A HUMBLE SPIRIT
Paul’s spirit was bold, and yet it was also humble. If your spirit is bold and yet not humble, that is dangerous. You may kill all the brothers because you are so bold. Boldness needs the balance of humility. On the one hand, you have to be bold; on the other hand, you have to be humble. We are either very bold or very humble. When we are bold, we do not know what humility is, and when we are humble, we do not know what boldness is. We are like the unturned cake referred to in Hosea 7:8. These characteristics of humility and boldness in our spirit are necessary for the church life.
Sometimes the sisters are keener than the brothers in noticing things that are wrong. They have this ability to see what is wrong and what is off, but most of the time they are not bold. They may find out that something is wrong, but they dare not tell the brothers. They may use the excuse that they are the weaker vessels (1 Pet. 3:7). To be humble is proper, but sometimes the sisters have to exercise a bold spirit. There was a certain sister who was a co-worker who saw certain mistakes that the brothers did not see, and she would come to us with boldness with tears on her face. She said, “Brothers, I have to fellowship with you because we are wrong in a certain thing. Though I am a sister under the covering, I have to say this.” Many times her fellowship became a deliverance from the Lord for us. This shows that we need a bold spirit with humility and a humble spirit with boldness.
A LOVING SPIRIT
Paul spoke bold words, but his words were full of a loving spirit. Paul’s spirit was a loving spirit, a spirit always stretching out to love others, to take care of others. I do not mean that we need a love which has its source in our emotions, but we need a loving spirit, a spirit within us that always loves others. The reason why I would be so frank in my spirit with you is because there is a lot of love in my spirit for you. What a person says with his words may be very different from his spirit. Someone may say that he loves you, but by discerning his spirit you know that he really does not love you. On the other hand, someone may tell you that he does not like you, but you realize that he loves you in his spirit. Many times mothers tell their children that they do not like them and they get upset with their children, but the children know that the mother loves them. A person’s words may be loving, but his spirit is not. We have to learn to know the spirit. Whether I highly appraise you or say something to rebuke you, you have to discern my spirit, not just my words. For the building up of the church life, there is the need of such a loving spirit.
A TENDER SPIRIT
Another characteristic of Paul’s spirit is that his spirit was tender. We can speak boldly in words yet still speak with a tender spirit. We need to be dealt with by the working of the cross so that we can be a person with a tender spirit like the apostle Paul.
A SPIRIT THAT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING
Paul’s spirit was not self-seeking. Second Corinthians shows us that he had a spirit that never sought anything for himself. He had a spirit fully, wholly, and thoroughly delivered out of the self. Whatever his spirit sought was for the good of the church and for the interest of Christ. Such a spirit is greatly needed in today’s church life. Whether or not the church in our place will be built up adequately depends upon our being a person with a spirit possessing all these characteristics. If we would look to the Lord for His help in His grace to have the same spirit as the apostle Paul, spontaneously the church life would be built up. We need a spirit that does not seek anything for the self.
A COORDINATING SPIRIT
The final characteristic of Paul’s spirit is that his spirit was always coordinating with others. Our spirit might be tender, pure, and loving, yet not so cooperating or coordinating with other saints. The verses in the Scripture reading show us that Paul’s spirit was always coordinating with his co-workers, coordinating with the local churches, and even coordinating with those believers who did not treat him so well. He was coordinating all the time, trying to be one with the saints, one with the local churches, and one with the co-workers. He was so coordinating in the spirit.
In this chapter we have seen nine aspects of this man’s spirit: his spirit was open, frank, pure, bold, humble, loving, tender, not self-seeking, but coordinating. It would be helpful to pray-read all the verses in the Scripture reading with these nine points in mind. The more we pray-read all these verses, the more we will see that these nine points are so significant. These are the real characteristics of a person’s spirit who lives in the Holy of Holies. We need such a spirit for the building up of the Lord’s Body. Without such a balanced, adjusted spirit, the church life could never be realized by us regardless of how many doctrines and how much knowledge we possess. For us to realize the church life, we need such a balanced and adjusted spirit. May we all look to the Lord that we may have such a spirit.
(Autobiography of a Person in the Spirit, An, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)