18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:18–21, NKJV)
Filling oneself with wine (intoxicants) dulls the senses. But, being filled with the Spirit enlivens the heart with thankful songs of praise. Being filled with the Spirit leads Christians 1) To speak to one another in songs of worship. Worshipful singing is not entertainment, but engagement. In it, we communicate teachings and admonitions that are consistent with the word of Christ (Col. 3:16). 2) To sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. We pluck the chords of our hearts to produce musical sounds of grace from our lips. Christians cheerfully sing praises to God from the heart (Jas. 5:13; Heb. 2:12). 3) To give thanks for all things. The Spirit of Christ teaches us to find blessings in everything, even in trials of pain and suffering, for they purge and purify our faith (Matt. 6:10-12; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; 1 Pet. 1:6-9). 4) To submit to one another in the fear of God. This submission to each other is not slavery, but service that is activated by a fear of God. Thus, we accentuate the welfare of others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4; 1 Pet. 5:5). Being filled with the Spirit is not a miraculous event. It means to put yourself under the Spirit’s guiding influence by following the truth He revealed (Jno. 16:13).
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (James 5:13, NKJV)
Prayer and song. This couplet proves comforting and invigorating as we go through life’s storms and life’s calm. Suffering comes in many forms; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Prayer is a balm for the weary, an assuring strength during times of tumult and uncertainty. And so, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Even as suffering leads to earnest prayer, happy times evoke praise of the Almighty. The Lord is the source of joy that no one can take from us – the joy of victory over sin and death (John 16:20-22, 33). When life brings good fortune, Christians raise up songs of praise to God. We remember that God is the Giver of every good blessing; we did not create our happiness without His good providence. And so, James gives us sound instruction for difficult and happy times. He reminds us to look to God through all of life’s joys and sorrows. The Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He will see you through.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16, NKJV)
There is a song in the heart when the word of Christ is implanted in the soul. The word of Christ prompts melodious strains of wise instruction which praise God and give counsel against sin. When a heart that is blessed by the word of Christ it sings songs that honor God and favor men. The word of Christ shapes the spiritual mind, which in turn sings joyful praises to God while teaching and admonishing others. “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (Psa. 149:1).