Living Wisely

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Be careful! We have heard this admonition all of our lives. It is an idea that comes from experience. It is a recognition that, while the world is beautiful and ‘charged with the grandeur of God,’* it is also plagued by many dangers and pitfalls, large and small. We are admonished by Paul in today’s passage to be ‘very careful,’ not just about the possible, or potential dangers of the physical world around us, but about those that pose a danger to our eternal souls. Therefore, we are challenged each day to think about how we choose to live our lives in this world that is so full of both beauty and dangerous pitfalls.

We have all lived enough life to have experienced its potential and real dangers. We have survived many of them, learned from them, and moved on. Paul’s admonition here is very important. He tell us at the very beginning of this chapter that we should, ʺFollow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.ʺ (Eph. 5: 1-2) This is how we can become ‘wise,’ as opposed to, ‘unwise,’ in the ways of the world. We must always keep our eyes on Christ as our model. Because of Christ’s willing offering and sacrifice for us, we regained the child-like innocence that was lost when our First Parents, disobeyed God’s commandment. Our baptisms washed that Original Sin away and made us child-innocent once again. Our Christian lives must be lived in that light. We are no longer a people wandering in darkness. By our baptisms we have been made children of the light and are to bear the fruit of that light into the world by the way we live our lives. What are the fruits of the light? Paul tells us in verse 9: ʺThe fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.ʺ This is why we must always keep our eyes on Christ, for he is the source and foundation of all that is good, righteous, and true.

ʺBe very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.ʺ (Eph. 5:15)

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There it is, the reason for our need to be very careful. There are dangers that threaten more than our bodies and our physical well-being. They are dangerous to our eternal souls. To be aware of these we must be wide awake and wise in the ways of goodness, righteousness, and truth. Goodness is that which does no harm, that does all things out of Christ-like love. It builds up, it forgives and supports those wounded by the world, who long for the light, but who have not yet seen it. We Christians are to be this Christ-like goodness in the world. Righteousness is that which always seeks justice. Because there is so much ‘darkness’ in the world there is much need for the light of Christ’s righteousness. The world is full of lies. Lies are the voice of darkness. They manipulate, mislead, and confuse the innocent. We know the danger of lies. We have been injured by them, led astray by them. Sometimes we have been the liar and done much damage to innocent others. In such things there is no wisdom, only cleverness. We Christians must be committed to the truth that is modeled by Jesus.

We followers of Christ, must become wise, able to discern the ways of the darkness. We are to counter them with the Light of Christ in the ways we live our lives. It will be seen in our acts of love and forgiveness. It is a matter of wisdom to seek what is good, righteous, and true. This is what we need to develop in ourselves but, more importantly, the world is crying out of the darkness for the light of this wisdom. If we followers of Christ are not bringing the light of Christ into the world with our daily lives, then who will?

Jesus is no longer present in the flesh as he was 2,000 years ago. Rather, He has charged us to be his presence, his example, in the world today. If we are not living in the light of his wisdom, the world will not see it. Paul tells us, ʺTherefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.ʺ (Eph. 5: ) This is why we must not only steep ourselves in the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, so that we will be able to discern the will of God and try to live it. We must not just read it, we must meditate on it, pray with it, and listen. More importantly, we must willingly choose to live by that light in this dangerous and dark world. It will not be easy. Jesus’ life was not easy, nor were the lives of his Apostles in the early Church. Why should ours be easy? The truth is that we will never be alone in our attempts to live it. The Holy Spirit is with us in our desires to be good, righteous and true to God’s will. We know that grace and forgiveness will always be ours, which is important, because we will fail at times. All God wants of us is our willingness. He understands our weaknesses.

Lord, teach us to be wise in your ways. Help us in our efforts to live as children of the light. We are pilgrims in a world that is full of your beauty, yet full of dangerous pitfalls as well. Help us to turn away from all that is of darkness and to walk always toward your light. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.