So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Ephesians 5: 15-20 (NLT)
In the fifth chapter of Paul's letter to the Church at Ephesus we find a small section subtitled, "Living by the Spirit's Power." If there is anything that would enhance our lives, empower our walk with God, and strengthen our faith to do the work of God it would be learning to live according to the Spirit's power that resides within us. That small section of Scripture is found above and are our key verses for today. Five verses for us to consider this Thanksgiving Day. More importantly, five verses for us to carry beyond Thanksgiving Day to invigorate our lives. Five verses from God to us today.
The first point we see is God imploring us to be careful how we live. The dictionary defines careful as performing with accuracy and caution. The sad truth is that too often we can be quite careless or carefree with our own lives. When we are careless with our lives we are not being accurate in how we live, knowing already how God has outlined our lives to be. When we are carefree with our lives we are not being cautious in how we live. Careless is a matter of disobedience where carefree is more a case of being sloppy. When King David sees Bathsheba, is told she is married to one of his soldiers and he decides anyway to commit adultery he was being careless with his life. The rich fool who decides to build bigger barns instead of consulting God was living a carefree life. When God charged Joshua with taking over for Moses, here was His instruction to him:
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. - Joshua 1: 7 (NLT)
Be careful to obey all of the instructions from the Lord. Do not deviate to the left or the right. Too often we adhere to what we find easy and bend the rest of the Word to our will, deviating to the left or right to suit our sin pre-dispositions. The problem sometimes is that we have been conditioned to view the instructions of God in a negative light; as a series of rules we better not break. The reality is that God gives us these instructions for our own good because deviating to the right or the left carries consequences in our lives. David for example lost his kingdom and two children because of his adultery. When we deviate from what God intends for our lives we diminish the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Remember, the Bible often describes the battle we are in as being spiritual in nature. When we deviate from God; when we are careless or carefree in our walks, we are lending power to the evil powers and authorities of this world. Specifically, God outlines the difference for us in the key verses. To live with caution and is to live wisely and to live our faith sloppily is to live like a fool. This language is often repeated throughout the Bible:
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. - Proverbs 28: 26 (ESV)
This short proverb really breaks it down for us. God has already told us how to manage every facet of our lives. When we are wise, we obey. When we start to lean to our own logic or the world's understanding we are indeed being a fool. We are indeed being careless and carefree.
God continues for us in the key verses by explaining the process for being wise or foolish. The fool acts thoughtlessly but the wise understands what the Lord wants him to do. What does this mean for us today? It means we are supposed to think before we act. Specifically, we are supposed to think about what the Lord wants before we act. A seventeen year old Joseph was being seduced by the wife of his master, Potiphar, but Joseph was not thoughtless and reflected to God: