Spiritual & Social Transformation – Ephesians 5
The 3rd message in the Happy New You Series.
Perhaps you would also like to make some resolutions for other people in your life. Maybe you’re thinking that the main things that need to change in your life are the people in your life. Not that you necessarily want to exchange them for different people, but you would like to change them. You’ve got a list of resolutions you’d like to see your spouse adopt. You’ve got a list of resolutions you wish your kids would keep.
I know that when we went through the No Complaints series in November I really wished that I could convince my daughter to take the no complaints challenge.If we are honest, we are often better at making New Year’s resolutions for other people than we are at making them for ourselves. There’s no denying that a major part of our lives is shaped the people around us.
However, the same principle that we covered in the first message still applies, our happiness is less about what’s going on out there and more about what’s going on in here. Even in relationships.
Let me show you what I mean. I saw Ted Cunningham use this illustration at D6 conference and it was incredibly helpful to me, and I hope that it will help us get the proper perspective for this message about Spiritual and Social transformation.
I want you to think of this pitcher as your heart.
It’s what is filled with Joy in the wonderful moments of life…
It overflows in moments like holding your newborn baby…
When it is full, you say things like,
I’m so thankful, I am just so happy, or I could burst from excitement.
In your life, there are people that share your love, joy, and passion with.
For example, many of you have a spouse or a significant other, and you pour of yourself into them.
They are different than you, they do things differently than you do, but you love them and you put up with that…but it takes it out of you…
The average man speaks about 7,000 words a day, the average woman speaks 30,000 words per day, so for many men, it is a major pouring out to have a conversation.
Many men have conversations like, How you been, Good? Good. That’s a 5 word conversation.
You know why, they used up the other 6,995 with their wives. Then you’ve got your kids. You pour into them.
Haven is in this phase that whenever I come through the door she believes that her own indoor jungle gym has arrived. She wants to sit on my foot as I walk through the house, ride on the my shoulders, sit on my knee and ride a horse.
It’s fun but it’s exhausting. Lincoln is my little guy and when I come through the door he wants to be picked up, hugged, and then he’s pointing to the cheetos on the top of the fridge.
He’s lower maintenance, at least for right now. But then there are other people in your life.
You’ve got co-workers. Some are pretty low maintenance and others just suck the life right out of you. Some of you see your boss and your like, oh hi. And you give him or her two drops. Unless that annual performance review is coming up and then you’re like hey! How was your weekend, How are the kids? How about those Colts huh?
Then maybe you’ve got some family members and friends that you are attempting to be an encouragement to, and then maybe there is someone you are ministering to, you are reaching out to them, you are ministering to them, you are mentoring them…
Then, before you know it, you are running on empty.
These are the moments you say things like,
I’m just running on empty.
I’m so emotionally drained.
All I want to do is just veg.
Keep thy heart with all diligence;
For out of it are the issues of life.
What that says, it guard your heart because everything that you do, say, feel, and think in this life, starts there. That’s where it starts. Your heart. Now, the issue of all issues is the emptiness of our hearts. We know that, we recognize the emptiness. So, when we are feeling empty, what do we do about that? What happens next is the key, so grab hold of this with both hands.
When you are empty, what do you do? Sometimes we attempt to fill the emptiness with something. Food, Substance, Hobby, Money.
Sometime we attempt to fill the emptiness through someone. We turn back and look at the people that we just poured into and say, okay it’s your turn to pour back into me. Or we say, why in the world do you take so much out of me?
Or We need to fix you so that I don’t have to constantly pour into you. None of these are healthy. In fact, this is what we refer to as codependency.
Codependency is pouring into others so that they will pour back into you.
Codependency plugs into people as the source as life.
This produces further emptiness. It’s like salt water, it only makes you more thirsty. Some of you, have had this emptiness your entire life and you have simply been changing the people you look to for life.
When friends didn’t fill the emptiness, you hoped romance would. When marriage didn’t fill the emptiness, you hoped children would, when children didn’t feel the emptiness, you hoped that your career would. This produces emptiness and unhealthy relationships. Because after we’ve found all these to be empty wells, we begin to resent the people who have disappointed us- that haven’t poured back into us and filled us.
Not sure this fit’s you? Perhaps you’ll recognize this symptom. When we’ve plug into people as a source of life, we make decisions based on what they think or feel.
Positively – to gain their approval.
We want them to like us, we want them to approve of us. We want them to pour back into us, to give us joy, happiness, life, because under the layers, we believe that they could if they just…
Negatively – to hurt them.
We make decisions based on what we know will disappoint them, what will embarrass them. We begin to hold back because we don’t want to be emptied and we don’t want them to be filled. We begin to work on sucking some of that back from them, manipulating them into pouring back into us, guilting them into pouring back into us.
There’s a good example of this in the Gospels.Jesus purposely passes through Samaria, He sends the disciples into town to get food and waits at a well in the middle of the day. A woman comes to the well and Jesus speaks to her. Jesus tells her that He could give her water that would take away her thirst forever. She says, tell me where this water is so I no longer have to come and draw water from this well.
Jesus says, go and get your husband. She says, I have no husband. Jesus says, that is right because you have had 5 husbands and the man you are living with now is not your husband. Jesus just pointed to what she was using in an attempt to fill her heart, but it was always leaving her thirsty.
Now, I want you to see something. When Jesus reveals what He knows about her, she says, I see that you are a prophet. Let me ask you a theological question. She attempted to divert the conversation. Jesus casts off her question and comes back to the true issue.
Right now you might be tempted to throw off the issue of all issues, you might be tempted to blame someone or something for your emptiness, but here is the truth. Only Christ can fill your heart.Only Christ can fill you with water that will satisfy
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
“The basic lesson of Jesus’ preaching is ‘Look to Me . . ..’” – Oswald Chambers
Personal Spiritual Transformation in Christ is the source of life.
Some of you are here because you want God to fix your marriage. You want God to fix your kids. God wants to fix you. He can fix those relationships. But He starts with you.
He does not just work to fix situations and relationships; he is intent on rescuing us from ourselves. We are the focus of his loving, lifelong work of change. – Paul Tripp
You say that you don’t really want that, you’d just like some help with these issues, just help me with my marriage, help with this situation I’ve gotten myself into… Jesus is not a vending machine that dispenses what we want…He is the Holy One who comes to cleanse us, fill us, and change us. There will be many occasions when he will not give us what we think we need, but rather, he will give us what he knows we need. – Paul Tripp
This refers to people who have a relationship with Him. Ephesians 5, which we read earlier gives us some major commands on how we should relate to other people, how our relationships should work:
5:3 says abstain from sexual sin.
5:4 says to abstain from gossip, rumors, and hurtful talking.
5:11 have no fellowship with darkness.
5:21 Submit to one another
5:22-32 cover marriage relationships
6:1-4 cover parental relationships
6:5-10 cover work relationships
6:11-18 cover spiritual warfare.
All of these social dynamics come after Eph 4 and the beginning of Eph 5. Eph 5 & 6 don’t work without Eph 4 and the beginning of Eph 5.Which speaks of A Spiritual Transformation provided by Christ.
Listen to what Eph says:
4:23 be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
4:24 put on the new man
4:27 give no place to the devil.
4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
In other words, be fundamentally and absolutely changed.
4:30 grieve not the holy Spirit of God,
Follow the Spirit, give Him room to work in your life.
4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
In other words, let Christ remove that from your heart and replace it with His love.
4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We can forgive others when we’ve experienced the forgiveness of Christ.
I can forgive you for not filling my life, because Christ is…
5:1 Be followers of God
5:2 walk in love,
5:8 now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
5:9 The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth
As this happens, you can follow the commands in 5 and 6. You can have the relationships scripture speaks of when you have THE Relationship Christ offers.
You can’t fix your marriage without fixing the people in it.
Some of you are desperately trying to fix the relationships and situations that you are in because you hope that if you fix them, it will fix you. You’ve got it absolutely backwards. Christ wants to start with you, He will start with your heart, he will change you, and that will influence everything else. We don’t need the government to change so that we can live happy fulfilled lives, we don’t need the economy to change so that we can live happy fulfilled lives, we don’t need our job to change…
We need to change.
Christians have lived with peace and joy and purpose under the most cruel governments, in the worst economies, at most dead-end of jobs, and they’ve influenced those environments for good. When your heart is filled with His Grace and Truth, you can experience community is a new, healthy, and wonderful way. Your heart is where everything else starts.All the issues of your life flow from there.
Please hear these 2 verse from 1 John 4:
16 We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
Every relationship in your life can be changed by a life giving relationship with Christ. The solution to all of your relationship problems is a relationship with Christ. But, most of you are here. You’re empty or near empty.
And then when Pastor Daniel comes asking you to serve in ministry, tells you about a group of people who need someone to show them the love of Christ, lead them to a dynamic relationship with Christ, you see a container to fill that you don’t have enough to fill… You can do your very best, but it won’t be enough.That’s because you’re trying to give them yourself.That doesn’t work.
But if you are filled with Christ and there is an unending supply, you can pour more of Him into them, and still receive more and more with plenty to spare.
In the Mediterranean Basin, there are 2 large bodies of water. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. The Dead Sea is much larger and it is quite deep. However, it is completely devoid of life. No fish, no anything.
You see, the Dead Sea has no outlet.Water runs into and has nowhere to go. Water evaporates and leaves salt behind. The dead sea is 9 times as salty as the ocean.
Just to the North, the Sea of Galilee is teaming with life. Filled with fish. Animals flourish in the wonderful body of water because it has a source and an outlet.
When we experience the unending supply of life that is found in Christ, we can share it with those around us. Not because we need them to return the favor, but because we have plenty.