Peninsula Community Church
Ephesians – How’s Your Walk?
March 8, 2015
Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
In the verse before us today, Paul continues to focus on the fact that, as believers, we are called to live differently. In this passage, Paul challenges us to be careful how we walk. As we have discussed before, our walk is inclusive of all we do and how we walk impacts every aspect of our life. Our walk whether good or bad, impacts our family, our community, our job, and yes, even our church.
The principle presented here is that we must take care that we are walking in wisdom and not foolishness. The word “carefully” or “circumspectly” means to walk by looking around and considering everything we do. Wisdom is best defined as the ability to rightly apply what one has learned through an instructional process and through one’s life experiences. The opposite of walking carefully is to walk and live foolishly. It is to make unwise decisions. It is a fool that would hear a truth, ignore it, and refuse to change their ways.
Specifically, Paul is referring to those things detailed in the previous passages. To continue to walk in sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness is an unwise move on the part of the passionate follower of Christ. To be instructed in the danger of such actions and then to continue to pursue such lifestyles, leads one to destruction. These actions, unless corrected, will impact every aspect of one’s life: family, work, community, and church. This passage also generally refers to any other decision or action on our part that is unwise.
To truly understand wisdom we must begin with the fact that true wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. This is a reverential and awe inspiring kind of fear and not one where we cower in terror away from God or one that is afraid of rejection or being wounded. David said it best, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. (Psalms 111:10). A right understanding of God equals wisdom which equals a good understanding of life. We must understand that God is for us and not against us. That is wisdom.
The second principle of wisdom is that God desires to give us wisdom, if we ask. James stated that If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind? For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8). Think about this. We can ask for wisdom, but if we are going to continue to do our own thing and reject the principles of wisdom, then we will miss the purpose of asking God for wisdom, entirely. We will be unstable because we will hear God but we will not trust his guidance, forcing us to attempt to do our own thing. That is the essence of foolishness.
The third part of wisdom is that we must choose godly wisdom over foolishness. The idea of wisdom here is two-fold. It is a conditioned response related to our experiences and the teaching we have. It is also a decision that we make. We chose wisdom over foolishness. Once again we turn to the writer of Proverbs to understand this process. My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5). As you read this passage again look at the decisions that are made. Receive, treasure, make your ear,call our, raise your voice, seek it, search for it; and then you will understand it.
Andy Stanley has stated that we must consider in light of our past experiences, our present circumstances, and our future dreams and hope; what is the wise thing to do? Many of the decisions we make cannot be made only in our understanding of what is right or wrong but what is the wise thing to do. This action helps us deal with the gray areas of life, as the black and white issues are more easily discerned. For example, in terms of our past experiences what happened the last time you went out with them? What happened the last time you drank too much? What happened the last time you watched that movie or read that book that negatively effected you? In the past, these things did not go so well, so it a wise thing to avoid the things that have brought us down in the past.
The second aspect of this passage is that we must make the best use of our time because the days are evil. Who knew that when Paul wrote these words, that we would be reviewing this text in a time where we see chaos in the world, political temper tantrums, and the appearance that sin is ruling the world. The fact is, we live in a culture that is not conducive to the kind of living being proposed by Paul. In fact, it is the opposite. If you move and flow with the culture, you will almost certainly end up in a place you do not want to be relationally, financially, with your kids, with your spouse, or with your employer. It is a fact that the culture desires to take us where we don’t want to go, therefore, we can’t go with the flow. That would be foolish.
Let me give you a couple of things that will help us in this regard. First, consider your relationship with Christ foremost in your life (1 Corinthians 1:4-9). Without that relationship we are destined for failure. Secondly, hide the word of God in your heart because it will be a gauge to reveal the inconsistencies and failures of the current culture (Psalms 119:11). Third, take every opportunity to be available to present Christ to those you encounter (Colossians 4:5-6).
Listen to Paul’s words in Colossians 4:5-6. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. In this passage, note a couple of key points about using our time wisely. Notice how they all relate to our speech. Our speech is to to be gracious. We are to be ministers of grace, but too often the world sees us as condemners and judges rather than seriously being interested in people’s lives. Secondly, our speech is to be seasoned with salt. This simply means that our speech must be measured just as we carefully measure the salt content of our food. Too often, we quote scripture as a conditioned response rather than as an attempt to honestly minister to others. Thirdly, pray for wisdom for God to direct your conversation with those you encounter, especially those who do not know Christ.
The third point here is that we are to discern the will of God so that we avoid foolishness. As we truly understand God’s will and purpose for our life, we will be less inclined to reject wisdom and discernment from God. As we walk in wisdom, it will be easier to ascertain God’s will, but if our decisions are foolish and based in emotion or feeling, we will miss God’s will for our life.
This passage in many ways is for those who are looking for a loop hole in keeping God’s commands. Paul states Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. The word “but” here is an important word. In the Greek language, there are two words used for “but.” It is noteworthy that the word used here is more powerful than the first. While we must avoid being foolish or careless, the idea Paul is communicating is that I want you to understand and face up to the truth. Paul is saying, “Look, you know what you ought to do.” He is saying, “You know this stuff.” He is saying, “Stop playing games.” Stop talking yourself into things you should not be doing and stop talking yourself out of the things that you should be doing. Face up to it and do what God wants you to do. You see the easiest person to deceive is ourselves and we do it all of the time, especially when it comes to the decisions we make. We can easily deceive ourselves into believing the decision we are making is a wise one.
Let us consider these statements in light of Andy Stanley’s words earlier. In light of our past experiences, our present circumstances, and our future dreams and hopes, we must consider what is the wise thing to do? Think about this. If you are trying to pay off your debt is it wise to spend money on big ticket items you really don’t need? If you are struggling with alcoholism, is it the wise thing to go to the bar with your friends? If you have a group of friends that tend to pull you down, is it wise to hang out with them? We must be careful how we walk and not trade the future for a current relationship or decision that might temporarily bring happiness but may not last. Don’t trade in something for the future for what you want now but may not be able to hold onto. You see we never plan on screwing up our life but we never plan not too either.
As we close, take a moment to consider if there are decisions you are making that are unwise. If so, how do you change these decisions from being unwise to wise? What changes do you need to make? Are there activities you need to avoid? Are there areas of deception in your heart? If you are not sure, will you pray and ask God to reveal your heart. It is your choice? As God reveals these things will you walk carefully, as a wise one or as one who is foolish? Will make the changes you need to make? Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. To God be the glory.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom