Don’t Shrink to Make Others Feel Comfortable
Anyone else out there felt like they were “too much” for present company? I have spent my life shrinking, hiding, concealing, downplaying, literally “dumbing down” who I am so that others would not feel intimidated in my presence. Here is my advice: Maintain – Your Power – Don’t Shrink to Make Others Feel Comfortable.
The word of God says that we are children of God, indeed, we are gods; we have been adopted by God and as children, we are joint heirs with Christ; we are seated with Christ in heavenly realms far above every power; as Christ is, so are we in this world; we have the mind of Christ; we are a royal priesthood (kings and priests); whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven, whatever we loose on earth, is loosed in heaven; whatever we ask God, according to His will, He will do and even greater; Jesus has given us all power and authority to rule on earth so, we can do what Jesus did when He was on earth and greater things than Jesus Himself did when He was on earth, according to the power of the Holy Spirit; Christ is the wisdom of God and we are His body and have the same wisdom. And the promises of God go on and on and on. (Galatians 3:26, Romans 8:14-17, Ephesians 1:18-23, 2:6, 1 John 4:17, 1 Corinthians 2:16, 1 Peter 2:9,10, Mathew 18:18,19, Ephesians 3:20, Mark 11:22-24, Mathew 28:18, Luke 10:19, John 14:12-14, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16)
Do you know how, for the greater part of my walk with God, these promises have messed with my mind (and religion)? You have no idea how much I have fought the truth of who I am. And do you know why? Because this is what the world and sadly, the church, have said to me:
‘Who do you think you are? You have a spirit that is not the Holy Spirit working in you; You are a freemason that is why you were able to climb so high in business and society; You are riding off of your parents’ positions; You give to win over the pastor’s affections; You are too young to do that; you don’t have the work experience to do that; You are too new to this to make impact; You are too strong-willed; You are too fast; You speak too much English; You are too exposed; You are too intimidating; You are a wife; You are a mother; You are a citizen; You are a foreigner. You are proud and arrogant.’
Modesta, Calm down. Slow down. Stand still. Sit down. Lie down. Die. Be buried. Disappear!!!
And what have I done? To tell you the truth, I have been kind of schizophrenic; confident of who I am and walking in what God has placed in me one minute and, completely unhinged and hiding behind false humility so as to fit into people’s expectations of me, the next.
For a very long time I struggled with discerning real pride and false humility. I got exhausted in relationships because to maintain them, I had to break myself up into different pieces which I presented according to the bite-size capacity present company could bear.
What I now know is that it wasn’t personal. Even though it felt like it at the time, they were not critising me. They were criticizing God. When they said “Who are you?” I didn’t realise what they were really saying is “Could God really…? Since when does God….? How come God did this for you and not….?” (Luke 10:16, Acts 5:39)
So, what do you do when surrounded with people who are uncomfortable, at best, and even murderous (yes, I said it), about who you are and what you are doing?
What Would Jesus Do?
This morning I was faced with one of those situations where someone close to me tried to manipulate me into shrinking down when I started addressing a critical situation; something which if I did back down from, would lead us all down the wrong path. So, I stood resolute. And I’ve decided that I will have to continue doing that, respectfully, lovingly, tactfully, even accommodating but, without compromising.
At times like this, I ask myself “What would Jesus do?”
Asking that question this morning made me chuckle because it took me straight to the passages where people were completely aghast with Jesus’ attitude and actions towards them each time “present company” questioned His identity, source, capacity and destiny. (Luke 22:66-70, 11:14-22, 23:3,35, 39)
I have noticed that even amidst open criticism, strong rebuke and obvious attacks on His character and very life, Jesus abided in the Lord and practiced the 7Ps of Maintaining Power:
1. Practice God’s Presence
Ephesians 6:10 says “[…] be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Then it goes on to list military strategies to overcome affront. But the first directive is to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (the Holy Spirit), and this comes through fellowship with God, in prayer as a lifestyle. (Ephesians 6:10-19)
We see that as soon as Jesus was baptised, He was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God to be strengthened in the Lord. The Spirit prepared Jesus in advance for what was to come – Satan’s attempt to tempt and destroy Jesus. (Luke 4:1-13)
Notice that the devil tempted Jesus when Jesus was in a state of physical weakness yet spiritual strength. You might be going through something that puts you in a seemingly weak position outside but, if you are strong in your spirit, you will prevail against satan’s temptations, no matter who they come through.
