Many of us tend to live in extremes. Sometimes it seems like balance is very difficult to find in our lives. I know it has been for me.
Even as we view the history of the church it’s easy to see the pendulum swing from one end to the other. Years ago an extreme repentance message was preached commonly referred to as Hell, Fire and Brimstone. There was a lack of love and grace being preached in many cases. Many were very damaged by that movement coming away full of condemnation.
Now it appears that an unbalanced Grace message has permeated the church and the message of repentance has been missing. This is equally unacceptable as repentance is a foundational block in the gospel message. The hard truth is needed but it needs to be wrapped in the spirit of Love as Paul says “it’s the kindness of God that draws men to repentance”.
We also noticed the extreme tendencies when we seek to be used by God in the lives of those around us. The two positions seem to be complete passivity in which we never take opportunities to minister to others, and creating our own opportunities to minister in whatever way we determine is appropriate.
Both of these positions are damaging as passivity will cause the person needing ministry (encouragement, prayer, service etc.) to miss what God wants to do for them and creating our own opportunities will make many people hate you with legitimate cause. Creating our own opportunities will surely offend many and make us the least favorite people in the room. In addition to the lack of love it shows to speak into someones life without permission, it’s rebellion against God because He calls us to obedience. Obedience means responding to God rather than trying to make Him respond to us which is what happens when we create our own opportunities to minister.
The balance I have found in this has been to wait for God to present ANY opportunity and then take advantage of that opportunity. A couple of weeks ago we were called (I’m a firefighter/paramedic) to help a woman who was having severe trouble with anxiety. As I interacted with the woman I had to check my zeal to minister to her and wait for God to present the opportunity. At some point she looked at me and said, “It feels like every demon in hell is after me”. That was the opportunity and I took it. I was able to speak into her life what God gave me to speak. It was an awesome experience.
Opportunities can look very different in every situation. It takes patience and guidance from the Holy Spirit. If that person opens up their life to you in any way you have an opportunity to minister the love of God to them however that looks. It could be just a word of encouragement or even just being willing to listen. There is no formula. The important thing is that we are showing Jesus to the world and that can look different in each situation. It’s looked very different in many of my ministry opportunities.
I know this, when people know that your going to wait for permission to speak into their lives they will feel so much safer around you and open up to you so much more. That, in turn, will provide many opportunities to minister to them.
So let’s find balance and wait for God to make a way for us but make sure we are taking the opportunities God provides for us!
Have you missed opportunities because of passivity? Have you turned people off because of your zeal? How can God bring balance to your heart?
Please leave your comments below!
Jesse and Kara Birkey