by Kelly Pak
I love our guiding scripture for this week’s time of Prayer and Fasting: Hebrews 10: 23-25.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The words “stir up one another” in my experience can come in many different forms. Like many people, I haven’t always been in the same place spiritually as I am today. And I certainly used to have many more insecurities and immaturities as a person and as a Christian. As you hear this story, please don’t get caught up in the possible rights or wrongs that are mentioned, but stay focused on God’s ways and let Him be glorified in the end.
When I was a university student I had an amazing experience of dating a guy who was much more spiritually mature than me. We both attended a conservative Christian university in The States and he was a genuinely nice person. While in that relationship, I had an old friend come to town to visit. My friend was a guy and we met up and caught up over a beer one night at a local bar. I was of legal age to drink alcohol and this was just a friend, and I just had one beer that night while we talked. It was a nice time spent with my old friend. As I remember, the next day when I was hanging out with my boyfriend, he started asking me what I had done the night before, as I had not told him previously.
My heart kind-of dropped as I knew my boyfriend was a really strong Christian and our conservative Christian university was quite small, where most people knew each other… Maybe judgment was on it’s way. But he proceeded to tell me in the most loving way possible that he had heard what I had done and where I had gone the night before. Somehow there was no accusation in his words or any judgment in his heart as he spoke very clearly and very honestly to me. I don’t remember all the words, but I do remember his gentle and loving way as he asked questions, listened carefully to me and spoke from his pure heart. Because of God’s obvious love in him, I didn’t get stuck in my own pride, fear or justification for my actions, but was able to have ears to listen and a heart to receive his wise words.
He helped me see things from a new perspective. I have no idea who saw me that night with my old friend, but it’s possible that even though for me, I didn’t do anything wrong, for someone else, it could have hurt their view of me, Christianity or my university. One person hurt and turned away from God through my actions would have been a great loss and consequence. And for the first time in my life I realized that I represented more than myself: I represented my school, my church and my God. Maybe my actions didn’t hurt me, but they could have hurt someone else. Of course, it was not my intention to hurt someone else, but I realized that other people don’t know my intentions, especially if they are looking from afar.
This also was my first time to experience someone holding so fastly and lovingly to the confession of their hope in God in the midst of correcting another believer. The spirit of gentleness that flowed through my boyfriend and through that conversation was very evident. He was also someone who really cared about me. The experience of being confronted with God’s love through another person was not only personally impacting, it was spiritually altering.
In Galatians 5:25-26; 6:1-3 right after the listing of the Fruit of the Spirit, Paul writes:
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Have you ever been so gently corrected that it was restoring? So lovingly confronted that you couldn’t help but grow personally and spiritually? It’s amazing to experience this from someone that truly cares for you and even more so, cares for your God and trusts Him above what makes sense for them individually, or for them in relationship to you. From a human standpoint, my boyfriend at the time had everything to lose through this conversation. But from God’s standpoint, God had everything to gain.
Although this was not the person who I’m married to today, he did help stir up in me a greater love for the Father and a motivation towards good works (I could even say ‘better’ works than I had previously desired as a young person in Christ).
I’m not sure when I started to pray for my future husband as a single woman, but my prayer was definitely influenced by this experience. Truth be told, my single biggest prayer was that my future husband would love God more than he loved me. Praise God for this experience and praise God for answering my simple prayer; For I now have a loving husband who puts God first and loves the Father above all. I am truly blessed and funny enough, I get to keep practicing and experiencing stirring up one another with a gentle spirit… often. I pray that my husband and I, together, continue to grow in God as we attempt to teach our children God’s ways above our own.
What experiences come to your mind and heart from this story and from these scriptures?
Pray that we would let God’s gentle, but confident Holy Spirit be in the driver’s seat as we receive or give correction or instruction in our relationships.
Pray that we would ultimately listen and let God encourage our hearts towards his love and good works. The Holy Spirit can teach and touch us to change, for He who promised is faithful!