I’m teaching world literature this term. One of the longer works we are evaluating is called Dante’s Inferno. In it the writer talks about the nine levels of hell. Of particular interest was the level of hell reserved for the flatterers, deceivers, and brown-nosers (level eight I believe)–those people who told lies and manipulated truths to get attention or to just get what they wanted from someone. At any rate, they were doomed to walk around in their own poop (oh, I mean excrement) for eternity. Why? Because they were full of…well, you know.
I took this opportunity to think about what I was full of, so to speak. To paraphrase Proverbs 4:23, your mouth will tell what your heart issues are. I mean you can tell what you’re full of just by the things that come out of your mouth. You can tell what you’re full of by your actions (both private and public). You can tell what you’re full of by what you put in your spirit (after all, what goes in, must come out!). Even further, you can tell what you’re full of by the way people respond to you. If there is a metaphorical turning up of the nose, well…something stinks…which means you may be full of, you know what… On the flip side of that, if you are attracting stinky people, you just may be stinky too. But of course, I know that’s not you. I know you’re reading this because you know of someone who may need to read it. Surely, you’re above all of this. Right?
Nonetheless, we are admonished to guard our hearts very carefully. Things that penetrate our heart can often contaminate us, and eventually a contaminated heart will contaminate everything else around it. Ephesians 5 gives us a long list of things we shouldn’t be full of. For example, sexual immorality and greed are pretty high on the list. Talking foolishly and telling lewd jokes are things from which we should guard our hearts. We are not even supposed to discuss the things ungodly people do in secret, for it may influence our thoughts, then our words, then are actions and deeds, and finally our habits. In other words, even if someone does evil against you, to talk about it amongst others is of no consequence. Doing so contaminates the heart. God’s promise is this–in due time, all of the dark deeds will be brought to the light. We should look for the light; not talk about the darkness.
Following his list of “don’t fills” is Paul’s suggestion that we are not to be drunk with wine. I wondered why he placed this particular little vice at the end of the list? The most obvious reason is that intoxication could very well lead to all of the indiscretions listed above. Even more deep is the fact that we can be drunk with the aforementioned actions. To indulge in all of the sinful acts that Paul mentions is to be like a drunk person, one who is not in control of her own faculties. What an embarrassment to the kingdom of God! But what do we do?
Well, we should be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of God! His spirit should be in us so full that there is absolutely no room for all of that other foolishness. And how do we make sure we are full of the Spirit? This is the best analogy I could give. In order to pour yourself a full serving (or two) of tangy-sweet lemonade (in your favorite over-sized glass, I might add), you have to make sure the pitcher is close to your glass. Otherwise, you will waste your beverage all over everything and your glass will never get full. You’ll waste it all over the counter and on the floor. What a mess! But…to pour a full glass of lemonade without making a mess, you have to hold your glass close to the pitcher.
You are the glass. God is the pitcher (one that never ever runs dry). In order to be and stay filled with the Spirit, keep your glass close to the pitcher. It’s just that simple. Stay close to God by reading the word, talking to Him daily (all day), being amongst others who are also close to Him. Keep that glass of yours close to the pitcher so when God is pouring out His Spirit, you’ll be right there under the spout getting filled. And as He fills your glass, give Him thanks, sing a song of worship to God, give back to Him that same spirit that He is pouring into you, and you will always be full of Him and not full of (ahem) –it!
Scooting my glass over to the pitcher,