Are You Wise?

21 May

“Watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…”

It seems a little funny that Paul would have to tell people and especially tell Christian people that they should live as wise people, but the fact is he does because so often we don’t.

We need to be commanded to live in a way that is wise because many of us don’t.

You can be an intelligent person who knows a lot of information about the Bible and still be living your life in a way that is not wise, because you see, when the Bible talks about being wise, it is not talking about simply knowing information, the emphasis with this word wisdom instead is on the application of our knowledge of the Bible to our everyday lives.

Wisdom, it is a masterful understanding, skill, expertise in living.

A wise person then, doesn’t just know what is true, he knows what difference the truth makes on the way he lives his life. He is able to use the knowledge he has well. And Paul is challenging us to look carefully at our lives and see if this knowledge that we are gaining as we go to church Sunday after Sunday is actually changing the way we live. He wants us to stop and look if we are becoming better and better at actually applying truth to our lives.

Now how? What do you look for? Where do you look if you want to know if you are growing in wisdom?

You see exactly where you should look at the beginning of verse 16.

You should look at the way you are using your time. This is the means or manner by which the command to be wise is carried out. Those who are wise and understand the everyday significance of the gospel will have a “right attitude towards time.”

Specifically, Paul says that wise people “make the best use of the time.” Other translations are, “making the most of every opportunity,” “to take advantage of every chance.” It literally means, “to redeem the time” or to say it more simply, “to buy back the time.”

You can think about it like this.

A few years ago, during the World Cup, the McDonalds Restaurant near us had a clock on its wall. It wasn’t a normal clock however. This clock was counting down the seconds until the World Cup began. Each time you looked up at it, there was less time than there was before.

I think it is helpful to imagine your life on earth as having a clock like that. A clock counting down the minutes until you stand before God on judgment day.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Now, if you live until you are eighty, you have something like 42 million minutes on the clock the moment you are born. For me, that would mean if I were looking up at that clock right now, there would only be something like 22 million minutes left. Though of course the average life span in RSA is a lot less than 80 years, it is more like 50 and that would mean I only have 683 thousand minutes left.

Which sounds like a lot I know, but it feels like a lot less when you look up at that imaginary countdown clock I was speaking to you about and you start to see minute after minute, falling off, gone for good.

And the fact is whether you like it or not, that is actually the reality, we don’t have that clock on our wall at home, but you do only have so many minutes in this body, on this earth, and that is a reality that should make a difference in the way you live your life.

Especially because, as Paul says here, the days are evil.

Now can I tell you what is so crazy? Many of us we use the fact that the days are evil as an excuse for wasting our time. We look at the people doing wicked things and we think, well what does God expect of me, in a world like this? That is the exact opposite of the way we should think.

A doctor when he is on holiday and there is no one around who is sick, you know what, he can afford to waste his time. He can sit on his chair at the beach and just watch the ocean. But that same doctor when he is at the hospital and there are sick people dying all around him, he can’t just sit there and waste time. Can you imagine if you found a doctor in the emergency room sleeping as someone was lying there on the cot in front of him needing to be operated on immediately and you wake this doctor up and you say, hey, man, what are you doing? And he says to you, ahh, I figured I might as well go to sleep because there are so many sick people all around. No. The fact that there are so many sick people all around is more of a reason for you to get to work because you are a doctor, and the fact that this world is evil and there are so many people who are rebelling against God all around is more of a reason for us as believers to be careful and wise about the way we use our time.

Are you?

Many people, even many Christians, aren’t.

Some people spend most of their lives totally ignoring the fact that their life here on earth is short. I wonder about you. Do you ever wake up and think, I am one day closer to standing before God. Did you ever look at your life and say, I only have so much time, how I am going to use it? Are you just letting your life happen to you, drifting along, or are you carefully and deliberately using your life and the moments you have been for God’s purpose.

I want to stress God’s purpose, because there is another unwise way of looking at time; there are people, many people who know life is short and they have decided to use the time they have to pursue their own pleasures. They know they don’t have much time, so they deliberately waste their lives and the moments they have on themselves.

That is so foolish too, because the breath you have and the time you have been given is God’s not yours, and the decisions you make here have an impact on your eternal future. This is something Paul himself has told us back in Ephesians 5:5 where he says, “For you may be sure of this that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or who is covetous that is an idolater has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” The person who spends his life on the pursuit of sinful, temporary desires purchases for himself eternal wrath. That is crazy!

I imagine someone who was offered a second, a moment, of sort of pleasure, not real pleasure certainly but a second of mixed pleasure, but the cost he had to pay for that moment of pleasure would be a year of intense pain? You would say you would have to be a fool to pay that price, and yet that is the way many people are with their lives.

The fact that your life is short here means you should focus more on the life to come, but for many people, they do the exact opposite, the fact their life is short causes them to focus less on the life to come, and that is not wise.

A man named Francis Chan, he’s a preacher in the United States, he gives an illustration I just love. He says imagine a string that starts here and then goes on and on and on and on and on from here and has no end. That’s the whole of your life. Your now and your future after death. Now on that string, your life now, it equals about not even an inch, a centimeter maybe of the string, that how much it takes up in comparison to the rest and yet, there are many people who are consumed with that centimeter and the fact that their life is going on for so much longer after they die makes no impact on the way they are using their time now.

How about you?

No seriously. How about you?

What Paul is telling us here, is that as believers in the gospel, we need to stop and reflect, whether or not we are using the time God’s given us in a way that matches up with the realities we profess to believe and embrace in the gospel. If we really believe that we are living for a moment in an evil age, after which we are going to stand before God and be held accountable for the way in which we live now, then it MUST impact the way we use our time. We MUST attempt to make the best use of the moments we have here for the gospel’s sake.

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