As a Christian, giving thanks is embedded into our spiritual DNA and in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul gives insight on how to cultivate a thankful attitude. Paul contrast three sets of behaviors to reset our thinking.
#1 Unwise vs. Wise
“15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
There is a wise and unwise way to spend our time. Paul’s first comparison is defined by how we use our time. We’re commanded to make the best use of our time because the days are evil, and our sinful nature is drawn towards evil.
Everyone is given a specific amount of time and only God knows how long. As a result, we need to be committed to spiritual growth and development.
Don’t allow busyness to keep you from spiritual disciplines. Scale down the parts of life you can to make sure you’re being discipled and you are to disciple others.
#2 Do not be foolish vs. Understand God’s Will
God from a personal perspective. What is God’s will for me, for my life, what should I do with my life? On that note, you should do with it what you are gifted to do for God’s glory.
Yet, this passage is talking about God’s will, what’s His plans, intentions, and purpose. Understanding what God’s will enables you to live in a way that furthers His will and not hinder it.
So, what’s God’s will?
- “God wishes that none should perish but all have everlasting life,” 2 Peter 3:9
- “God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live,” Ezekiel 33:11
- God’s will is to forgive sin, 1 John 1:9
- God’s will is to complete the work He began in you, Philippians 1:6
#3 Do not get drunk vs. Be filled with the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the active agent in the transformation of your old nature to the new nature in Christ. The Bible prohibits getting drunk because drunkenness is counter-productive to the work of the Spirit.
You’ve never seen someone intoxicated and think, “that’s what Jesus would do.”
The behavior of a drunk person doesn’t reflect a life of holiness or purity. How often have we heard the excuse of someone who commits a heinous crime say they would have never done that if they were sober.
Being filled with the Spirit in this passage speaks of perpetual spiritual growth lead by the Holy Spirit. We are to work with Him to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our life. We will never come to a point when the Holy Spirit says, “I’ve taught you everything I know.”
Paul shares these three standards, so we can authentically produce the following two attitudes. First is worship.
He uses the terms “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs making melody to the LORD with all our heart” to describe the demeanor of fruitful spiritual living.
The second outcome is giving thanks.
“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ephesians 5:20
This must be a typo, right. How is it possible to give thanks “always and for everything?”
The word “always and for everything” emphasizes a length of time. In other words, we are to regularly give thanks to God, no matter if the situation is favorable or unfavorable. We can complain about our situation and invite sadness and frustration into our life. Or we can give thanks to God and experience His redemption, grace and mercy through our tragedy.
God is near the broken-hearted. God saves those who are crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18. Our painful circumstances are not the result of God’s inactivity, but the corruption of sin in this world.
Death, pain, and disappointment are all the effects of sin in this life, but God doesn’t let your circumstances or sin have the last word. God can redeem your situation for good, but there’s a catch. God will only take from you what you willfully surrender to Him.
As we submit and trust Him, He will take our most painful experiences and transform them into something positive. First, let go of the pain so you can experience God’s redeeming power over that circumstance.