I struggle with anger.
I have, I wonder sometimes, replaced one addiction for another. They say (recovery and rehab “experts”) that’s what happens anyway… you give up on one thing and you replace it with another intoxicating habit.
I gave up booze 3 years ago this August. And while I’m not convinced that I am an alcoholic (I’ve probably been drunk 2 or 3 times in my life), I do believe that I might be a user.
So I’ve given up alcohol and before that it was probably pornography, but what about today? Am I an anger addict? Do I need anger management?
Don’t get me wrong-I don’t run around punching holes in walls or throwing things (at least when people are looking or indoors), smashing phones, getting physical with people… I’m not verbally abusive. But I do get temperamental, impatient, aggressive, angry in a way when it comes to my kids in particular (having 5 under 5 might have been a little ambitious after all).
So maybe I’m my biggest critic… maybe I’m not an anger junky… but I struggle and I fall short… tremendously short sometimes. I feel weak in this area, incapable, insufficient… sometimes at a total and complete loss of how to get better.
And yet somehow, someway I’m meant to get in front of a bunch of people this weekend and preach on the following subject:
how the filling of the Holy Spirit makes you live an altogether different life.
Basically it’s like this: on our own-our own power, will, ability, effort we will always and forever fall hopelessly short of living any kind of good, true or just life.
But the premise, LITERALLY OF THE WHOLE NEW TESTAMENT, is that though we can’t on our own, with the Holy Spirit (i.e. The power of the living God inside ourselves) we can.
See this is where it gets interesting. I am a fallen and broken man. And I’m supposed to get up in front of people and explain the truths about how the beginning of God’s power, through the Holy Spirit, meets precisely at our end.
Our end is where He’s beginning.
That’s actually the meaning of the verse, “my power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) it means that his strength, his power, his ability is made complete, it comes to a whole when we can no longer ‘keep it together, get it going, try our best’
Well here is what, in part, I have decided to share with them.
I learned about what is really the word with a million meanings; it’s the Greek word used in Ephesians 5 for Paul’s instruction to be “filled with the Spirit.”
He’s just finished outlining all these behaviors and lifestyle choices (of his time-yes indeed still prevalent today) like greed and slanderous talk, promiscuous sex and getting wasted at parties (literally that’s what he says-told you not much has changed).
He says the old is gone (he’s talking to a whole bunch of folks who are saying yes to the Jesus way for the first time-no Judaism as a starting place-just from pagan to follower “overnight”) and with the new you can expect to look, smell, think differently.
And he says this can come only by means of the Holy Spirit. He, in fact, states it as a command, “be FILLED with the Holy Spirit.”
So what of this Greek word?
It’s the word plēroō
I’ll briefly unpack at least 3 different meanings of just his one word.
The first is like the filling of a sail thereby carrying the ship along. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit then and only then will we witness some movement.
That’s what we are after isn’t it? Enough of this definition of insanity! Enough of this stagnancy! Let us move from this place!
The second is like the drenching of a preserved meat with salt. It is a level of saturation that one just cannot shake. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit such that it permeates our every breath then and only then will we witness a different life.
A salty life, a life of flavor and preservation, a legacy that lasts… that’s what we’re after isn’t it?
The third meaning is about control. I have no metaphor to describe this last aspect but it is very simple:
You will produce that which consumes you. What you are filled with-that thing will control you.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will be controlled by the Holy Spirit and my oh my what a thing will that be to behold…
That’s what I want. That’s what I want for me, for my family, for my faith community, for the worldwide body of believers.
That’s all I have for you this week. Though you will see that I have attached the 12 steps below. I just always come back to these. Because they are the mental/emotional prescription or doorway to work in conjunction with the spiritual one I’ve given above.
I’ve said it before but for those who want to work on whatever issue they battle in their life-social, emotional, chemical-it doesn’t matter; these steps if taken seriously, I think could usher in serious levels of health that you never thought imaginable.
CELEBRATE RECOVERY 12 STEPS AND BIBLICAL COMPARISONS
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 NIV
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV
3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 NIV
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40 NIV
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a NIV
6 We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV
7 We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV
8 We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 NIV
9 We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
10 We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12
11 We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16a NIV
12 Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 NIV