“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17
Remaining in Ephesians 5 this week I have been prayerfully contemplating what the Lord wanted me to share in this article. I found myself oddly struggling with the content, something that isn’t typically difficult for me. However, in the middle of the week, as I came to the church one morning, I was graced with the opportunity to participate in a worship session during the Gathering Conference. In that session I heard a testimony, and through it the Lord prompted my heart.
As a reminder, my desire is to utilize the practical teaching of Ephesians 5 to encourage Group leaders during their time off. Last week we leaned into verses 1 & 2 as a reminder to imitate the love of God in all that we do as dearly loved children and as leaders within the church. This week I’d like to lean into the understanding of wisdom and the knowledge of God’s will as spoken of in verses 15-17.
To lead in, then, allow me to ask these questions. What is wisdom? And, of course, the question of all questions, what is the will of God? Many respected leaders throughout church history have answered these questions, and much of the input has been amazing. Therefore, my goal is not to delve in as if I had anything fresh to say, but to simply draw our attention to a small, but hopefully weighty, reminder.
Ephesians 5 links wisdom and the knowledge of God’s will together for a reason. As humans, trying to figure out our daily lives on a daily basis, we tend to seek God’s will circumstantially. Or, we blow the question up to the size of our very existence; “Lord, what is your will for my life?” We tend to treat the will of God as some mysterious thing that God is requiring us to search for like colored eggs on Easter morning. But may I be clear; God is not hiding his will from us. Consider again what James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That is pretty straightforward. Ephesians links wisdom and God’s will together because wisdom encompasses God’s will. Thus, when we operate in wisdom we are then applying His will to both our circumstances and our life’s big picture.
In the worship session I participated in, the Lord drew my attention to a word. That word was “dependence.” Proverbs 9:10 tells us that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a holy deep-rooted and faith-filled respect for God – a holy awe – that we carry in our hearts and which plays out in our actions. I would say, then, that the fear of the Lord begins with our recognition of God’s supremacy and goodness, which we learn first and foremost through the study and practice of scripture. In this we realize our dependence; in order to look and live like Jesus, we depend upon His powerful authority, and His loving fatherly presence. Thus, Gods will is knowable only through our dependent obedience to His Word.
There is no secret formula. No need to beg and plead. Certainly to travail in prayer and fasting is good and greatly increases our ability to hear the voice of God as we suppress our flesh and drown out the noise of the world. But the knowledge of God’s will comes simply through the wise application of the Word of God in the everyday mundane moments of our lives in faith. In so doing we dependently allow God to fulfill His promises – influencing those things that are outside of our control.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9
God loves our dependence on Him because we honor Him with it. When we depend on Him we are surrendering our strength for His, recognizing that He is the best thing for us. In our dependence on God we find ourselves less anxious. When things are well, we praise Him in the midst of the calm, but when things are difficult, we are calmed in His midst. This is what it means to have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). No matter the affront of the enemy, we remain steadfast in the knowledge that God is for us and, thus, nothing can defeat us (Romans 8:31). No matter the difficulty, we take comfort in knowing that what the enemy uses for evil, God will use for good (Romans 8:28).
In all this, the reminder is that wisdom is the dependence on God, and that once we become dependent on Him, His will begins to employ our lives (Rom. 12:1 & 2). There is no mystery to this. Be careful how you live. Don’t be unwise, but dependently walk in the faith of God’s promises in every opportunity that is presented to you. Don’t be foolish. Your enemy is real and will take advantage of every moment that has not be made dependent on the Lord. God’s will is that you trust Him, and obediently follow Him through both the big moments and the small. Don’t ask Him to enter your plans. Instead, accept His standing invitation to enter the plans He has for you, and then depend on Him to finish His work.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” – Philippians 1:6
Go Deeper – Grow Stronger