15So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. 16Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. 17Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. 19Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
In this section of Ephesians Paul is summarizing what He’s shared earlier in chapter 5 where he has given a number of examples and admonitions for what it means to follow God.
The summary of all the guidelines is to live wisely instead of foolishly.
What does it mean to live wisely and what does it look like to live foolishly?
Examples of wisdom and foolishness are replete throughout the Bible. The book of Proverbs contains a wealth of knowledge contrasting wisdom from foolishness. Additionally, Paul gives many exhortations and commands in his many New Testament letters, including what he’s shared earlier in chapter 5.
However, in this short segment, Paul summarizes wise and foolish living with 3 ideas:
First, people who live wisely make the most of their time. They don’t waste their time, but use their time for doing good.
Secondly, the wise person doesn’t act thoughtlessly but considers what the Lord’s will is. The implication here is that the wise person KNOWS the Lord and His word. Knowing God’s word is vital to understanding His will because it is the primary means by which we understand God’s character and His purposes.
Third, the wise person doesn’t get drunk but instead is filled with the Holy Spirit.
I think it’s interesting that Paul compares and contrasts being filled with the Spirit with being drunk. Why does he do this? How are these two things similar and how are they different?
Most states have strict laws about driving while drunk but if you get pulled over and charged, the official term is often “DUI”, which stands for driving under the influence.
When we drink too much, we are under the influence of alcohol and it affects us mentally, physically and emotionally. In short, we lose control of ourselves and often do things and act in ways that are totally out of character.
In the same way, to be filled with the Spirit is to be under the Spirit’s control. It means that I allow God’s Spirit to lead me and influence my decisions and my actions.
According to verse 18, the end result of being drunk is that it ruins our lives. Some translations say that being drunk leads to “dissipation”, which means “wasteful living.” The idea is that really nothing good comes from being drunk. It’s a waste of time and energy that leads to nothing good or productive.
The key question is: who is in control of my life? Is it me? If I’m in control, making my own decisions and living for myself, then I’m living foolishly and I’m apt to do foolish things, just as someone who is drunk.
However, if God’s Spirit is in control, then I’m living wisely, following His lead, doing good instead of evil and as a result, my life has purpose and direction.
How are you using your time? In what ways does your schedule reflect God’s priorities? Are there things in your schedule that are time wasters?
What are some examples that come to mind that demonstrate how drunkenness can lead to ruined lives or wasteful living?
Paul contrasts being drunk with being filled with the Spirit. How can a person be controlled by God’s Spirit? What steps can one take to be under the influence of God’s Spirit?
If you were to create your own list of foolish living versus wise living, what items would be on each list? What is the source of items for each of your lists?
How can you know what God’s will is? What steps and actions can you take to understand God’s will and ensure that you’re following God’s will?