February 10th 2019 – Ephesians 5:15-21

"15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Ephesians 5:15-21

We come in these verses to the third of Paul's injunctions about the Christian walk, to walk circumspectly. The modern versions render the verse 'Be careful how you live, not as unwise, but wise' (NIV and RSV). Whatever the rendering, the thrust is much the same and, in Colossians, the parallel epistle to Ephesians, Paul says, 'Walk in wisdom toward them that are without'. This third exhortation requires to be 'read back', as it were, into the other two, 'walking in love', and 'walking in the light' - just as both require to be 'read into' the third exhortation. When we say, however, that we need to read wisdom and circumspection into our loving, this does not, of course, mean that love has to be limited in any calculating way, for it is in the nature of real love to be wholehearted and even 'prodigal' in its expression. God's love went all the way to Calvary for us. All the same, there is a strength in true love that makes it a very awesome thing, on occasion, and there is nothing of the merely sentimental about it. One does not easily forget what the great Scottish theologian, P.T. Forsyth, once said about the divine love, that 'God is strong enough to resist pity until grief has done its gracious work even in His Son'. That surely puts a certain construction on divine love: it is something that is strong, fierce, inexorable on occasion, and never to be trifled with. C.S. Lewis captures this very trenchantly in what he says in The Problem of Pain about the difference between a Father in Heaven and a grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might truly be said at the end of each day, 'A good time was had by all' ... And he adds, 'It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes ... God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense'.