One way to describe the Christian life is to say that it is made up of paradoxes. That means that there are things in our lives that don’t seem to make sense, don’t seem to fit with other things in our lives. And yet we Christians have seen enough of God’s power and wisdom and love that we believe with good reason that the paradoxes of our lives really do fit together in God’s mind, even if we can’t always figure them out now……
Be Careful and Vigilant
On the one hand the text says, Watch carefully how you live, that is, be alert, be vigilant. Apply wisdom to redeem the time. That opportunity will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents. Understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t surrender your powers of judgment to alcohol.
These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!”
Sing and Make Melody with Thanksgiving
Then come verses 18b–20: Be filled with the Spirit, and sing to each other—sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. And let your heart fill up with melody where nobody else can hear but God. And let the golden thread of all your songs be thanksgiving to your heavenly Father—thanksgiving for everything!
Now it sounds like the war is over! The tension and vigilance of conflict are gone. We’re back home with the family. It’s Thanksgiving Day. There’s a fire in the fireplace and marshmallows on the skewers, and a game spread out on the dining room table; and sweet music is in the air.
And so I have called this message “Urgency and Gratitude.” And I want us to just meditate on this paradox of being a vigilant people at war and yet a thankful and singing people at peace. And even if we can’t fully explain how this can be, my prayer is that the mere awareness of it will help you live with it, and perhaps even thrive in it.