Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
This is excellent advice, but we need to think about it and unpack it to really follow it. In the first place, everyone can think of people who are examples of being unwise in their living. However, we aren’t so quick to recognize when we are being unwise. We need to remember the famous words in Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) If we don’t recognize God as the omnipotent Creator who “upholds the universe by His all-powerful word,” (Hebrews 1:3 Weymouth translation) then we aren’t going to live wisely, period. We are capable of an almost infinite variety of conceits, figuring out ways to discount or ignore God, but that is the very definition of foolishness. With that understood, the next issue is the matter of opportunities. Some people limit this to opportunities to share the Gospel, but as important as those are, this isn’t so limited. I personally think it is the opportunity to represent Christ, to act as His agents in doing the Father’s will. Such opportunities are as many and varied as there are human beings. We are each gifted and equipped in unique ways, so one person’s opportunity isn’t going to look like another’s. We aren’t to go around comparing ourselves with each other, but rather strive to listen accurately to the Holy Spirit as He points our opportunities out to us. Certainly, some of those will be to share the Gospel, but many more will be to express the grace, mercy, and love of God to others in countless ways. This closes with the cautionary note that “the days are evil.” It doesn’t take much perceptive ability to recognize that! We are surrounded with people who are sadly deceived, and we are to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we may not also be deceived. (Psalm 119:11) The thing is, the darker the surroundings, the brighter the light will seem. We are indeed sent as light into the world, (Matthew 5:14-16) and we are to recognize and make full use of our opportunities to shine.
This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone. Thinking back, I can recognize many times when I missed opportunities to be God’s agent to someone, and that’s not a nice feeling at all. I am not to try to force myself on anyone, no matter how good my intentions, but rather listen obediently to the Holy Spirit for how He wants to work through me. I have certainly demonstrated that I am capable of misunderstanding Him, so I need to operate in all humility, with full gratitude when I get it right. As a pastor I seek to lead the believers into this same understanding, but my own intellect and words aren’t going to get the job done. There too, I need to let the Holy Spirit show me the right opportunities, the “teachable moments” that will open their eyes, so that together we may grow into the disciples Jesus desires and deserves.
Father, thank You for this Word. Now I’m torn as to whether You want me to speak Sunday on what You said to me yesterday, or on this! Help me hear You clearly and follow You accurately, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!