“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:15-21 NET).
As Christians, there is a distinct way we need to live.
We must be careful as we live our lives to make wise decisions, not ones that are unwise and foolish. The reason is very simple: we need to make the best use of our time because the days we live in are evil (as Paul wrote this back in the first century, it would seem to be an acknowledgement that this is the world we will always live in). Rather than living foolish lives, we need to “understand what the will of the Lord is.”
But what is the will of the Lord? If we were to listen to many people, we would be told that God has a special plan for each one of us and we need to discover what it is for us. The problem with this type of reasoning is that it cannot be found in any verse in the New Testament. Instead, what we find are verses that refer to God’s will for Christians – which means me! Rather than having something special for everyone, God wants us all to be faithful. Notice what these verses say is the will of the Lord.
The will of the Lord is not to get drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Spirit. In other words, we are not to be filled with “spirits” but we are to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. This is a far cry from today when being filled with spirits (meaning alcohol of some sort) seems to be what our society equates with relaxing and enjoying ourselves.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? All we need to do is to keep reading.
A person who is filled with the Spirit has particular songs that they sing. From my experience of living near a pub, those filled with spirits also have songs that they sing, songs that they used to sing at the top of their lungs just after midnight as they walked up the road past our house on their way home. You could not understand anything they were singing and it wasn’t even a “beautiful noise!”
A person filled with God’s Spirit sings psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, not only addressing each other but also doing this to the Lord. We sing songs that praise God and build up each other.
A person who is filled with the Spirit gives thanks always for everything. And notice that we thank God for all the things he has given us, realizing that all that we have ultimately is a blessing given to us by God. Christians are to be thankful people, realizing that we are not self-made but are reliant on God.
A person filled with the Spirit is a submissive person. We submit to each other because in doing this we honor our Savior. The idea of submission isn’t that we let everyone walk all over us, but that we are willing to give way to other people, not always needing to have our own way.
What is God’s will for us? To be filled with the Spirit. And this is seen in the songs we sing, the expressions of thankfulness on our lips, and how we treat each other.
Readings for next week:
13 June – Colossians 1
14 June – Colossians 2
15 June – Colossians 3-4
16 June – Philemon
17 June – 1 Peter 1