In Dana Adam Shapiro’s interviews of divorced couples, it is clear that selfishness led to marital disintegration. Each spouse’s self-centeredness asserted itself, and in response, the other spouse got more impatient, resentful, harsh, and cold.
So selfishness hurts and then leads to selfish responses. What will stop it? By fillilng up with something other than selfishness. The only way this can be done is if we are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
So the million dollar question is, how do I go about being filled with those things?
In Ephesians 5:15-18 it says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”
God is telling us here that we need to look carefully at how we live because the days are evil. We need to be wise with our time, with our days.
So if we are going to be wise in how we walk, we have to understand the way of temptation, so we don’t walk according to it. Then we have to learn what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
I liken this process to trying to get physically healthy. You have to first cut off the supply of junk food, and then you have to fill your house with good stuff. Here is what I mean. The hardest thing for me at night is snacking. It hits about 10pm, the cravings kick in, and I wander over to the pantry and then to the fridge, and then to the pantry again until I find something that catches my eye. The thing is, I enjoy sweets, cookies, breads, chips, crackers… if it is unhealthy, I probably like it. However, if it isn’t in the pantry or in the fridge, I can’t go for it. So if cookies aren’t in the pantry, guess what? I don’t eat them.
So if I want to get healthy, the first thing for me to do is cut off the supply of junk food. And the same goes for my mind and soul. If I don’t put things before my eyes, and ears that feed and strengthen me, I don’t find my unhealthy passions taking over. But when temptation surrounds me, the odds aren’t very good. So I need to find out where temptation comes in from and cut it off.
On the other hand, if we want to be healthy, we can’t only cut off the supply of junk food we have to also fill our house with goodness. And this is why it finishes v.18 with, “but be filled with the Spirit…”
You probably know what it looks like to be filled with too much wine. We have either been there or have seen someone there and we can testify to what usually happens. The wine takes over and the person ends up saying things they shouldn’t say and doing things they shouldn’t do. And this is why the Bible uses it as a contrasting, parallel analogy. We need to be filled with the Spirit, so the Spirit takes over and we end up saying things we should say and doing things we should do.
We get how to be filled with wine, but what about the Spirit
The Bible goes on to say in the immediate verses, “… 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.”
In other words, when we sing words of praise, making melody in our hearts to The Lord, and give thanks for everything, we are being strengthened and filled with the Spirit. I know from personal experience that when I sing praises to God and think deeply about the words, it affects my soul. I am setting my mind on things above, and being transformed by the renewing of my mind.
When I am giving thanks to The Lord for all things, I am setting my mind on him, acknowledging he is in control, believing that where he has me is best and is going to work out for my good. And doing so changes my heart.
We must go about our days thinking about God, singing to God, praying to God, and giving thanks to God for everything we encounter. And as God fills our minds and hearts, we will be filled with the Spirit.
And when we are filled with the Spirit, guess what fruits will come out in our marriage and relationships? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. And when that comes out of your life, your marriage will be filled with all kinds of goodness.