And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:18-21).
If the question last week was “Who are you wearing?” then the question this week is “What are you drinking? What are you filling yourself up with?”
First, let’s make clear that our Lord is not against drinking. As the sermon goes on, I hope you’ll catch a theme that our Lord is in fact not against many of the things that will be mentioned. What He is against is using His gifts as the source of comfort, courage and strength, rather than using Him, the Giver, as the source of comfort, courage and strength.
The pain is real. So is the fear and so is the weakness. The Scriptures never reject that – the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). When the pain hits, the fear, or the weakness, though, what bottle do we reach for? What do we look for to help numb the pain, escape the problem, or give us courage to face the world?
Alcohol is a common bottle to reach for, but it’s not the only one. Speaking literally, pain killers are another common bottle. Figuratively, the list has no end. We can look to numb the pain through excess sleep, excess food, meaningless sex or pornography, or pampering ourselves through an excess of shopping and buying.
We can look to escape the problem by pretending we’re apathetic (“I don’t care, anyway”), by letting entertainment through T.V. shows, sports, video games and the internet help us leave reality for a bit of time, or pouring ourselves into our work to escape the family or pouring ourselves into the family to escape the work.
We can seek ultimate courage to face the world by putting the blame on everyone else and everything else in the world or by relying so heavily on the God-given gifts of people in our life as our Mighty Fortress.
I am not you. I cannot precisely tell you what you reach for to numb the pain, escape the problem or seek courage.
I have come to realize that I don’t actually like eating fast food very often, but when stressed or overwhelmed, I too often think the solution lies in the Baconater. As unserious as that sounds, it can help you meditate on your deeper level or crutches.
The pain is real. Feelings of broken families, feelings of dead-end and pointless jobs, illness and hurting bones and joints, lack of self-esteem, peer pressure, pressure’s all around (you do after all have to care for, your car, your home, your job, your kids, your marriage, your church, your parents, your friends, people suffering from hurricanes and the Zika virus, the environment, your country, your state, your city, your community, your house and the entire world!). Add to this that in all this, you’re a sinner, you sin, and the guilt is real for doing the wrong things and not doing enough of the right things.
Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ
Paul commands something quite wonderful. As we look through the bottles, we are constantly to look for God Himself and His Word to be the One that fills us. Nothing else is big enough – not even the Baconater! We do not, however, seek God and His Word enough. So our Lord tells us to address one another – I sing to you God’s Word and comfort, you sing to me God’s Word and comfort, we address one another in psalms.
Our Lord comes from above, gives us faith through His Spirit in His Word, entering and filling our hearts that are so guilty for so often looking at the wrongs bottles, forgives us, and gives us a filling song in our hearts, making melody to the Lord with our hearts, and then that pouring out of our hearts as we address one another with voices, then hearing each other voices, that enters the ear and into the heart and repeats, and finally breaks out into thanksgiving always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who then comes from above with His Spirit and Word as the cycle continues.
Dear saints, called to be filled with the Spirit, bring the feeling of being filled with pain and guilt and shame, and watch it all be poured into a cup – all your sins and the wrath you deserve, all the pain that seems to promise it won’t end – watch it be poured into a cup. What an awful drink! Who would drink such a thing?
“My Father, if it be Your will, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not as I will, but as You will.” It was the Father’s will for the Son, the One in Whom the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Col 2:9), to drink that cup to death and condemnation. Risen, ascended far above all heavens so that He might fill all things (Eph. 4:10), He fills You today with His Word and Spirit. Gives You His Cup to drink. You have been filled in Him (Col 2:10).
The false solutions don’t fill. Consider your guilt in seeking fulfillment in the wrongs bottles. The pain is real, though. Bring the pain and hear this:
Come everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live (Isaiah 55:1-3).