“Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.” — Benjamin Franklin

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 (esp. 16)
Ephesians 5:15-20 (esp. 18)
Ezekiel 36:24-32 (esp. 27)

At some point in our childhood, we hear a story about a bird. Why we hear this story, anyone can guess. Perhaps one generation feels the need to illustrate problem solving for the next.

The bird (a raven or a crow) grows thirsty. To his delight, he discovers a jar of water. To his dismay, the jar is half full. He has both a beak too short to reach and no hands to lift the jar to his mouth.

Ever a shrewd animal, at least according to the fable-tellers, the crow or raven begins to drop rocks into the jar. With each drop, the water level rises. The rocks move the water up to the thirsty bird’s mouth. The presence of the stones displaces the water.

I assure you this strange anecdote has relevance. Why? Because contrary states cannot coexist. Some philosophy majors have begun debating the “truthiness” (thank you, Stephen Colbert) of this statement, but that’s beside the point. Where the rock is, the water cannot be. A cannot be non-A. Oil and water do not mix.

In the same way, sin, or badness, cannot coexist with the Spirit. Sin overcomes the Spirit in us. Paul, the writer of the majority of the New Testament’s letters, told his friends in Ephesus to not get drunk with wine. He told them to fill themselves with God’s Spirit. 

This same Paul told his friends in Corinth that people who love and follow God become God’s temple, his house. As such, God’s Spirit lives in people as his home. If the Spirit resides in the temple, no room remains for sin. If we fill our lives with sin, we diminish the Spirit. From his own house, no less.

God made us to run on his Spirit. He designed us with his Spirit in mind. If we insist on denying the Spirit in our lives, choosing instead badness, let us not be shocked when we feel no great love, no throttling energy, no lasting pleasure, and no real zip in our lives.

Don’t seek any quick answers here. How you fill your life with the Spirit, like any other matter of relating to people, involves all the nuances and uniqueness of a relationship. But we can understand how to begin. Create space in yourself, in your life. Move out the bad stuff, and make a little room for the Spirit in you.

What is the character of things that fill your life?  What is their nature?
How do the Scriptures explain the nature of someone filled with the Spirit? (see Galatians 5)
What is the end result of someone filled badness or self?  Someone filled with the Spirit?


© 2006