What’s Filling You?

Living for God

I’ve been a “Christian” all my life. Since the day of my birth, my parents have faithfully taught me the good news of Christ Jesus. I accepted the gift of eternal life at about five years of age, and I’ve never really doubted any of the fundamentals of the faith. But for most of my life, I was not really living for God as I should have been.

Don’t get me wrong. I was a pretty good guy, especially on the outside. I would “go to church” every Sunday and even on Wednesdays. Aside from being partially homeschooled, I attended a Christian high school, and then I chose a Christian college. I had all Christian friends. I knew my theology, and I had all the proof texts lined up to defend what I believed. But I wasn’t really living for God.

I would have said that God had first place in my life. In fact, looking back I would still say that this was true. God did have first place in my life. But God does not want first place in our lives; he wants all of us. From first place to last, every part of us belongs to him, and he deserves that for which he sent his Son to die.

Even though I had believed in Jesus and had chosen to place God first in my life, I was still allowing myself to be filled with things of no eternal value.

Being Filled

Glass

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:15–18, WEB). Now the tense there is tricky to translate into English. The more literal rendering would be, “Do not be being drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be being filled with the Spirit.” As the Complete Jewish Bible puts it, “keep on being filled with the Spirit.

Those who are in Christ already have the Spirit residing within them. But we are not going to walk in the Spirit if we do not continue being filled with the Spirit. One reason we are not always being filled with the Spirit is the fact that we are being filled with so many other things.

Paul used wine as his example because its effects are so obvious. If a person is filled with wine, that’s all there is room for. Drunkenness takes over and controls that person. Wine is also a great example because it is a liquid; thus it has the ability to dissipate. Some of your translations will use another word, such as debauchery or excess, instead of dissipation. While those meanings are present, they don’t convey the full picture being portrayed.

Imagine a bowl of punch. It is pure and undefiled. Now imagine that someone spiked it with alcohol. That alcohol is not going to stay in its own corner of the punch bowl and leave the rest of the drink alone. Rather, it will dissipate throughout the entire bowl. That is what I believe Paul was getting at. It doesn’t have to be wine, though. Anything that is not for Christ has the potential to take us away from him.

We’re Full

There are many things that fill us in this life. Some are blatantly sinful. They have no place in a believer’s life and must be weeded out. If you are being filled with something God hates, I urge you to fall on your knees in repentance and plead for deliverance. But it doesn’t have to be sin to keep us from living for God.

We fill ourselves with quite a lot. Movies, television, videogames, web surfing, music, novels, sports—I don’t know which of these (or other things) have the greatest hold on you, but if you think about it, I bet you already know. Multiple apply to me. None of these are necessarily sinful of themselves, but they are filling us. You must ask yourself and God if they are taking up too much space in your life.

There are many other things which fill us—education, your job, even your family. These are not bad. In fact, within their proper context they are very good and honorable. But they still fill us. And so, we must continually be being filled with the Spirit to avoid becoming dissipated and crowded with everything else in life.

By the way, I make no claims to have this down yet. God has done some serious reproving in my life, but I still struggle, often allowing myself to be filled with valueless things. We must all continue striving to live for God for as long as he has us here.