How to Live Wisely
Is the recent news causing you one to wonder, "How do I then live?" To this question, Ephesians 5:15-21 says:
"Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise . . ." (v.15).
In walking or living wisely, you need to live with God’s time, way and strength.
First, you need to live with God’s time – "making the most of your time…" Paul explains the reason for this: "… because the days are evil."
In 1979, after I got assured that I was going to heaven, I decided that I will serve God full-time. I did not immediately pursue it thinking that I needed to first support my sister’s schooling until 1990. However, in August 21, 1983, Senator Benigno Aquino got killed. Then, the political situation in our country got tense. It came upon me that if I allow my sister to finish her schooling first, our country may not be free anymore. So to make the most of my time, I decided to apply for full-time Christian work with Campus Crusade for Christ. The following year, I was not accepted. It was not yet God’s time. But the important thing is that I applied for that work thinking it was God’s timing for me to do so.
How is it with you? Are you living with God’s time? Has the Lord told you to do something? Are you like David who said, "I hastened and did not delay to keep Thy commandments." (Ps 119:60)… Is God asking you to wait? Obey Him, for "he who makes haste with his feet errs." (Pr 19:2).
Not only do you need to live in God’s time, you also need to live in God’s way: "So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." It is God’s will "for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). That’s why He is patient toward Christians (1:1), and waits for them to share the good news which tells of "the kindness of God which leads to repentance" (Romans 2:4).
Friend, if you happen to read this article and are not yet sure that you are going to heaven, I urge you to repent now – change your mind: Instead of trusting yourself to save yourself from the wages of your sin which is death or spiritual separation from God, believe in Jesus. He is the God who became a man and died on the cross for your sins and rose again on the third day, proving that He is the only way by which you can be saved. If you are now convinced that He has saved you already, it is God’s will for you to share Christ to others. He is patiently waiting for you to share Christ to them. That’s why He has not come yet.
For you to know His will further, you should dedicate yourself to God. Paul says, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable or spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what the will of the God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
When I was not accepted for full-time Christian work, I sought to understand what God’s will was. Since I had known then that I was controlled by the Holy Spirit, I had a sound mind like Paul and Timothy (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). So I weighed the different options I then had in view of some criteria: Christ’s expressed will that I be involved in making disciples; what the Bible says about it, the advice of mature Christians who know me and the situation; providential circumstances and what I believe to be the Holy Spirit’s impression as I pray. I then knew that it was God’s will for me to continue working as a Civil Engineer with MWSS in that year and reapply for Christian work the following year.
You need to live wisely not only in God’s time and way but also by God’s strength: "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit," Paul here contrasts two things, getting drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit. When a person is drunk with wine, what controls and empowers him? Wine. When a person is filled with the Spirit, what controls and empowers him? The Holy Spirit. A person filled with the Spirit is then controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. He lives by God’s strength. This is evident in His speech, attitude and actions:
A person living by God’s strength speaks as God would. We can detect a person drunk with wine in the way he speaks. Normally, it is foul. But a person filled with the Spirit is "speaking to one another" – to fellow saints (1:1) – "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" – in words in agreement with the Bible. Yes, a Spirit-filled Christian speaks to fellow-Christians with words in agreement with the Bible.
During my first application for full-time Christian work, one Christian asked me, "When will you tell your parents about your decision to be a full-time?" I replied, "On the day I am about to live." That answer was not in agreement with the Bible which says that I am to honor my parents. The Christian to whom I talked with was a member of that Christian group’s personnel department. That’s one of the reasons why I was not accepted in my first application for full-time Christian work.
How is it with you? Do you speak with words in agreement with the Bible? A man speaks from the abundance of the heart. Does the way you speak show that you have been spending much time with the Bible? or, with the television set? or, with someone you love?
Those who are drunk with wine sometimes sing. "Sta. Clara, pinong-pino/ Kami po ay bigyan n’yo/ Ng asawang labing-tatlo…" (St. Claire, O most pure/ Give us/ Thirteen wives…"), so goes one song that drunkards in the Philippines have sung.
Those who walk in God’s strength also sing – "singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord". In the Bible, the heart represents all that the person is. So, to sing with your heart is to sing with all that you are – what you are because you are God’s. You are to sing not to perform, not to men but to God.
Many years ago, a great Presbyterian evangelist was in a meeting. Instead of speaking, he sang a song which he wrote prior to the meeting. Here are the lyrics: "Spirit of the living God / Fall afresh on me. / Spirit of the living God / Fall afresh on me. /
Melt me, / Mold me, / Fill me, / Use me. / Spirit of the living God / Fall afresh on me." After singing that song, a great revival broke out. God used that song to touch the lives of many. Do you know why? Because he sang that song with all that he is to the Lord.
