Submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. —Ephesians 5:21
I miss the days when gas stations did the pumping. When I was learning to drive, gasoline was eighteen cents a gallon. As we pulled into the station, we’d run over a cable that rang a bell summoning an attendant. We’d say, “Fill ’er up,” or, “Give me a dollar’s worth.” While the gas was pumping, someone would check our oil, clean the windshield, and check the tires.
So much for progress.
At least now some cars talk to us and tell us when we’re low on fuel, how many miles we have left, and where the closest station is. But my car isn’t so fancy. I still have to keep an eye on the gauge.
If there were a gauge on your forehead that indicated whether you were filled with the Holy Spirit or empty, what would it read? Where would the needle fall?
Ephesians 5:19-21 gives us three gauges: singing, thanksgiving, and submission. Each attitude bores more deeply into our personalities. It’s relatively easy to burst into song, more difficult to be thankful on rough days, and harder still to remain humble in our relationships.
Furthermore, these attitudes transfer immediately into our marriages, which is the subject of the next paragraph (vv. 22-33). Going on into chapter 6, this attitude of submission is applied to the parent-child relationship (6:1-4), and even to the workplace (6:5-9).
If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it shows on these three dials: singing, thanksgiving, and submission. This obviously isn’t a one-time event, nor does it happen suddenly. It’s a process, a habitual life of growing in the Spirit-filled, Christ-centered life.
Don’t tell the Lord, “Give me a dollar’s worth.” Say every day, “Fill ’er up!”
True humility, the pith of godliness, doesn’t mean developing an unhealthy self-image but a healthy image—not of ourselves—but of the Lord Jesus. It’s thinking realistically of ourselves and optimistically of Him. It isn’t thinking little of ourselves; it’s thinking of ourselves less and less and of Him more and more.
Humility doesn’t go around groveling in the dirt and saying, “I’m an idiot. I’m no good. I’m cheap. I’m worthless.” After all, we’re the climax and crown of His creative genius, made in His image. We’re worth more than many sparrows; we’re worth so much Christ died for us. We’re heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ. Humility isn’t a matter of saying, “I’m worthless!” It’s saying, “He is worthy!”
If pride is the soil of sinfulness, humility is the heart of holiness. It’s the basic bread-and-butter attitude of: “Jesus first, others second, and I’ll take the leftovers. I’m sent to serve.”
The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before Him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten. —Andrew Murray
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