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)
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.