By Lamont H. Fuchs, Ed.D.
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuchs book Preacher Spurs (2022, Christian Faith Publishing, Meadville Pennsylvania). Edited and used with the author’s permission.
Ephesians 5:1-20 is one of Paul’s instructions on living as a Christian, holy, set apart, as kingdom living as best we can on earth. He begins with we need to try to live in God’s image because we are children of God. We are to be like Christ, loving and giving our lives in service as Jesus did.
Paul continues with what we shouldn’t be or do because we are Christians. The list is long and undistinguished as immoral and decadent. Instead, we should always be thankful to God for we re assured that if we live a deceitful and evil life, we will receive no share in God’s kingdom.
We are to guard ourselves against those who would confuse us or deceive us with foolish talk. But instead, we should focus on the light of Jesus and remove ourselves from the darkness of the world around us. We are to shine separated from the dark because of the world around us. We are to shine separated from the dark because we have the light of God within us.
Paul admonishes us to be careful how we live. To be wise and not ignorant, making good use of our opportunities to shine, for these are evil days.
When I read these words of Paul, I sometimes become amazed at how well the things he says fit our conditions today. So, all of this is relevant, not only for then and the Ephesians, but to us. That is why it is so important to listen and understand what he is saying in the context of then and now.
For me, the kicker verse of all that Paul wrote climaxes with the seventeenth verse.
Ephesians 5:17- “Wherefore be ye not foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
I remember old cartoons where the character had a little devil on his left shoulder and an angel on his right. Satan would whisper something evil in one ear and the angel something righteous in the other. Way back then, as now, it speaks to the issue in this (lesson) and how close to real how close to reality that battle rages on in our head.
Proverbs 12:15- “The way of a fool is right in his own eye, but he that is wise (listens) unto counsel.”
We often rationalize our sin by fooling ourselves instead of listening to God’s Word. As Christians with the Spirit within us, we know what is wrong, but we tend to talk ourselves out of it.
Ephesians 5:17 is Paul’s wake-up verse. These words are commanding as he uses the foulest thing to call someone who might be acting like a fool.
I could write a thousand ways we try to fool ourselves when faced with issues we either know are undesirable or might hurt ourselves or loved ones for a season. Health and humility are two that you might be able to identify. Have you ever put off a decision regarding doing something about your health because you wanted to avoid the pain, discomfort, or forced humility to do what you know must be done? Use those stories to invoke the jest of this (lesson). Funny (or not), we often put off choices until it is the only choice we have left. Then we knock ourselves in the head for doing what we should have done much earlier. That’s being a fool.
It is painful and can even become worse when we think we didn’t make a decision that we should have made. But, the truth is, we did make a decision; we decided not to decide, which is always the wrong decision.
Proverbs 19:20- “Hear counsel and receive instruction. That thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”
Think of this wrong decision. Think of that decision you talk yourself out of when the Spirit of God is tugging on your heart to accept Jesus. The decision you talk yourself out of when called to come forward and give your life to Him. The words you say to yourself, that you will put this off until later and that you don’t have to do it now; you have plenty of time. Maybe you think you’re too bad to be saved, and you need to clean up before you accept Jesus; what will your wife think, your friends, your family, your kids? These are all that little devil whispering in your ear.
Proverbs 3:5-6- “Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart; And lean not upon thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He will direct thy paths.”