Live the Wise Life
15Be very careful, then, how you live—not
as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are
evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do
not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music
in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
Today, many people want to live the good life. They
want to have “life to the full”. Today the Lord reminds us there is more to this
life on earth than just a good life or a full life. There is the wise life. Once
again we are privileged to gather together to look at God’s how to manual, how to
live the wise life. Our libraries and book stores have lots of how to manuals: how
to eat the right food, how to stay healthy, how to fix and repair just about anything.
Today we turn to the Bible, our Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth, the only
perfect how to manual, on how to live wisely.
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples,
in the gospel of John he told them: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). When
we honestly look at our lives, we suddenly realize the thief today is really this
world, isn’t it? The world around us comes to steal our time. Satan certainly comes
to snuff out eternal life. So we want to live the wise life.
We LIVE THE WISE LIFE
when we are
I. Filled with God’s Spirit
II. Filled with thankfulness.
I. FILLED WITH
This week take the time and read a chapter of Ephesians each day; and
when you get done, start over. There is a lot of advice for Christian living in this
little book of Ephesians. The reason for that was Ephesus was a very large metropolitan
area. Ephesus was a well-known trade route. Ephesus was a city that was filled with
all kinds of sin. These new believers were just starting out on their journey of
a new life of Christianity. Christianity was the new religion at this time. These
believers had to face all of these challenges, all of these sins that surrounded
them. The hardest part was that for a long time they too once lived in those sins.
When they committed them in the past, they thought nothing about them. Paul came
and told them, Christ died for you. Your new lives are now different. And now these
new believers were not to walk in their former way of life; the life they had grown
up in. They were now to live a wise life.
Paul writes in the middle of our text:
"Instead be filled with the Spirit”, this spirit is the Spirit of God they had received
by God’s grace. It was not the spirit of the world, not the spirit of sin. Paul describes
one of those sins, doesn’t he? He says, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to
debauchery." We don’t hear that word debauchery very often. Debauchery means wickedness,
immorality. This wickedness fueled by drunkenness leads to a life that does not care
about anything else. Wine can dull the senses. These people had often done this.
They didn’t know any better. Now Paul reminds these believers to now be filled with
the Spirit, not with wine that dulls the senses, but the Spirit, which shows them
the wise way of eternal life.
That is why this section began by saying: Be very careful,
then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise. All around them there were people
destined for destruction, living as unwise. They were living for the here and now
and not concerned about eternity. So their eternity would not be eternal life but
would be eternal death. Paul writes: Live as wise making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Paul wrote these words almost two thousand years ago.
He had spent a long time with the people of Ephesus. He lived in that city and saw
the evil that was there. He says, "The days are evil." Have they gotten better or
worse? Some would say they have gotten better. The Lord tells us in Scripture the
days will become increasingly worse until the day he returns. Our Lord says that
the love for God will grow cold, the love for one another will grow cold. People
won’t be concerned about anyone but themselves. Paul wrote to Timothy: "But mark
this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful,
unholy..." (2 Timothy 3:1,2). The list goes on. As I read these words, they don’t
seem to have been written 2,000 years ago. That describes the world today, doesn’t
it? It is easy for us to look around and think, "We know people who love money more
than anything else. They love themselves more than anything else, they are boastful,
proud." We think of athletes today--boastful and proud. We know the Hollywood elite
are boastful and proud and think the world should follow everything they want to
Yet, we don’t want to point fingers just at them. We know that we too are part
of this society. Sometimes our thoughts are occupied with money. Sometimes our thoughts
are occupied with looking out only for ourselves. We want to live the good life,
the full life. Our sinful nature does. Our Christian nature given to us by God moves
us to look to Christ, and wants us to live the wise life. This wise life is not in
agreement with the good life philosophy of this world. The world does not want to
waste its time on Sunday morning worshipping God. The world does not want to waste
its time during the week attending Bible study or reading Scripture for themselves.
The worldly people think, "Well, how does religion help with the good life, the full
life?" By God’s grace we know that God gives us the wise life through his instructions.
Proverbs says: "Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still, teach a righteous
man and he will add to his learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:9,10). As we begin to
know more about the Lord, we begin to become wise. As we begin to understand more
about the Holy One, we understand that eternal life is the wise life.
So, how are
we to live a wise life? How are we to be filled with that Spirit of God? We never
short-change ourselves when we gather to hear God’s word. We never short-change ourselves
when we come together to study God’s word. And we never short-change ourselves when
we read God’s word on our own. Because, that is the way the word of God, which is
living and active, is planted in our hearts and springs up to bear abundant fruit.
Peter writes: "The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled
so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude
of sins" (1 Peter 4:7,8). So, that is how we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We
look to God for guidance. We pray to God for understanding. We pray to God for wisdom.
