One thing that strikes me is how often Paul uses the word “live” in this passage. I like how the ESV (among other translations) translates it “walk.”
“Walk in love.” (5:2)
“Walk as children of light.” (5:8)
“Be careful then how you walk. (5:15)
In other words, each step we take in life should be taken in the knowledge of God’s love for us, and with that love flowing through us.
Each step we take should be as children marked by the light of God.
And as we take each step in life, we are to watch where we are going and where our choices are leading us.
Paul basically sums up all he has been saying so far by saying,
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. (15-17)
In other words, let’s not be stupid. Before, we used to live a life that was leading us to eternal death. Let’s not go back to that path. And don’t partner yourself with people going along that path.
That is not to say that we are disassociate ourselves with non-Christians, but that we are not to so tie ourselves to them that they can influence us. We are to be the influencers, not the influenced.
And twice Paul says, “Find out what’s pleasing to the Lord.” (10, 17)
Again, though, I want to stress that Paul was writing, not simply to individual Christians in the church, but to the church as a single body. And he was saying, all of you as a church, need to be wise. What are you as a church doing? Are you using your time wisely? Make the most of every opportunity that you have as God’s church here on earth.
But so many times, the church isn’t. Instead of being light in the darkness, we join in with the darkness. We partner with this world in its sin. Or just as bad, we start tearing into each other, biting and devouring each other with bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.
And Paul says, “Do away with all that. That isn’t God’s will for you as a church. When you do those things, you act as fools. You’re wasting time. Don’t do that. Instead, know what God’s will is for you as his body.”
What is his will?
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (18-21)
So many times, we see this phrase, “Be filled with the Spirit,” and think of it merely in terms of individual Christians being filled with God’s Spirit. But Paul is saying, “You, the church, are to be filled with the Spirit.”
Probably the greatest need of the church is to be filled with the Spirit of God. Instead too many churches are filled with greed, division, and envy.
How much different would this world be if God’s church were instead filled with the Spirit of God, living in his power and under his control.
How much different would this world be if God’s church were so filled with the joy of the Spirit, that they were singing words of encouragement to each other rather than tearing each other apart.
And how much different would this world be if instead of being filled with envy and division, people were giving respect where respect is owed, and honor where honor is owed, submitting to those God has called us to submit to out of our reverence for Christ?
Is this how we’re walking? As a church? As individual members of Christ?
How are you walking?