When Running on Empty

by Benjamin Burks on May 26, 2011 · 0 comments

.Recently, I began doing a series of messages on the role of the Holy Spirit in our Schools of Discipleship. I was amazed as God began to reveal to me the connection between covetousness, contentment, and the Holy Spirit’s filling.

Ephesians 5:17-18, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit…”

This is a command.
In the Greek language this verb (filled) is in the imperative mode. This means the filling of the Spirit isn’t an optional part of the Christian life. Every Christian is to be filled with the Spirit all of the time. If you aren’t, you are out of God’s will.

It is in the present tense.
This insight is particularly helpful because the Greek present tense has the idea of continual action. It’s what happens when I tell my son Caleb to go mow the grass. He goes outside and mows for a while, but it’s not long before he comes back in. When I go to check on him, the front yard is complete, but that is all; the back yard is not done. If I were to ask Caleb if he mowed the grass, he would say yes. “Why didn’t you mow all the grass?” If Caleb were to say, “You did not ask me to,” he would be correct because our language does not have a single word that would include continuance.

Obviously, I would use several words such as; Go back, start the mower, and keep on mowing until all the grass is mowed. That’s the present tense. You keep on doing something. It’s not a one-time event. The meaning of this verse is to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Be constantly controlled by the Spirit. But ever be filled and stimulated with the (Holy) Spirit.

It is in the passive voice.
This is a nuance many people would miss. In Greek, as in English, commands can be either active or passive. However, we’re much more used to active commands: Go to the store and pick up some milk, please.That’s an active command.

If I say, “Fill that hole with dirt,” that’s also in the active voice. But Ephesians 5:18 is in the passive voice. He doesn’t say, “Fill yourself with the Spirit,” but rather “Be filled with the Spirit.” That’s a bit hard to understand. It’s like saying to someone, “Be loved.”How do you do that?

This is the key to everything. To be “be filled” means that the filling of the Spirit is a work of God, not man.

Let me illustrate. Suppose I command you to “be loved.”If there’s not someone who wants to love you, you can’t obey that command. Likewise, if there’s not someone who wants to fill you, you can’t be filled with the Spirit. He’s not saying “fill yourself,” but rather “be filled.”

I draw two important implications from this truth:

1. The Holy Spirit is ready and willing to fill us at any moment.

2. We must make ourselves available to Him.

“Let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” I cannot be loved.But I can make myself available to those who want to love me. If you will, I can put myself in a position of “lovability”.

I can do those things that make me easy to love or I can be a difficult and hard to love. Something is missing. A connection is not being made.

I travel a lot in airports and often ride a tram from one terminal to another.
Those trains run on three rails, two for the wheels and one for the electricity. The electricity is always there, but the train doesn’t move unless there is contact with the third rail. Touch that rail and the train moves, pull away from that rail and it stops. The third rail is like the Holy Spirit. His power is always available-and unlike your local utility, there’s never a power shortage and never a brownout. But sometimes we live out of contact with His power. When that happens, our lives simply stop working the way God intended.

Let me discuss another illustration of being filled with the Spirit. The term is not a real word, but it is a workable term in my mind. The term is “fillability.”

It’s what happened when I was a teen and you needed gas in your car. When you went to a full-service gas station and say, “Fill ‘er up.”The person pumping the gas knows that the statement “Fill ‘er up,” means two things:

1) I’m empty; and,
2) I want my car to be filled with gas.

That’s “fillability” It’s need plus desire. When your need to be filled with the Spirit becomes your great desire, you will be filled, over and over again.

Many times in the Christian life when we are on empty we experience frustration, insecurity, anxiety, lack of confidence, and many other negative things that when we meditate on them, we focus on one thing, being filled.

Often we turn to substance to fill us, weather it be drugs, alcohol, tobacco, immorality, food, money, and the list could go on and on. I have seen people get in a vicious cycle because they coveted something other than the main thing that will influence, and transform our lives for our good and for His glory. If a man is filled with anger, then anger controls his life. If a man is filled with greed, then greed dominates his life. The willingness to admit to God of your emptiness and desire to be filled by His Spirit is the root problem of so many problems.

My tank seems emptier now that gas is over $4 gallon. It seems I lack the necessary ingredient (money) to keep it full. The filling of the Spirit of God is always available for God’s children, and more than that it is commanded and encouraged to always be being filled with His Spirit. Yet the activation is for us to resist covetousness, and admit many times a day to our Heavenly Father of our “emptiness” and our need to be filled by The Holy Spirit. He will pour water on Him that is thirsty.

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