… be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
What completes a soul? It is some ethereal connection to a divine being? Is it material wealth? Is it altruistic actions that satisfy? According to Paul, it is the Spirit of God that completes a Christian. So we are admonished not to find our fulfillment in wine which leads to a sort of in-completion, but to seek our fulfillment in the Spirit of God.
The four participles following the exhortation “be filled,” explain what a person who is finding their sustaining in the Spirit acts like. They address each other in spiritual praise, they sing to the Lord, they live a life of gratitude, and they submit to each other.
First, one who finds their fulfillment in the Spirit will find that what comes from within their hearts are “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” For if a person is filled with the Spirit, then things of the Spirit will proceed from that person’s mouth. (c.f. Mat. 12:34 and Luke 6:45) These Spiritual songs pour forth from someone who is filled by the Spirit in the same way that football statistics pour from an obsessive fan or the way business information pours from the mouth of a workaholic. If you fill yourself with the Spirit of God, you will talk about Him with other believers. He will be the center of your speech. What glorious speech it is when Christians speak of their Savior! How great His compassion and how wonderfully life-giving to those who encounter such a people.
The holy work of the Spirit in the hearts of those who believe develops a deep love for God. That love overflows in praise and melody to the Lord. Remember, Paul is not addressing a worship service or even a congregational gathering in which singing is common. He is speaking of the lifestyle or “walk” of a Christian. Making music to the Lord is inherent in the life of a Christian. Our hearts are tuned to bring Him praise with every breath. Thus it is fitting for a Christian to live a life that overflows with praise to the Lord. Do not be so shallow as to think that this call to sing to the Lord is merely a call to musical worship. This calling upon Christians is a call to worship the Lord through the beauty of the souls cry to Him. Think upon that for a moment. Your heart sings praises to God. He hears your heart’s cry and hears your heart’s praise. The holy God of the universe hears and delights in your heart’s worship. The beat of your heart in pursuit of His glory and name is melody to the Lord. Oh that our hearts would sing praise to Him.
The life of a Christian not only brings praise to Him, but it brings praise from the joy of gratitude. Paul shares in Philippians 4:6-7 that peace comes with gratitude. It is in gratitude that we find peace and joy in life. Not simply gratitude when circumstances or gifts abound in our favor. But gratitude when they come in the form of trials or sufferings. Throughout the epistles we are urged to consider it joy when we face trials, to rejoice in our sufferings, and to be thankful to God for every circumstance. Can you do this? It is easy to thank God for the things that go well. It is difficult to thank God for the things that go poorly. Are you able to thank God for the things that hurt? The peace of God comes when we are able to surrender every aspect of our being in gratitude to God. Can you thank Him now? Christians live and find life in this gratitude. For this kind of radical thanksgiving is what fills us with the Spirit.
Note the name by which we give gratitude to God. It is in Jesus name and by His authority that we are able to give thanks to God the Father. Without Christ’s covering over our hearts, we would not be able to extend gratitude to Him. So it is, we are able to revel in our thanksgiving because of the gift of Jesus Christ within us. He is your means of transport to the glory of God. He is your revelation to God’s presence. He is your motive for gratitude and your intercessor to allow you the access to the Father.
Just as Christians submit to Christ and surrender to God, we also submit in love to one another. The Holy Spirit indwells all believers and that Spirit is conforming us to the likeness of Jesus. (Col. 3:10) If we are to be bearers of the image of God, being made into the likeness of Christ, then humble submission should be a defining characteristic. Remember what Paul states of Christ in Philippians 2:1-11. Christ was obedient to God. In submission He made Himself nothing, entrusting Himself to the Father. Likewise, Christians ought to exemplify such willing submission to each other.
Consider what it would be like if your church community looked like what Paul is describing. Consider the influence your church would have on the world around them. In truth, they would make a tremendous impact. But like the early church, churches who live as Paul details would be persecuted and reviled… But they’d be in perfect peace with God. Isn’t that worth all the rejection this world can muster? Isn’t knowing Christ and becoming a child of God a greater joy than any hatred we face. Dear Christian you are faced with a choice: live holy and please God or ignore sin and live in relative ease on this earth. Only heed this warning: if you choose to ignore sin, it is likely you have never known Christ and your sin will be your only reward. Repent and pursue Christ.