18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in thefear of Christ.
Dissipation? What is that supposed to mean? The World English Dictionary describes dissipation as unrestrained indulgence, excessive expenditure, wastefulness, and diversion. Sounds like America, doesn’t it? Certainly, Paul was bringing up drinking as an example, but just as the word “lust” can imply the yearning for anything (not just with a sexual connotation), so can drunkenness. We see that with the inclusion of the word dissipation. Drunkenness can be over consumption of anything. We get a “high” off of the consumption. This can be drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, food, helping people, etc. I talked about Christians drinking before. What does Paul offer in contrast?
Be filled with the Spirit. Now this has always been an interesting concept to me. I always assumed that “being saved” filled you with the spirit. The footnotes in my bible however annotate something else. Maybe it is in relation to the original language. It says there is a difference between being sealed and being filled. Sealed is being marked as saved (ie. You’re going to heaven) however being filled is yielding to the guidance and direction of the Spirit in our daily lives. Some songs we sing in church or that I hear on the radio make a little more sense now. Even though we are saved, we still have a moment by moment choice about how we live . We can listen to the things of this world (buy me, take me, drink me, watch me, etc.) or we can choose to listen to the Spirit, the Guide we have been gifted with through Christ.
Verse 19 is sweet. Our words to each other should be like sweet melodies and songs to those who hear it. Sometimes we imagine angels singing to us in rhythmic hymns (ok, maybe that’s just me). Either way, like a tuning fork our words should be presented sweetly, so as to resonate with others who will in turn carry that same tune. All of us would then be in tune with God’s song of love.
This is our way of thankfulness to God for all He has done for us. I’m not just talking about our salvation, but also our breath (yeah, you’re reading this today because God wants you to be breathing), our families, our situations (good and bad). We thank God by how we live.
Verse 21 is my favorite one today. It’s because we need to recognize when someone is trying to help us. Yesterday I talked about helping a fellow Christian by lifting him up in a loving way that also “calls him out” on his wandering ways. This is reflected in verse 21, but reminds us that if someone does this to us, we need to take it in stride and accept it as an act of love. Too often our pride gets in the way (I know mine does!) and we reject or rebuke someone who is trying to correct or help us. We read all these things in the bible about what to and not to do, what is truly a reflection of a life lived worthy of Christ, what does salvation look like, etc. As Christians we talk about our struggles and striving to live better, yet when someone has advice or a critique, we turn them away and scoff at their words. So much for humility, huh?
A concept my football coach taught us that I will always remember is, “if we aren’t improving, we are moving backwards. Don’t stand still, my friends, always strive for increase in your relationship with God.
How can we move forward today?