The bible says that Jesus woke up early and walked away from others to go into seclusion in order to pray. Jesus even told Peter that the devil seeks to kill him but, that Peter’s future victory lay in present prayer. Peter was to practice God’s presence before temptation rose. (Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, 22:31-34)
The 1st P to Maintaining Your Power is to Practice the Presence of God. Practice God’s presence in preparation for temptation and not only when it suddenly befalls you. This way you will maintain your power, instead of shrinking back when assault comes.
2. Protect Your Position
Jesus knew who and whose He was. When questioned whether He really was the Son of God and on what authority He confidently said and did what He said and did, Jesus protected His position by stating plainly for all to hear and understand, exactly who and whose He was and upon what authority He said and did what He said and did. (Mathew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8)
The 2nd P to Maintaining Your Powers is to Protect Your Position by shielding yourself with faith and fighting against the enemy’s fiery darts with the sword of the truth of God’s word. (Ephesians 6:16,17)
God is very clear about your identity, source and capacity. Know it, believe it, say it and protect it in your heart. Don’t add or remove or distort a letter of what He has said you are and can do. It is what it is. Uphold it and leave it to critics to get over it. (Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 4:23)
3. Proclaim God’s Promises
Even when temptation rose through those closest to Him, Jesus did not waver. He spoke the truth of God’s promises to Him and all those that would follow Him in the truth.
It doesn’t matter what your current situation looks like, your future cannot possibly look grimmer than Jesus’ did as He hung upon the cross. Yet even on the cross, Jesus told the thief who repented that “[…] you will be with me in paradise”. Jesus was actually going down to hell, but He believed in God’s promise to raise Him to heaven and, based on that faith, He could confidently tell the thief that He too would be in heaven with Jesus. God said it, Jesus believed and proclaimed it. And that settled it, on earth, under the earth and in heaven. (Ephesians 4:9, Luke 23:40,41, Romans 8:11)
The 3rd P of Maintaining Your Power when people try to pull you down is Proclaim God’s Promises over the noise of their voices. Prophesy to dry bones, speak those things that be not physically as if they are because they already are yours in the spirit. Proclaim God’s Promises and so shall it be! In Jesus’ Name! (Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 4:17c)
4. Present God’s Power
Now, we are told to have the same attitude of humility that Christ Jesus had, where He humbled Himself in obedience to the point of dying a criminal’s death. Jesus Himself warned us against doing things to get man’s praise and told us to instead, do things in secret where God will see and reward us. Yet Jesus healed in public, even in places and on days when “it was not allowed to”. He did great miracles in show of God’s power and authority, in plain view. (Philippians 2:5-8, Mathew 6:1-18, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 13:10-17)
How do we reconcile this obvious show of spiritual prowess with humility and discretion? Simply. Jesus was secure in His identity and source – God. Jesus only said and did what He heard the Father say and saw the Father do. Several times He said “my time has not come” but when it had, He unleashed the full force of what God had anointed Him to – Presenting the power and authority of God’s heavenly Kingdom, on earth. By Presenting God’s Power through Him, Jesus gave us the 4th P to Maintaining Your Power – a model after which we are to follow as we also Present God’s Power, in the things He has anointed us to do, instead of hide it to please man. (John 2:4, 7:6)
5. Persist in Pursuit
“Keep on keeping on” we like to say to each other. That’s exactly what Jesus did. He was crystal clear about who He was, where He came from, why He was on earth, who He was called to, what He was to do, for how long and when He would stop. Not a second of opposition slowed Him down. He “rolled with the punches” as they say and Persisted in His Pursuit.
Look at this account of when Jesus introduced Himself as Christ the Messiah (the Anointed One and His Anointing):
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to Me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell Me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
“Truly I tell you,” He continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.” (Luke 4:14-30)
Notice that they loved Jesus to an extent; to the extent He fit into their preconceived ideas of who He should be and what someone like Him should be able to do. He was allowed to be human but, not divine. But to go and say that He was the solution they had been waiting for, for centuries! How dare He?
The people at the synagogue were livid! They actually wanted to kill Jesus. Unbeknownst to them, their evil motives served as the very catalyst to Jesus’ fulfilling His earthy ministry – ushering God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
You ever experienced that? ‘You are loved and welcome as long as you are and do what we can handle. How dare you go far and beyond? Who are you to….? On what authority do you…?’
