Wisdom, Time, Then Marriage (5:15, 16, 22ff)
I would venture to guess that most people who prepare to teach on marriage from Ephesians 5 do begin with the context of verses 15 and 16 (although some do begin with verse 18). Yet when we look at Paul’s instructions on wisdom and time, the marital implications are huge, especially if we are to do justice to the controversial teachings on headship and submission.
Couples will have little trouble applying verses 22-33 if both individuals humbly acknowledge their constant need to evaluate whether they are making wise choices (v. 15) and evaluate their use of time to make sure it is being given to matters of first importance (v. 16). However, when we begin to make foolish choices and waste time, then headship and submission become a nasty, contentious debate.
Application: Give yourself completely to the teaching of Scripture and examine your use of time carefully. If you are unwilling to do this, then you do not have a marital problem. You have a hard, proud heart that believes you know better than God what makes a “good” life. Paul says to “look carefully (v. 15) at these matters. The verb “look” is both a command and in the present tense implies a continual need for this action.
The Will of the Lord (5:17)
It is peace-giving to see how casually Paul speaks of the will of God. He simply says, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of God is (v. 17).” The opposite of the will of God is foolishness. We often try to make God’s will so much harder than that. God’s will can be summed up as what happens in your life as you love God and love others in daily life.
When we think of fulfilling God’s will, we (or at least me) feel like it should be some emotionally powerful moment with grand eternal significance. Most days the will of God can be summarized by waking up with gratitude for the day, seeking to learn more of God in His Word, working hard at the tasks given to you, seeking opportunity to share God with others, and loving those around you well, especially your family.
Application: Remember daily faithfulness prepares you to be ready t
o fulfill God’s will. Daily faithfulness prepares others to receive you as God’s messenger of evangelism, encouragement, or confrontation. Daily faithfulness is where you draw the strength and faith to act on God’s unique callings on your life. Daily faithfulness is how you gain sensitivity to God’s particular promptings.
Giving Thanks Always
After reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom I will never be able to read Ephesians 5:20 the same again. I will summarize one scene from the book here and highly encourage you to read her powerful true story for yourself.
Corrie and her family were arrested by the Nazi’s in World War II for helping the Jews escape. She and her sister were separated from their father and placed in a concentration camp. They faced many brutalities. God was faithful to keep them together, allow them to smuggle their Bible from camp to camp, and frequently give them favor with the guards.
After changing camps and being introduced to a new cell and inmates, Corrie was struggling (understandably so) with anger and bitterness. Her sister reminded Corrie they were to “give thanks always and in everything.” After resisting, Corrie could give thanks to God that they had not been separated and that they still had their Bible. Then Corrie began to be bitten by fleas. Her sister asked Corrie to give thanks for the fleas. Corrie could/would not.
Many days during their evening Bible study Corrie commented to the fellow inmates that the guards never checked on the barracks in this camp. She was pleased to have uninterrupted Bible study and prayer during these hard days. Another lady, not knowing the previous conversation with Corrie’s sister, said, “It is because of the fleas. They won’t come near the barracks.” Finally, Corrie was able to give thanks always and in everything.
When you struggle to give thanks, pray that God would give you faith in His character even if you never understand the situation. If you are in a particularly hard situation of suffering, I would further recommend The Hiding Place as a book that gives testimony to the power of God through gratitude, love, and forgiveness over gross injustice, oppression, and pain.
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.