Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful (see), then, how you live (walk)—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of (redeeming) every opportunity (time-kronos), because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish (foolish-lacking the inner perspective-watching again-that fails to see cause-and-effect relationships), but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Watch Your Walk Understand the Days
Not non-Sophia, but Sophia . . . walk not as unwise, but as wise.
If the days were evil in Paul’s day, they are more so now. We need to pursue wisdom and knowledge and provide answers to the world, not get so caught up in our own mess of a life that we have nothing to offer but questions.
The Proverbs have a lot to say about wisdom. Here’s a sampling:
Proverbs 3:13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
19 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
This isn’t a message on the Proverbs, so just a few points on this passage:
• Wisdom is a blessing, which brings rich dividends.
• Wisdom extends and enriches your life
• Wisdom is creative.
It’s the wise way we are called to walk:
Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth & the Life & no one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:7)
Watch Your Walk.
Isaiah 30:19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Recent research indicates we learn more effectively if we have models to follow. Where are the teachers today? James said “don’t be many of you teachers, my brothers, knowing that we bring upon ourselves a greater condemnation” (James 3:1). Yet we need examples to model our spiritual lives after, and so many of the people we may have thought of as models have proven to be broken. God would call some of us to stand firm and set a standard for others to follow. We must. One of the standards we have to set is how we make use of time.
Proverbs also says that wisdom is accessible
Proverbs 8: I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
I think most of us often feel like we don’t have the wisdom required to do what is required of us. But we have to ask. We have to seek wisdom. That requires time devoted to seeking what is right.
Watch your Time Understand the Times
All we have is time. And it’s short.
Psalm 90 says our lives are like a mist that comes in the morning and then is gone away.
A physicist might define time as the direction of the arrow of entropy-a measure of the increase of chaos and the diminution of complex and dense formations of mass. Some would describe time as the progression and direction of cause-and-effect. But the Bible doesn’t describe time that way. For us as humans on this earth, time is the stuff of life.
How do we use our time?
1. Around the world, the average amount of sleep is about seven and a half hours (women sleep about 30 minutes longer than men). (http://time.com/4319909/sleep-habits-country/) That’s more than 200,000 hours of sleep-about one-third of a life time.
2. On average we spend about 8 hours a day working (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm)
3. On average, people spend about 7-8 hours a day in front of a screen-tv, or net, or social media. (www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158 )
That leaves about thirty minutes to an hour for everything else, including eating, bathing, and other necessary functions.
THAT IS OUR WHOLE LIFE.
Where is the time for important things? If we are going to invest our time in prayer or doing anything productive beyond the ordinary, we’ll have to do things differently from the average person.
I would suggest, most of us can’t afford to work much less. Research indicates our bodies and brains need the seven & a half hours of sleep or a bit more. The area we can change is the time we spend on various forms of technologically driven entertainment.
Please think. When are you going to pray?
When are you going to practice your art?
When are you going to exercise?
When are you going to work to develop your knowledge and skills so you have something valuable to give to the world?
These things must come at the times that others are sitting doing facebook or twitter or instagram or reddit or whatsapp or Netflix or YouTube. All of us have the same amount of time in the day. Most of us can use that time more productively.
The difference between top performers in their field and everyone else comes down to one and a half to three hours of time each day invested in developing their skills and knowledge. What are you going to do with your time?
Watch your Foolishness Understand the Lord’s will.
foolish-lacking the inner perspective (Paul seems to be intentionally using words that have to do with seeing in different ways) that sees cause-and-effect relationships. (http://biblehub.com/greek/878.htm)
A lot of research has gone into studying how teams work together most effectively. Google did their own internal research. They found that the most effective teams were not necessarily made up of the most talented, or the best mix of strengths, or the formation of dream teams. The most effective teams were the ones that communicated honestly, well and often. There is power in reflective and critical discussion. But effective critique probably begins with the individual doing what Paul has encouraged: reflecting on our own faults and strengths, or successes and failures.
In many ways, the difference between the foolish and the wise is how they look at themselves and the world. Wisdom is seeing things as they are, not as we want them to be, being brutally honest. The fool makes mistakes and doesn’t recognize them as mistakes, and, therefore, keeps returning to make the same mistakes again. The wise learn from their mistakes and recognize them.
As an exercise in a degree program I was asked to produce a failure resume.
A few highlights:
• Grade point average in my Bachelor of Arts: 2.8
• 6 ½ years to complete BA.
• Hired as associate pastor to take over as senior pastor in a year-5 yrs. Later was still not senior pastor. Resigned
• Promoted to Vice Principal to take over as principal in a year. 4 yrs. Later was still not Principal. Resigned.
• Pastored a church with goal of increasing membership over 3 years. After three years congregation had grown by -30%. Resigned.
• Have started studies in Hebrew, Greek, German, French, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, and Japanese. Can’t speak any of those languages fluently.
• Started writing 2 books-and have a list of another dozen to write. Haven’t finished any.
• Started a PhD. In New Testament-not finished.
• Had goal of being the best singer in the world. Haven’t reached that goal
As I made the list I began to get a bit depressed. My list of non-accomplishments and non-completions is long.
I think there are some patterns here. I tend to start something and not finish. Looking back at many of the failures I can blame someone else. But the fact that there seems to be a trend indicates the blame might belong with me.
Foolishness would see such patterns and not recognize the source of the problem. Wisdom sees the patterns and the problem and works to fix the root causes. This exercise was powerful for me. Maybe everyone should prepare a failure resume.
To sum up
Paul says we need to watch how we walk, watch our time, and watch our foolishness. In all this we must discover God’s will for our lives.
In Romans 12:1-2 he says it this way:
I urge you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service of worship
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
If we are ever to know God’s will for our lives, we’ll have to change the way we live, the way we use our time, and the way we view ourselves and the world.
Prayer for Today
Mold me, not like everyone else in this world, make me like You. Teach me wisdom in my use of time, in the investment of my life, and in how I look at myself and the world. Teach me to embrace Your Truth, even when it hurts. Open my heart to change and grow.
Then use me as a force for good in this world.
I love you, Lord. Forgive my weaknesses. Make me strong.
In the name of your strong and meek Son, Jesus