Do you feel stuck? Does it seem like you have hit a limit to what you are able to accomplish? Does it feel like you have done your best and yet there’s still so much more that you’d like to do?
These questions, and others like them, can apply to our lives in lots of different areas — relationships, business, spirituality, personal achievement, education, etc., etc. There are certainly times in each of our lives when we don’t imagine that there aren’t many more ways we can grow.
We’ve exhausted all our known paths and options and we’ve advanced as far as our current situation would seem to allow.
And that’s when we stop. That’s when it seems like our capacity for growth has totally dried up.
But is this true? Is it generally true that folks have an upper capacity above which they can’t grow? And what about for followers of Jesus…what is our capacity like?
Capacity Without Measure
As I’ve mentioned before, the Gospel of John is full of “sent” language. It’s all over the place! The implication is that those who follow Jesus are sent; we’re not to be lazy or passive!
And one of the places where this sent language shows up prominently is in John 3.34. Here’s what it says:
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
Now, to be clear, the “one whom God has sent” in this passage is referring to Jesus. Jesus’ testimony about himself is legitimate because he speaks God’s words in a completely unadulterated fashion. And, furthermore, Jesus was given the Spirit without limit or measure, meaning that while others in human history prior to Jesus experienced the Spirit of God, it was only for a time. Jesus, however, had total and complete access to the Spirit when he was on earth. All that God sent Jesus to do could be accomplished because Jesus had total access to the Spirit. His capacity was only limited by his human-ness (he could get sleepy and hungry and the like, he could only be in one place at a time, he experienced time sequentially the way all humans do, etc.).
You may be thinking at this point something like this: Matt, I thought you were going to talk about how we could have a growing capacity, not that Jesus did!
Well, there are several things to think about. In John 14.17 Jesus promises to send the Spirit to his followers and he says that the Spirit will be with them and live in them. Later in the same chapter, Jesus says that the Spirit will teach them “all things” (14.26). Two chapters later Jesus tells his followers that the Spirit whom he will send will guide them into all truth (16.13). Then in John 16.14-15 Jesus says that what the Spirit says he got from Jesus and what Jesus says he got from God. Lastly, in John 20.21 Jesus says that he is sending his followers in the same way he as sent, which, among many things, implies that they too will be sent with the Spirit.
In other words, the Spirit that Jesus had access to without limit is the same Spirit that indwells his followers!
Friends, this is great news indeed! We have been granted the greatest gift that we could possibly receive on this side of eternity: the Spirit of God will live in us! He will inspire us, move us, teach us, guide us, convict us, and empower us.
He will allow our capacity to only be limited by our human-ness as well. Like Jesus when he was on earth, we get tired and hungry, we are only able to be in one place at a time, etc., etc. But in the same way, just as Jesus was filled to capacity with the Spirit as he walked and talked on earth, we too are filled to the brim! The Spirit of God is with us!
Grow Your Capacity!
So our capacity is much higher than we probably imagined. How do we tap this uncharted capacity? Here are a few ideas:
- Pray. Ask God to help you submit more and more to the Spirit. Why? Well, if it is the Spirit who can grant us all that we need (thus growing our capacity), then we must learn to trust him and lean on him more than we currently do. So we need to ask God to show us how to trust the Spirit!
- Seek community. There’s little that will help you increase your capacity more than being in a Christ-centered, Spirit-filled community of folks who long to live out God’s mission in this world. You will be encouraged, pushed, and guided. You will learn that growing your capacity isn’t something to accomplished alone; you need others!
- Change your inputs. Be honest, what are your daily inputs? Mine look like this: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, podcasts, television programs, Youtube videos, conversations with friends, and, if I feel especially compelled, the Bible. What if I flipped my input priorities, placing more importance on hearing from God within the Bible and from my community? Would my life change? I’m totally convinced that it would!
So friends, when you get down and think there’s no way out — that’s okay. Feeling depressed, sad, and stuck are real emotions and you feeling them is not a bad thing. But in just the way you need him to, the Spirit of God can provide you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Don’t you need those things? I know I do!
What do you think? As a follower of Jesus, why do we sometimes buy the lie that our capacity is very limited? And what would change in your life if you really lived like the Spirit of God lived inside of you? Let me know in the comments below!