“This is not a call to duty but to delight!”
The context of Paul’s admonition is the grace we have already received. You can’t live the Christian life if you are not in Christ. When he exhorts us to walk carefully, Paul is first of all assuming that we are in Christ, that we have received the grace of God. The Christian’s mindset and direction has changed. We don’t want to live a dead, shameful life. For those who are in Christ, Paul’s exhortation is not primarily to Christian duty; He is telling us the way to joy.
Paul tells us to be careful how we live, to live wisely. Wisdom is the ability to discern what is ethically right in a particular situation. It is more than knowledge or intelligence. It is not just a matter of possessing correct doctrine; it is submitting to God in practical life.
Living as unwise is living as if God didn’t live or as if it doesn’t matter. Our culture tells us that faith in God is an irrelevant, private matter. The fool says there is no God; the hypocrite says there is a God but it doesn’t matter. Both amount to practical atheism. As Christians, we cannot afford to drift along with the culture in this mindset.
Paul tells us to make the most of the time. This is not an exhortation to time management, but rather to discern the will of the Lord and to invest our time wisely. This is not a call to do more, but to be intentional in the use of our time, to make sure we are using it toward the right goal.
The days are evil. We live in a fallen, broken world that is not our home. We must speak truth into the culture, but understand that our goal is not to save culture but to make God’s glory known. We win the culture war one person at a time. We are called to invest in the new community of God’s people.
The fool despises wisdom. He doesn’t fear the Lord and it shows in obvious, practical ways. He doesn’t known or do the will of God. We, on the other hand, are told to understand what the Lord’s will is.
God’s General Will is given to us in the Scripture. To help us discern the Specific Will of God in a particular situation, we must know the Scripture. It puts parameters around how we should respond in any particular situation. We should also ask other, wise Christians to help us discern, submit to godly counsel, and pray for God’s leading.
What does God want me to do? We should start not with me, but with what God is doing in the world and then find our place in it. God is glorifying Himself. He is building His church, bringing reconciliation and making disciples. What does God want me to do as a part of His plan? We as individuals are part of something much bigger than our own lives. We all have our place on the team, so to speak. When we understand the coach, the goal and the team, it places our individual choices into perspective. We all have a part to play toward advancing the purposes of God in this world.
Do you love Jesus? Have you responded to His lavish love? Do you want to follow Him? This is the way to joy!