Meditations on Ephesians 5:18-21

The First Exercise: Speaking to One Another


Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but 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.


Climbing on Mt. Rainier, Washington

Mom’s are great singers – at least mine was. Who isn’t touched by the image of a mother rocking a baby in her arms and softly singing to soothe that tiny spirit. One way we can be filled with the Holy Spirit is by “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” (v. 19).

“Addressing” seems a strange way of wording Paul’s encouragement (English Standard Version, Revised Standard Version). Some of the other English translations say “speaking to one another” or “speak” (King James Version, New King James, New American Standard Version, New International version) while the New Revised Standard Version says “as you sing.” I like the International Standard translation that says “recite to one another” (also the New Century Version) but they all emphasize the first spiritual exercise is as we encourage others, we are encouraged.

It’s hard to be happy when we are heart-broken and some people seem to be broken hearted all the time. It is very true that if you want to be happy, make someone else happy. When we turn the focus away from ourselves, we can begin to relax.

Now notice Paul’s exhortation “addressing one another.” Happiness – being Spirit filled—is a chain reaction. I comfort you and you comfort me and we comfort each other and the feelings grow. I remember listening to a youth minister describing a picture of heaven and hell. He asked us to imagine a table spread with wonderful, wonderful food and all the people sitting around this marvelous meal. However, there was one interesting condition. They all had three foot forks tied to their hands. Can you imagine the frustration of starving in front of all that food? No matter how hard the people tried to eat, they couldn’t get that fork full of food in their mouths! Now that is hell! But now we go to the next room. The situation is identical: a long table of food and people with three foot forks tied to their hands but this room is ringing with laughter and joy as they all feed one another! That’s heaven!

So today, if you want to be filled with the Spirit, share a song with someone. It will do you both good!

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