[Matthew was a member of the SMI team for 10 years before departing to pursue his passion for fitness. His first book, The Body Tithe Devotional, is designed to encourage Christians through a 90-day fitness or health journey. I asked him if he would return to SMI occasionally, adapting one of the devotions from his book to the lifelong financial journey SMI members are on. - AP]
Of the many names given to the Holy Spirit, “counselor” probably has the least pizazz, on the surface anyway.
Maybe the term harkens images of being back in school, meeting with a well-intentioned academic counselor— some poor soul tasked with helping you make life-changing decisions based on 10-minute meetings and the scan of a report card.
Or maybe thoughts of marriage counseling come to mind. Seeking help on serious issues causing a divide between you and your spouse, while productive, is hardly thrilling.
Or perhaps you remember the camp counselor who put a halt on your nightly water balloon excursions. No matter how you look at it, most people wouldn’t get too excited about meeting with a counselor of any kind.
However, the Holy Spirit is unlike any other counselor.
First of all, the Holy Spirit is perfect. Therefore, He gives only perfect counsel. Perfect guidance. Also, the role of Counselor is not merely to guide us:
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”— John 14: 26 (RSV).
Jesus says “he will teach you . . . ,” so our role as His children is to hold on to His teaching and follow it. Only then is His teaching productive. Unlike in school when we are taught something but soon forget, the Holy Spirit is there to remind us of what we have learned.
Just imagine! The Holy Spirit is in our hearts to guide us, teach us, and continually point us back to Jesus and God the Father. Suddenly, having access to the only perfect Counselor gets quite exciting!
“Counselor,” unlike other descriptions of the Holy Spirit, requires effort from us for the term to be beneficial in our lives. There is a difference between knowing the right thing to do and doing the right thing. Knowing just isn’t enough.
If we want to benefit from the Counselor and if we want to glorify the Father, we must listen and we must follow His counsel . . . His perfect counsel.
We see this with our finances almost on a daily basis. We need to prioritize our spending and live within our means, but do we? We need to develop a personalized long-term financial plan for retirement, but we put it off another month. We know we should be disciplined in following our chosen investing strategy, but we often get off track by letting our emotions control our decisions.
Or maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe you need to make investing and wealth accumulation less of a priority. Having greater wealth can become a small “g” god, undermining our relationships and undercutting our joy in giving to the Father's kingdom work.
Our Counselor helps us, guides us, reminds us, and teaches us. He does this, in part, by directing our hearts and minds back to God, both when we fail and succeed.
One of the neat things about our Counselor is that He is not limited to only teaching and guiding us. He can empower us to both listen and follow through because He’s just that big. He’s just that powerful. He’s just that perfect.
Daily Spiritual Exercise: Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), came up with the practice of “spiritual breathing.” Spiritual breathing (exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure) is an exercise in faith. It enables you know and live in God’s ongoing love and forgiveness. Here’s how Cru explains it:
Exhale: Confess your sin. Agree with God concerning your sin and thank Him for His forgiveness of it, according to 1 John 1: 9 and Hebrews 10: 1– 25. Confession involves repentance: a change in attitude and action.
Inhale: Surrender the control of your life to Christ, and appropriate (receive) the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. Trust that He now directs and empowers you according to the command of Ephesians 5: 18 and the promise of 1 John 5: 14– 15.
Practice “spiritual breathing” throughout the day. As you do, ask the Lord to give you a discerning heart, one able to tune in to the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Ask also for the strength to follow His leading and He will fully equip you for every good work, empowering you on to its completion.
The Body Tithe Devotional can be purchased at Amazon.