Be careful how you walk
“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanksgiving is the Christian’s grateful response to God’s blessings raining down on us all for Jesus’ sake. Walking wisely finds greater pleasure in thankful living than in satisfying selfish appetites. The Holy Spirit lives in your heart and gives you reasons anew each day to thank God for everything you enjoy in Christ.
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest one of all?” Have you ever heard the mirror talk back to you and say, “Why you are, of course!” I hope not! It takes a pretty vain person to see himself as the “fairest one of all!” Truth be told most often we don’t like what we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror. There is always something about the way we look that we wish were different.
Now, when you look at yourself eyeball to eyeball through the mirror of God’s law, you will see a reflection that is downright ugly. God’s law makes us see everything short of perfection as sin. Looking at ourselves through the mirror of God’s law causes us to remark, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am the worst one of all!”
Jesus Christ has washed your sins away. He changes the way we look to our heavenly Father. By faith in Christ God sees us as “little christs” – holy and perfect in every way. Knowing how God looks at us causes us to look at the mirror of God’s law differently. It not only shows show us our sin, but God’s law is also an instrument that gives us direction for living our lives the way God wants us to live life. Today we will consider this thought:
Walk Wisely in the World
Make the most of every opportunity
Fill yourself up with the Spirit
St. Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” Recognize the difference between wisdom and foolishness. That sounds easy enough, but it can get confusing at times! In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul made the point that the message of the Gospel is wisdom to the Christian but foolishness to the unbeliever. God and man don’t always see eye to eye on wisdom and foolishness. Consider the kind of people we consider to be wise. Are they not the people who are successful financially or athletically? Are they not the kind of people who are popular or famous? Is there anyone who considers a person wise who seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness? Honestly, whose lead are you more apt to follow – the rich and famous? Or the humble Christian? We need to ask ourselves if we are walking wisely in the world!
At the time of the apostle Paul, Ephesus was a thriving community. The religious life in Ephesus was dominated by the cult of Diana. The temple of Diana was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The Christians in Ephesus had a tough battle on their hands. Why would anyone want to join their little congregation when it was much more popular to worship a different god? History tells us that Ephesus had a very small window of opportunity to share the gospel in that part of the world. The city didn’t remain a hub of activity for very long before it vanished from the scene.
The days are still evil! There is no shame to sin anymore. We are so numb to sin that we aren’t even as offended by it as we once were. Greed and selfishness are the driving force in almost all decisions that people make these days. We have opportunities daily to identify the specific sin that is plaguing the people we know and love. But our lips remain closed. We pray for God to unseal our lips! Let us make the most of every opportunity to point people to Christ as our only hope in this evil world.
St. Paul goes on to say, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Foolish behavior comes from a lack of understanding regarding the Lord’s will. Either people are no longer terrified to face the living God at the end of life because they don’t believe that God means what he says. Or, people just plain don’t know what God’s will is. God’s will is summarized in the 10 commandments. The commandments are not suggestions. They are requirements. The 10 commandments require perfect minds, perfect actions, perfect speech. The better we understand the Lord’s will, the more aware we become of our sinfulness. There is only one solution to sin – God’s! God’s will is that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God’s will is that you believe that Jesus Christ has washed your sins away. He kept the commandments perfectly in mind, speech and action. He did it for us. He paid the wages of our sin. He rose from the dead so that we might know that we are forgiven and have eternal life in Christ. Understand the Lord’s will – he wants you to trust in Jesus as your Savior. Then only are you able to “walk wisely in the world.”
Opportunities abound for you and I to enjoy our lives as children of God while pointing others toward Jesus too! We don’t know how long we will be in this world. There is more to life than enjoying a few cheap thrills before the “grim reaper” robs you of this world’s pleasure. This is everyone’s “time of grace.” This is the time God is giving us to know Jesus Christ by faith and to enjoy life as his children. If you are going to make the most of every opportunity, that begins by filling yourself up with the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit comes to us through the message of the gospel. The Holy Spirit lives in us through the message of the gospel. Stay in touch with the gospel and you are “filling up with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is at work in the message of God’s grace to us in Christ. In his letter to Titus, St. Paul wrote, “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Ti 2:11)
In particular St. Paul says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” While God has not condemned the use of alcohol, he has clearly condemned its abuse. Beer commercials might taunt you to think that drunkenness is fun. But watch a loved one going through withdrawals from a body that has been saturated with booze and there is nothing funny about it. Harming one’s body is sin and it leads to poor judgment and other vices. Filling up with the Spirit doesn’t work when you are intoxicated!
Debauchery goes with drunkenness like ketchup with French fries. Examples of debauchery include blowing all your money on a good time. Debauchery takes extravagance to a new level. It causes one to be recklessly wasteful. Throwing one’s money away at the bar while your family is home trying to get by on what is left over is debauchery. Debauchery dulls your senses and leads to reckless and careless behavior. Drunkenness and debauchery have a way of washing the Spirit right out of one’s heart!
Instead St. Paul encourages us with these words: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” The book of Psalms was the hymnal of the Old Testament believer.
We still use the psalms to sing our praises to God. Spiritual songs teach Bible truths. They glorify God. Instead of the mush and slush that drown our ears from our car radios, why not find tunes and memorize spiritual songs that focus on God’s work and God’s salvation for us. The Lutheran church has long been called the singing church. Spiritual songs teach spiritual truths and glorify God. Music is a great way to fill up on the Spirit when the music focuses on the gospel through which the Spirit works in our hearts.
St. Paul concludes: “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanksgiving is the Christian’s grateful response to God’s blessings raining down on us all for Jesus’ sake. Walking wisely finds greater pleasure in thankful living than in satisfying selfish appetites. The Holy Spirit lives in your heart and gives you reasons anew each day to thank God for everything you enjoy in Christ.
Fill up with the Spirit through Word and Sacrament and then let it spill out of your life in praise and thanksgiving. Then you will make the most of the opportunities God has given you to understand the Lord’s will and to enjoy the blessings of God’s salvation. And the next time you stand in front of your mirror, say a prayer of thanksgiving. Thankfully, when God looks at you, he sees Christ.