This month my wife and I celebrated 25 years of marriage (Insert applause). Milestones such as this cause me to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. More precisely, they make me think about where I myself have been, where I am, and where I am going, as a person, husband, father, and believer.
This series of posts partially grows from an increasing awareness of self, partly from an increasing awareness of others, and mostly from sadness in what I often see around me in masculine Christendom.
Last week I wrote an article called What Happened to the Men? I changed the name of that article to better fit the rest of the series to Things Men Need to Hear - Part 1. This is Part 2.
I’m utterly convinced there are some things that we as men have failed to pass along to subsequent generations of men in favor of more worldly variants which stem from bravado and more testosterone-driven themes.
Last week we discussed our need to Be Empty. This week, I want to discuss the next obvious step:
Ephesians 5:18 says,
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
When we begin to empty ourselves of ourselves, there is left a cavernous opportunity, an eternal vacancy designed and apportioned for only one type of filling: the filling of the Holy Spirit.
But what does being “filled with the Spirit” even look like in your life? If we are going to empty ourselves out in service and sacrifice to others, we should equally be prepared to fill ourselves with that which is honoring to the Lord and will help us in living out this life of self-denial, taking up our daily cross as we follow Jesus.
In Acts 4:8, there is a story where Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to preach to the ruling scribes and Pharisees. He and the other disciples were instructed by the Pharisees to no longer preach or teach in the name of Jesus. They left that place and told their comrades what the rulers and priests had said. Then they all prayed for boldness. Boldness like Peter had in front of the counsel.
They didn’t cower away from the charge. They didn’t shrink in fear. They asked the Creator God of the universe for something more … ability. The ability to be bold.
This boldness would also accompany a quieting of the fears and concerns; a stillness of mind as well as a foundational grit to continue, empty of themselves as they were.
In verse 31, we read about something happening when they finished praying. It reads:
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Not only had Peter spoken out in boldness from being filled, now all those in the assembly, after praying, were filled with the Spirit and that filling allowed them to continue in the work God had for them. The presence of the Spirit of the Lord was so powerful in that place, the actual building shook under His power.
When was the last time we have seen anything remotely like this in our churches? When was the last time the Spirit of the Lord fell so powerfully, so fully, that the doorposts and beams of our sanctuaries shook and rattled under the weight of His presence? I can’t remember a time, can you?
I’ve known many a man who were really good men. They were servants at heart, giving of themselves daily for others. They were empty.
Some of them were believers, but others were not. Basic human ethics and generalized humanity may even bring someone to live a life of sacrificial love for others. Humanitarian efforts prove this all the time.
Granted, that may not be in the same spirit as one who does it as an outflow of their faith, but it is a good thing, nonetheless. Natural man can even learn to be emptied. The missing ingredient is the response to the emptying. The missing ingredient is the Filling of Spirit.
One must fill the empty soul with something. Even a poured out life can be filled with arrogance, self-righteousness, pride, or the like.
We must be diligent, once emptied, to fill our hearts and minds with the things above, with the Spirit of God Himself. In a world filled with sorrow, misfortune, and despicable evil, the heart of a man needs hope.
Hope for a future, hope that he isn’t alone and hope that his efforts aren’t in vain. This is where the filling of the Spirit is particularly helpful.
and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Have you ever felt as though your heart was empty? Empty of hope, empty of love? Empty of he love of God? This very same love, the love we need to feel and show, comes to us “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
Our generations often seem hopeless in these tumultuous times. If we men, as fathers, leaders, husbands, workers, bosses, and employees are to restore hope to our families and in our spheres of influence, we must first tap into the source of the hope itself. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit.
In addition to restoring hope and direction, the filling of the Spirit provides every man with a means to avoid gratifying and falling prey to the desires and lusts of the flesh.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
We know from experience that desire + temptation + opportunity + action = sin which brings death. Our sin is a direct and immediate descendant of our flawed and fleshly desires. Being filled by the Spirit allows us to “walk by the Spirit”, which, simply put means to lead every minute of every day by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit of God.
It means we don’t make any decisions without seeking first to be following the permissive, general, and often specific will of God. It means in order to be preserved in our spirit from the ravages of the flesh, we must continually be filled with and walk in the Holy Spirit.
In our day and age, everyone wants to “do” something significant. There have been volumes written on how to accomplish significance in your own tiny corner of the world; how to leave a legacy of greatness. In the Kingdom of God, the doing must be preceded by being.
If we are to be the men God has called us to be, we must first be empty. Empty of self, empty of fleshly desire and ambition, but we must also then be filled.
Filled with the Spirit. Filled with His ways. Filled with His desires.
Then, when we pray and ask for things, we pray and ask for what He already wants and He is more than happy to grant us that which we ask.
So, while the culture around us chants and makes lots of noise about “manning up” to do something, I want to encourage you to be still. Be quiet. Just Be. Be filled with the Spirit.