Ephesians 5:15-21

by Eric Ryan, Pastor of Leadership Development
Hey Wildwood family!

These last few weeks, I have been writing the devotion simply from my own time in the Word via a reading plan I'm following. I want you to see that in many ways, pastors aren’t some kind of special Christians but are also called to read the Word, listen and apply it while becoming more and more of what we are meant to be in Jesus Christ. It’s also my hope to take you along with me as I process what these last few months have carried with them. 

Last night, I watched the movie Just Mercy with Julianna. While it was an incredibly thought-provoking movie, it left me with a lot of questions that I don’t have answers to. I processed some of my questions with Julianna, but in the end, we were both left without answers. I hate that. I like having answers, and I pride myself on knowing what to do next, but I don’t this go around, and, well, that stinks. 

I share that only so you know what was leading into my time in the Word this morning. We should never let our circumstances dictate the interpretation of the text, but it is wise to allow it to inform our application. After all, God loves us, and as His children, desires to speak into our lives. 

Here are a few verses that stuck out to me in Ephesians chapter 5:

  • “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” v. 9-10 

  • “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  v. 11

  • “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  v. 15-16

  • “...submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” v.21

Paul is listing here what it looks like for a Christian to strive to be an “imitator of God” (5:1). There is a lot here. If you just read chapters 4-6 in isolation, it will feel like a giant weight of standards, but don’t read them in isolation of 1-3 and the gospel presented there. Paul is charging us, knowing we have the Spirit to lead, guide, and empower us, and he is not charging us to earn anything, but rather to live free by walking in the Spirit. Chapters 5 and 6 are what this looks like. 

Listed below are my thoughts on applying this passage. I hope they are useful for you as you also try to navigate our world:

  1. The gospel work in my life is founded on a new relationship with God. My aim is still a person, not a list of “to-do’s.” How can I respond in a way that is pleasing to God? 

  1. It’s not enough to not participate in racism or profiling. Exposing darkness with the light of Christ is the goal. I was challenged by someone’s remarks on social media when they asked, “Do I see all these events as right vs. left, or am I processing them as light vs. darkness?” As a Christian, where is God wanting me to expose the darkness?

  1. The charge Paul is giving in the remainder of Ephesians is to examine my own life and not the lives of others. He doesn’t charge me to worry about others imitating God, to examine my neighbor’s life, or my fellow church members' lives. He expects me to look carefully at how I'm walking. I confess I have spent the majority of my thinking time this week examining how other leaders are responding. How are other pastors responding, and what do I think of it? Did I hear what they said?

I haven't spent nearly enough time examining how I'm walking. Is all that thinking the best use of my time? What if I found some men to help me examine more closely the way I'm walking? 

With the current circumstances, what if I found someone of a different race and ethnicity to speak into how I'm “walking?” What if I decide to make an effort in reading some books that may offer me a chance to hear from other brothers and sisters in Christ who grew up very differently than me?

  1. What do I think “submitting to one another” looks like? At the very least, I think it implies that there will be times when I need to lay down my opinions and submit to my brother’s and sister’s opinions, even if it’s not my favorite (assuming it doesn’t go against God). There are times, out of reverence for Christ, I need to submit to others even if I don’t understand it or agree. Is this one of those times?

This is not a sermon that is based on hours of careful exegesis, but knowing the overall outline of Ephesians helps prevent legalistic responses.

I’m praying the Lord will help me spend more time listening and not feel false pressure as a pastor to speak into everything. I’m praying the Lord will show me when I need to submit in reverence to Christ, even if I don’t see everything super clearly. 

I hope you all have a great week! 
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Barbara Haegele - June 18th, 2020 at 7:27pm

I’m really enjoying these posts. They give me things to think about my life.

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