Stretch Out in the Spirit
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…
Given the straightforward, unadorned way in which Paul makes this declaration, it’s surprising that so few of the followers of Jesus Christ seem to take it to heart. We have a power at work within us, the power of God’s indwelling Spirit, Who is able to do in and through us far more abundantly than all we could ever ask or think. This being so, why are so many of us “underachievers” for the Lord?
In any church it’s always a handful of people who make everything happen. Twenty per cent of the people do all the work while eighty per cent simply wait to be served by whatever the leaders choose to do next. Most believers are not growing very much in the Lord, and certainly the level of their service for Christ, or even what they endeavor in His Name, remains pretty much the same, year-in and year-out.
The problem is, I think, that, as human beings, we know our limitations. Or at least, we think we do. There are certain things we’ve never done before, and so we assume that such things, whatever they may be, are not part of what God expects for us. If you’ve never led a children’s Sunday school class or shared your faith in Christ with a neighbor or colleague at work, you might assume that these are not things you should endeavor. Someone else, better prepared and with more experience, will have to take up these callings.
But if the Spirit of God lives in us, and if He is, indeed, able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, should we not expect more of ourselves than merely what we’ve ever known or endeavored in the past? Shall we be limited by our experience when an exceeding abundant power is at work within us?
If you’re beginning to feel stretched to the limits of what you might be able to learn or do in advancing the divine economy, then there’s a simple solution: Stop relying only on your experience and present abilities, and begin stretching out into the vast resources of the Spirit of God! What does that entail?
First, you have to get to know the Spirit and to discover what He intends to do in and through you. The Spirit is able to bring forth in you virtues and characteristics that are more like Jesus Christ than anything you’ve ever demonstrated (Gal. 5:22, 23). He can fill you with power to bear bold and consistent witness for Christ with your neighbors (Acts 1:8). The Spirit can teach you the Law of God and enable you to walk, like Jesus did, within the path of righteousness that Law marks out (Ezek. 36:36, 37; 1 Jn. 2:1-6). The Spirit is ready to deploy a wide range of gifts and abilities within you, to enable you to serve others in ways you’ve never done before.
In fact, the more you learn about the Holy Spirit, and the more you realize that this powerful Spirit is at work within you, to make you willing and able to do God’s pleasure (Phil. 2:12, 13), the more you will begin to venture beyond yourself, beyond your past experience, into new areas of trusting the Lord and relying on His Spirit to do what He is eager and able to do, and not just what you might be willing to endeavor.
We can’t out-think or out-ask the Holy Spirit with respect to how He might use us in advancing the divine economy. The problem with most of us, I suspect, is that we don’t dare to think much beyond what we’re familiar or comfortable with already, and we seldom ask the Spirit to take us further and deeper into new areas of ministry for the sake of the divine economy. God is able to do in and through you more than you’re willing to think or ask. But when you line up your thoughts and desires with God’s plan for you, you’ll begin to see the divine economy advancing in leaps and strides through your life.
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