Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20

Simple Thanks

Popular Translation

15 Closely watch how you live your life. Be wise, not foolish. 16 Spend your time well, since this is an evil time. 17 So, don't do stupid things, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don't drink too much wine. That's an evil waste of time. Instead, get filled up with God's Spirit. 19 Pray psalms and sing spiritual songs together to the Lord. Do it with all your hearts! 20 And, always thank our God and Father for everything he has given us in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Literal Translation

15 So, watch how closely you walk (throughout life), not as the unwise but as the wise, 16 spending (your) time (well), because (these) days are evil. 17 Because of this, do not become foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord (is). 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which is an (evil) waste (of time), but become filled with the Spirit, 19 talking to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and reciting psalms with (all) your hearts to the LORD, 20 always giving thanks for everything in the name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST to (our) God and Father.

5:16 "spending (your) time (well)" The participial verb "spending (well)" means "to trade" or "to buy" in Greek. The analogy that compares commerce to time translates well into English, since the English verb "spend" can refer to money or time.

5:20 "giving thanks" This participial verb is "eucharistountes," the verb form of "Eucharist."

The passage for this Sunday continued the comparison of behavior and lifestyle found in Ephesians 4 and 5. These verses also focused upon the community in worship as the ideal for the Christian. In other words, a believer was fully realized in common prayer with other Christians.

The author continued to divide human behavior into dual camps: evil vs. good. Unwise vs. wise, foolish vs. the will of the Lord. Drunk on wine vs. drunk on the Spirit. Notice he defined "filled with the Spirit" in liturgical terms. Praying psalms, singing hymns and "spiritual" songs with gusto. But the high point in the Spirit filled life was "giving thanks," an attitude that should pervade the Christian life, especially worship.

From the vantage point of giving thanks, the other qualities of Christian life made sense. Gratitude made one compassionate and charitable toward others. A grateful person might be a fiscal fool, but not a moral one. Most important, gratitude focused the believer on the gifts of God, his grace. While thanksgiving came from the Spirit, the thankful person was aware of the Spirit. Why? Because such a person concentrated on spiritual matters in deep appreciation.

What would happen if we Christians were a little more thankful for the gifts God gave us? How would the quality of our worship change? How would relations with others improve?

It all starts with two simple words.

What are you grateful for? How have you thanked God this week for his gifts? How can you pass that attitude of thanksgiving onto others?