Jump Start # 2792
Ephesians 5:17 “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
I was driving the other day down a major highway. The speed limit was 70 and I was there. A motorcycle came zooming by me and then in the lane I was in, he popped a wheeling, going at least 80 MPH. My first thought was, he’s going to fall and I’m going to run over him. And, that brought this verse to my mind, “do not be foolish.”
There are three words that in some ways may look the same in the outcome, but what is behind them are so different in their purpose and motive. The words are foolish, risky and dangerous. All three words involve some courage. And, in all there the outcomes could be fatal.
Risk: Leaving the house involves some risks. Driving down the road involves some risks. But for most of us, we try to do it as safely as we can by having a car that is safe, and wearing seat belts and being careful how we drive. It took risks for our forefathers to get in wooden ships and sail across the ocean to come to America. It took a lot of risks for the apostles to go into all the world to preach. Life is fragile, precious and accidents and injuries can happen. Things break. Others are not careful. Life has risks to it.
Dangerous: There are aspects of life that are dangerous. Getting out and being around people in a season of pandemic can be dangerous. There are precautions one can take to make himself as safe as possible. It was dangerous for those apostles to go into pagan communities and preach the Gospel of Christ. Paul’s life especially illustrates that by listing the troubles he suffered. Shipwrecked, in prison, beaten, stoned, hungry, and often in danger—the path he followed was not easy.
Often the risk and the danger go together. It was with great risk and danger that we shot men into space and they came back. War is risky and dangerous. Confrontation can be risky and dangerous. Starting a new business can be risky and dangerous.
Then there is foolish. Foolish is often showing off. Foolish is not appreciating how precious and fragile life can be. Foolish has no real purpose other than drawing attention to self. I wonder if young people see life as a video game. The way some drive, the way some live so recklessly, if they fail or get injured, or even killed, there is no do-over button. One doesn’t get multiple lives as in a video game. The downside of foolishness can cripple or even end life. And, then, that’s it. A person only gets one walk through this world. If one messes up, he doesn’t get to do it over again.
Our verse today is not about doing wheelies down a highway. It does however have to do with our walk in life. Paul sets forth a series of valuable and linking principles:
- Be careful how you walk (15)
- Don’t be unwise (15)
- Make the most of your time (16)
- Don’t be foolish (17)
- Understand the will of the Lord (17)
- Don’t get drunk (18)
- Be filled with the Spirit (18)
The apostle is setting forth a path that God’s people were to follow. This was not a walk in the dark. They were not to figure things out as they went along. Thoughtful. Careful. Considerate. Understanding. Those are the concepts that these verses are built upon. The child of God knows what God expects. When he comes to an intersection in life, he knows which way the Lord would want him to go. His walk is one of understanding and fulfilling the will of the Lord.
Does such a walk involve risks and dangers? It does. Many of the first people who heard the words of Paul would later be persecuted and suffer severely. Many lost their lives because of what they believed. Were they foolish? No. They knew and they understood. Was it risky? Yes.
And, all of that brings us to where we are today. There is a difference between following the Lord which can be risky and dangerous and being foolish and careless. God’s call for us to preach the word involves risks. We preachers understand that. There is no such thing as job security in the realm of preaching. History has shown that. A change in the thinking of the leadership and the preacher could be tossed out for no other reason than folks don’t want to hear that kind of preaching any more. That’s a risk. Either, preach nice soft lessons that will keep your job and make people like you, or preach the truth. This isn’t a call to be rude, foolish or mean, but it is a call to speak as the Bible is written.
It’s risky to stand up for the Lord. Friendships can be lost. Family may not include you. People may not want to be around you. So, you are faced with keeping your mouth closed or encouraging right. Again, this is not justifying being “in-your-face” ugly towards others, but it is a reminder that we must not hide in fear because some may not like what we say. There are risks. There are dangers. That comes with our walk with the Lord. Peter talked about the fiery trials they would endure.
Risks. Dangers. Foolishness. They may look the same from the outside, but they are not from the inside. We must not let fear lead us to hiding our light and influence. We must not let the fear of consequences cause us to bow down to the idols of today. Jesus reminds us that the world loves darkness over the light. As long as we are walking in the Light, the Lord will be pleased but the world will not. Risks. Dangers. But to be foolish is to draw attention to oneself and to not be serous about our walk with the Lord.
We are to be wise in the Lord.