Author: Ron Graham
Measures of the Soul
—The Inward Person of the Heart
In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul writes of "being strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person." Your outward person (the fleshly body) can be measured by physical measures. Your weight is so many kilograms, your height so many centimetres, your age so many years, and even perhaps your value in dollars. But what are the measures of your inner self (your soul or spirit)?
Paul observes that, "Day by day our outward self is perishing, yet the inward self is being renewed" (2Corinthians 4:17). This contrast indicates that the inward person cannot be measured in kilograms, centimetres, years, or dollars. So as we now look at Ephesians 3:14-21 we will find an entirely different set of measures.
¶“14So that [you don't lose heart] I bend my knees before the Father. 15From him the whole family in heaven and earth is named. 16I pray that from the riches of his glory, he will grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner person” (Ephesians 3:14-16).
¶“17I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. You have put down your roots and been grounded in love. 18So may you have great strength to understand, with all God’s holy people, what is love's breadth and length and height and depth. 19May you know Christ's love, surpassing knowledge, so that you'll be filled with all God’s fullness” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
¶“20Now to him who is able to do very far more than all we ask or think, in keeping with the power at work within us, 21to him be glory among the called out people, and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations [of God’s family], forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
1 The Soul’s Value
God gives our souls life and strength, and all their other good qualities, "from the riches of his glory" (Ephesians 3:16).
Peter speaks of the jewels of the soul. He says, "Adorn the hidden person of the heart with the beauty that does not perish —a gentle and quiet spirit that is most precious in God’s sight" (1Peter 3:4).
The value of your inner person cannot be measured in dollars. It receives its worth from what God deems precious. "For you were not redeemed with perishable things such as silver or gold... but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1Peter 1:18-19).
God has paid the great price of your redemption (1Corinthians 6:20). While this world lasts, your fleshly body may be traded for earthly currency. Your soul, however, cannot be sold. If you are a Christian, then Body and soul you are God’s purchased possession. He will receive you to himself in heaven. You are so precious to God that he will never sell you.
What is the measure of your soul’s value? Are you redeemed with the great price? Are you a purchased possession of God so precious to him that he will never trade you with anyone?
2 The Soul’s Depth
Paul recognises a spiritual "width and length and depth and height" that applies to the "inner person" who is "rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:16-18).
We usually speak of three dimensions, length, width, and height. But we can, as Paul does, split the third dimension into "depth and height". Height is what is above ground, and depth is what is below. And there below we are "rooted and grounded in love". Depth is important, because it is the measure of our foundation in the love of Christ.
Our souls need to send their roots down into the "mystery" of the "deep things of God... revealed to us by His Spirit... that we might know the things freely given to us by God" (1Corinthians 2:6-13).
Left to our own devices, we could not find this wisdom and knowledge of God’s love. It is too deep. "Oh the depth of the riches of both God’s wisdom and his knowledge! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out" (Romans 11:33). But his word reveals his wisdom to us so our souls can grow down into it.
What is the measure of your soul’s depth? Is your soul in shallow ground, or is it deeply rooted and grounded in the wisdom of God and knowledge of Christ’s love?
3 The Soul’s Fullness
Paul goes on to say, "May you know Christ’s love, surpassing knowledge, so that you'll be filled with all God’s fullness"(Ephesians 3:19).
I've heard it said that Christians are sinners, that they fall short of God’s glory. But here Paul believes that Christians can "know Christ’s love, surpassing knowledge" and be "filled with all God’s fullness."
The gospel of John says the same thing: "Of his fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (John 1:16).
This is not a theoretical fullness. It is a fullness of real things, both spiritual and material —things we are to share with others. As Jesus said, "Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall be given into your lap. For the same measure you use, this will measure what comes back to you." (Luke 6:38)
What is the measure of your soul’s fullness? Is your love, your knowledge, your joy, your goodness, your faith, your sharing, and every other good thing, measuring up to and drawing from the fullness of God?
4 The Soul’s Weight
Paul says something very strange about the glory of God. "To God be glory among the called out people, and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations [of God’s family]" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
We can understand that God will be glorified in Jesus Christ. There's nothing strange about that. But Paul also says that God is glorified in the people he has called out, his family or “church”. How can we mere mortals give glory to God?
It's no secret that we Christians share in the glory of God. We suffer the troubles of this world patiently knowing that these are temporary afflictions. They weigh lightly upon us compared to the "exceeding and eternal weight of glory" that will be ours from God (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
But how can it work the other way? Can we give glory back to God as though to increase his "eternal weight of glory"?
Suppose a man in poverty is given a heavy bag of gold. That man uses a little of the gold to care for his own needs. However he uses most of the gold to help other people in poverty. Not only will his reputation be enhanced, but so will that of the person who gave him the bag of gold.
What is the measure of your soul’s weight? In other words, how much glory goes to God from your goodness? How much do you do to cause others to bless the name of God?
The lesson concept and much of its content came from a sermon outline I wrote circa 1970.