15 So be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. 16 Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times. 17 Because of this, don’t be ignorant, but understand the Lord’s will. 18 Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit in the following ways: 19 speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; 20 always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 and submit to each other out of respect for Christ.
In the ancient world, as today, some people tried to numb themselves against life’s pains by drinking too much wine (as well, of course, as other substance-based and behavioral escape mechanisms). To Christians in the city of Ephesus, Paul wrote that psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, and always giving thanks to God were a better way.
- Jesus told the Samaritan woman he met at Jacob’s Well that the living water he would give her would be “a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life” (John 4:14). That same sense of bubbling, overflowing gratitude and life filled today’s reading. When have you most clearly sensed the joy, meaning and acceptance that God gives bubbling within you? In what ways have you been best able to express your thanks for God’s gift?
- The Message paraphrased Paul’s counsel in verses 18-19 with these words: “Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs!” Can gratitude to God be “intoxicating,” even habit-forming? Have you ever been in that condition, and if so, what was the experience like? What are some of the life benefits of having a “gratitude habit”?
Lord God, thank you for the times when you did great things for me and for your people. Help me to live trusting that, sooner or later, you always act to lift us up and bring us joy. Amen.
Dr. Amy Oden is Visiting Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.