Being Adjusted by the Spirit
It is in that context, as we’re loving Him and seeking to please Him, that God teaches us His heart and His ways and what He would have us to do. Just think of the words of Jesus. He says, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)NKJV
Let me give an illustration from personal experience. When our family first went to minister in Papua New Guinea, we found ourselves in an interesting situation. Jesus told us, “Give to everyone who asks of you.” (Luke 6:30)NKJV Reading that in the fear of God, we desired to obey. “Okay, Lord, I want to give to those who ask, out of love for You.”
In Papua New Guinea we found ourselves bombarded with people asking just about everything of us, and we began to really pray for understanding. “Wow, Lord, are You really wanting us just to give anything to anyone at any time, whatever they want?” We sought to fully obey Jesus’ command, but weren’t really feeling the peace from His Spirit in how we were doing it, like the Spirit of God was at that point perhaps trying to shrink us back in that area. We were troubled in mind, thinking, “This is what we’re supposed to do,” yet not feeling peaceful. When we don’t have the peace of God, that can be a sign that He is pushing on a boundary. I’m not talking about simply being uncomfortable, when God is stretching you to step out beyond what you have been doing. But we had a sense that we were not doing good to these people. They would come asking for all sorts of things, and as we gave, sometimes we thought, “I don’t think this is the best.”
As the Lord was teaching me, a young man came and asked for some tools. He wanted to carve something. “Okay, that’s fine,” I said, and let him use them. Then someone told me, “He’s making a gun with the tools you’re giving him.” There’s a problem where we live with people illegally making homemade guns and fighting with them. “Oh, wow,” I thought. “I don’t want to be helping this guy make a gun!”
He came back the next day and said he wanted to use my hacksaw. This time I said, “All right, well, why don’t you just bring whatever you have and we can cut it here.”
“Oh, it’s really heavy.”
“Well, where is it?”
“Oh, it’s over at my uncle’s. My uncle sent me over here.”
“What are you making?” I question, trying to get some understanding of what is going on.
“Oh, it’s for fishing,” is his story, and he talks about making some kind of contraption.
“Hmm. Okay,” I respond. “I’ll come cut it. Let’s go.”
He’s kind of nervous as we start walking through the village. People see me carrying my saw, and are wondering where we’re going.
When we get there, he pulls an old wheelbarrow out of the bushes. It has a pipe that’s the perfect size for a gun. As I’m looking at this pipe, he says again that he’s going to do something with it for fishing.
“Just a minute,” I said, “I’m going to go talk to your uncle.” I went over to his uncle and asked him, “Did you send him over to my house?”
“What’s he making over there there?”
“I don’t know. Ask him,” he said, acting a little weird.
So I told the young man, “I’m not going to cut that for you. I think you’re going to make a gun with it.”
“Oh, no, no, no,” he denied, and tried to convince me again about his story.
But that was a situation where the Lord was teaching me that I can’t do just anything that people ask. We started seeing many scriptures about how the Father gives good gifts. He gives blessings to both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). That is to be our heart as well, so that we give to anyone without discriminating. Naturally, we make think, “Oh, I’m not going to give to him because he treated me poorly,” or, “I don’t like him—he’s my enemy.” But God is teaching us, “No, My heart is to give to everyone. Do good to everyone you can. Seek to edify and bless them.” The Lord really brought freedom and peace to us as we understood more of His heart. He doesn’t mean for us to legalistically give to anyone whatever they ask—like giving a knife to a little child, you know. But He teaches us to do good to everyone in our giving.
So you can see how our conviction in that area changed. We had a conviction formed from reading the Bible and using the best of our understanding with a good heart. But then when the Lord gave us more understanding, our conviction was shaken. That’s what can happen with convictions.