Gracefully Truthful

Christ,church,Discipleship,Faith,Song,Submission

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 5:15-20

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

The Original Intent

1) How are we intended to make the most of our time? (verse 16)

In Ephesians 5:15-16, Paul cautioned believers to “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—- making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” Paul wanted believers to seize the day and make the most of the opportunities God had given them, using their time for God’s glory.

More than just spending time wisely, Paul spoke of “a definite season of opportunity that Christians must redeem” according to David Guzik. Paul knew God desires us to be purposeful with our lives by paying special attention to how we spend each day.

The Lord desires all parts of our life to be lived out in surrender to Him, which means making wise choices according to His Word that honor Him. (Proverbs 2:1-5) Our culture and the world we live in are ruled by evil (1 John 5:19) and there are snares everywhere! If the Christ-follower is not diligent in prayer, they will quickly become trapped in the pull of sin. (1 Peter 5:8)

We need to understand God’s will by regularly reading His Word and then walk out His plans (James 1:23-24). His Word safeguards us from becoming distracted or derailed by sinful pleasures that will drag our lives into chaos and sidetrack us from fulfilling our destiny in God. (John 8:34) John Piper suggests “the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again.”

We can make the most of our time by pursuing God’s will, which is found through careful study of God’s Word, then walking it out in our lives.

The Everyday Application

1) How are we intended to make the most of our time? (verse 16)

One of my kids does not like to have too much free time on her hands. She is fine to lounge around for a few days of summer vacation, but then she needs a plan of action or she feels like she is wasting her life. Making a checklist of things to do, even if those things include watching tv or playing video games, it provides structure and purpose to her time and she can better enjoy her vacation. Her strategy is much like the one Paul promoted when he told the Ephesians to make “the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (verse 16).

Time is one of the most valuable gifts we possess, and most of us frequently squander it on unworthy endeavors. We scroll through social media pages, only to realize later we’ve spent an hour viewing dance trends, pranks, and clever pet videos.

Sometimes the things that drain our time are not so benign and are actually evil pursuits that bring us harm and separate us from God. (Galatians 5:19-21) We must realize that the time we are given is a gift, and God wants us to do everything for His glory with all the resources He has given. (1 Corinthians 10:31) He created us to do good works, which He carefully laid out for us with love! (Ephesians 2:10)

This doesn’t mean we can’t pursue interests we enjoy or take time out to rest; these are important too! (Mark 6:31) But we are commanded to be mindful of how we spend our time, making sure we use what the Lord has given for His glory, not our own, so we can do well in the work laid out for us by God. (Colossians 1:10)

The Original Intent

2) What does it mean to speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs? (verse 19)

Paul admonished the Ephesians to “be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:18-19). The Greek word for speaking, laleo, means “speaking with yourselves, which refers to believers as a community . . . it simply means to use the voice to make a sound and in this context the sound is a song.” (Preceptaustin.org).

When we are filled with the Spirit, as Paul advocated, the joy of His presence bubbles out of us in singing. (Psalm 16:11) Of course, to sing His word to another requires us to first know it deeply for ourselves. (Colossians 3:16) As author R. Kent Hughes explains, “Spirit-filled people overflow in song!” John Eadie notes that the people of Paul’s day would have sung Psalms from the Bible and other songs of praise to God, and spiritual songs, or odes, similar to those of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10), Mary (Luke 1:46-56) and Zachariah (Luke 1:67-79).

Paul knew that when Holy Spirit-filled believers in Jesus gathered together, worship would burst forth from their mouths and their hearts. He understood that Christians need the unity and boost of faith that comes from rejoicing together.

Corporate worship not only glorifies the Lord, but it also encourages and edifies His people as they lift their voices together to sing His praises. As we bless God, we are in turn blessed by His presence and the encouragement of being with God’s people.

