(Ephesians 5:15) “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,”
Recently we were driving on the interstate and I noticed a large strip of metal lying in my lane. I swerved to miss it because I was concerned it would ruin my tires (and my day) if I ran over it. It could be said I was driving “circumspectly.” Merriam Webster’s defines this word to mean, “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences.” In my case, I was carefully considering how much money it was going to cost me to fix at least one flat tire!
Every day we analyze data to figure out the best choices to make. How much time have you spent online this month trying to figure out the best price you can get on Christmas gifts? We are accustomed to having access to information that we would have thought ridiculous five years ago. Based on the data, we make decisions that we consider best. Important decisions demand careful consideration. That’s why Best Buy has a shopper’s comparison tool online (at least for decisions that I might consider important).
The Lord gives us tons of data in his Word to help make the best decisions. In many places He tells us the end result of bad decisions and the blessing of making the right decision. For example, we know from Galatians 6:7, “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” We know from the Bible where pride, sexual immorality, idolatry and uncontrolled anger all lead. We also know the results when we decide to accept Christ, live under grace and find our motivation to serve based in love. This is called wisdom. Wisdom is when you know the consequences of your decisions ahead of time and choose the one that leads to the best outcome.
The problem we have is not the data in front of us but choosing the right source of the data for making the right decision. We have so much thrown at us through television, music, movies, books and our environment. We are immersed in information. But most of it points us to choices aligned with the world system. Ultimately, we have to decide which source we will choose to believe. God’s Word tells us what obstacles are lying in the road ahead of us. God’s Word tells us how to avoid the danger. God’s Word tells us how to live aligned with His system. We would never intentionally run over a strip of metal knowing it would ruin our tires or damage our car. Why would we make decisions knowing the consequences would ruin our life or the lives or others around us – especially those we love? Walking circumspectly is an everyday choice you and I must make individually to live a life that demonstrates the Light within us.
Renewed Thought – Grace gives us the choice we never had before – to live carefully considering the consequences of our spiritual decisions.
(Ephesians 5:10) “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”
Am I living in the reality of the presence of Christ? This is a question that bothers me because too often I find myself caught up in the reality of the presence of me. Outwardly, we may appear to be obedient to God but inwardly, what is driving us? Is it merely habitual that we do the right thing or is there a motivation and purpose behind what we do? We are supposed to be “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) living (walking) in a way that demonstrates the life of God inside of us. But outward appearances don’t necessarily mean there is a conscious or conscientious intent in actions. Yes, this is a question that bothers me the more I think about it.
If we are living in the reality of the presence of Christ, living consistently with our identity in Him, then life should be a journey of discovery. “Proving” means to “to test, examine, prove, scrutinize.” In other words, living is a constant exercise in seeking out what pleases the Lord. This brings me back to the original point as I examine myself – in every decision are my thoughts so captivated with Christ that I am looking for the choice that pleases Him? Am I concerned with what is well-pleasing (acceptable) to Him? As I interact with people, am I occupied with His presence as much as theirs?
For many of us, the longer we are saved, we habitually do right and avoid wrong – for the most part. But does that really make the right things we do righteous or have we become beings living on autopilot? I want to live in the conscious presence and reality of Christ and I’m sure you do as well. The challenge is living in a world system that swallows up that desire and ultimately our awareness of Him. This is how we know there is a desperate need in each one of us for a moment by moment awareness of Christ in us. This is also how we know we need His Word, His Spirit, and His Church.
Renewed Mind – Walking as a child of God is more than what meets the eye. It involves intent as much as content.
(Ephesians 5:9) “(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”
Have you ever heard the expression, “Living the good life?” What does this usually mean? In commercials during football games it usually means kicking back with a group of friends, popping open a cold one, and having a party. In Florida, we see advertisements of retirement communities where seniors can play golf, hang out with friends and enjoy nice walks on the beach. It’s evident that a “good life” means different things to different people. In these cases, “good” equals “fun.” But in the bigger scheme of things, can we really know the life we are living is “good” in the eyes of God. Who defines what is truly “good” and whether we are living a life that is good? How does this relate to our life in Christ?
In this parenthesis, we find the connection between our identity and our walk. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit places us into the Church, the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians12:13). We become saints not by virtue of what we’ve done but by virtue of who we are. But we are not left to walk in our own power to fulfill our identity. The Holy Spirit indwells us for the purpose of living a life under the power of God.
Our conscience is designed to recognize goodness, righteousness and truth. Unfortunately, we live in a world system that will question, violate and eventually sear the conscience. All three of these are not regarded as absolutes but are judged as relative attributes. By defining these virtues in a relative sense, any real definition is lost and it becomes impossible to recognize what is good, righteous or true. All of it becomes subjective and therefore our lives are defined by self. The only way to live according to a standard higher than self, according to a moral conscience that is consistent with a Higher Authority, is to abandon the relative and cling to the absolute. The only way to understand and live in the absolute is to have a source and authority outside of self. This is what allows us to live consistently according to the faith we hold and Christ we proclaim. For the believer, the Holy Spirit is the connection between our identity and our walk. Any virtue produced in our lives after salvation are to the glory of God because He is the One producing it.
Renewed Thought – “As Christians grow in holy living, they sense their own inherent moral weakness and rejoice that whatever virtue they possess flourishes as the fruit of the Spirit.” – D.A. Carson