The Holy Spirit in the Church Today – Characteristics of Being Filled With the Spirit – Part IXB – A Study in the Book of Ephesians

  • Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Ephesians 5:19

This characteristic is inward.  No one knows what scripture you are quoting or what spiritual song you are singing in your heart.  Only God knows.  A psalm or song in the heart is worship.  It is between you and the Lord.

Take note of the quality of this content in the heart. The Psalms are Scripture.  Christians are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.  The songs are spiritual songs.  Spiritual songs are songs that are biblically correct and that promote biblical thinking.  Making melody speaks of a spiritual song with a particular quality.

  • Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  Ephesians 5:20

This characteristic of the Spirit filled believer is upward.  It is the expression of gratefulness to God that is continuous.  Giving thanks always because God is sovereign and there is never a time that He is not in control and accomplishing His purpose. 

The gratefulness expressed here is for all things both good and bad.  It includes the bad because the God of Scripture is able to bring good out of the bad.  Satan means to destroy, but God means it for good.  Good is that which accomplishes God’s purpose.

  • Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Eph. 5:21 

This characteristic of the Spirit filled believer is outward.  It characterizes our relationships with others.  Submission identifies with serving.

The rest of Ephesians chapter five and part of chapter six illustrate how  Spirit filled believers submit to one another.  If you are a wife, husband, child, father, servant (employee) or master (employer), there is information in this passage on what submitting looks like in your particular role.

Of particular interest is how a leader such as a husband, father or employer submits to those under him.  Spirit filled submission in the above mentioned roles will be considered in the next article of this series.

…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

To Speak or Not to Speak?

The book of Proverbs sometimes gives varying advice on the same subject.  For instance, it says to rebuke a fool and it also says not to   rebuke a fool.  How are we to know when to rebuke and when not to?  The book of Proverbs says not to rebuke a scorner lest he hate you.  It also says if you rebuke a wise man, he will love you.  How are we to know which is which before hand?  The truth of the matter is that we don’t always know ahead of time.  These instructions are truisms and we may not know the results until we are engaged with the individual.

Many years ago, in another part of the country, I was delivering a load of water heaters to an apartment building job site.  As we unloaded, I moved the water heaters to the back of the truck and our crew then distributed them to the individual apartments.  A construction worker from another trade walked up and began talking in filthy terms to one of our men who was a bit shy and a little awkward.

This other tradesman was enjoying his own filthy talk and was quite amused by it.  So, as I grabbed another water heater, I spoke up and said; I don’t appreciate what you are saying!  Apparently he either didn’t hear me or he was ignoring what I said, so I said it louder.

This time he heard me and he became very angry.  He climbed into the back of the truck with me and went from filthy conversation to profanity.  He wanted to fight.  I made an effort to say more, but the more I said, the worse he got. When I shut up he climbed down and went back to his truck. 

During all this I had two short pieces of pipe in my hands which I would screw into the openings in the top of each water heater to use as handles.  One of our men told me that this man was watching my hands as he shouted at me.  He was apparently thinking that I might try to use the pipe on him.  I couldn’t have hit the man.  I was in my  twenties and he was old enough to be my father.

As he went back to his truck, we finished unloading.  I then followed him and attempted to talk with him again.  He had cooled off somewhat and said to me; Just leave me alone!  He knew that he was wrong, but it also proved to be a learning experience for me.  When you back a man into a corner in front of other men, one of two things will happen.  He will either admit that he is wrong or he will come out fighting.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this episode was preparing me for another such experience.

I was working in Florida as an estimator for a commercial plumbing company in the late 1980’s.  I had put together an estimate on a hotel, which at that time was to be the largest hotel under one roof in the state of Florida.  Our bid was over 7.6 million dollars for just the plumbing on this project.

Our company was invited to a meeting with the general contractor to review our bid and to present some cost saving alternatives.  As the estimator for the project, I attended the meeting with our company president and executive VP.   Also in the meeting was the president of the general contractor’s Florida division, his project engineer, and a representative from a foreign company who was partnering with the general contractor on this project.  

After we reviewed our bid and I presented some value engineering alternatives, we were congratulated as the successful bidder. The atmosphere quickly lightened up with laughter, congratulatory remarks, and a considerable amount of profanity, while I sat quietly at the opposite end of the conference room table.

At a certain point, the GC’s president looked at me and said; Monty, why are you so quiet at a time like this?  This is a time to celebrate!  I didn’t want to embarrass this man or my bosses, but neither did I want to lie.  So I said to him; After the contract is signed and you visit the job site, we can walk the site together, and I will tell you then what is bothering me today.  To which he replied with a smile; We have no secrets here.  Go ahead, tell us what is bothering you.  Hesitatingly, I answered him as slowly and as humbly as I could.  I said; Sir, when you use Jesus’ name that way, it hurts me right here, and I put my hand on my heart.

I had tried not to put this man on the spot.  I tried to skirt the issue.  I did not want to embarrass him, but he would not be dissuaded.  Well, he backed up and apologized profusely.  He even admitted to his own religious background and when we walked out of that conference room, it was with his arm around my shoulder.

When we got in the car to leave, my company’s officers were blown away.  Our executive VP said that he had wanted to put his hand over my mouth.  We still got the contract.  

As I have recalled this experience over the years, I have wondered whether or not this experience might have been just for the foreign representative who sat immediately on my right during the meeting.  He never said much through the whole thing, but he wouldn’t have been there had he not understood.  His country was not known for its Christianity, so I have since trusted that my brief testimony for Christ was for him.

These experiences have demonstrated to me the truisms of Proverbs.  The scorner will hate you.  The wise man will love you.  The fool, well, trust the Holy Spirit to guide you.  

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…