It was my joy to preach the Word of God today on the “Presence and Work of the Spirit.” The more I watch God work in this ministry and in those around me, the more I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is perfectly able to prepare the soil in hearts before we do anything.
As I examine Paul’s model of dealing with those in the church who need spiritual “parenting,” it encourages me to leave room for the Spirit to work and not demand results. You see this attitude in his letter to the believers in Thessalonica.
“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7–8).
Those two verses are a whole course in shepherding that every pastor needs to take. The meaning of the word “gentle” is as if we were handling a very small child which goes along with being a “nursing mother.” Add to that feature of care “being affectionately desirous” which is a yearning with genuine love for their progress.
When we work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and “the gospel of God,” we can give ourselves to those we shepherd by trusting and knowing the Spirit will go before us and prepare hearts to receive the gospel and our discipling-making efforts. It is God who opens hearts; not us.
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