Lessons in Growth Meditations: 40. Releasing People
Lk 19:5,6 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
I was about to move on into the wider subject of ‘ruling over the earth’ but sense that perhaps we need to put some more body or shape into what we have just been saying in the previous study when we spoke about ‘taking authority’ at Christ’s leading and noted various ways we may speak while praying in authority. Back in Study No.26 we considered ‘The Caring Church’, speaking about being carriers of love. Moving on in Study No.29 we considered being life-bringers, and then went on to speak about being revelation bringers as we are enabled by the Spirit. In Studies 34 to 37 we saw how faith, released through the prayer meeting in Alan, enabled him to move in grace, love and humility to minister to three different people in his work environment and bring about change there.
In the next study we will go on to consider this matter of exercising authority more widely but here I sense we need to consider how we minister in love, and THAT is a means of exercising authority that brings life change. However, before we go into that we might ask the question, what is our goal or intention for the person or people before us, to whom God has given us the opportunity to minister. Now the word ‘minister’ simply means ‘to serve’ and so we come to them as servants, servant of God to bring God’s blessing to them. Put like that, we can now see that our goal is to present God’s love.
Now I have pictures in my mind from the distant past from Snoopy cartoons. In one of them Snoopy is out in the cold in the snow and two of the other characters come along and note he is cold and in need of comfort so go over to him and both just say, “Be of good cheer Snoopy” and then walk off and leave him shivering in the snow. That is a vivid picture. Our person in church may need us to give them a coat, or dig their garden or paint their house, i.e. a practical matter, and simply uttering cheering words will do little to help them. Money is sometimes what people need, not cheering by words.
However, we have been moving in the area of speaking spiritual truths and very often this needs to be our starting place. Until they are changed on the inside, outward ministrations may act like a plaster or bandage but will do little in the long run. So, let’s see if we can imagine some people who we are likely to find in our congregations from time to time, if not most of the time.
Now anything I suggest is purely hypothetical. The key point here, in line with so much else we have been saying, is that we need to pray and sense what the Lord feels about this person and wants to say about them, to them. Call this prophecy, call it encouragement, whatever makes you feel comfortable, but it is a sense that comes when we pray. This must be true of any situation I may suggest here.
First of all, here is a lady (it might be a man) who has low self-esteem, feels lonely, unloved and uncared for. Now as you pray – with a heart open to convey God’s unconditional love – it may be that the Lord gives you either a verse, or a sentence, or a picture that applies to this person. If it is the Lord, it will impact and lift the heart of this person and they will feel loved and the focus of God’s special attention. As the Lord speaks into their heart through you, they know the reality of that, and are blessed. Nothing has changed outwardly, their external circumstances are still the same, but they are changed, and it came through simple loving revelation.
Second, here is someone who is being pestered by their ex-partner and they are living in anxiety and fear. What can you say here? I don’t know, but God does as you wait on Him in prayer. As the Spirit moves on this thing, once or twice in the past I have sensed the Spirit’s directing to command (in prayer) this pestering partner to be removed from the situation. We had this only the other day in our house group and I prayed accordingly. In the past, twice I have known the Lord to move on someone physically (presumably by lifting off His hand of protection and allowing Satan access as in Job’s case) so they were no longer able to be a distraction. We speculated about this prayer the other day and wondered whether He would lead this person to another part of the country by job circumstances, new partner attraction or some other means. We simply watch this space and the lady over whom we prayed is watching with anticipation and the fear has gone. We dare not pray like this unless sure of His leading. Be careful.
Most of the time it is not by command but by the conveying the grace of blessing. A blessing in Scripture (see the story of Isaac with Jacob and Esau) is a prophetically inspired command for the goodness of God to come. A blessing is also an inspired ‘acceptance by heaven’ (because that it where it originates). We can either pronounce a blessing or we can speak that acceptance in other words.
Our starting verses above are about Jesus calling Zacchaeus down from the tree so that he may eat with him. This little chief tax collector would have been very powerful and almost certainly very corrupt, but Jesus saw his heart yearning for acceptance and gave it to him. He was instantly transformed. That is evangelism in a different style to that which we normally see. This was God seeing his ready heart and speaking into it just what was needed to melt it. The word will either melt it or break it or cause resistance to its already hard state (see Pharaoh with Moses).
The objective of these words is to convey love that melts or breaks. Of course, we do not know that the outcome will be, we don’t know what effect it will have. All our role is, is to bring words of love and acceptance as given by the Spirit. In an earlier study I testified about a most simple word I gave a young man in Malaysia. I had no idea that this word of loving acceptance would break open his heart and release confession.
The more open to being used in this way we are, the more the Lord will use us and bless others. As you mature in this (but only when we mature), the Lord may give you words of correction, but they will always come with love and hope for what follows. I have brought a word that a man’s ministry would be terminated and when his face fell, I was able to add, “only that something greater may emerge.”
For many believers, life just goes on day by day, and they learn to live with negatives, learn to cope with ongoing worry, learn to accept that background nagging fear, or even have questionable guilt hanging over them (the enemies Jesus came to destroy), and then one day some Spirit-filled believer comes up and says, “As I was thinking of you and praying for you, I had a feeling that the Lord had something for you. Would it be all right if I shared it?” And as permission is granted they share, under the Spirit’s leading, God’s specific words of loving acceptance, and the person knows where it has come from, they suddenly know the truth of it, and are changed. The kingdom of God has just come, Jesus has just destroyed some of his enemies – through you! How wonderful, how easy, how marvellous. Isn’t he good!