Ephesians XVIII: A Wise Walk - Ephesians 5:15-21

In Ephesians 5:15-21, Paul continues to teach the Church at Ephesus what it means to walk as Christians. “Walk worthy,” he said back in 4:1, followed by: “Don’t walk like the Gentiles,” in 4:17. “Walk in love,” he said in 5:2, and in 5:8, “walk as children of light.” Finally, here in 5:17, he writes: “walk wisely.” And to that end, he encourages the saints to practice the spiritual discipline of looking carefully to their Christian walk, which involves asking yourself: “Am I using the time well?”; “Do I understand how God wants me to live?”; and “Am I living a Spirit-filled life?”.

These three principles are like the trunk of a tree, and when Paul gets to the third, the tree splits out into four smaller branches that show how Spirit-filled people live. Walking wisely means using your time to do God’s will in a Spirit-filled way, which involves singing to one another, singing to God, giving thanks to God, and submitting to one another.

And so the challenge is to look carefully at your own life to see whether or not this describes you, and what ways you need to change in order to be more like Jesus, taking note of the motivation for our obedience found in vs. 21: Christians walk this way “out of reverence for Christ”. No one ever walked more wisely than Jesus – He made the best use of the time, He understood and submitted to God’s will, and He lived every moment in the power of the Spirit. A wise walk is a Christlike walk – God gives you these instructions so that you can be like Jesus.

So let’s look carefully at three issues that this passage raises, and apply them to our Christian walk. First, how we use the time; second, the contrast between being drunk with wine and being filled by the Spirit; and third, the place of singing in the Christian life.

When we think about how we use time, don’t rush too quickly into thinking about strategies for time management. Godliness does not consist in getting more stuff done; Godliness means using your time to follow Jesus. Some of you need to be set free from the misuse of this verse by hearing that the pressure to have a hyper-efficient life and make every minute count is the law of a cruel false god, and not the easy yoke of Jesus. Ending your days stressed and anxious because of all the things you didn’t get done isn’t wise and doesn’t use the time well.

On the other hand, some of you do need to be exhorted to look carefully at how much of your time is given to empty things, especially in our internet age. Do you even know how much time you spend on Netflix, Instagram, or Facebook in a given day or week? If you don’t really know how much of your time disappears into the black hole of the world wide web, then you aren’t walking wisely.

Second, walking wisely means not getting drunk with wine, but being filled by the Spirit. When alcohol directs our life, debauchery is the result. When the Spirit directs our life, godliness is the result. The way you use alcohol as a Christian needs to shows a clear distinction between a wise and unwise life. Drinking in moderation is not sinful, as long as you maintain self-control, which is the fruit of the Spirit. Getting drunk, though, shows that you don’t know what time it is, you aren’t wise, that you’re filled with something other than the Holy Spirit, and that you don’t have reverence for Christ.

Third, when the Spirit fills us, we sing. This should be a major characteristic of the Christian life – singing in worship, singing at home, singing when we gather together for fellowship. Notice that we don’t just sing to God; we also sing to one another as one of the primary forms of Christian discipleship. Our singing teaches us truth by the words that we sing, but it also shapes us by the very activity of singing. Singing stirs up joy, comforts the grieving, and gives us courage to fight the Lord’s battles in a way that words by themselves do not.

So don’t just listen. Sing! The exhortation in Ephesians isn’t about hearing with your ears, it’s about singing with your mouth and your heart. This is what Christians who are filled with the Spirit do. This is how we edify one another and glorify the Lord who made us and redeemed us.

Christian, this is God’s Word for you today: walk wisely. Use your time well, do God’s will, be filled with the Spirit, and let your heart overflow with songs and thanksgiving, out of reverence for Christ.

Posted on Wednesday, October 02, 2019 by CJ Bowen