Summary: "More filling--relate great!" When we have more filling of the Holy Spirit, we can relate great in our marriages, families, and workplaces.
Tim Sanders—former chief solutions officer at Yahoo! and author of Love Is the Killer App—shares the following thought about establishing priorities:
Take your life and all the things that you think are important, and put them in one of three categories. These three categories are represented by three items: glass, metal, and rubber.
The things that are made of rubber, when you drop them, will bounce back. Nothing really happens when these kinds of things get dropped. So, for instance (and I really enjoy sports, but if I miss a Carolina game, my life will bounce along real fine. It doesn't change anything and nothing is lost—my missing a game or a season of basketball will not alter my marriage or my spiritual life. I can drop it with no problem.
Things that are made of metal, when they get dropped, create a lot of noise. But you can recover from the drop. You miss a meeting at work or a deadline on a project, you didn’t do so good on your grades last semester—that's going to create a little bit of noise in your life, but you can recover from it.
Then there are things made of glass. And when you drop one of these, it will shatter into pieces and never be the same. Even though you can piece it back together, it will still be missing some pieces. It certainly won't look the same, and the consequences of it be being broken will forever affect how it's used. What in your life can you not afford to drop? What are your top priorities? You're the only person who knows what those things are. I'm going to venture a guess--more than likely, they have a lot to do with your relationships. Your marriage, your family, your friends, your walk with God.
>> The New Testament gives us some helpful instruction on setting our life’s priorities, on helping us understand what not to drop:
I. TO LIVE WISELY, WE MUST BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (15-20)
A. The command “be careful how you live” is explained by three “not this, but that” contrasts:
1. Not as fools, but as wise (15b)
2. Not thoughtlessly, but understanding the Lord’s will (17)
3. Not drunk, but filled with the Spirit (18)
B. Note Paul's comparison between drunkenness and the Holy Spirit’s filling:
1. There is a superficial similarity.
a. A person who is drunk is said to be “under the influence” of alcohol, and certainly a Spirit-filled Christ follower is under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
b. If we say a person is filled with grief, or joy, we have no trouble understanding that the emotion dominates their being and describes what they are really like.
2. Being filled with the Spirit is not a kind of spiritual inebriation where we lose control of ourselves—one of the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control.” Under the influence of the Holy Spirit we don’t lose control, we gain it.
3. “Be filled” is a command—it is obligatory, not optional.
a. It is in the plural form, meaning it is addressed to the whole Christian community.
b. It is also in the passive voice, meaning “let the Holy Spirit fill you.” There is no technique to learn or formula to recite.
c. It is rendered in the present tense, suggesting an ongoing process or the need for repeated fillings.
C. APPLICATION: This command is a corrective for defeatism and complacency.
1. If you are feeling defeated, let the Spirit fill you, and you will experience new love, new joy, new peace, new patience, new kindness, new gentleness, and new self-control.
2. If you are feeling complacent, go on being filled with the Spirit. Thank God for what He has given you, but do not think you have arrived.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it shows up in our relationships. They will manifest the heart of Jesus. Mindful of being “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit, we might understand this passage like this: (BI) with more filling, we relate great! It’s telling that Paul follows his instructions on being filled with the Spirit with 22 verses applying this to our relationships. More filling; relate great! [REPEAT]
>> The structure of the Greek text is one sentence from 18-21, with five participles explaining what it means to be filled with the Spirit. The instructions which follow in 5:22—6:9 are examples of submission within the body of Christ. To isolate them from 5:15-21 leads to error. The verses that follow 5:21 are examples of the mutual submission that results from being filled with Christ’s Spirit in Christ’s body, starting with husbands & wives.
II. WITH MORE FILLING, WE RELATE GREAT IN MARRIAGE (5:21-33)
(A lot of emotion and misunderstanding surrounds the word “submit.” So try to come to this text as if you had never seen the word before. Try to set aside your own biases and see what Paul really has to say on the subject of submission.)