How was your singing during our praise and worship time? Did you sing to impress your seatmate? or, you sang to the Lord out of your experience with Him?
Those who are drunk have a certain attitude – "I drank because she rejected my love." Those who are living by God’s strength also have a certain attitude -they are "always giving thanks" (v. 20). Yes, they give thanks always – at all times. They give thanks not just for pleasant experiences, but also "for all things" even for unpleasant ones. Why? "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". The name of a person in the Bible tells of what kind of a person He is. For example, an angel told Joseph, "you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21). Therefore, we are to give thanks even for unpleasant experiences because of all that Jesus is to us – because He has saved us. And because He is our Savior, we know that the promise that "God cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:28-29) is applicable to us. That’s why we are commanded "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Since it is God who causes all things to work together for good, we are to give thanks "to God, even the Father".
When I was not accepted during my first application for full-time Christian work, I did not understand why but in obedience to God, I gave thanks. That year, I became closer to my parents. In the professional ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, we used to have a weekly meeting which was evangelistic in nature. But less than 10% of those who had been coming are non-Christians. Seeing that we were not reaching our goal, we redesigned the meetings for Christians and instead started to go to the offices to reach non-Christians. I led that mobile evangelistic thrust and at least 5 of us are now in full-time Christian work partly because of God’s work in those efforts. I was transferred to Manila and became the professional coordinator of the effort to revive the ministry among professionals in that place. I also became an elder in our church at that time when the constitution was revised. I also became a member of the ordaining council when one pastor was ordained. In this church involvement, I learned much. I was able to teach two of my disciples how to do expository preaching. All these things happened in the year after I was not accepted for full-time work. God withheld what I thought was the best to give me what was really best. Yes, "no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11).
Have you thanked God for an unpleasant experience you had? when a loved one died? when you were abused? when your loved one did not respond to your love? when you did not get the position you wanted? when you failed an exam? Do you believe that God causes them to work together for your good? Then thank Him!
Those who are drunk want to lord it over. But a person who is living by God’s strength is different – "and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (v.21). He submits to fellow Christians – whether they be his leaders, followers or peers. He does this "in the fear of Christ" – out of reverence for Christ (NIV translation), as if he were obeying Christ Himself.
When I was working as a Civil Engineer, I had a discipler who occasionally asked me to do certain things. I obeyed him. At other times, I would ask him to do me a favor, and he would follow me. I also had a disciple. I used to request him to do certain things for me, and he would gladly follow. But at other times, he would get even and command me with a big smile. I had no choice but to follow him. I also ask favor from other professionals, and they would do them. They also did the same for me.
Now, let me ask you this question, "Are you walking by God’s strength? Are you filled with the Spirit? Are you controlled and empowered by Him? Do you speak to fellow Christians with words in agreement with the Bible? Do you sing with all that you are to God? Do you give thanks at all times even for unpleasant experiences? Do you submit to other Christians as if it were Christ who is commanding you? If your answer to these questions is "yes", I encourage you, excel still more! But if not, you are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
Do you earnestly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? If so, you are blessed, for you shall be filled (Matthew 5:6). You can now be filled with the Holy Spirit. For in verse 18, you are commanded "be filled with the Spirit." It is therefore God’s will that you be filled with the Spirit. "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." (1 John 5:14-15). So, if you ask God to fill you with the Spirit, will He fill you? Certainly, he will, for He cannot lie. You may pray the following prayer:
"Father, fill me with the Holy Spirit. Thank you that I am now filled because this is according to Your will."
After you are filled with the Holy Spirit, a time may come that you will no longer be filled. That is normal. For even the first century disciples were recorded in Acts to be filled with the Holy Spirit more than once. When you know that you are no longer filled with the Holy Spirit, ask God to again fill you. His command is "be filled". It is in the present tense – "be constantly filled".
In summary then, to live wisely, live with God’s time, way and strength. To remember this, when you wake up tomorrow, associate how you live physically with how you do it spiritually. When you take your breakfast, you do it to have strength. In the same way, you live with God’s strength. Spend some time with the word and prayer. When you go to your office or school, you must follow the traffic signs, you need to follow the right time to cross the street. Otherwise you will be in danger. In the same way, you need to live with God’s time. Toward where you want to go, you should follow certain directions. In the same way, you need to follow God’s way.
(Revised on October 2, 1995.)