Many years ago, I read Watchman’s Nee’s book ‘Release of the Spirit’ then later on his epic ‘The Spiritual Man.’ Both of which have helped to think of the ‘soul’ as the receptacle in which God’s Spirit operates. Now, while this verse seems strange in the sense that it suggests our spirit can be provoked to anger, there are three things to consider here:
- During the time of Ecclesiastes- long before the day of Pentecost – the Holy Spirit did not live within the person but came upon them at God’s direction to facilitate ‘one off’ acts to achieve God’s will.
- Because of this, it’s quite possible the term ‘spirit’ is used here to reference a sense of the person’s emotional response as to what is happening.
- The understanding of our own human spirit is different to that of God’s Spirit. The human spirit being carnal in nature as easily influenced by our human (carnal) nature.
However you understand the term ‘spirit’, one thing is sure – we as humans can easily be provoked to anger where rash actions land us in trouble. That is why we can say something that is cruel in the heat of the moment or hold on to a grudge even though slighted by someone many years earlier. In such times, the advice offered in the wisdom Book of Ecclesiastes is to not be quickly provoked because ‘anger resides in the lap of fools.’
‘Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’ (Acts 2v5-7)
I don’t know about you but I sense the crowd’s bewilderment at what was happening. It’s one thing for everyone to be speaking the same language in your own province but to do it in a foreign country with a group of seemingly uneducated men speaking to you about the wonders and glory of God? Well, that’s another thing….
For the crowd, their amazement at being spoken to in their own language seems to have been quickly surpassed by incredulity as they realise the men are from Galilee – a place held with little regard by most from outside it and yet God’s Holy Spirit enters these ‘lowly’ people and instructs them to announce the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.
However, God isn’t finished yet. Peter – a fisherman and disciple of Christ – steps forward with the other eleven and explains God’s plan of salvation to the visiting Jews. Finally, Peter finishes by explaining the need for the crowd to repent and be baptised and 3,000 visitors are saved as moist eyes give way to tears of repentance and the tag team of Holy Spirit and humanity rolls on…
‘You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple… for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2 v2,4)
Okay, five spiritual truths to remember :-
- We are chosen by God who delights to give us the Holy Spirit .
- The Holy Spirit enables us to serve God as his priests. (How cool is that!)
- Along with other spirit-filled believers, we form God’s holy nation as we…
- Reveal the goodness of God to others through our speech, attitude and actions (and)
- Each day we take another step away from darkness to live in God’s wonderful light.
‘There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain … You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.’ (Hebrews 5:11-12)
Why do some people accelerate in spiritual growth while others languish? Aside from Maslow’s Hierarchy that details how some may be affected by circumstance, other factors include openess, attitude, opportunity, obedience and resilience.
Openess – a willingness to be available to God to explore the spiritual gifts you have.
Attitude – a resolve to trust God’s Holy Spirit and not to back track when things get tough.
Opportunity – seeing each circumstance as a God-given chance to pray or act.
Obedience – determining in advance that the action taken will favour God’s perspective.
Resilience – even when failure occurs, a trust in God that encourages perseverance.
If you don’t know your primary gift, why not do the spiritual gift test by getting the app, ebook or print copy (UK only)