“For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak.” John 16:13
“So what do you have to say for yourself, young man?” This was a frequent question, asked by my father, during my childhood. Particularly after I’d ignored my parents rules and done what I wanted to do instead. Inevitably, I’d find myself standing before him, the carnage of my ill conceived or misbegotten deeds lying, like so much carnage, around me while I stood, my eyes trained on the ground and my pride bruised and bleeding in the dust.
And what did I have to say for myself? Nothing. Not a thing.
It’s a hard lesson to learn, the whole, I have nothing to say lesson. But it’s a good one to learn.
In my first year as a pastor, God taught me quite convincingly that, in my preaching, I had nothing to say, no authority whatsoever, apart from his word. He made it clear that no one would ever be changed by my thoughts. No one would ever be saved because of my ideas. None of my insights would ever make any substantial impact on the world. But if I’d give up my aspirations for being thought of as profound, or smart, or wise. If I’d surrender my desire to have people want to hear what I had to say; and would, instead, allow the power of God’s word to be heard through my voice; then I’d have the chance to witness God changing people through me.
I think this would have been a tremendously humbling exercise if it hadn’t been for the example of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is, after all, divine and a member of the Godhead. Yet, like Christ, he is willing to not hold onto his own equality with God. So much so that, when it comes to his work for us, he doesn’t speak his own words. He doesn’t do his own works. He doesn’t give his own gifts. No, he speaks Christ’s words. He does Christ’s works. He gives Christ’s gifts.
So I have to ask myself, “Is it such a humbling sacrifice to serve Christ as the Holy Spirit does? I’m not divine. So, on my own, what do I have to say that might be truly meaningful? What do I have to do that would be so powerfully special? What do I have to give that would be truly valuable? The best I could ever hope for can only be achieved if I follow the example of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and use my thoughts to only think God’s thoughts, and my voice to only speak God’s words, and my hands to only give God’s service. And when it comes right down to it that’s all Jesus is asking from any of us. Jesus is asking us to do nothing less than be like him.
So what do you have to say? Are you willing to be remade into the image of God?