Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Be smart, take advantage of your opportunities, don’t be an idiot, don’t drink too much… Paul’s advice sounds like a great modern self-help book until we get to the line “understand what the Lord’s will is.” If Paul wanted to be more appealing to an American audience his editor might want him to cross that line out and write something like “figure out what you want and then go get it.” While he was at it, he might consider crossing out the bit about being grateful for everything. Americans are more receptive to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” language. How do we take credit for being a self-made man or woman if we’re not even responsible for our success?
As Paul knew all too well, what we want is often very different from the Lord’s will. If we consider the implications, “Trust and Obey” might be the most frightening phrase in Scripture. We must seek God’s will by “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,” even if it contradicts our own will. Not only that, we must be grateful for everything! Are we willing, as Paul tells us, to offer ourselves, our pride, our ambition, as a sacrifice to understand what God’s will is? His “good, pleasing, and perfect will?”
And what is God’s will? If Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has taught us anything, it’s that God wants us to live together in community, supporting one another in love as we give up the desires of the flesh and praise Him. All of the “unwise” people do things that naturally lead to separation, division, and isolation. But the wise are filled with the spirit, which brings us together in unity!