However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment. – John 16:7-8
Years ago, I sat at a table with six public speakers. All of them had been in the ministry longer than I had, but God had given me more outward success than the others.
As the conversation went on, I realized I was doing most the talking telling one story after another. They all smiled, and no one acted as if they resented my dominating.
Afterward, I thought about my behavior. I had done nothing wrong, but I realized I had controlled the conversation, and I felt the Holy Spirit convict me. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, in retrospect, I realized that I had been rude and selfish by dominating the conversation. Taking control that’s what I had done.
Perhaps I was insecure and didn’t want them to see me as anything but confident and able. I may have talked too much because I was nervous with my peers. Perhaps I was just so full of myself that all I wanted to do was talk about myself, and what I was doing. A truly loving person is interested in others and always draws them into the conversation. I realize now that I wasn’t operating in love back in those days.
Most of the time, I stayed so busy talking about myself and my ministry that I never faced what was wrong inside me. I felt a little nudge from the Holy Spirit frequently, but I never really stopped to pay much attention.
Instead of looking at our own shortcomings and failures, we often focus on other people and what we think is wrong with them. That’s easier and less painful. As long as we can keep the focus on other people, we don’t have to examine our own hearts. It’s not calculated, and I’m sure most of us are not aware of the reasons for our being negative. That’s also why negativity is so difficult to deal with. We undermine Satan’s attempt to establish a stronghold in our minds when we admit, “God, I’m a pessimistic person.” That’s the beginning.
Then we cry out to the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Jesus said of Him, … He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment (John 16:8). Too often, we read the word world and smile. Yes, that’s for those sinners, those people who don’t know Jesus. That’s true, but it’s only partially true, because we also live in the world.
We as God’s people need that conviction, as well. We need the Holy Spirit to probe deeply inside us and help us grasp why we’re afflicted with negative thinking. We probably know many nonbelievers who are naturally optimistic, and who never speak badly about others. Satan already has control of their minds, so he doesn’t even tempt them to be negative.
Think of it this way: Satan attacks us where we’re weak. Perhaps this will help explain what I mean. More than 100 years ago, William Sheldon began to study human body types and classified them as distinct types. His research indicated that all of us are prone toward certain types of physical diseases. Those with the pear shaped figure are more prone to heart problems and high blood pressure. I have a rail-thin friend, and when she gets sick, she comes down with a lung infection or bronchitis. She’s in her seventies, has a healthy heart, and is otherwise healthy but she has weak lungs.
Let’s apply that principle to the spiritual realm. All of us have weaknesses some of us are prone to pessimism, some to lying or gossip, others are by nature more deceptive. It’s not which person is worse, because all of us have our own weaknesses to conquer. We need the Holy Spirit to point out these shortcomings.
Just because those are the natural places for Satan’s attacks doesn’t mean we can do nothing about them. Only as the Spirit convicts us can He deliver us from satanic attacks. That’s why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit the Helper because He helps us in our vulnerable places.
Holy Spirit of God, forgive me for thinking I can deliver myself. Don’t allow Satan to take advantage of my vulnerability, but deliver me so that I may be more fully given to You and used by You. I ask this through the name of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.