There must be an observable difference between how Christians and non-Christians live. We are called to “walk as children of light” (v. 8) rather than spending our time doing things that have to be done in the dark. (v. 11) There are many things that God commands us to avoid in these verses: wanting other people’s stuff, expressing our sexuality in forbidden ways, telling filthy jokes, getting drunk, and spending time being fascinated by the sins of others. These are vital warnings for us because we know that the wrath of God is coming to judge and eliminate such things from the world. What fascinates me most, however, is what we are told to do as an alternative to these things.
First, we are told to give thanks to God. We often fail to fully appreciate just how many sins walk through the door that is opened in our lives by thank-less-ness. Without a doubt Christians should be the most grateful people in the world. Truly all of our temporary problems have ultimately been taken care of, and even now we are seeing God bless us in so many small ways. There are always blessings to thank God for, and we need to be skilled at finding them. Second, we are told to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us. This means making room in our schedules and thoughts for the Spirit to enter. (vv. 15-18) If we are too busy cramming our lives full of the world, then the Spirit will find very little of us to “fill”. Paul is saying, “Stay thirsty for the Lord to use you and look for Him to do so.” Finally, we are to fill our lives with songs that remind us of the goodness of God. The soundtrack of our lives should be songs that speak of the greatness and faithfulness of the Lord, and we should sing those songs to one another. This will fill our hearts with a melody that spills out into the world around us, and, believe me, it will make our lives look different from the world.