In our Proverbs 31 Men series, so far we have looked at Mordecai, Onesiphorus, Amos, and Ezra, examining what made these characters stand out as men of purpose. Let's move on in our series to look at a man named Simeon, of which we know very little, but what we do know tells us a lot:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:25-35).
There is on phrase that stands out in those verses, so let's begin our study there as we examine what it was like for Simeon to be a man of the Holy Spirit.
IN THE SPIRIT
Notice that we learn three things about Simeon and the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit was on him.
- The Holy Spirit had revealed something to him.
- The Holy Spirit moved him to go to the Temple to meet the baby Jesus.
Obviously, the Holy Spirit was active and working in Simeon's life, but we are not told how or why. We do not know if there were any other Spirit manifestations or activities that distinguished Simeon from other men. We do not know that he was "righteous," which would describe his relationship with others, and he was "devout," which describes his relationship with God. It is often assumed that Simeon was old, but if you look at the account carefully, Luke did no tell us that for sure. We don't know how long he carried God's promise that he would see the Messiah. All we know is that the Spirit revealed something to him, which Simeon accepted in faith and then waited.
Jerusalem was a busy city with lots of activity, especially around the Temple. It would have been easy for Simeon to miss his encounter with Jesus. Jesus would not have been in the Temple with His parents for very long and Simeon could have been in the general vicinity but still missed Him, except that the Spirit was ordering his steps. We see from this that Simeon was sensitive to the Spirit or perhaps the Spirit had done such a deep work in his life that he had a thought that he needed to be somewhere and followed that thought in faith.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
There seem to be two pictures that people hold in their minds when we say someone is in the Spirit. We either think of a wide-eyed, eccentric person who walks around with his (or her) head cocked to one side, listening for a voice that no one else can hear. Or there is the person who only does what "the Spirit" tells him (or her) to do, and thus takes no initiative on his (or her) own unless God speaks. I am not sure either of those would adequately describe Simeon. Paul is the one who gives us the best picture for what someone in the Spirit is like:
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:5-11).
It seems that the presence of the Spirit is most active in the area of our minds and the business of our minds is thinking. Therefore, those who are in the Spirit are those whose thought process and eventual thoughts themselves are subject to the work of the Spirit. A Proverbs 31 man is one whose mind is not set on sports, or business, or gambling, or sex, or trivial or wasteful hobbies. The Proverbs 31 man's mind is not hostile to God or His will but submits to God's will as revealed in His word and through His Spirit. There is an abundance of instruction in the epistles that describes the behavior and thinking of a man led by the Spirit. Perhaps it would be a good study to look at what those writers had to say as a follow up to this Memo.
If the mind governed by the flesh is death, then the mind ruled by the Spirit is life and that life is contagious and must be shared with others. That means men who are in the Spirit are teaching and encouraging others, just like Simeon did with Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in the Temple. Are you a man (or woman) of the Spirit? If so, you don't have to follow the expectations of those who think you must be spooky spiritual if you have a close relationship with the Spirit. You can be supernaturally natural and still be a man or person of the Spirit. I encourage you to reflect on this concept this week and see if your mind is indeed a source of life for others, or a source of contention or useless pursuits that don't amount to anything in the eternal economy of God. Have a blessed week!