Wednesday, 9 May 2012


What are you filling your koilia with?

The Greek word koilia is a term which in biblical references is often translated as stomach or belly, but in broader terms refers to a hollow space or cavity. In a physical sense the Greek koilia may be the stomach or other organs such as the womb or heart, located in the inner torso. The word coeliac/celiac used for a stomach disease, is a derivative. As is the case with many physical terms, biblically there is a correlation with the spiritual dimension.

“It took a lot of guts for him to do that.”
“She spoke from the heart”
When we use phrases like these, we’re not really talking about the physical organs. We refer to the inner person, the spirit or soul, what makes us individual and human. We all have a koilia – a capacity, an emptiness within, which we fill up and where we develop what makes us essentially ourselves.

The first of the Ten Commandments, (Exodus, chapter 20 verses 1-17), is that “You shall have no other gods but Me.” When we think of idolatry we sometimes only imagine false gods and idols of wood and stone. In his book “Shattering the Gods Within” David Allen M.D. reminds us that we can make a god of many things other than the god of a false religion.[1] We can fill the space within us with a multitude of substitutes, which, although not evil in themselves, can become a false god, taking the place of the one and only real God.

When our sense of well -being and joy is dependent upon our own success, wealth, work, relationships, social life, a particular person, talents or sadly sometimes even our status in church or our ministries, we have made that thing our god. Personal pain can become a god. Our own health can  be an idol. When our thoughts, time, efforts and resources are dedicated to those things in themselves, we have removed God from the place in our lives where He should be.

Conversely, when we recognize the schemes of the enemy to seduce us with pride and self-sufficiency , when we truly know (and it’s often through brokenness and failure) that all we have or ever can be is only through God’s anointing, which He bestows and can just as easily remove, we can learn to give Him all the glory which is His alone.

In John’s gospel, chapter 7, verses 37-38, Jesus invites those who are thirsty to come to Him and drink. For those who believe in Him, Jesus says, from their koilia (belly, innermost parts) will flow streams of living water. This living water is identified in verse 39 as the indwelling Holy Spirit which would be given to the believers at Pentecost.

As believers we have an incredible presence available within us. The verses in John describe streams, not drops, of living water which can cleanse and refresh a desperate world. May God’s people daily pray for an infilling of His Holy Spirit, and strive to grow more deeply in the things of God through prayer, study and fellowship, so that what is within us may truly be visible and available to a thirsty world.  Lord, may Your presence fill my koilia.

[1] Shattering the Gods Within, victory over the powers that control us. David Allen M.D .Moody Press 1994.
Understanding People, deep longings for relationship Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. Interback Publications 1987 also provided some interesting insights regarding the word koilia.

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