“Pardon! I must have heard you incorrectly. Did you say the humility of Spirit-filled believers?” That would be an oxymoron for sure in the view of many. [NOTE 1} It may be that your experience of people purporting to be Spirit-filled believers was something like mine. Instead of finding them humble people, many of them appeared to be quite arrogant rather than confident and proud rather than humble. The reality is that believers are meant to be the humblest people you could find on this planet. Why is that so? If we look at the passage from Ephesians 5 we will find an answer. It is to be found in the fact that the phrase “to be filled with the Holy Spirit” in Ephesians 5:18 is followed by a number of corollaries or the results or consequences of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The paragraph in Ephesians 5:18 to 21 has one main verb “be filled” and a number of phrases which all have participles. The ESV version translates it correctly as Eph 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ..” [The participles are all underlined.] Unfortunately some translations such as the NIV have verse 21 beginning a new sentence, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This loses its connection to the main verb and could be misleading to some folk who could see it as yet another command to obey and not the inevitable consequence or outcome of continually being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is this infilling with or by the Spirit that motivates and empowers humility and submission to others in the body of Christ.
Believers who keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit are thus meant to be people of praise to God, thankful to Him for every blessing they have received from Him AND willingly submitting themselves to their fellow believers. In fact, Paul goes on in the following passages to indicate how that mutual submission to one another works out in practice. Thus he wrote of the mutual submission that should exist in the relationships between wives and husbands [5:22-33], children and parents [6:1-4] and servants and masters [6:5-9.]
People who are continually being filled with the Holy Spirit should show forth the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. In many of the nine elements of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, we can see loving characteristics in relation to other people, Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” That is further brought out in the following verses where believers are described as having died to self and are now being directed by the Holy Spirit in their lives. Thus there is no place for conceit or envy nor should there be [unloving, unchristian] provocation of other people, Gal 5:24 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
A good test for those who keep on calling themselves Spirit-filled Christians is this. To what extent are they willing to submit to their fellow believers? They are meant to do it “out of reverence for Christ”. Little submission to others may mean little reverence for Christ, verse 21! Remembering this, that Jesus submitted Himself to the will of God on behalf of others. This is what true humility looks like, Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Humility! Considering others more significant than ourselves! Looking to the interests of others, not just our own! Sacrificial living, for others! Humbly fulfilling God’s will for us! Humbly helping others fulfil God’s plan for their lives!
Spirit-filled indeed! Our goal? Day by day? Perhaps better, moment by moment!
NOTE 1] An oxymoron is something made up of contradictory or incongruous elements such as contradictory statements in the one phrase or sentence.
Blog No.247. Posted on Thursday 9th November 2017 on jimholbeck.blog