Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wisdom for Living - Ephesians 5:15-17

Pray and Read: Ephesians 5:15-17

15 See (beware of, consider), therefore, how accurately you are walking, not senselessly but instead wisely, 16 making the most of (redeeming) the season of time (buying the opportunity), because the days are wicked (evil). 17 Because of this, stop becoming ignorant (foolish), but be understanding what (is) the will of the Lord.

Opening thought:

Be careful! These are words which are very familiar to all of us. In fact, we use these words to exhort one another quite often. When our children leave the house, we often say, “Be careful.” If our children are teenagers, and are driving the car, we might say, “Be careful, drive safely.” What we are saying is “Watch out! Don't do something foolish! Look out for the other guy! Watch your step!” We not only exhort our children this way, but we also exhort one another this way.

Contextual Notes:

Ephesians 5:15-20 is a summary paragraph of what Paul has been discussing since 4:17. This passage began in Chapter 4, Verse 17, with the apostle's admonition to live no longer as the Gentiles do. He then describes how that is and goes on to exhort, rather, that Christians live as they have been taught to live in Christ -- that is to put off the old nature and put on the new. That simple process of putting off and putting on is what the apostle means by walking.

Exposition:

1. Take a look at your life (5:15)

a. Accuracy (5:15)

i. KJV – circumspectly. Walking through life by the principles in God’s word, in small things as in large things, watching yourself and watching for danger for you and others for whom you are responsible. Never let your enemies say that you are all holy in your doctrine and profession of faith in one way, but then you live any foolish way you choose.

ii. John Gill: “such walk like fools, whose eyes are not upon their ways; who walk in their own ways, which are crooked, and ways of darkness, and lead to destruction; who walk after the flesh, and naked, without the garments of a holy life and conversation; and with lamps, but no oil in them: and such walk as wise men, who walk according to the rule of God's word, make Christ their pattern, have the Spirit for their guide, and walk as becomes the Gospel of Christ; inoffensively to all men, in wisdom towards them that are without, and in love to them that are within; and as pilgrims and strangers in this world, looking for a better country; and so as to promote the glory of God, and the good of souls.”[1]

b. Wisdom (5:15)

i. Paul uses an unusual word here, the only time in the NT for foolish – without wisdom.

ii. If you are a wise person, then you are engaged in making the most of your time. One of the reasons that we're exhorted to be careful is because time is finite and limited. There is only so much time available to us. A wise person uses time, a foolish person wastes it.

iii. An article was once published entitled, “If You Are 35, You Have 500 Days To Live.” The article went on to contend that when you subtract the time you spend sleeping, working, tending to personal matters, eating, traveling, doing chores, attending to personal hygiene, and add in the miscellaneous time stealers, in the next 36 years you will have only 500 days to spend as you wish. Think about how you spend your time. When all of the necessary things are done, how much time is left? No wonder the Psalmist advised, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.”[2]

c. Redeeming the season (5:16)

i. Lit. “buying the opportunity.” From a metaphor of businessmen or trader taking advantage of a good price on item they need or stock.

ii. Being prepared – Willing to take risks

iii. Matthew Clarke: “Let time be your chief commodity; deal in that alone; buy it all up, and use every portion of it yourselves. Time is that on which eternity depends; in time ye are to get a preparation for the kingdom of God; if you get not this in time, your ruin is inevitable; therefore, buy up the time.

iv. John Gill: “here taking time for a space of time, it denotes a careful and diligent use of it, an improvement of it to the best advantage; and shows that it is valuable and precious, and is not to be trifled with, and squandered away, and be lost, as it may be; for it can neither be recalled nor prolonged: and taking it for an opportunity of doing good to ourselves or others,”[3]

d. Motivation: Days are wicked (5:16)

i. The present times are dangerous, they are full of trouble and temptations, and only the watchful and diligent have any reason to expect that they shall keep their garments unspotted.

2. Refuse Ignorance (5:17)

a. Matthew Henry: “Wherefore,” says the apostle (Eph_5:17), “because of the badness of the times, be you not unwise, ignorant of your duty and negligent about your souls, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Study, consider, and further acquaint yourselves with the will of God, as determining your duty.” Observe, Ignorance of our duty, and neglect of our souls, are evidences of the greatest folly; while an acquaintance with the will of God, and a care to comply with it, bespeak the best and truest wisdom.[4]

3. Embrace His Guidance (5:17)

a. This is a practically knowing God’s way through Scripture, through prayer, through counsel of Godly people, and through the witness of the Spirit.

b. Axiom to go by: If you sense the conflict in your spirit and not peace, the Lord is probably not in it. If that peace that passes understanding is there, no matter the circumstances, you are right where the Lord wants you.

c. Colossians 4:5

Application:

  • Take some time in quiet to take a look at your life, where you are, what you’ve accomplished, where you’re headed, and ask the Lord to show you what He dreams for your life.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities the Lord puts in your path with school, job, friendships, opportunities to serve and grow in Christ, business, etc.
  • Be a lifelong learner. Refuse to cave in to ignorance.
  • Seek the Lord’s direction through the Bible, prayer, and wise counsel. Ask God to make it clear to your spirit which direction to take, then be obedient and seize the opportunity set before you.

Invitation:


[1] John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, Ephesians 5:15.
[2] J. David Hoke, “Our Identity in Christ: Ephesians 5:15-17” August 16, 1992.
[3] Gill, Eph 5:16.
[4] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Ephesians 5:17.