Heart Strings Pt 2: Submitting
Pastor Terry Inman
For the next five weeks we are going to talk about connecting to the people closest to us, the folks that pull our HEARTSTRINGS. This is not just another marriage and family series. We will address couples parents and singles. This is a series about all relationships in God’s family.
In Ephesians chapter five Paul coaches the new followers of Jesus Christ to abandon their pagan culture and live in the light. The only way they can do that is to be under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit. He writes…
Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; (excessiveness oroverindulgence) but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Eph. 5:18-21 (NKJV)
This passage is all about spirit-filled submitted relationships. In the rest of the chapter and the beginning of the next Paul elaborates on the mutual submission required of husbands and wives, parents and children and even employee relations.
We need plenty of refills of the spirit to enjoy healthy relationships. Some people can drive you to drink! The Ephesian followers of Christ were coming out of very dysfunctional relationships and unhealthy life styles. In this chapter Paul was calling the followers of Jesus Christ to live in the light, free of indulgence, intoxication, impurity, immorality and idolatry.
Paul offers an alternative life-style: living full of God’s Holy Spirit! One of the ways he suggests we do that is by singing praises and strumming our heartstrings! Singing is better than drinking. “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” is actually “sing and play the stings of your heart”.
In every culture music is the language of the soul. Psalms 45 is about David’s coronation and royal wedding. One of the lines says, “Music of the strings makes you glad” The message translation says, “Chamber music—from the throne room—makes you want to dance.”
I love the strings. When I was in high school a very talented Pastor’s wife from the south taught me how to slap a stand up string bass in church. I don’t read music well because I grew up dyslexic but I had a good ear.
That was 50 years ago!
In the mid 60’s I bought a candy apple red electric Fender Precision Bass. I played for a while in a local Christian rock band. Now my tastes have matured. If it was up to me we would have a string quartet and sing elevator music every Sunday. One of my favorite instruments is the bass violin. The deep rich tones get me in touch with my Irish ancestry. It warms the cockles of me heart.
Now I know what you’re thinking--really Pastor are you suggesting that we can fiddle our way into better relationships. No but I am in agreement with the Apostle Paul. We need the music of the Spirit directing our lives to maintain submitted relationships that build each other up and give honor to God.
“Submission” is not music to our ears. We don’t even like the sound of the word let alone live it out in relationships. The synonyms aren’t any better, obedience, compliance, and surrender. Any way you look at it—it involves something uncharacteristic of humans—unselfishness!
My good friend Les in Montana says the way to have a happy marriage is to admit. “My Queen, I’m so sorry, I was wrong, I will never do it again. I wish it were all that easy. Mutual submission in relationships isn’t really possible without the music of the spirit deeply embedded in our heart.
The Holy Spirit has to be pulling our HEARTSTRINGS before we can connect with the people close to us.
Listen to Paul’s counsel about relationships in Philippians chapter 2.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose Phil. 2:1 (NIV). Before we read on let me elaborate on these terms of endearment.
The nuances of these ancient Greek expressions create a real sense of closeness here. Paul uses the conditional word “IF” to highlight our intimate relationship with Jesus though the Holy Spirit.
“If” you have any encouragement (if you are cheered or lifted) by being united with Christ,
“If” any comfort(If you feel supported) by his love,
“If” any fellowship (if you are intimate and involved) with His Spirit,
“If” any tenderness (if you have experienced sensitive kindness) and
“If” any compassion (if you have received mercy and care)
“Then”, Paul says, “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil. 2:2-4 (NIV)
This is an amazing description of spirit-filled or spirit-submitted relationships! Paul is saying if you want make me really happy, really fulfilled pass along to others the close loving relationship you have with Jesus and His Holy Spirit.
It takes more than attraction and mutual affection to keep connections healthy. The Holy Spirit is the super-glue of cohesive relationships. Only the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit in our mind and heart can give us the motivation and sensitivity to “prefer others above ourselves”. Love is looking out for another’s best interest.
Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to do that consistently. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to pull at our HEARTSRINGS if we are going to stay connected to the people closest to us!
Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is the day the church celebrates its birth. It was on this Jewish holiday that God chose to saturate the first followers of Jesus Christ with his Holy Spirit.
Then and now we are empowered so our communications and our relationships give credible witness to the reality of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
After His resurrection Jesus gave his disciples some instructions over lunch. Luke says, On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)
The disciples thought Jesus was talking about a regime change. They asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v.6) He was not promising political power but spiritual power.
“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (NIV)
We are witnesses. Not only our words but also our lives give testimony to Jesus. In fact our relationships speak louder than our words. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.1John 4:12 (NIV)
It is the Holy Spirit that completes or matures the love of God in us. He tugs at our heartstrings! One of my favorite verses says, “Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Rom. 5:5 (NIV)
Luke who also wrote the book of Acts describes the first dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4 (NIV)
To the utterly amazed crowds gathered celebrating the Jewish Pentecost near the temple Peter stood to explain the phenomenon the best he could.
“These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.”
“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Acts 2:15-18 (NIV)
Notice the diverse people the Spirit’s power was promised too; sons and daughters, young men, old men, and not just men but women, even servants! There are no distinctions no exclusions the Holy Spirit is for all of God’s family.
Single, married, previously married, re-married, or never married we all need the Holy Spirit in our relationships. It’s what enables us to be a credible witness to the love of Christ.
So let me take you back to our theme scripture for today. Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Eph. 5:18-21 (NKJV)
The Greek verbs here suggest nonstop action. Be continually filled, continually speaking to one another, continually singing, continually thankful and continually submitting to one another out of reverence or respect for Christ.
I will not take the time to go further into Paul’s specific thoughts on all these relationships however spouses must be continually filled with the spirit to demonstrate healthy love and respect each other.
Positive Parenting is next to impossible without the Spirit’s help. Honoring and obeying your mother and father is a spiritual principle. The Holy Spirit fills kids too! Paul also talks about the submission of masters and slaves. You can’t go on empty in the workplace ether. Work can feel like slavery unless we make it and adventure with the Holy Spirit.
On my eighth birthday I came home from school with a note from the teacher. It wasn’t a birthday card. I was a bad boy. I don’t remember what I did but the teacher wasn’t happy. At the time we were in Turlock CA, where my father was preaching every night in a friend’s church. They had what they called revival meetings for a week or two.
My dad read the note then looked at me and said, “Son tonight at the revival meeting you need to be filled with the Holy Ghost it will help you be a better boy and do better in school.”
I knew he was serious and even though it sounded pretty scary I thought it beat a spanking any day. So when the preaching was over and my dad invited people to seek God in the front of the church (the altar) I was down front crying for mercy and seeking the Holy Spirit.
In those days everybody read the King James Version of the bible and it says Jesus told his disciples, “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 (NIV)
So some people thought that “tarrying” meant you had to work had and rally hang in there for a long time before you would get the gift. It was almost like begging for it. Jesus was just telling his disciples to wait for a few days until Pentecost when they received the outpouring of the spirit.
Anyway the Holy Spirit was all over me. I was shaking, crying, sniffing, and going through all kinds of contortions. In those days there were always Holy Spirit helpers on each side of you yelling out instructions. “Hold on brother”, or “let go brother”. You would get so confused you would just give up and start speaking in tongues.
In my case I had a front tooth coming out. This lady next to me was worried I was going to swallow it. I got up went to the rest room and yanked it out. I was determined. I went back down front got on my knees and within minutes I was speaking a language I had never learned before.
I can tell you that day my relationship with my earthy father and my heavenly father improved greatly. I think I even did better in school! God had his hands on my HEARTSTRINGS!