Philippians 4:11 – Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
It is not about me. One key to a joyful Christian life is understanding that we must die to self. What does it really mean to “die to self”? Taking up our cross to follow Him doesn’t always go the way we think it will go. Spiritual stretching is critical in ministry which involves dying to self. If someone is rigid and callous, the spiritual stretching “loving your neighbor” as yourself doesn’t happen or a stretch in “Loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind” falls short, and the challenging stretch of “loving your enemies” is greatly hindered!
Learning to understand a different cultural mindset is challenging and takes spiritual stretching.
How does one cope with the ever-changing environment of staff, children, etc? Is it worth the effort of building new relationships? Well, of course, the answer is yes! Building relationships is of primary importance. What happens when a relationship is struggling? You ask for the LORD’s help to show His love and love the other person.
It is a daily lesson of remembering whose identity you represent. It is understanding that there is a spiritual battle waging and in order to win it you must be willing to decrease so that He can increase. It is necessary for the Christian life. It really is all about what the LORD God desires and to yield to Him so He can increase. A Christ-follower should endeavor to walk in the fruits of the spirit so much so that it is the character of Jesus that others see. An analogy would be to picture the tree that bears much fruit. Its branches hang close to the ground. This is a picture of humility. To understand how to do this takes a deeper look at Galatians 5:22-25.
Gal 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
By definition the following Greek words give us a powerful picture of what this looks like:
- G2590 fruit = (as plucked) to seize (in various applications): – catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force) wear, yield
- G4151 Spirit = Christ’s spirit a mental disposition, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit: – life, spiritually minded.
- G4717 crucified = self-denial
- G5547 Christ’s = annointed, to smear or rub with oil, to furnish what is needed
- G2198 live = lifetime, alive or lively.
- G4748 Walk = to march in (military) rank (keep step), to conform to virtue and piety: – walk orderly.
It is a daily and sometimes hourly, even minute by minute, remembering to WALK in the spirit. If we spend a lifetime with the energetic activity of self-denial, full of Christ’s mental disposition, our walking in the fruit of the Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit‘s presence and working in the lives of maturing believers. It carries an anointing that passes onto people around us. It is a place where we can truly be content.
Who knew that walking in the spirit is being annointed?
2 Corinthians 12:10 – Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
He is strong when I am weak. On the surface, this makes no sense, does it? We can have our own thoughts about what we can do as ambassadors for Christ and how our gifts and talents can be of benefit to others. BUT, what about our weaknesses? Can the LORD use those as well? Absolutely! When we yield to Him and are open to serving Him as He desires with a grateful heart, ministry blossoms beautifully with a greater opportunity for the Spirit’s power to manifest itself, not only for us spiritually but also for those to whom you are ministering. This is for His Glory, where the Glory is due.
In verse nine we read our LORD’S response. 2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Every good gift comes from Him, and yet we should be mindful that even every weakness His glory is shown in who He is in greater measure and puts emphasis on Him. When He has the opportunity to strengthen my weaknesses, I am held up through His strength, I am able to stand up and activating His purpose while humbling myself for what He has ordained for me, if only I am willing.
I enjoy teaching, but my challenge became greater when trying to put together a study in another language I barely knew, then learning how to present it in a different culture. On top of those obvious things, I was teaching an age group I was not used to instructing and every culture has its own teaching style. What would that even look like?
For Bible studies I would often find myself asking the LORD, are you sure I am the one to do this teaching. Isn’t there someone else more capable of teaching on this level. I would tell Les, I think you should take over. I am not sure I can think like a child. It was a real struggle for me. I like to dig, dig deep, to find treasures in the Word of God. There are so many beautiful gems in scripture, but to find them you need to take time to dig. How could I share what the LORD God meant on a child’s level and still make it interesting, exciting, and captivating? The answer I felt the LORD put in my heart was to show many pictures and ask many questions, even tell stories. That is what I did and I trust it reached the target it was meant for.
Teaching can also be a relationship-building tool that includes dealing with those who are difficult to work with or don’t really want to learn or bad attitudes takes perseverance through Christ. On occasions I would think, is there a way out of this? But, when I really thought more deeply about it I knew that one of the ways to build trusting relationships is displaying a Christ-like countenance when it wasn’t so pleasant. It presented me with the opportunity that I prayed for but not necessarily the way I thought would be best or wanted it.