Not Foolish, But Wise

Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord. And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. ~Ephesians 5:15-20 (NABRE)

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In the 1990’s it became popular to ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” I didn’t attend church at that time, but even I was aware of this statement being all over the place. This is essentially what Paul is asking us to think about today. What Would Jesus Do? Have you ever found yourself asking this while trying to sort out a situation? Has this phrased popped into your head when you’ve become angry at somebody and wanted to take revenge? Perhaps it should.

Paul tells us to, “Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” There are so many thoughts running through my mind regarding this statement, but I keep landing back at the conversation I had with a former coworker who was going to be taking over my position when I left the company. She was a bit grumpy because the raise she had been promised had not been processed. From what she said, I understood that she was not going to do anything extra, and especially not anything that involved my job, until she saw the raise. This kind of attitude is a bit shocking to me because no matter what is going on, I always feel that I need to give my best effort and that I will be rewarded for it later. That has really worked out for me and I tried to impart this wisdom to her. She is young and hasn’t had a lot of experience in the “real world”, so she was looking at it from the perspective that this had been promised to her because she had agreed to undertake more responsibility, so if the raise wasn’t there then she wasn’t going to do the extra work.

I feel like this attitude is taking a strong hold in our society today. The reward must come first before the work will get done. The younger generation doesn’t seem to understand that they aren’t being rewarded for walking through their employer’s doors; they are supposed to earn the money they are paid. Can you imagine if we applied that thinking to getting into heaven? “Sorry, Jesus, but unless you guarantee me that I’m going to make it to the pearly gates, I’m not feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. Why should I go through all of that effort and work just to be rejected in the end? It wouldn’t be worth it!”

Maybe there needs to be more of us willing to model this type of behavior for those who have never been taught to think in this way. Sometimes all it takes is one person to act in a positive way and it influences others who are just observing. An insurance company, or a bank or something, had a commercial a few years ago where one person did a good thing like picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, another person watched them do this and when she was on the bus she stood up and gave her seat to an elderly person, another person on the bus saw this and he was the one who then did a nice thing for somebody else… etc. If enough of us act as Jesus would act, then it wouldn’t matter how evil the days were because we would all have each other to link arms with and fight against those evils.

I challenge you to go out and live wisely. Live as Jesus wants us to live, loving one another as he loves us. And when you lay your head down on your pillow at night thank him for another succesful day of battling the evils with kindness and love. We can only do it with his help and the guide of the Holy Spirit. The love of God and having him by our side will be our reward.

“Deliver us from evil…”

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

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Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:10-17 (NABRE)

When I look around at the insanity that seems to be taking over the world I just can’t understand it. How did we get here? At a base level I like to think that people are basically good. If they are good, then why is there so much hatred, ugliness and turmoil? The very people who are screaming about tolerance are the first ones to try to bully you into compliance. What happened to them? Why do they act like this?

Is it possible that when we started removing God from our schools, our government and our daily lives that we opened up a giant door for the devil to enter? When we removed the shame and stigma from certain behaviors it’s almost as if we were silently saying that they are actually okay to do. Can you hear the door opening even more? At this point I think that we’ve actually ripped the door off and enlarged the hole for the devil to come through.

A few years ago I actually stopped listening to mainstream country music. I grew up listening to George Strait, Diamond Rio, Garth Brooks, etc. After I started attending church regularly and reading God’s word I realized that I no longer wanted to internalize the kinds of lyrics I was hearing on the radio. Most of the songs celebrated drinking, partying, and just having “fun.” That wasn’t what I wanted to listen to anymore. I have to say that I really don’t miss it.

Respect. Love. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Why don’t people follow this anymore? As I’m typing this post it’s 10 pm and I should really be heading to bed because I have to work in the morning. However, there is a person about a block away who is setting off full size fireworks. I can feel the concussion of them before I hear the bang. Why? Where is the respect for their neighbors who are trying to sleep? I should have been fast asleep by now and would NOT have been happy being woken up by their stupid fireworks. I’m trying not to get angry because that’s when you give evil more power. However, I know the person setting off the fireworks is NOT going to listen to reason and realize that they are being an idiot.

Instead, I need to put on the armor of God. I need to stand firm in the Truth. I need to gird my heart from the evil thoughts of punching the fireworks person in the face. I need to find the love in my heart for my fellow man. I just wish that the armor of God included ear plugs of Peace.

Dear Lord, the world is crazy. There are days when I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep going when everything is hitting me in the heart. How can I love others when they make themselves so unlovable? Please help me keep your words on my lips and in my heart. Let me see others through your eyes. And Lord, when all else fails, please dampen their fireworks so that my neighborhood can have one peaceful night this summer. Amen.