May 20 I Sunday

1 Chronicles 10-12

John 6:45-71


“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

—Acts 2:4


For the majority of us, the Holy Spirit is the most difficult member of the Trinity to understand. Part of this is because the Holy Spirit never receives a personal name. Scripture reveals names for both the Father and the Son, including Yahweh or Elohim for the Father and Jesus or Emmanuel for the Son, but the Spirit remains anonymous as to His personal identity. This omission has led some to think of the Holy Spirit as being less than a person.

Part of the confusion comes from biblical descriptions of the Spirit as being like wind or fire. In both the Old and New Testaments, the Hebrew and Greek words for “Spirit” are the same as the words for “wind.” Events like Pentecost do not help substantiate the Spirit’s personhood. Scripture tells us that as the disciples and other Jews were worshipping together on the day of Pentecost, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and come to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).

Because of descriptions like this, the Holy Spirit is sometimes thought of as a power, force or influence that we need to tap into or make use of in the way that wind can be used to fly a kite or steam to drive an engine or water to run a hydroelectric generator. But this is not adequate. We must not see the Holy Spirit as something but as someone. He is a person—a “He,” not an “it.” The Holy Spirit does not have a physical body, but like the Father, He has the composite qualities of personality: the abilities to think, decide and feel.

Though Scripture does not give the Holy Spirit a personal name, it often refers to Him by what He does. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, Counsellor, Advocate and the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16-17, 26). He performs these roles as a person and member of the Trinity. If we think of Him in impersonal terms, we will be tempted to think of Him as a power to be used or exploited. But knowing He is a person causes us to ask not “How can I use Him?” but “How can He use me?” The Holy Spirit is a person who becomes our empowerment so that we may be a channel through which He does His work in and through us!

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to live in me and for helping me understand that He is a person who works in and through me in accordance with Your will.

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