There she is, a mom of 3. One child is feverish, another is painting on the wall and there is still laundry and dinner to get to. How is one woman going to maintain composure and deal with all these problems simultaneously? Who has the strength and patience?
Meanwhile, a man sits at his desk at work. There is a lot to do before he can go home and time is running out. He knows his wife must be going through a lot at the moment, but there are reports to finish and he can’t remember if he sent the car payment and what about his good friend who is having marriage problems? There seems to be too much for one man to worry about; too much for one man to carry all by himself.
And here we see the sharp edge of human capability. The world is a big place full of responsibilities, conflicting desires and uncertainty. How do we rise above our tired state and our yearning to numb reality with entertainment? How do we do all the things we need to get done on a daily bases and do it with a godly and cheerful disposition?
This is when we need to realize our inability, our weakness and our selfishness. The fact that God does not give us more than we can bear (1st Corinthians 10:13) is often very hard to believe. But we too often think we have to go at it alone; bear up, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and toughen up for the daily grind. But this is a false and worldly way of thinking. We don’t need to be stronger. We can’t. We are finite and will come to the end of our strength and patience quickly if we rely solely on ourselves. There is a finite amount we can handle. Our strength is dependent on sleep, food, etc. for the purpose of demonstrating every day that our strength is dependent. We see in three daily meals and nightly sleep that we do not possess the strength to live apart from external strengthening. Our physical need ought to point to our spiritual need. Why rely on the limited strength of created means when something far more potent, powerful and unlimited has been offered?
Ephesians 3:16-17 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love
Colossians 1:11-12 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit is to unite you to Christ and in Christ give you access to his authority, strength and power.
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Ephesians 1:17-23 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
This has always been the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always been the presence of God amongst God’s children which empowers them to overcome their circumstances that are otherwise too much for finite men. Gideon, David, Saul, Isaiah and many other Israelites were given the Spirit of God to do the things of God in everyday life, that they were not equipped to do with just their created strength (Judges 3:9-10; 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 23:1-2; Psalm 18:29; Micah 3:80). These men and women needed divine power to do the extraordinary feats recorded in the Old Testament. The things of God always require the work and power of God made available to us so that we can accomplish what we can’t in ourselves as created beings.
If the Spirit of the Triune God dwells within you then the power of the Triune God dwells within you.
Do not think this merely applies to war or prophesying. Loving the unlovely is too much for people. The fruits of the spirit are not built into us as created beings. We are not patient, we are not kind, and we do not love others all by ourselves. And even if we have these fruits in some measure due to our education or upbringing, there are limits to how patient, kind, or loving humans can be, but not so with God. He is steadfast and longsuffering. He is love. We are confronted every day with feats that are too much for us in our own power. We need the power of God to do the things God commands us to do. We can’t fulfill the law, we can’t love God or our neighbor as we are commanded to which God’s goodness and Holiness requires, without the provision of God’s own strength.
Imagine if God required us to be in two places at once; to be present in New York and Seattle at the same time? Well, we are finite and cannot. If we wanted to be omnipresent God would have to provide the means for us to transcend our limitations and take on that attribute. Fulfilling the law of God is just like that. Asking us to obey the law in our fallen state is like asking us to be omnipresent; impossible. But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). And indeed he removes the impediment that prevents us from obeying and serving God the way were made to.
This is how martyrs are able to go to their death with peace and calm. No human being can endure the kind of torturous pain that martyrs have. That is the extreme end of what we are talking about. But we are called to die every day to ourselves. And selfless dying cannot be done by people living in the flesh. Our lusts and desires of the flesh possess too powerful a hold over us for us to live sacrificially. It doesn’t require being burned at the stake to experience the kind of transcending peace and overcoming power recorded in the lives of the great saints. Changing diapers, thankless tasks like washing the same dishes everyday day, multiple times a day, overlooking the foibles and weaknesses of sinners who transgress against us every day with thoughtless words and selfishness are all examples of dying in the little things, that can only be done in the Spirit of God. By His grace we overcome. In His strength alone can we bear the image of His holiness and goodness.