How many times have we felt a compelling urge to do or say something?—and we might have done so before thinking about it. How many times have we reflected too late on our words or action?—and having realized our mistake, we might have tried to excuse it by saying: Satan made me do it! Or: I could not help it!
On the other hand, how many times have we felt a soft and gentle influence, not to say or do something?—but we did not heed it until it was too late. How many times did we realize afterwards that we were being led into not doing or saying something?—but we simply ignored that gentle leadership.
Simply put, how many times did we follow the push of Satan, self and society to do something wrong—and how many times did we follow the lead of God’s Holy Spirit to refrain from acting that way?
And so I ask: Are we being pushed or led? Because it is Satan who pushes, while it is God who leads.
Paul makes this profound statement in Romans 8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” And he adds in Galatians 5:18: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”—that is, you are not under the penalty of the law (death) for having broken it.
This sounds quite straightforward in English, but sadly, not so in other languages, for instance in German. The Luther Bible translates Romans 8:14 as, “For as many as are driven by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” In German, the word for “driven” is “treiben” and could also be rendered in English as “to be urged, to be pressed, to be incited.” But this is NOT how God’s Spirit works. We are LED to do what is right—we are not pushed or forced to do something against our will.
Contrariwise, Satan wants to push or force us to do and say the wrong things. And we must be careful that we don’t succumb to his “push” and that we don’t attempt to push others. Note how Job describes the violence on the earth: “Some remove landmarks, they seize flocks violently and feed on them; They drive away the donkey of the fatherless; they take the widow’s ox as a pledge. They push the needy off the road; all the poor of the land are forced to hide” (Job 24:2-4). And: “… They have cast off restraint before me. At my right hand the rabble arises; they push away my feet, And they raise against me their ways of destruction” (Job 30:11-12).
Don’t push or allow to be pushed; but rather, lead and allow to be led. Notice what God will do to confused people in the not-too-distant future: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). And: “… the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).
Leading others gently, compassionately and mercifully will have a much greater and lasting effect than pushing or compelling them. As we read in Jeremiah 31:9: “They shall come with weeping, And with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of living waters, In a straight way in which they shall not stumble…”
If people are receptive to true leadership, they can be lead. But pushing and forcing them won’t help. Remember that a person persuaded or convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
Again, I ask: Are you leading because you are being led, or are you pushing because you are being pushed?