[A slave girl] followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” ACTS 16:17

I recently read a story of a student at a Bible college who was scheduled to deliver a chapel message, and a truth was burning inside her. She was bothered by a false teaching that kept many from experiencing God’s best, and her chapel message seemed to be the right occasion to refute it. She prepared powerful points with plenty of scriptural evidence. But the night before her presentation, she couldn’t sleep. God spoke to her spirit: “Don’t preach that message. Your beliefs are right, but you are arguing your points from the wrong spirit. You aren’t speaking in love.” Disappointed, she gave an entirely different message about love  —and realized later how abrasive and alienating her planned message would have been.

It’s possible for someone to say the right things with the wrong attitude. The slave girl who followed Paul and Silas in Philippi is one example; she spoke the truth (generally) about these men, but she was filled with an agitating demonic spirit. Contentiousness, strife, pride, bitterness, and an obsession with proving a point can cause us to speak the right words while not representing God’s heart. Just as important as what we say to others or hear from God are the emotional and spiritual filters through which we say or hear it. The spirit behind a truth is as significant as the truth itself.

This student’s sensitivity to God’s voice spared her from an argument she might have won even while losing her audience. She was able to avoid alienating those who disagreed with her and to discuss her beliefs more winsomely later. In a sleepless night, God spoke to her clearly enough to redirect her, and she sensed His message clearly. When we bring our “right” perspectives to God, He shapes them to reflect not only His truth but also His heart.

Holy Spirit, give me that kind of sensitivity to Your voice  —not only to know Your truth but to know the heart behind it. Help me to believe and discuss what is right and to saturate my words with the right spirit.

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