Thanksgiving is a day full of “fillers”. Many of us get filled up with family, filled with thanks, filled with blessing, and most of all, filled with food. We overindulge in good food and homemade goodies and feel so physically full that we vow we won’t need to eat again for days. But although we feel satisfied for the moment, we all know in just a few hours, the familiar feeling of emptiness will return, and the stomach will growl once again, giving us the signal that it’s time to refuel our bodies.
That’s the thing about filling up with food, or anything else that brings physical satisfaction – it only temporarily meets our need to feel full. Wouldn’t it be great if our spirits could ‘growl’ like our stomachs when the feeling of spiritual emptiness or hopelessness sneaks in, letting us know we need to indulge in a little spiritual food, or maybe an extra big helping of God?
Ephesians 5:18-20 says this, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is a popular verse, often interpreted differently among differing denominations. Some churches see this verse as proof that Christians should refrain from drinking alcohol at all, while others view it as a verse that encourages self control when consuming alcoholic beverages so as not to negatively affect a person’s witness for Christ.
However, regardless of personal opinions about drinking, the real truth tucked in between the lines here holds a much broader purpose than beverage consumption.
This verse encourages us to think about anything we are filling ourselves up with that is not only temporarily satisfying, but also results in leaving no room for the Holy Spirit to reside.
Apparently, some pagan worshipers in Paul’s time would intentionally get drunk as a form of their worship. They filled themselves with the effects of wine before and during worship, rather than seeking the effects of the Holy Spirit. They sought after the physical feelings the wine caused, instead of the spiritual feelings that the Holy Spirit could fill them with.
Paul is mainly concerned here with the fact that their drunkenness not only led to reckless actions, but that they were purposely filling up with wine, instead of filling up with the Holy Spirit. They were choosing a temporary substitute of fulfillment, instead of seeking a permanent fullness of heart through God. Paul wanted them to know that they were filling up with the wrong things, and missing out what true fulfillment really meant.
Yesterday we may have been filled up with food, and our hearts may have felt full as well. But what will fill us up next week and the next? Will we focus on only on our physical needs and feelings of hunger, or our spiritual needs and spiritual hunger as well? Will we stay plugged into God’s Word and allow Him to fill our hearts with His peace and joy, especially as we approach the busy holiday season, or will we fill our hearts and minds with all the stimulation of the holidays which will be behind us in a matter of weeks?
Just as we choose to fill up with food on Thanksgiving, staying spiritually filled up is a personal decision. A choice to spend time in prayer, reading God’s Word, attending church, serving His kingdom, and fellow shipping with other believers. These things take more time than scooting our chair up to the table, but are always time well spent and help us to be filled with the Spirit every day.
Thanksgiving day comes and goes every year, sometimes all too quickly it seems. But the desire to feel full in heart and soul continues all year round. The good thing is no matter how much we overindulge in being filled with the Spirit, we can never get too much of Him, and there will always be room for more.