We are not the exception

“… he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth” Lk 1.15

No one is born into spiritual gianthood. Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, into wealth and privileged position in this world, but none come forth from the womb with spiritual stature and power.

John the Immerser was an exception, as the chosen one to go before the Messiah and announce his coming. He played a special role in the divine plan of redemption. An angelic visit and miraculous moment surrounded his conception and birth. He was filled with the Holy Spirit before his birth.

Those holy men and women of God who demonstrate humility, love, influence, and all the fruit of the Spirit did not arrive in this world the way we see them. They passed through many a phase of growth and development. They made their share of mistakes. They were born of water and Spirit, Jn 3.3, 5, received the gift of the Spirit, Acts 2.38, and from there made every effort to add to their faith those wonderful virtues of Christ, 2Pe 1.5ff. They threw themselves into serving the Lord and pleasing God by doing all his will. They considered themselves “as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart” Eph 6.6.

They paid a heavy price to be where they are. They did not slide into spirituality. They spent hours in prayer and meditation, in study and dedication, in the Word and in supplication before the Lord. Obedience is sweet, but works up a sweat.

The Pauls and Peters of our age, the Barnabases and Apollos and Phillips of our day, arrived at maturity, not by miracle or by sliding into place, but by striving to imitate their Lord Jesus Christ. They caught the vision to say, “I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me” Phi 3.12. They willingly held up under stress and strain, faced opposition and criticism, bore up under hardship and suffering. They gave thanks to be able to suffer for the Name.

They are blessed and secure, eating the fruits of what they “worked so hard to grow” Psa 128.2.

Be willing to pay that same price. John was a special case. You and I do not have the privilege, nor the great responsibility, he was given. Though we may be greater in the Kingdom of God than he, Mt 11.11, we are not born with automatic status and easy use of gifts. So let us put forth the effort, day by day, hour by hour, laying aside the cares and amusements of this world in order to devote ourselves to becoming who we ought and serving as we were called to do.

Let us then say with one who offered himself as an example, “Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me” Col 1.29.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

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