By Dr. Michael A. Milton, Crosswalk.com
Walk in Wisdom
By Michael A. Milton, PhD
Our text is Ephesians 5:15-21. This is the third in a series entitled Walk this Way.
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
It is elementary to say this, but it is critical. If one desires to arrive at the right destination, one must know the right route. A pilot needs a flight plan. An acrobatic high-wire walker needs practice and total attention. I use the latter example because the Apostle Paul uses a word (ἀκριβῶς, “akribos”) that in ancient Greek referred to the accuracy of archers. “Akribos” is an ancient Greek word from which we get our word acrobat. Paul says you are to walk—in the English—“circumspectly,” i.e., carefully, precisely. We are to walk after Christ with the skill of an acrobat. Such learned and practiced agility in walking is how we arrive at God’s destination for us. Just as St. Paul was calling the Ephesians to walk wisely, so God is calling us. How do we walk in wisdom?
We walk wisely when we redeem the time (v. 16).
It is most important that we understand what God desires of His people. To walk wisely, we should recognize that time is a limited commodity. Everyone has a beginning time and an end (either by death or Christ’s second coming). God calls us to redeem that time. This means to examine the hours and days, and years the Lord has given us and ask ourselves, “Are we using time for all its worth?”
We walk wisely when we receive the Word of God (17).
In verse 17, Paul calls the Ephesians to understand the will of God. This requires not only reading the Word but going deeper. I always recall the collect (“ko-lekt,” a gathering prayer) of Thomas Cranmer in the Book of Common Prayer (1549, 2009 version):
BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen (The Book of Common Prayer. The Anglican Church in America, 2019).
To read well, we should adapt Cranmer’s method to our own: listen, read, annotate, memorize, and inwardly apply the Word through prayer (check out Dr. David Bain's paper, 'Read, Mark, Learn, and Inwardly Digest')
We walk wisely when we rejoice in the Holy Spirit (18-20).
Paul compares rejoicing in the Holy Spirit and being drunk with wine which he says is “dissipation.” This speaks to “decadent wastefulness.” Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit—pursue a life with God by opening yourself to Him through Word, Sacrament, and Prayer. Don’t allow yourself to be under any other influence but the Lord.
We walk wisely when we relate to others in humility (21).
Paul calls us to submit to one another out of respect for the Lord. To “submit” is humble one’s self. Thus, Paul is calling the Ephesians to humble themselves before each other. Pride leads to acrimony and, ultimately, division. Humility before others brings peace and unity. So, how do we submit to one another out of respect for Christ? The answer is to imitate our Lord Jesus as He submitted to the cross. To “walk like this way,” we must follow the One who walked the path of atonement for us.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
To walk like this requires following Jesus Christ. We can follow Him through Christian meditation.
The word “meditation” can conjure images of a near-naked Eastern mystic in a lotus position, humming an unintelligible chant through a suffocating cloud of incense. There is, indeed, a vast difference between Eastern meditation and Christian meditation. In Eastern religions, meditation is a mindless exercise designed to bring about peace through emptiness. In Christian meditation, we exercise our minds and hearts seeking fullness—the overflowing presence of the Lord Jesus. A life of Christian meditation conditions us for the long walk, to walk from where we are to where we are going: our home with Christ.
- I recommend you consider reading the first five books of the Bible, isolating the word “walk.” You can do so by going to BibleStudyTools.com. Type the word “walk” in the search bar. Then, focus on the occurrence of the word in the first five books of the Bible.
- My second recommendation is also from BibleStudyTools.com. This time, enter the article title, “Enoch in the Bible.” In this article by the Crosswalk staff, you will learn about the man who walked with God so carefully that he walked into heaven.
- Thirdly, and finally, I want to humbly recommend a book that I wrote, Songs in the Night: How God Transforms Our Pain to Praise (Faith for Living, a 501(c)(3) receives any income). Songs in the Night is available in print, audio (released by Audible), or e-pub (like Kindle). I trust it will be of encouragement to you.
The Lord bless you and keep you now and forevermore. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/SanderStock
Michael A. Milton (PhD, Wales) is a long-time Presbyterian minister (PCA) and a regular contributor to Salem Web Network. In addition to founding three churches, and the call as Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Dr. Milton is a retired Army Chaplain (Colonel). He is the recipient of the Legion of Merit. Milton has also served as chancellor and president of seminaries and is the author of more than thirty books. He has composed and performed original music for five albums. He and his wife, Mae, reside in Western North Carolina. His most recent book is a second edition release: Hit by Friendly Fire: What to do when Another Believer Hurts You (Resource Publications, 2022). To learn more visit and subscribe: https://michaelmilton.org/about/.