I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with a friend about the amazing design of God’s commanded Holy Days. He knows that I don’t observe holidays like Christmas and Easter because of their pagan origins, and even acknowledges the historical facts. I talked about how shallow the meaning of man’s holidays is in comparison to the fascinating layers of meaning in the commanded Holy Days of God. I described the establishment of God’s Holy Days to memorialize past physical events and to also focus on future events, thereby training the physical nation of Israel as God brought them out of Egypt into the Promised Land. I explained how the Holy Days also have a spiritual meaning that applies to the progress of our own conversion today. I explained how they also represent phases of the ultimate Plan of God for mankind to join Him as members of His Family in the Kingdom of God. When considering the richness and depth of meaning in God’s commanded Holy Days, the meaning of manmade holidays absolutely pales in comparison. After very briefly going through an overview of God’s Holy Days and sharing how they provide me with true spiritual meaning in my life, my friend said that it gave him chills to think about it. The Plan of God is truly awesome, in the literal sense of the word.
To my friend at that moment, the Plan of God seemed awesome as well. And I wondered what would happen for him. Would he have more questions? Would he question his participation in mainstream Christian holidays? I wondered how it would change his life as well. Would this insight that I shared make a difference in his life? I don’t have answers to those questions. But I have hope, knowing that I was able to share the Truth, and at the right time, it will help him.
As easy as it is to apply the question of “why aren’t you doing something with this information?” to a friend, it is more important to turn that question inward and ask ourselves the same question (compare Matthew 7:3-5). As we know, with knowledge and understanding we also become more responsible for bearing fruit with the spiritual gifts we are given (compare Luke 12:48). When God provides us with insight and understanding, is there something more we can do with that understanding? With the Holy Spirit that God entrusts us with, what kinds of questions should we ask to further our development? Does God look at us and wonder why we aren’t seeking to make more changes in our lives? Perhaps the most succinct and poignant question to ask ourselves is simply, what prevents us from progressing? We know that the life of a Christian involves continuous self-examination, correction, improvement, and growth. Is this activity of growth something that we are actively engaged in? If not, it really needs to be.
Fortunately, God knows that we aren’t perfect yet. He knows that we need support. He knows that we cannot succeed on our own. This is why He provides us with His Holy Spirit as a down-payment on an investment in our salvation. But we have a part to play in that investment as well. Our work involves applying the knowledge and spiritual understanding to grow in our obedience to His commandments. Our part involves offering God His rightful glory in the words we speak and in the way we live. It is a tremendous honor to have God’s Spirit in this day and age. How do we choose to use it?
Every day provides us with an opportunity to put the Holy Spirit into use. What are we doing with those opportunities? Do we take the chance to demonstrate our commitment to God, or do we simply let opportunities pass us by? Just as we faced choices during our initial conversion to follow the Way of God over the way of the world, we continue to face choices when we are years into our conversion. We have the rare gift of having access to God’s understanding through His Holy Spirit that dwells within us right now, and it is our responsibility to use it. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:14-15). Even though Paul directs his words to Timothy and refers to the additional portion of the Holy Spirit which he received with his ordination as a minister, the principle of not neglecting the gift of the Spirit in us and progressing applies to all of us. As we continue on in our Christian conversion, there is no end to our God-given ability to make progress. All we have to do is keep searching for ways to move forward, while overcoming the obstacles on our paths.