Main Course: The Holy Spirit
The main course on that menu is none other than the Holy Spirit.
Halloween 2019 was the first time my son really got into the whole concept of trick-or-treating. Quite honestly, he didn’t do a great job of it. Sure, he had all the parts down – the doorbell ring, saying “trick-or-treat”, holding up his pumpkin bucket, and saying “thank you”. The problem was that immediately after ringing the doorbell he would say “trick-or-treat” while holding up his bucket to a still-closed door. He would then wait to say “thank you” until after we were walking away.
Despite his struggles with trick-or-treat syntax, my son brought home a ton of candy. Naturally, my wife and I helped ourselves to the pick of the litter and then allowed him to have a couple pieces. Over the course of the next several weeks he has constantly asked us if he could have a treat. We’ll allow him one piece after meals or from time to time for a mid-afternoon snack. Sometimes he’ll barter with us for more, and let’s be honest, we typically give in.
But there comes a point where we have to say “no more treats”. We, as his parents, decide what’s best for him to fill his body with, because we are in our 30s and he is four. We have seen a better and healthier way. But the fact remains: He has to have some type of food in his body so that he can live. Something has to fill him. Our job is to guide him to the foods that will be best, and mitigate the number of unhealthy choices.
The same is true of our spiritual lives. We will all be filled by something. We have to have the wisdom and discernment to choose what is best.
In Ephesians 5:15-21, Paul takes the opportunity to remind the people of the church at Ephesus of this identical truth – that they will all fill their lives with something. In a period where the “days are evil” (v. 16), it would be easy to live a foolish life, filled with missteps and poor choices. Rather, Paul, as their spiritual parent, suggests a more healthy “menu” from which the people can fill themselves. The main course on that menu is none other than the Holy Spirit.
If we are all going to be filled with something, it ought to be the Holy Spirit. Our helper. Our guide. The indwelling of God that Jesus left for us. And if there are currently other objects filling that void, we must rid ourselves of those, in order that the Holy Spirit might take up residence within us.
We can choose to fill ourselves with worldly things.
We can choose to allow ourselves to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
Did you catch the nuance there? This is, once again, a moment in our Christian walk where we have to stop trying to do it all on our own. Specifically, we must stop trying to fill our lives with what we think is best, and instead allow the Holy Spirit to find a true home inside us.
Similar to the church in Ephesus, as we allow the Spirit to work within us, we are united through song (v. 19), thankfulness (v. 20), and submission to one another (v. 21). As we submit to one another, through the power of the Holy Spirit, it breaks down barriers that once stood in the way: social status, gender, race, etc. We submit to one another because Christ called us and because the Holy Spirit guides us.
So friends, what will it be? Chart your own foolish path? Fill yourself ?
Or will you choose to walk in the way of the wise, that you might “understand what the will of the Lord is” (v.17)?
I choose to let the Holy Spirit fill me. Please join me.
I leave you with a prayer from A Book of Prayers: A Prayer for Every Chapter of the Bible. What follows is a section of the prayer written for Ephesians 5. May it be a blessing to you as you seek to allow the Holy Spirit to fill you and guide your path.
Great God and Father, teach us to walk as we should, in a way that is proper for those who are to be holy in Christ. We turn away from all immorality and idolatry. Please help us to live as children of light. Teach us not to hide in the darkness just to win the approval of the world. Show us how to live as the light of your Son, that the darkness would be exposed. Fill us with the Spirit, that we might worship you always with great thanksgiving and submission.