15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the great things about this passage, and much of scripture, is that it doesn’t just tell you what not to do, it tells you what to do instead. I once heard someone use this analogy to help children understand how practical the Bible is: If someone told you not to think of a giraffe, what is the first thing that comes into your head? Chances are, it’s a giraffe! But if someone told you, don’t think of a giraffe, think of an elephant instead, you are much more likely to forget the giraffe and focus on the elephant.
While quite simple, this illustration shows how much easier it can be to avoid something when you are presented with another choice.
This passage is a great example of this. With each instruction, Paul doesn’t just write what the Ephesians should avoid, he directs them towards the better choice. This encourages the Ephesians (and all who should read it) to live wisely, understand the Lord’s will and be full of the Spirit, always giving thanks to God.
For me, this is a helpful way of reading this passage, and the Bible in general. Some people see the Bible as a list of rules, things you shouldn’t do, but really it is a book full of practical wisdom that provides us with good ways to live and encourages us to make positive choices.
Thank you, God, that you provide us with your word through the Bible. Please help us to heed the wisdom you give us, that we may make decisions that honour you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko