Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 31 Dec 2015
“15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
We don’t know the future. We don’t know if the days ahead will bring good or evil.
We need to walk as wise men. The Bible says that there is a way that looks right to a man but the end is death.
It is written, “be still and know that I am God”. We must not speak rashly, but fear God. You might live the right way and reap that which is good. On the other hand you might go the wrong way and reap that which is bad.
“Making the most of every opportunity” or “to redeem the time”. What does it mean to redeem the time? Why must we redeem the time? Because the days are evil. We must make use of every opportunity God gives us, lest we lose the opportunity given us. To redeem the time means looking very carefully how you use the time, because that time could mean salvation to you. That time could be of benefit to you, but if you don’t use it in the right way you squander it.
What would Paul have said about the time we live in? There are many Christians who want to give up. They say that it’s so difficult to carry on as a Christian. If you’re determined to serve the Lord, then you’re persecuted. There were many Christians in Ephesus, but due to the circumstances and the evil around them, it was very difficult for them to stand. Ephesus was the capital of immorality and prostitution.
Our light should shine the brightest when it’s the darkest. So even when it’s difficult when we experience persecution, it actually contains a blessing. Times of persecution provides us with opportunities to further propagate the Gospel. We shouldn’t fear opposition because that is when the light of the Gospel shine the brightest. The darker the night, the brighter the light shines.
Doing the Lord’s will. It says, “therefore do not be fools, but understand what the Lord’s will is”. We must understand what God’s will is. When Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, it was dark and the disciples had lost all hope. But on the Sunday when the news broke that the Lord had risen, the light shone the brightest. Their tears were turned to laughter and their gloom to joy! It was a wonderful day.
We Christians ought to realise that we’re still on this side of the Empty Grave. We shouldn’t mourn and grieve like those without hope, but rejoice because of the Empty Grave. We should not be downcast like people depressed with no hope. Christians should never be pessimists but always optimists. It’s heart-breaking when you find a depressed Christian, having lost hope. Jesus conquered death and the grave. There was no enemy as powerful as death and yet Jesus had conquered it. Therefore we too are conquerors together with Him.
So even though these are evil and difficult times, it should not make us downcast, but we should have great expectation to receive that which is good from God. We should always remember what the Lord Jesus said, “let not your heart be troubled”. If your heart is troubled you’re doing the wrong thing, you’re sinning. The Bible says the Lord is my strength and is become my salvation (Ps 118:14). Often the Bible says that we must be strong and courageous, do not fear for the Lord will give you strength. The Bible says that there’s no Rock as strong and firm as our Rock. We should always have a song on our hearts. The Bible says that God has removed our sins from us as far as the East is from the West (Ps 103:12). Shouldn’t we then have a song on our hearts then, singing day and night?
The Bible says that if God is for us, who then can be against us (Rom 8:31)? It also says that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6). And that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1John 4:4). We Christians should shine brighter than the sun. And we find the confirmation of this in Revelation, “He who testifies of these things says, yes I am coming soon, even so come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). In 1Cor 15:58 we read “therefore my dear brothers stand firm … because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain”. Be therefore careful how you walk and conduct yourself. Not as unwise but as wise. Redeem the time, even though the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.