Living in Evil Times

Ephesians 5:15-21. (NIV)

15Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The days are evil. That’s certainly as true today as it was for the Ephesians in the 1st century. Because the days are evil, I must be wise and not lose opportunities to do God’s work. I need to understand what God’s will is, be filled with the Spirit, sing and make music to God, and always give thanks to the Lord for everything. This is how Paul tells us to live in evil times. Not in fear, or in anger, but with singing and in giving thanks to the Lord.

One of the things that stands out to me here is the exhortation to understand the will of God (v. 17). There’s an echo here of John 15:15, where Jesus calls his disciples friends, not servants, because he has made known to them everything he received from the Father. And now that the work of redemption is complete, we are no longer just friends, but sons and daughters as well. The will of our Father is not supposed to be mysterious any longer, but something that we have both the privilege and the responsibility to understand.

And this section ends with yet another call for us to build one another up in unity, by submitting to one another (v. 21). This letter seems to say a lot more about how we treat one another in the church than it does about reaching those who are still lost. But then, if we don’t love one another, why would anybody want to join us? If we do, the world will see God in us (John 13:35) and be drawn to Christ.

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