October 16, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
In recent Life for Leaders devotions we have been considering how we might be filled with the Spirit of God. We noted that this is something God does, though we can be available for divine filling by serving others in Christ’s name. We have also seen that the filling of the Spirit is not a once-for-all experience, but rather something that can happen again and again throughout our lives.
There is another aspect to being filled with the Spirit that is conveyed through the Greek original of Ephesians 5:18, though it is harder to see in English. The main imperative in this verse is plural: “You [plural] be filled with the Spirit.” This could be addressed to a collection of individuals (you + you + you + you) or to a group of people considered together (all y’all; you guys). What follows after verse 18 shows a strong corporate sense: “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” In this passage, Paul assumes that he is speaking to a group of Christians together, to people who would be able to speak to each other as they are filled by the Spirit.
Given all we’ve seen so far in Ephesians about the importance of the church as the body of Christ, it comes as no surprise that the filling of the Spirit is something we experience along with other believers. This is not to deny individual experiences of God, of course. There are surely times when God fills us with his Spirit even though no other believers are around. But often the filling of the Spirit is something that happens when God’s people are gathered for worship or ministry. It’s easy for us in our day to get so preoccupied by our own private experience of God that we neglect the essential corporate dimension. Ephesians offers an effective remedy to a hyper-individualism that minimizes the centrality of Christian community.
So though it’s surely good to wonder, “How might I be filled with the Spirit?” we should also ask, “How can we be filled with the Spirit?” Part of the answer is: “By being an active member of the body of Christ.” As we gather together for corporate worship, as we serve together as co-ministers of Christ, as we offer our corporate life to God for his purposes and glory, then we are ready to be filled together with God’s Spirit.
Something to Think About:
Have you experienced the filling of the Spirit in a context of corporate worship or ministry?
Are you regularly engaged with fellow believers in worship and service?
Are there other believers in your life with whom you are seeking the fullness of the Spirit?
Something to Do:
With a trusted friend or your small group, talk about your experiences of the Holy Spirit. Pray together that God might fill you afresh with the Spirit.
Gracious God, by your grace, you have gathered us together as your people. We are one body, united by grace, dedicated to you and your purposes. Help us, Lord, to live as your body, to share together in life and ministry. Fill us with your Spirit, so that we might live and serve in unity and power. To you be all the glory. Amen.
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Why We Praise the Lord
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.