“I pray that you may) know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3 :19)
Several of the fruits of the Spirit involve our emotions, but even the ones that seem mostly matters of feeling have practical results. To love, for example, is to act lovingly no matter how you feel. Maybe that’s why God seems to expect us to have these qualities as a steady state in our lives – all the fruit, all the time . Their presence is evidence of the Spirit at work. But the emotions that accompany them may not be surging all the time. Perhaps God intends the fruit to be constant and the surges of feelings to be special outpourings?
- Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He agonized in the garden of Gethsemane, but he also experienced times of surging joy-”At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21) .
- David, the joy-filled singer for the ages, experienced dry times . When God seemed distant, David cried out in alarm, “Do not . . . take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11) .
- Paul had times of fear and called on friends to pray for the Spirit-gift of boldness (2 Corinthians 7:5; Ephesianss 6:19-20) . For these Bible characters, the inner sense of fullness seems not to be “steady state.”
If full feelings are elusive, the other meanings of “full” are not. Most of the examples have to do with power in ministry, but some subjective evidences appear. We find joy, boldness, and faith. However, both the boldness and faith are related directly to ministry! So, in the biblical examples, the subjective element of feelings, which we so emphasize today, is not prominent. Our obedience to the Spirit or lack of it should be clear. If I have a full crop of faith and ministry effectiveness, that should be clear to others. But the inner sense of fullness may not be all that apparent – it may defy analysis. But that is OK. Think about it: in filling us with Himself God promises to give us a love beyond comprehension (Ephesians 3:19) and He speaks of a peace that is unfathomable (Philippians 4:7) . How exciting to feel the mysterious surge of the Spirit!
Ephesians 5:18- And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. This verse in a subtle way ties together the three different aspects of being filled with the Spirit. The verb be filled is unusual in that it is a command something I must do – but it’s in the passive form, something the Spirit does to me. “Be being filled” would be an awkward translation but gets at the meaning. So how do you obey if He is the one who does it? You take the initiative and deliberately yield control. Then you keep on praying and expecting Him to produce the fruit of godliness and power for ministry. If He chooses to surge through with a flood of some special emotion, how blessed! The command be filled is also a continuous action verb: “Keep on being filled with the Spirit.” Being filled is a constant in that sense, an abiding relationship. Steady-state filled, you might call it. If the Holy Spirit has control of your life, He’ll continuously fill you with power to live and serve.
In Ephesians 5:18-20, Paul also identifies some of the inner feelings associated with being filled: singing, praise, and prayer. Paul says to let the Spirit fill you always as a way of life. Then, from time to time out of His grace, He’ll blow into your life with gale force and fan the embers into an all-consuming fire of His own making. When that happens simultaneously to a lot of people, we call the result revival. Take a few minutes and examine; are you steady state filled? Does He sometimes blow into your life? Are the fruit to be constant and the surges of feelings special?
If you can’t remember anything out of the ordinary in your relationship with God and you are thirsty for a full surge of awareness of God’s presence, why not pause right now and tell Him so? But don’t leave it there. Tell Him how much you love Him, how grateful you are for Him, for His constant companionship, and for all the wonderful blessings He floods into your life. Ask Him to fill you up with Himself. Pause now and write out in your journal either the description of your experience of fullness, the prayer for fullness, or both.