Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These words are as fresh and vibrant today as they were 2,000 years ago, and they point us to one inescapable conclusion: Place your priority on God.
It matters how we live our lives, where we choose to place our priorities and what we think about and do and say. It matters that we let opportunities slip through our fingers, or that we don’t lend our brother a hand when he needs it. It matters when we make ourselves so very busy that we aren’t available to serve our Master or our loved ones or our neighbor, yes dear reader, it really matters.
Verse 17 is key: We are not to be foolish; instead we are to understand the Lord’s will.
Great Paul, but what is His will?
Yesterday I heard about a pastor who recently asked his congregation to spend the next four weeks praying to God that He would reveal His purpose to them. It seems that pastor told his flock that no one can know the purpose and will of God, so as I come to this verse today, I’m struck by the contrast between Paul and this pastor… yet maybe they just have different ways of saying the same thing. Maybe he was trying to teach his congregation to spend time in their relationship with Christ, clearly that is where Paul is taking his readers.
We mustn’t fill ourselves with wine, but with the Spirit. He expresses his thought further in the remaining verses by saying we should speak to one another in psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Some will disagree with me on this, but I see this musical approach as a metaphor, maybe because I’m a poor singer. I see this as a metaphor for being focused on our relationships with Him and letting Him speak and work through us, so that when people see us, they see Him at work in us. If this means we sing, then I guess we ought to sing!
However you see the musical aspect of this, Paul’s meaning is clear: If our lives are centered on our relationship with Jesus Christ, then He will live in us and through us. If our lives are centered on self and the things of this world, we will be on a difficult and fruitless path.