Yesterday we had some local government officials stop by for a tour of our church facility. They wanted to see the space because the city is doing construction in the neighborhood, and they would like to use some of the empty offices at our church for the employees managing the construction. As we walked through the building, one of the men in the group mentioned that he had been raised in church, but as an adult, he had lost interest in church. Consequently, he hasn't been to church in over 15 years. So I did what every pastor would do in that situation: I invited him to come to our church. He responded by asking, "Is The Harvest spirit-filled?”
It's not a completely uncommon question for a pastor to get, but it did take me by surprise this time because we were in a group of several businessmen, so it’s not really a normal question to get in that type of setting. But I was thankful for the opportunity to talk more about the Harvest, and what God has called us to do as a church. And when it was all said and done, he said he would give The Harvest a try when all of the Covid19 virus stuff is over.
The whole experience was very much out of the ordinary, and it left me pondering the phrase he used: "filled with the spirit". I know that when some of us hear that phrase we react with caution or skepticism because we've seen strange things take place in the name of the Holy Spirit. And those experiences can leave us thinking, "If that's being filled with the Holy Spirit, then I don't think I want it." But as I reflected on my interaction with this businessman, and as I saw how God worked outside of my plans to encourage this man to return to church, I was reminded of the fact that being filled with the Holy Spirit doesn't necessarily always involve an “emotional experience”.
Ephesians 5:17 puts it like this, "Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The word "filled", as it's used here, carries with it the idea of wind filling the sail of a ship, and in this capacity, the wind carries the ship along. So to be "filled with the Spirit" means that God "fills our sails", and guides us through life. So in that way, we are led through life by the Holy Spirit. That's exactly what was happening in my conversation yesterday - God's Spirit was guiding it.
However, it doesn't end there, because in the original language used in Ephesians 5:17, the idea of being filled with the Spirit also carried with it the meaning of being "permeated". So it was also used to describe something like salt permeating meat to flavor and preserve it. And that's how it is with us, as God wants His Spirit to permeate our lives in what we say, think, and do. That means being "filled with the Spirit" is not limited to one, isolated instance. Instead, it's about God's Spirit infusing every aspect of our lives. He saturates our prayer life, our worship life, our personal life, and our business life.
To be "filled with the Spirit" is to walk through life with every thought, every decision, and every act under God's control. So today, let's commit ourselves to being filled and controlled by God's Holy Spirit. Let's ask God to permeate our lives and direct our thoughts so that all we do and say will glorify Him.