Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Whenever I read today’s chosen verse, I often wonder what it truly means. I find it hard to picture Christians grieving the Holy Spirit, so it perplexes me that Paul wrote this as an important lesson, yet I fail to understand it. In my experience, grieving entails suffering, separation, sadness, and loss. Does this mean that Paul is teaching that we can lose the Holy Spirit in our faithful lives? That would be a terrible calamity for any person. That would mean eternal separation from God.
So I wrestle and struggle with the text, especially in times when my faith is weak and my commitment to Christ is diminished. It makes me fearful of stepping toward the edge of a spiritual abyss, from which I may not be able to clamber out. The whole context of the verse is the fuller passage where Paul is writing about behavior. His teaching makes me question my own sinful behavior and honestly have to ask myself if I’ve wandered from the path that I’m meant to be on.
And then, in the middle of my struggle, I am reminded of Christ’s grace by the Holy Spirit. I may feel awkward and ashamed about my behavior. I may have been selfish and sinful in recent days. I may have allowed myself to be distracted by other things which have distanced me from God. I may have done a hundred things which disappoint God, sadden Christ, and offend the Holy Spirit, but I am not forsaken or abandoned, forgotten or cast aside. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit continually redeem me, reclaim me, and restore me to the Kingdom and favor of my Heavenly Father.
Perhaps you are also struggling with commitment and sin. It may be that you’ve fallen away for a while and taken a wrong turn. It could be that you feel as if you’ve let down God and disappointed Jesus. If so, then please know this: Christ’s grace is sufficient to forgive you, love you, and restore you, too.
Questions for personal reflection
What is currently troubling me in my life? How has it affected my faith? Am I willing to come to God with it in prayer? Am I ready to seek Christ’s forgiveness and grace?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, being human is really difficult at times, especially when we try to be more faithful, attentive, and devoted to You. Forgive our faults and failures. Allow us to restart our lives. Grant us Your mercy and grace, so that we may be restored to God’s love and majesty. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost drawings of the Holy Spirit as a dove descending to the Earth. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Dove.