Ephesians 5:15. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
This is the seventh and final walk imperative in Ephesians. Pay careful attention to how you walk, or how you live. This command, like all the rest, is rooted in the BE what you ARE gospel ethic. You ARE wise (not unwise), so BE wise (walk carefully).
Wisdom is a huge theme in the Bible (and in life). We might even say that the whole Bible is one big wisdom book teaching us how to navigate the big issues of life. In the wisdom literature, the Bible’s answer is that we always navigate life through the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of all wisdom (Prov. 1:7). And as we progress through scripture’s revelation, we learn that Christ himself is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). To fear God is to receive his salvation through the cross of Christ. And when we do, we are united to Christ, and therefore we ARE wise. We have the wisdom of God. We are navigating life through his redemption story. His life. Not our own “knowledge of good and evil,” but, rather, his “tree of life.”
But let’s move this discussion from the clouds back down to Earth. What does it actually look like to walk in wisdom? Well let’s keep reading…
5:16. making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – A wise Christian understands that they live in an “evil age.” Every second that we don’t use for good, evil will snatch up and use for its own gain. But this is our time to reflect Christ and his grace and mercy. But that time is short, just like your life. So make the most of each moment.
5:17. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – We are not fools. Because we are in Christ we know the will of the Lord. In fact, Paul already told us in this letter what God’s will is – to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth (1:9-10).
Wisdom and understanding the will of the Lord is NOT about you figuring out God’s specific, individual, unique plan for your life (sorry, God’s will does not revolve around you). It IS about submitting yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the King of the universe. Does this have “real world” implications? Of course it does. They’re all over this letter – tell the truth, be kind, share, speak well, stop getting so angry, forgive, quit making sex jokes, quit having illicit sex, give thanks for sex, be a light, love your wife, love your husband, love your kids, love your servants, respect your master. Every day, real world, stuff. In other words, live a life that honors the Jesus who indwells you. That’s God’s will.
5:18. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit – To walk in wisdom is to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit. Clearly Paul is not telling us to go GET the Holy Spirit. He has made it clear already that we have been sealed with the Spirit as our guarantee of salvation (1:13-14). But the walk of wisdom, the wisdom that is Christ, will be one where we are constantly seeking a moment by moment experience of the fullness of God through the work of the Spirit.
And what does that work look like? Some sort of ecstatic behavior? Losing our faculties? Running around mindlessly? Falling down?
Nope. It’s the opposite of drunkenness. The filling of the Spirit will always look like Jesus. Like sacrifice. Like self-control. Like substitution. Like love for others. Like the adoration of God and the edification of everyone else. It will look like singing, thanking, and submitting.
5:19-21. 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
In these evil days it is so tempting to give up. To coast. To lose hope. But we must not. We must keep surrounding ourselves with each other. Singing with each other to God. Giving thanks as an act of faith. And submitting to each other in love and grace. These are the acts of true wisdom. These are the walk of the one who is in Christ. To quit and lose self-control is to fail to understand the age in which we live. It is to fail to see that even in these evil days Christ is still on the throne. All things will be brought under his control. This is the will of God.
“To live is Christ” is to live each day in this wisdom, this fear of the Lord, the promise of the rule of Christ. It is to walk fully aware that these days are evil, but that Christ will lead us through by the Spirit. And so we live carefully and yet fully alive. Alive in Christ our Savior and King.
Would you call yourself wise? Why or why not?
You in Christ
In Christ you ARE wise. Where do you see the fear of the Lord at work in your life?
Christ in you
Christ’s wisdom is sacrificial and submissive. Where in your life can you be wise like Jesus today?
Playlist: Walk in wisdom