A THANKFUL SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE
Ephesians 5:15-21 Princeton Christian Church 22 November 2020
We all face disappointments. We all live with certain expectations, and at times we all fall short of these expectations. And, it is often difficult to learn to overcome disappointments, even in the most difficult and serious situations. But God has given us weapons which will allow us to defeat troublesome times of discouragement!
Paul gives us those encouraging words in his letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 5, verses 15-21: he points to a reality we rarely like to admit, but we know is true—”the days are evil.”
15 So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; 21 and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.
The brokenness in this world means we must make the best use of our time. Paul tells us this for two reasons. First, the days are evil because they deceive us into thinking we have more time and opportunities than we really do. Second, the days we live in introduce evils into our lives. We must be careful to make sure these expressions of evil won’t hinder us or deter us from our walk with our Lord.
So, in this passage, Paul tells the Ephesians (and us) what they (we) need to do in order to walk wisely:
Don’t get drunk on wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Nearly since the beginning of time people have been lured into evil by strong drink. People have been deceived into believing it will shield them from the pain life brings to them. Paul’s admonishes Christians to avoid this evil. But he goes a bit further with teaching what will powerfully fill that need. He instructs us to be filled with the Spirit. And, remember, the evil isn’t just wine. You can substitute any other form of evil in its place, and the instruction from Paul is the very same. Replace an evil temptation or action with the Spirit.
We must be careful not to bury ourselves in all kinds of evil or things which simply draw our attention and our devotion away from our God and into mindless and debilitating activities and habits. We can easily and quickly be convinced that we are avoiding the pain. But, in reality, we are simply postponing the pain.
So, Paul instructs us again, be filled with the Spirit. When we do that, we are equipping ourselves to enable us to deal with all of life’s difficulties rather than avoiding them now, only to have to face them later.
Then, Paul encourages us further when he says that we must address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. This is our worship. We all need to understand the power of Scripture, praise, and worship. The key phrase in this verse is that we are to “address one another.” Paul’s wasn’t just telling us something that was for our own individual good. He is saying that, as brothers and sisters in Christ we bear a responsibility for one another. We are to remind each other of God’s goodness in several different ways:
Psalms: scriptures of praise
Hymns: songs of praise to God written by the church
Spiritual songs: impromptu responses of praise
Singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.
God wants us to both encourage one another with praise, and make worship a regularly part of own lives. Music is one expression of our love and adoration and dependence upon God’s power. Our constant worship of God and our living in the Spirit drives Satan away from us so that he cannot get a foot hold on us.
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells the church of Ephesus to give thanks always and for everything. That same teaching is for us as well today in the 21st century. When we respond to the Lord out of gratitude for His blessings, we can see the world and our own lives differently.