Summary: We all know how easy it is to become distracted. We also know what can happen when we are distracted. The world can be a dangerous place. We all know that. And that is why we exhort one another to be careful.
Ephesians: Our Identity In Christ~Part 20
Our Identity In Christ
15. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
16. making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
17. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Be careful! These are words which are very familiar to all of us. In fact, we use these words to exhort one another quite often. When our children leave the house, we often say, “Be careful.” If our children are teenagers, and are driving the car, we might say, “Be careful, be safe.” What we are saying is “Watch out! Don't do something foolish! Look out for the other guy! Watch your step!” We not only exhort our children this way, but we also exhort one another this way.
We all know how easy it is to become distracted. We also know what can happen when we are distracted. The world can be a dangerous place. We all know that. And that is why we exhort one another to be careful.
Just as it is in our earthly walk, so it is in our spiritual walk. In fact, our text exhorts us to be careful how you walk. Our walk with God should be one that is given great care. We need to watch what we are doing. An animated film of Pilgrim's Progress, the classic by John Bunyan, had Pilgrim, the main character, being attacked by roaring lions. The lions almost reached him. But Pilgrim discovered if he carefully and cautiously watched his step, and stayed on the path, the lions could not reach him. They were held back by chains which kept them just out of reach. But Pilgrim had to keep his eye on the path. If he took his eye off the path he might stray into the lion's territory and be devoured. This is what is in view in the exhortation of this text. A literal translation of the Greek term translated be is “look, or observe.” The apostle is saying to “watch, or look” carefully at what we are doing. How we live is important. We need to pay attention.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise . . . (Ephesians 5:15)
Being careful is only being wise. Proverbs 14:16 says, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.”
When we are told to be careful we are really being told to be wise. A foolish person is the person who is careless. A foolish person always thinks he is right. He doesn't need any help. He knows what he is doing. He just plunges ahead, thinking that he has everything under control.
Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” That is precisely the fool's problem; he trusts in his own way.
Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”
How one should walk is then explained by the first of three contrasts, not as unwise, but as wise. Although these adjectives have not appeared earlier in Ephesians, wisdom language has already turned up on three significant occasions in the letter. Wisdom language often needs definition from its context, and these earlier instances provide us with some clues as to how we should understand ‘wise’ and ‘unwise’ in this passage. According to Ephesians 1:8, 9 it was God’s intention that believers should understand his saving plan. He therefore lavished his grace upon us ‘in all wisdom and insight’ by making known to us the divine mystery, the content of which is his consummate purpose to sum up all things in Christ. In the following intercessory prayer (1:17–19) the apostle prayed that God, who had given his Spirit to the readers at their conversion, might impart this same Spirit of wisdom and revelation for them to understand more fully his mystery and to live in the light of it.
We are exhorted to walk in wisdom. The wisest thing we can do is to listen to God's counsel. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To fear God is to respect what He says, and to obey it. So, the wisest thing we can do is to heed God's warning to be careful how you walk. In other words, pay attention to what comes next.
The mystery had already been made known in Christ (Ephesians 1:9–10), but the readers needed to grasp its full significance. The third reference is to the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10) which had to do with his richly diverse ways of working that led to a multiracial, multicultural community being united as fellow-members of the body of Christ (Ephesians 3:10). That divine wisdom is integrally related to the mystery. The mystery is shaped by the divine wisdom; at the same time it is reflected and revealed in the mystery.