If you’re smart, when you see a red flag, you immediately stop and find out what it’s all about, because something’s wrong. But when you see a green flag, that tells you you’re on the right track, so you keep going. It makes complete sense that we begin our series on the Flags of the Spirit with Ephesians 5:15. So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.* ‘Cause you’d be a fool to spot a red flag and not stop and check it out, right?
Through the next 26 verses in Ephesians, we are going to spot both red flags and green. We’re going to discover how we can live as wise people in practical ways (green flags) and not make foolish choices in how we live (red flags). You get the picture.
Verses 16 and 17 start right away with a green flag. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. We all get a lot of opportunities every day for doing good. Yesterday we sat at the next table from four ladies ordering lunch. By the time they left, the server was pulling her hair out because they had been so hard to please. With that red flag obviously flying at the next table, we decided to take that opportunity to do good. It was pretty plain what the Lord wanted us to do and so easy. So we tried to make her job a little easier by being easy to please and by praying for her to have a better day from then on. Sometimes making the most of every opportunity to do good and acting with thoughtfulness is as simple as giving the check out person a big smile and wishing them a blessed day. Sometimes it’s harder like stepping up and helping someone in need with a ride or a meal or childcare. You’ll see a lot of opportunities if you are looking for them.
The next verse- verse 18 – sets up all the rest of the 24 verses. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. If you’re filled with wine, then you’re drunk. You’re “under the influence” and you act the fool. (Harkens back to verse 15, huh?) And if you keep it up, you will certainly ruin your life. If you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, then you are Spirit controlled and live wisely. You live “under His influence.” You can spot a drunk person, can’t you? He acts drunk and often really stupid, doing foolish things. Hmmmm…can you spot a Spirit-filled person? How does a Spirit-filled person act? Do you think others might spot you as a Spirit-filled person? Do you want them to?
What are the green flags to look for in ourselves that indicate we are Spirit-filled? Verses 19 and 20 – THEN you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thinks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Happiness is in direct correlation with gratefulness. Did you get that? You can’t be happier than you are grateful. In fact, if you want to be a happier person, then work on your gratefulness. Here’s one way to allow yourself to become more grateful. For the next 30 days, journal every night before bedtime, listing three things about that day you are grateful for. Then thank God for each of them, letting them roll around your mind, remembering why you are grateful for them. If you do this consistently, at the end of 30 days (maybe before), you’ll notice you have become a happier, more content person. Along with this, of course, you must ask God to fill you with His Spirit. To fill you and be in control of your life, while uprooting the selfish things you’ve been holding onto. That’s the green flag.
The red flag is when you find yourself grumbling and complaining about your lot in life. When you don’t think you have much – or anything – to be thankful for. When you spend your down-time thinking about all the problems you face; all the offences you have suffered; all the people who have let you down. That’s when you can be sure you are NOT filled with the Holy Spirit.
What color flag is flying over your life? Who are you filled with? The sweet Holy Spirit. Or yourself? Your flag is showing.
Through the next few weeks, we’ll be blogging about the red and green flags of the Spirit. Every week you can find out more ways to tell if you are living wise and flying green flags. If you are being filled and controlled by God’s Holy Spirit. Or if you are being filled and controlled by yourself and flying red.
* Note: All Scripture quotes in this article are from the NLT version.