The Grace of God Makes Us Obedient (part 2): Ephesians 5:15-20

I usually separate Sunday and Wednesday posts, but this week, I couldn’t fit everything from Ephesians into Sunday’s post, so I’ll do that here. I lost track of my days, and so now, it’s Wednesday Wisdom on Thursdays. My apologies. If you haven’t read Sunday’s post, go back and do that before reading this.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”–5:15-16

Paul has just described how the church is called to be obedient because of God’s grace, as they seek to imitate Christ. He’s talked about how the church is “light,” and how as Christians, we are to call others into the “light” of Christ.

So what could keep the church from accomplishing God’s mission of disciple-making and holy living? The same thing that keeps many people from accomplishing their goals: laziness and foolish living.

You don’t have to do a whole lot to understand what Paul is saying in verses 15 and 16: Times are evil. People are evil (look back at verses 5 and 6). The gospel must go forward. Don’t waste time.

But yet, wasting time is so easy. This is a really hard verse for me to read, because I’m really good at wasting time. Whether it be Netflix, Facebook or some other form of entertainment, I’m really good at procrastinating. I don’t accomplish as much as I want to, in any area of my life, at times because of it. It is one of the sins I’m struggling to put off, but by God’s grace I will grow in.

So how do we not waste the time?

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing, and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”–5:17-20

First, don’t be foolish. Simply put, grow up, be mature follow the will of God. That means getting a job that betters the world, getting into the Word every day, praying for not just your needs but others, and seeking to be more and more like Jesus everyday as you live to make Him known, whether in the ministry or in the secular world (or in both, for my many bi-vocational friends).

What it means to be serious is that for those aspects of our lives that make a difference, whether in this world and most definitely in eternity, we are “sober-minded.” We are ready to roll up our sleeves and do whatever is necessary to fulfill our God-given roles on this Earth. It means always being ready to do and to be whatever God has called you to do and to be.

Next, be filled with the Spirit. We have the Spirit if we are in Christ, but Paul commands the church to walk by the Spirit. The Spirit leads and guides us, and if we are controlled by something other than the Spirit, wine, in this example, we cannot follow the will of God and make the best use of time.

While drinking alcohol is certainly not sinful, it is sinful to allow alcohol, or anything else, to rule over us, as Jesus alone is our Lord. Alcohol presents different complications than the possible idols of food and sports because of its ability to control us and inhibit our ability to think, function and follow Christ if we drink too much. I won’t ever tell anyone of a legal drinking age what to do in this area, but it requires cautious behavior on the part of the Christian who chooses to drink alcohol, because we are set apart, called to live differently than the world. That means if and when we drink, we do so with thankfulness to God and with a mind set, not on being drunk, but on, as in all things, honoring Him.

We also make the best use of time when we worship the Lord with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul says those who are filled with the Spirit address each other in worship. We are so grateful for what Christ has done and is doing in our lives, we cannot but speak of Him. While I enjoy my church family back in Birmingham, and will love my church family here in Arkansas, for many different reasons, ultimately, I love them because they are fellow followers of Jesus. I would not identify with them otherwise. We are brought together by Christ, and that commonality of faith, of struggle, of worship, is what binds us together.

Lastly, we make the best use of time when we are thanking God. Paul told the church thankfulness keeps us from sexual immorality, something discussed Sunday. Thankfulness keeps us from sexual immorality and other sins because it focuses our minds and our hearts on God. Likewise, when we are focused on God, we will not be so lazy with our time. We will remember Him, and we will seek to honor Him in all we do.

Lord, may we make the best use of time. May we repent when we fail, and may we always seek to do your will.

God bless,

Neal E.