Keep Watch!, Use Time Well (Handout)

Keep Watch!, Use Time Well

Ephesians 5:15-21

Main Idea Both wisdom and the Spirit are essential for knowing the will of the Lord and living the Christian life. God imparts his Spirit to believers in greater measure through their gathering as a community to worship him. – Clinton Arnold

Ephesians 5:14–21 (NIV) 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The imperative “watch” [“Be very careful”] appears repeatedly in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, where he prepares his followers for a life of discipleship in the context of the difficulties of the last days (Matt 24:4; Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33; Luke 21:8). This provides a point of connection with Paul’s admonition, which he sets in the context of “evil days” (5:16b). The adverb “carefully” strongly underlines the importance of engaging in intentional and focused moral introspection. It compares to the kind of care a judge would take in investigating a case (Deut 19:18). – Arnold

 The term “foolish” appears 74 times in the LXX of Proverbs to contrast “the fool” with the one who walks in the ways of the Lord and follows the path of wisdom. For instance, Prov 10:23 states, “A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom” (cf. Prov 23:9; 24:7; Sir 19:23; 21:18). A few of the characteristics that Proverbs reveals about “fools” are that they are lazy (24:30); they have uncontrolled tongues (18:6–7; 29:20) and thus lie (6:12), slander (10:18), quarrel (20:3), and are quick-tempered (14:29; 29:11; see also Eccl 7:9); they are proud (13:16), hate knowledge (1:22), and despise advice or correction (12:1, 15; 15:5); and they are reckless and careless (14:16). Much of this list corresponds with the kind of moral exhortation Paul has given in Eph 4:25–5:14. – Arnold

If you don’t want your mind and heart to go wandering off into the realms of darkness, one of the best ways is to keep them well stocked with wise and thankful themes, so that words of comfort, guidance and good judgment come bubbling up unbidden from the memory and subconscious. Paul doesn’t see these hymns and songs as simply decorative, a pleasant aural embroidery around Christian faith and practice. Singing, whether aloud or in your heart, was, he thought, an excellent way of actually practicing the faith. If you don’t want your garden to grow weeds, one of the best ways is to keep it well stocked with strong, sturdy flowers and shrubs. – N.T. Wright

 Giving thanks always. He means that this is a pleasure which ought never to lose its relish; that this is an exercise of which we ought never to weary. Innumerable benefits which we receive from God yield fresh cause of joy and thanksgiving. At the same time, he reminds believers that it will argue ungodly and disgraceful sloth, if they shall not always give thanks,—if their whole life shall not be spent in the study and exercise of praising God. – John Calvin