Proper 15 (B), August 17, 2003
In his book entitled, Margin, Dr. Richard A. Swenson notes that the average American will, in his lifetime:
Spend six months at traffic lights.
Spend one year searching through desk clutter looking for misplaced objects.
Spend eight months opening junk mail.
Spend two years trying to reach people on the phone who aren’t in.
Spend five years waiting in lines.
And, spend three years in meetings.
It’s not surprising then that the New Testament addresses how we
use this precious commodity called life. Be careful how you live! In
particular, Ephesians 5:15-20 gives us three areas to watch if we are
going to use this gift called life correctly.
I. Seize the Moment
Paul counsels us to make the most of every opportunity, in other
words, to seize the moment. To live as one who is wise rather than
unwise implies that we are viewing things as God would see them and
acting accordingly. I love the phrase, “Make the most of every
opportunity” because it’s such a positive outlook. You will receive
many opportunities to live for Christ, many opportunities to serve
Him. Make the most of every opportunity.
This phrase is also translated as “redeeming the time.” To redeem
is to buy back for your own use. Time and the opportunities it brings
are valuable commodities; don’t let them slip by.
Yet the writer also notes a negative aspect to making the most of every opportunity, for “the days are evil.”
At five years of age, our youngest son (now eleven) once asked, “Dad, what does it mean when it says the days are evil?”
It means that each day brings with it temptations to do evil just as it
brings the opportunities for good, so be sure you seize the moment.
II. Seek His Will
Don’t be unwise. Don’t be foolish. Don’t get drunk on wine. We
could even say be sure you are filled with the right Spirit and not
with other spirits. Surely Paul is noting how a pre-occupation with
worldly vices will rob us of the desire to seek His will.
Proverbs 23:29-35 describes those who drink themselves into a
stupor to the point that they see strange sights and imagine
confusing things. How sad that some will mortgage their lives to a
bottle and to strange spirits within.
Lest we belabor the prohibition almost to the exclusion of the
command, we must note that Paul’s injunction ultimately is that we
should “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Don’t spend your time seeking your fill of distilled spirits.
Instead, be filled with His Spirit. Make the pursuit of His will your
priority and troubling spirits will be turned aside.
III. Speak and Sing
The Spirit-filled life is not lived in isolation but in the community of God’s people.
The New Testament contains approximately twenty-seven “one
another” commands. These are commands telling us how we are to
interact with “one another” in the body of Christ.
That’s twenty-seven answers to the person who says they go off into the woods to worship God in their own way.
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Much
discussion is given to the task of differentiating between these
three types of compositions, but I wonder if anyone truly understands
exactly what the apostle Paul had in mind as he penned these words.
Psalms obviously refers to the Old Testament psalms that were set
to music and intended for use in worship. Might we not recognize
then, that some songs are drawn directly from Scripture (psalms)
while others embody great doctrinal truths (hymns) with others
reflecting on the Christian experience (spiritual songs)? However you
may interpret these three categories, the primary focus is still on
sharing them with one another. Speak and sing to one another. How
quickly we forget that singing in public worship is not only singing
praise to God but it is also a means of ministering to each other.
Be very careful, then, how you live. We spend enough time on
frivolous things; let’s be sure to invest in eternal matters.
Sermon brief provided by: Dan Nicksich, Somerset, PA