“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:15-20, NLT
Ever since God gave the Ten Commandments, some have been tempted to think he enjoys making people miserable and taking away their happiness by denying them earthly pleasures.
The truth is, God wants to give us something much better. But in order for us to receive it, we need to clear some room in our lives. Often, that means getting rid of sins or bad habits that are using up the space God wants to claim. Instead of filling our lives with sexual immorality, impurity, greed, and obscene stories (Ephesians 5:3-4), God wants us to be full of thankfulness. Instead of drunkenness (5:18), God wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Suppose you’re walking along the beach and find an old treasure chest. But when you pry it open, it’s full of sand, not gold coins. Now suppose someone else comes along and offers to give you as much gold as you can fit into the chest. Sounds great, right? Except for one problem: The chest is already full. In order to accept the gold, you’d have to dump out the sand. You’d need to make as much room as possible for the more valuable treasure. Unless you get rid of the sand, the chest will never hold anything of value.
The same goes for the sins in our lives—the sand in the treasure chest. They may provide temporary pleasure, but they won’t deliver lasting fulfillment. Sexual promiscuity may provide an immediate thrill, but the long-term results are catastrophic—it will never provide real happiness. On the other hand, true love for another person and for God can fill us up to overflowing. Drunkenness provides a temporary giddiness or forgetfulness, but it’s nothing like the true peace and joy that come from knowing and loving God.
It’s our choice. We can fill up our lives with whatever silly or sinful things we choose, or we can let God fill us up with the things that will bring ultimate fulfillment.