Dr. Eddie Estep, Kansas City (USA) District Superintendent
When we use the word filled in English, we normally think of something being placed into a container, such as milk being poured to the brim of a glass, water being run into a bathtub, or gasoline being pumped into a tank.
This is also the classic image of being filled with the Spirit – that we are cups (vessels) to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. But perhaps it is even more meaningful to think of our lives not as cups (a static image) but as sails (a dynamic image) – sails to be filled with the wind of the Spirit.
The image of wind is meaningful and significant. The Hebrew word for Spirit means “breath” or “wind.” In Acts 2:2 when the Holy Spirit first comes upon the followers of Jesus, “suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Then, two verses later, the believers are “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
If the Holy Spirit is wind, then we are to be “wind catchers” – sails filled with the wind of the Spirit. Pilots of aircraft and watercraft know well the impact of wind (tailwind, headwind, crosswind) upon their vessels. The Spirit can be behind you (empowering you), before you (slowing you down), or beside you (changing your direction). All believers in Jesus Christ have God’s Spirit dwelling within them, but not all believers are filled or controlled by the Spirit’s power. Rather than “manning the oars” of our own lives, we can be empowered by the wind of the Spirit filling our sails. A believer has all of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit may not have all of the believer – the sails, all the sails, may not be unfurled.
Think of how the wind billows the canvases on a ship, providing the impetus to move the vessel across the water. In the same way, the Holy Spirit seeks to provide the energy to propel us along the journey of obedience. To be filled with the Spirit is to be carried along by his gracious fullness as we allow his presence to fill every part of us, every inch of the rigging. The idea is to keep being filled. Otherwise, we find ourselves “dead in the water.”
Over and over again in the New Testament, we read of people who are filled with the Spirit:
In Luke 1:15, John is “filled with the Spirit.”
In Luke 1:41, Elizabeth is “filled with the Spirit.”
In Acts 2:4, the 120 believers are “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
In Acts 4:8, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit…”
In Acts 4:31, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
In Acts 6:5, Stephen is described as, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”
In Acts 11:24, Barnabas is called, “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit.”
In Acts 13:9, Paul, “filled with the Holy Spirit…”
In Acts 13:52, the disciples are “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
Have you been filled with the Spirit?
On Sunday, June 5, we will again celebrate Pentecost, the day the disciples were all “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). May it happen again. And again. And again.