Don’t you sometimes just feel like saying ‘People, if God didn’t seek my permission before He created me for this purpose for such a time as this, don’t be surprised that you didn’t get the memo either. I had no choice in the matter but, now that I know who I am and what I am to do. I will trust and obey God. I love you but, excuse me, I am about my Father’s business.’ Alas, instead, it is best to follow Jesus example at the cross and say “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
The 5th P of Maintaining Your Power is Persist in Your Pursuit of that which Christ Jesus died to richly deposit in you. The world is in bondage and there is a freedom that God has assigned for it through you. Keep moving forward. Remember Christ in you is the hope of glory. (Romans 8:19,20)
6. Purge Pride
We are admonished over and over again, in the word of God to not be prideful. This is a very sensitive area. How do we distinguish between real pride and false humility? How do we come boldly before God and place confidence in what He has already done in and for us, without exalting ourselves and lording it over people? (Hebrews 4:16, Mark 11:22-24, Mathew 20:25, 1 Peter 5:3)
I mean, you carry God on the inside of you, you have supernatural abilities, you have been given a divine calling by the Almighty God Himself and you have His power and authority to lead your sphere of influence. How do you make sure you don’t puff up with pride like Lucifer did and end up having God Himself oppose you? (Isaiah 14:12-17, Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6)
You look to Jesus. How did Jesus purge pride?
The Apostle Paul lays out the foundation to “clothing ourselves in humility” in Philippians 2:3-13 and not surprisingly, it starts with mindset:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Jesus is God is love. The nature of love is to seek the best for others. Love and fear God and lay down your life (interests) for what He lay down His life (interests). The Apostle Paul mentions several times all his great personal attributes but says “not I but God”. He is saying ‘I am endowed with many abilities but I am empowered by God; without Him, I am nothing. It is in Him that I live and move and have my being.’ (Colossians 3:12, John 15:3, Galatians 2:19-21, Philippians 3:4-14)
Jesus was driven by God’s love and fueled by the Holy Spirit, without God’s help, Jesus as a man would not have been able to do or say what He did and said. Jesus knew this. He feared worshipped and revered God and no matter what He was able to do as a man, He gave all glory back to God. (John 5:19, 12:49, 17:4)
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us that:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
The 6th P to Maintaining Your Power is Purge Pride through love as a mindset and motivation. Lay your life down in fear of God who chose to put His divine presence and treasures in earthen vessels; love like He did as He gave His only Son and as Jesus willingly lay down His life so that we may live and be adopted into Sonship by God Himself; and serve sacrificially as you recognise the privilege it is to be called a partner and co-worker with God in the most significant assignment in all of eternity – to build the people and the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven. (2 Corinthians 4:7, John 3:16, 10:18, Romans 8:14, Ephesians 2:10)
Know that you are great but it is all by God’s grace. Humble yourself and God will exalt you. In everything, return all glory to God. (1 Peter 5:6)
7. Pursue Peace
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This is a message that the Lord has shared with man from the beginning of time. Peace says we are governed by God’s love and truth and not by people’s words and temporary facts. We are also told by the Apostle James that where there is “envy and self-ambition [strife], there you find disorder and every evil practice.” This is because out of the abundance of a filthy heart, the mouth speaks filthy things. And we cannot have both godly and ungodly things come from the same source. (Luke 6:45, James 3:9-12, 2 Corinthians 4:18)
This is why, where, despite your best efforts, it is not possible to maintain peace externally, the Lord Jesus in His parting message to the disciples told them (and us) you will face persecution externally but internally I want you to maintain my peace. (John 14:27, 16:33)
I think this is one of the strongest military tactics you can use as a Believer:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-8
The 7th P to Maintaining Your Power is Pursue Peace because it will guard your heart and mind from attacks that come from words and actions of those will evil intent. Where your heart is guarded from external filth, by meditating on the truth of God’s word, it will, in turn only think and bring forth the truth of God’s word out of your lips. And you know once you speak God’s word over your situation, it will go forth as a prophecy to accomplish the things you have sent it to do. Hallelujah! (Isaiah 55:11)
Maintain Your Power
Jesus said ‘Yes’ to God and set out obey what God had set before Him. He was humble and honourable to all but, did not let family, friend nor foe, distract nor deter Him from accomplishing to the last detail, what God had called Him to do, whatever the cost.
This is true humility – to abase oneself before God and for the love of people, yet never shrink in fear to fit people’s idea of who we are and what we can do.
So, take heart. Be strong and very courageous. Remember, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Ask the Holy Spirit build you up in Christ Jesus’ wisdom, power and love as you fulfill your kingdom mandate to serve your generation to the glory of our God. In Jesus’ Name! (Joshua 1:6-9, Psalm 111:10)