We pray to God to be able to love one another deeply. That is the wise life. The
wise life does not fit the saying concerning the good or full life where the world
advises, "Watch out for yourself. Watch out for number one."
Our text continues:
Let your wise life be filled with thankfulness.
II. FILLED WITH THANKFULNESS
Paul, knew he could never repay God for what God had done to him and for him. We
know that as Saul, he thought it was his mission in life to put to death those who
were followers of the Way. But on his way to Damascus, the Lord called him out of
that darkness into His divine light. No longer would Paul be a persecutor of Christians,
but a proclaimer of Christianity. From that moment on the Apostle Paul lived his
life with a zeal and fervor for spreading the message of Christianity. Paul was filled
with the Spirit, and he led a life of thankfulness. Paul realized that God had saved
him from eternal destruction in hell.
Verse 20 says: "always give thanks to God the
Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." This was something
the congregation at Ephesus had to be reminded of from time to time. They faced lots
of doctrinal problems. They were a young church. We have to remember that in their
study of God’s Word there was only one scroll--in the temple--a scroll that was read
to them. There was one scroll; and, if they were fortunate enough they could come
to study it with others. They did not have Bibles at home to study. They did not
have God’s word written down in inexpensive Bibles like we have today.
we should even give thanks for times of difficulties. The difficult times would make
them stronger, listen harder and study more to know the truths of God’s word. Actually,
Paul spent a long time as a missionary in Ephesus, because there were those doctrinal
problems. We are also told in Acts that the whole region of Asia Minor came to Ephesus
at one time or another during that time and heard the word of God. So, Paul gave
thanks that the Lord had made him stay there in the time of difficulties because
of false doctrinal teachings. God was there with Paul to strengthen the people and
proclaim the message.
Then Paul gives them two ways for thankfulness--outward and
inward. He says: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." We
can sense the joy Paul wants these believers to have as they gather together with
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. This is outward, but where does this joy and
thankfulness come from? Paul adds: "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."
Now, that truly is wise living.
When Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees, he
reminded them that matters of the heart were more important than mere traditions.
The scribes and Pharisees always made sure that they were washed before eating. Jesus
reminded them that out of the heart comes murders, adulteries, thefts, and the list
goes on. Paul writes here that out of the heart comes music, singing to the Lord.
It is true that we might not have a good voice or follow the notes as much as we
would like. But in our hearts the Lord knows the song that is there. The Lord knows
how thankful we are each and every day, not just because he has blessed us with abundant
earthly blessings, but because he has also given us a wise life. God gives us more
than the good life. God has given us more than a full life. In the light of wise
living believers easily see that everything we have comes from the hand of the Lord,
especially spiritual things. Hebrews says: "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence
and awe" (Hebrews 12:28). God has given us eternal life in his wise providence.
realized that we need to remind ourselves of that fact day after day. Yes, this life
can deal out some tough things, things that we don’t enjoy. There is also eternal
life that God has guaranteed to us, that God has said is ours. We are children of
God and are going to inherit eternal life. And because of that there is music in
our hearts and there is thankfulness in our wise living. The Psalm writer says: "The
LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart
leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song" (Psalm 28:7). Hopefully, every
day you can say that. Maybe you do not feel that way all day long. Maybe you need
to leap for joy in the morning before we face life’s troubles, before you are reminded
of the sinfulness of this world. It’s a good thing that the song of the Lord leaps
from your heart in lives of thankfulness.
The world and Satan constantly and consistently
try to rob us of thankfulness and joyful living. The world takes so much and gives
so little in return. The treasures of this world are corrupted and destroyed. Our
own sinful flesh can lead us astray. So the Lord has to remind us over and over again
in his holy word to be thankful. There are many passages. One in 1 Thessalonians:
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Remember that God’s
will first of all is that all would be saved. Sometimes or quite often we have to
pray to see God’s will, pray to realize that yes, we can be thankful. Yes, we can
rejoice in times of trouble, hardship, sickness and sorrow. The Lord works them for
our good. That is God’s eternal promise. God’s eternal, gracious promises make our
life in this world more than just a good life, more than just a full life. God’s
promises and divine will make our life a wise life, not wise according to human standards,
not wise according to profitability in the standards of the world; but it is a wise
life in the eyes of God.
A wise life realizes that without Christ we are lost. A
wise life realizes that without God we are condemned to eternal death. A wise life
is filled with the Spirit of God, which is divine knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
A wise life is the Christian’s life that shows joy and thanksgiving. We are truly,
eternally thankful, thankful that God has saved us from sin, death and the devil.
Paul writes in Colossians: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all
in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians
3:17). Today and then Monday and the next day and then every day be thankful, be
filled with the Spirit. Live the wise life and you will enjoy the good life. Amen.
THE PEACE OF GOD THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MIND IN