Daily encouragement

Video by

Stuart Poteet

Discipleship Pastor

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Ephesians 5:15-20

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Behind the Scenes

Honestly, this passage has always overwhelmed me. In just two sentences, Paul tells the church in Ephesus to walk as the wise, to make the best use of time, that time is evil, that we must not be foolish, to not get drunk, to talk to each other only in line with God’s Word, to sing to the Lord, and lastly, to always give thanks for every single thing in our lives.

I look at this passage and think, wow. How could God expect this of me all the time? In my flesh, I’m tempted to feel shame. I’m tempted to feel judgement looming from above, disappointed not only that these sins live in my past but that they haunt my present. I think back to the days I could have been more productive, or, for us over-achievers, maybe even done three things at once. Should I be doing more in this moment, even? I think back to the times I used alcohol to avoid calling to God because I was afraid and wanted control. I think back to the times I reacted and spoke in line with my emotions instead of the secure, true words of our Father, and am further saddened to realize that I most often direct those words toward the people I love the most. I think back to the situations, of all sizes, when I definitely did not give thanks to God.

Make it Real

But then I’m reminded of Proverbs 19:3: “When a man’s folly brings his way ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” This verse could easily elicit my same emotional reaction as today’s verse. I could read this in a condemning shout from God: Sinful children, you are awful and can’t do anything right. I am the Almighty and will not tolerate your anger toward me when I have nothing to do with this. You need to be better and keep me out of it.

But instead, this verse brings me to empathetic tears - I feel deeply for this person who is filled with anger, self-inflicting distance from the love of God. The picture is agonizingly stark and painfully relatable. While we are not the reason every painful thing comes our way, how often do we rebel against what God promises will give us life in exchange for something less and then, instead of turning to God, become overwhelmed with human emotion?

God knows the enemy attacks us this way, and the Bible is his gift to teach us about those attacks and guide us toward the goodness he designed and desires for our souls. What he’s telling us in Proverbs 19, and lovingly again in today’s verses from Ephesians, is that when we speak and think and act away from the will he has for us, we only find the enemy. There isn’t anywhere else to end up: it’s life or death.

Because of this, God isn’t wasting time trying to protect himself from our pain, our anger, or even from our blame. His Word is there to protect us from a life distant from him, one where we blame the only One who gives us life and push ourselves further away from abounding grace and provision. When I allow myself to know and trust God in this way, those two sentences from Ephesians turn from impossible tasks to a longing, loving plea to stay as close to the Lord as possible so that he can fight my battles rather than me fight against his love.

End in Prayer

Lord, your Word tells us to pray in thanks for everything, and so I ask that you guide my heart. When the world is full of pain, when I don’t see what to do next, when I read your Word with a tone of only anger and condemnation, I sometimes struggle to hold a thankful heart. But, if you ask this of us, I know that you see the bigger picture, and that everything is working for good. I want to give thanks in my unbelief and in my limited understanding. Thank you for being a God of mercy and righteousness; I trust only and ultimately in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Written by

Autumn Krueger

ACF Youth Culture Administrative Assistant