matt 23:12). Jesus humbled himself by being obedient to the point of death (Phil 2:8). In James 4:6 it says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” With the humble is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2) and riches and honour is the reward for humility and fear of the Lord (Proverbs 22:4). There are many scriptures on humility, and they are like fine brush strokes that together paint an incredible picture of what this trait looks like when it’s lived out.
THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST
As I’ve been reflecting on growing in meekness and humility, last week I woke to an open vision where I saw some reeds moving, as though in a light wind. The scripture that came to mind was this one, which describes to me a part of who Christ is, and therefore who I am to be as I abide in Him:
“He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:2-3)
In growing up in these areas, it’s my heart’s great longing that I would immerse my spiritual gifts in the true nature of Christ, so as to always speak forth life that is encased in His love. Our spiritual gifts are given for the common good and for building others up. If I’m not growing up in love and the fruit of the Spirit, as well as the operation of the gifts themselves, then I’m limiting what the Lord might want to entrust me with.
So Lord, let me be a mouthpiece of truth and love, where my words never bruise or harm, but where in meekness and humility I would release your love in great measure through my life – so that many would be built up, and would encounter your heart towards them. Amen.