By David Munson Jr.
What does it look like when we let the Holy Spirit in?
The New Testament is full of miraculous stories about people who let the Holy Spirit into their lives. We learn from these stories that people are filled with the grace of salvation, not by their own actions, or even by spiritual gifts, but by accepting the Holy Spirit’s Lordship as a consequence of accepting Jesus. And what does it look like in our lives today? What is the evidence that we, too, have let the Holy Spirit in?
A spirit of generosity and willingness to give financially – this is powerful evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the early Church (Acts 2:42-45). It is simple evidence to understand, yet difficult to personally accept. The New Testament seems to say that when we let the Holy Spirit work, we will joyfully give as much time and money as possible to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Put another way, if we believe we’ve fully accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, but don’t find ourselves giving very generously, or even feeling compelled to give, then we may be hindering the Holy Spirit.
I realize this is a discomfiting and maybe unpopular thing to say, but witness to this evidence of Jesus’ Lordship has been particularly powerful in my own life. Let me share a few examples.
My father was in a terrible freak accident when I was a boy, and had a near death experience that radically impacted his faith. He became a better man. From that time on, he was filled with a passionate desire to help people and began devoting much of his income to the Church and to charitable causes. Like we learn from Simon the Sorcerer in the book of Acts, no one can buy the graces of God (Acts 8:18-23). We can’t donate our way to salvation. But if we are really being “changed from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18) then we should find, at some point, that we can’t stop giving.
Jesus doesn’t simply rail against any money, and the commission to “Go, sell everything you have” only comes to a few. Learning generosity is a slower and more practical process for most of us, though no less radical. I’ve seen some people work hard to make more and save more so that they can give more. I see others like myself, who are well off and more fortunate, make careful, productive investments to generate more income to give away. Doesn’t the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) teach us that this is how believers in God’s provision act?
I have also witnessed those who are poor show more generosity than many well-off people, especially when poorer communities have let the Holy Spirit in. We also see this in the words of St. Paul describing “the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor. 8:1-2). This should serve as a grave word of instruction to the rest of us.
Priests and other Church leaders may fear pointing out poor giving habits, for fear of offending. But the goal of a church is both to bring people to Christ and to strengthen the faith of the followers. Practicing our faith in congregational worship through prayers, creeds, hymns and Holy Communion are essential, and they include the offertory.
I love the offertory, and not because it saves me on postage. It’s such a humbling experience to watch our gifts, from God’s bounty, travel up row by row and be blessed by the priest at the altar. I always wonder how many others know this experience, and how many deprive themselves of it. I wonder whether we are truly letting the Holy Spirit in.
Giving is a consequence of salvation and essential to the New Testament revival of God’s people because it is part and parcel of spreading the good news about Jesus Christ by example. Salvation is a gift of grace, but it comes with a cost. We must give up self-sufficiency so that we can be free in the Spirit, to receive more and more fully the blessed likeness of Christ.
What would the world look like if we let the Holy Spirit in?
I would argue that if all Christians let the Holy Spirit work through them in this kind of giving, our world would know profound healing. Imagine what our churches could accomplish if everyone gave at least ten percent of their income to doing the Lord’s work. Imagine a country without poverty because business owners felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to treat their workers and the needy as their neighbors. Homelessness, hunger, and crime would decrease, our communities become more joyful, generous places. Millions of Spirit-filled Christians living this way, out of the mandate to love our neighbors, will convert hearts and societies to receive “the peace which passes understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
Let us be people who give this way. Let’s let the Holy Spirit in.
David Munson Jr. lives in Dallas and attempts to live his life following the second commandment in business and ministry (visit: https://insightswithdavid.com/).