In the opposite spirit

I remembered something I learned at the church Patrick and I met. One of the pastors at Puget Sound Christian Center in Tacoma, WA, urged the congregation to “minister in the opposite spirit.”

What was meant by that was simple Kingdom thinking. Sermon on the Mount stuff. If someone strikes you, offer the other cheek. If someone takes, give in return. If someone gossips, don’t return the favor in kind. In fact, do the opposite. We’ve done this in the past with our wallets. When we’ve been in financial need, there have been times the Lord has said for us to empty what we have to give to someone else with greater need. It didn’t make sense, really. It was the exact OPPOSITE of what we wanted to do, which was hoard. But, trembling, we made the decision to give. And in wild and surprising ways, God gave to us.

There have been circumstances that have made me want to be bitter and angry. We all have them. Someone wrongs you. Someone gossips. Someone calls you an enemy. The natural reaction is to minister in the same spirit, to mete out what has been meted to you. To repay in kind. To crave justice so much that you take things into your own hands.

But I realized that the winsome call of the Kingdom doesn’t beckon others when I embitter myself. It invites others when I am broken, humble and willing to let the Lord defend me. To minister in the opposite spirit by blessing those who seek my harm is kingdom work.

Do you find yourself in a painful situation? Here is a prayer to pray:

Oh Father, I need You. I can’t seem to get beyond this pain. I want to forgive. I want to be made whole, but my mind and heart scream vengeance. Take that part of my heart and tenderize it toward You. Help me to be like Your Son on the cross who said “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” What does it mean, Father, to minister in the opposite spirit in this particular circumstance? Show me. Reveal it to me. Make me one who blesses, not slanders. Gives, not hoards. Lets go, not clings fiercely. Helps, not hinders. Hopes, not despairs. Father, I can’t live this way, with a heart bent toward the pain and away from Your healing. Turn my heart toward You. Bring me near. Forgive my wanderings. Forgive me. Help me to see that my mountain of sin against You is like Everest compared to my brother or sister’s molehill of sin against me. My desire is to build Your kingdom through my humility and Your splendor. Make it so. Make it so. I pray this prayer in the amazing name of Jesus Christ who lives and breathes the Kingdom. AMEN.

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