Ephesians 5:14-21 Living the life you have always wanted
Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Paul urges believers not to lose precious time and opportunities but to awake to a life they have always wanted; a life of abundance and purpose by being wise in every decision. Not to indulge in pleasure making and reveling but to be filled with the Spirit, making full use of time and opportunities to do God’s will. The Light of Christ is able to lift believers from a vicious cycle of reveling, aimlessness and depression. The community is called to submit to one another in holding another accountable to the truth and fulfill God’s calling.
Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Paul once again addresses those who give room to the pleasures of darkness; those who are lethargic, who vacillates between the paths of light and darkness. This phrase, most likely a hymn, attempts to awake man from sleep; he has to resolve within himself to awake from a state of stupor and arise from a life driven by self-centered living and sin. The light of Christ destroys the cover of darkness and bondage of slumber and is activated by this moral decision of awakening, which is something only man can accomplish for himself. Man, having lived in the deathly pleasures of the flesh is deprived of the abundant life and being oblivious to Christ’s indescribable glory. Paul urges believers to waste no time, but to awake and receive Christ’s empowerment to experience the life they have always wanted.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
We must carefully consider before we make decisions that involve substantial financial commitments, marital covenants, migration or partnerships in business deals. Decisions that have far-reaching and wide-ranging effects must never be made under compulsion or the heat of passion. Hence, we have to make the best use of the time as wrong decisions will incur the lost of resources, opportunities and miss out on the plans that God has ordained. The days are evil denotes deceptions and hidden dangers that can ensnare us. Hence, we must never follow our fleshly passions, or what is pragmatic, but understand what the will of the Lord is; we must believe God’s will is to prosper us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). As the world is changing at an accelerated pace, man can no longer depend on trends and established methods that quickly become dated and irrelevant.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wine and debauchery speaks of wild and reckless living that is both wasteful and purposeless. Wine reduces one’s sensitivity towards the issues of life and its pain, it takes away the urgency for action and delay one’s resolve from having to face them. Paul does not refer solely to the problem of excessive drinking per se but to an escapist’s mindset. Whenever things get rough, an escapist seeks access to another world as a temporal resort until reality bites every now and then. Some indulge in daydreaming, some play computer games, and some prefer retail therapy in order to desensitize the sense of hopelessness and distress.
The activity of addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, is a fellowship of believers in mutual encouragement and support. Put in a nutshell: a heavenly community built on love and truth. It is through a fellowship of like-minded believers that we discover the joy of God’s Kingdom.
Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Lastly, plug into a community that looks out for one another and who loves to speak the truth. Submitting to one another involves attentive listening as if Christ is speaking in proxy. As each believer reveres and honors Christ as Lord, members of the community begin to submit themselves to one another. God uses ministers and members of the church to edify her members. God is in the midst and actively speaks in a community whose members submit themselves to one another.
- The fellowship of trusted believers can help us overcome the life of aimlessness, wild reveling and depression, and live the life we have always wanted. In the midst of trusted believers, the light of Christ is able to lift us up to a life of purpose and joy. Hence, it is important for every believer to be accountable to a fellowship of trusted believers who is able to share your burdens as well as your joy.
- It is better to err in being slow and missing the opportunity than to make a wrong move and incur a great loss. God will never put you in a situation where there is little time to carefully ponder over your decisions: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. God will give you ample time to understand His will and walk in it. Do not depend on our human wisdom and experiences in making important decisions. Act only when we receive a word from God: do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
- Paul urges believers to face life’s challenges not by escaping but by surrendering themselves to the purposes of God and be filled with His Spirit. Put in a nutshell; be brave to confront challenges by being dependent on God, which is the Spirit. The process leading to the filling of the Spirit is the following:
- Understand that many of the believer’s problems are predestined by God to allow him to experience God’s miracles and wisdom; and that no problems are too big for God.
- Take each day as it comes and allow the Spirit to lead trusting that God is in active control of your circumstances.
- Focus not on solving your personal problems but in bringing encouragement and joy to those around you.
- Give thanks always for God’s goodness and the fulfillment of future plans for your life: giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Truth speaking is bi-directional; it is built on a culture of humility, mutual dependence and love for the truth: submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. As we are already accepted as sons of the Kingdom through Christ, there is nothing more we need to do to be accepted. But to live out the attributes of Christ through humility, love and purity of heart. As we endeavor to speak the truth to others, we also give others permission to speak the truth into our life.
- Are you being put under duress to make a decision for fear of losing out on an opportunity? Do not make any important decisions under compulsion, but wait upon the Lord and seek His will.
- Do you frequently need a “fix” of drinks of reveling and “letting your hair down”? If you feel that God isn’t with you during those “fixes”, perhaps it is time to cut them off and be filled with His Spirit.
- Do you seek out comments from truth speaking people? Or those who love to patronize and make you feel good?
Dear Lord, help me to be patient and wait upon Your instructions. Give me the company of trusted believers whom I could draw wisdom from and share my burdens and joys with. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.