Summary: Paul shows us how important it is to keep on the right path by walking in the Spirit and being in the Word.

Ephesians 5:15-20 Pentecost 13 B

Ephesians 5:15-20 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.

The second summer I worked in Glacier National Park as a tour guide, we started the summer with a massive flood that washed out bridges, railroad tracks and roads all around the park. For the next three weeks, the park was closed, even though every hotel had a full complement of employees ready to go to work. So we had lots of free time on our hands.

On day the sun was shining bright and it was about 75 degrees - a perfect day for a hike. Seven employees decided at breakfast to take the trail up to Summit Peak and be back by supper. Off they went in shirt sleeves and sweatshirts. Not one of the seven even carried matches. After all, the sun was shining. When they got to the peak, they were supposed to take a small trail off the main trail that would have brought them back to the hotel. Somehow, they missed that trail. By the time they realized they weren’t going in the right direction, it was seven o’clock and almost dark - too late to look for the trail back. Then it started to rain. The rain turned to snow. They huddled together to try to keep warm. In the morning they had to walk through three feet of snow and a blowing gale on the pass. Six barely made it back. One had to be airlifted out by helicopter. All of them were lucky to live through experience.

All because they didn’t watch the trail carefully. Paul says in our text, “Be very careful, then, how you live.” The Greek literally says, “Watch closely how you walk about.” Because if you don’t watch closely the path of life that God has set before you, you might get off onto a trail the devil has set before you for your destruction. This morning we want to consider this thought.

Choose Your Path Carefully!

I. watch out for detours!

Why do we have to be so careful? Because Paul says simply, “The days are evil.” Christians living in Paul’s day faced many of the same temptations that we face today. There was sexual immorality. There were intellectual elite who pushed their philosophies and laughed at the idea of a resurrection from the dead. There were weekend orgies in the temples. There was the press of every day business and life, which burdened the Christian with worries about things that weren’t important. If all those temptations were around in Paul’s day, the Christian walk is even more dangerous today. Jesus and the apostles warned that the world would become even more evil in the last days. “Walk carefully,” Paul says, “because the days are evil.”

Paul writes, “Not as unwise, but as wise.” With these words Paul is telling us to look down the road before we make our choices, to consider the consequences of our actions before we act. Let me give an example. It might be something as simple as buying a new car. I look around at the cars people are driving, and part of me (the sinful flesh) wants to keep up with my neighbors. After all if my neighbor is driving a $30,000 car, why can’t I? Six months later, the burden of car payments may become more than my budget can handle. So I have to make some adjustments. I can get another job, which will take precious time away from my family. I could decide to not send my children to a Christian school, which may affect their spiritual lives. I could cut my church contributions in half, which itself is going to say something about the path I’ve chosen to walk. That’s just one little decision. Young people choose an occupation. They choose friends. They choose a spouse. They choose where to live. Paul says, “Don’t be unthinking when you make those choices. Think! Be wise! Look out for detours that take you away from God!”

Paul says, “Making the most of every opportunity.” Literally, the phrase means to “redeem the time.” Everyone in this community is now well accustomed to detours. If there is one thing you learn about detours, it’s that they always take twice the time as the regular route does. I wonder how many hours I’ve wasted trying to get to church in the last month! Are we following some of those time-consuming detours in our lives? It’s easy to get so involved in a hobby, or pursuing a sport, or in something else that we just lose track of the time. And maybe the devil’s only purpose is to keep us from spending time growing in our faith and doing the Lord’s work! Stay away from those detours that keep you from making the most of every opportunity you have to seek the good of God’s kingdom!

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