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16 we can use songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to admonish, or advise, one another. Paul taught that corporate worship was an integral part of the Christian life, providing a way for believers to thank and praise God while exhorting and encouraging one another.

The Everyday Application

2) What does it mean to speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs? (verse 19)

I love to watch old movies, particularly musicals, but my husband doesn’t share my appreciation of the genre. He finds it irksome that every plot point requires choreography and a catchy song. Musicals require some suspension of disbelief, which annoys him as much as it delights me. I can’t help thinking of Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:19 in terms of a movie musical when Paul tells Christians to speak to one another in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord.”

Paul did not mean their dialogue between one another needed to be sung, but that their collective thanks and praise to God should pour out in corporate singing to the Lord and the way they encouraged one another should flow from Scripture’s words. John Piper explains “There are reasons for this corporate dimension to worship. Being together and singing to each other, and not just alone, intensifies our emotions for God, communicates our witness to God, and unifies our corporate life around God.” (Romans 15:6)

When believers are together, their love for God and thankfulness for His love and goodness should well up inside and pour out onto each other. (Psalm 149:1) Their shared praise and adoration of God encourages and edifies each worshipper, strengthening their faith and producing hope and joy in their hearts. As author David Mathis explains, “Our own awe is accentuated, our own adoration increased, our own joy doubled when we worship Jesus together.”

Make it a point to worship together with other saints, magnifying the Lord with your lifted voices and encouraging each other with your corporate devotion to God.

The Original Intent

3) How can Christians submit to one another in the fear of Christ? (verse 21)

In Ephesians 5:21, Paul exhorted Christ’s followers to submit to one another in the fear of Christ. Paul encouraged Christians to develop and display an attitude of humility, “a willingness to be responsive and to yield to one another out of love.” (Lawrence Richards) We can submit to our brothers and sisters in Christ by not insisting on our way or by having the last word.

We should prefer others over ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and make their well-being a priority (Philippians 2:4), even over our own. We should treat others the way we want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12), especially those who have also surrendered to Christ as their Lord. (Galatians 6:10)

We can follow Jesus’ example of humility and service by giving up what we think we deserve in order to benefit others. We humbly submit to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the fear, or respect, of Jesus as our Ruling Lord. Because we love Jesus, we follow His example of service and obedience. His submission to God included His obedience unto death on the cross for the sins of the world, a punishment He didn’t deserve. (Philippians 2:8)

Not only did Jesus make a way for us to come to the Father through His humbling sacrifice, He also showed us how to submit our own will and way to the authority of God our Father. If Jesus, being God, did not give Him reason to stop choosing humility, there is nothing preventing us from humbling ourselves by submitting ourselves to other Christ-followers.

The Everyday Application

3) How can Christians submit to one another in the fear of Christ? (verse 21)

I have a brother in Christ who exemplifies what it means to submit to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21) He served as a pastor at one time in his life, but now he works in maintenance and janitorial services at his church. He labors diligently on his own list of tasks to be done, but he never fails to ask the staff at his church if they need anything or if he can do something additional for them.

Even if he is done with his shift or just about to clock out, he offers his assistance and makes sure he is not needed before leaving the building. He also volunteers at his church, leading Bible studies and volunteering in the hospitality ministry. Time and again he prefers others above himself out of His love and respect for Christ. (Galatians 5:13) My friend is not in it to win a spotlight, but to point to his Savior.

John Piper explains, “That kind of humility and readiness to serve rather than be served, to honor rather than be honored, is a fruit of the Spirit. And when we are filled with the Spirit, we will be submissive to each other in this way.”

In a world that is increasingly self-centered and self-promoting, my friend’s submission to his Christian brothers and sisters is as refreshing as it is counter-cultural. He doesn’t set up a camera to film his good deeds and then post them online with a request to like or subscribe. He just lets the love of God fill him up and then pours out that love onto others. (John 4:14) He is a good example for each of us to follow if we want to submit to one another in the fear of Christ. How can you start today?!

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