Dear Children of light! Just before the reading our text the Apostle Paul calls you “children of light.” Children of light, people upon which Christ’s love shines and who are changed by that light. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” We have all come from darkness. We hail from sin and unbelief. But God has called us into the light of his love. Paul encourage us to use that gift and not to foolishly throw it away. Children of Light, Be Careful! See the Dangers.
Seize the Opportunities.
Be very careful, [literally, “see accurately”] then, how you live [literally, walk; so he’s saying “open your eyes and see and move according to what you see”]--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
In a world filled with billions of people, does your life really matter? Yes, there are billions of people in our world and the Lord how many hairs are on each head. Yes, this world will continue to go on if something were to happen to you, but God says to each person, “Be very careful.”
“Be very careful” In other words, “What you do with your life makes a difference at every moment.” You don’t handle your fine china the way you handle your everyday dishes. You don’t handle your fishing pole the way you handle your gardening tools. You have been purchased with the blood of Christ. You are valuable. God’s love makes you valuable. So what you do to your body, what you do with your body and your mind is important. What you do and how you live is important.
If you are important, then what you do is important. If you have responsibility to God, and others, and for others, then your life is important. If Jesus died and rose for you, you are important.
So, dear children of light, be very careful. “The days are evil.” See the dangers. Evil is everywhere. The days are so evil that it’s tempting to just join in. The days are so evil that we are tempted be self-righteous: “at least I’m not that evil.” The days are so evil that a defeatist attitude may be present: God is no longer in charge; nothing, not even God can change things. We don’t want to be the bad guy shining the light into the guy’s eyes who’s comfortable in his darkness.
What a temptation to play with the darkness. What a temptation to have one foot comfortably in the darkness and then thinking you have the other foot solidly in the light. As long as we’ve got the one foot in the light, we’ll be fine. How damnable we are even as Christians.
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” What does God want? Life in a sin-darkened world is challenging. Our consciences have been weakened from living as sinners. But we understand more fully the Lord’s will as we dig into God’s Word. God’s Word tells what the Lord’s will is. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Put your Bible where you’ll see it and use it. And as you see what God wants you to do and be, you’ll be even more aware of God’s righteousness and justice.
But, “knowing God’s will” is also a matter of knowing what God has done rescue us from evil. This God wants our salvation. “God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (Acts 4:12) “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “God is not willing that any should perish, but that but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) He has caused his light to shine on us in Christ. How can we not walk, move, live in a different way?
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Paul warns against the abuse of alcohol. Our culture winks at drunkenness. Wine is not evil by itself. But it leads to debauchery, behavior people wouldn’t otherwise do: senselessness, recklessness, foul language. Solomon said, “Do not gaze at wine while it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bits like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:31) We Christians wink at it? It’s evil.
So what someone drinks too much! Here’s what may be going on. Alcohol and drug use offers a substitute for Christ. An escape from the consequences of sin, a temporary relief from the difficulties of life. Drugs and alcohol take away your pain. Christ isn’t enough. God’s Word isn’t enough. Wine, beer, alcohol is the god the drunk runs to.
Drugs and alcohol promise personal growth. If you are not happy who you are, drugs or alcohol will free you from your inhibitions, make you more interesting. It’s called debauchery.
Drugs and alcohol can help escape from the voice of that nagging conscience. If someone wants to be caught in a sin, loves living in darkness, alcohol deadens the conscience and eases the pain of guilt.
The days are evil. As children of light, listen with care and recognize the pain tied to people living in darkness. You might need to wait until the person stumbles and falls in complete darkness. Be ready with the light. Be ready to share the light. Be ready for the knee-jerk reaction to the light. When someone is bruised and battered and living in darkness, he needs to be exposed to the light of God’s love and grace.
The solution to darkness is light. The solution for guilt is forgiveness. The solution for sin is grace. The solution for a troubled conscience is Good Friday. You’ve felt God’s anger against your sin as your conscience picked at you. Imagine the conscience of Jesus as he took the world’s blame. In Jesus there was no darkness, no sin, no troubled conscience. John wrote, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John wrote that Jesus was the “true light that gives light to every man.”
Jesus said about himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” He also said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
So if the light of the world is on Mount Calvary, then why did it get dark? All the sin of all the world’s inhabitants, past, present and future, was there on Calvary, and on God’s Son, for three hours. All of God’s intense hatred against sin was there on Calvary, on God’s Son. How dark it looked as God’s enemies, as Jesus’ enemies, had their way with Jesus and extinguished the light. How troubling when darkness appears to rule the day. Make no mistake, sin was there on Calvary.
And what Jesus did for Jairus’ daughter, what he had done for Lazarus, he did for himself. Off came the grave clothes as Jesus again saw the light of day. And by rising again he has brought “life and immortality to the light” to his children. There is no darkness for you as all is light. There is not a one of you who should remain in darkness, as Jesus said. Jesus is the light of the world and he is the light of life.
Darkness will never rule another day, no sin will ever be charged against you, no punishment waits for you. Jesus Christ is our light and has defeated darkness. Where there is light, there can be no darkness. Well with Christ as our light, the darkness is gone.
So now, children of light, “Be very careful, how you live…making the most of every opportunity.” Making the most of every opportunity, that is, we are to redeem or buy up the right time. Buying something involves giving up something of value to you in exchange. We are to give up something of value in order to take hold of something of greater value. Give up a sinful habit. Now is the time to put off that pet sin. Now is the time to live for your Lord Jesus. Now is the time to witness Christ to the unbeliever. Now is the time to repent and to call others to repentance. Now is the time to do good works so that others may glorify your Father in heaven. Think of Paul in jail in Philippi, hardly an opportune time to be taken as a credible witness, but he was singing hymns. And in the middle of the night, his jailer was led from despair to joy. Make the most of every opportunity. As King Solomon said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might.” (Eccl. 9:10)
“Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” He encourages us to express the joy we have in our salvation through music that comes from the heart. The sound of thankfulness heard in dark times is noticed. Christian music, Christ-centered music and hymns, have a remarkable power to remind us what we believe, what we have to rely on. God’s gift of music gives his people a beautiful way to express what they have.
Be careful how you live. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ask yourself as you listen to music, as you work, as you play, as you watch TV: does this keep me in the light? Does this let my light shine? Am I kidding myself and playing with darkness? Am I buying something valuable with my time? Is it worth the expenditure of my time? Are others benefiting from the use of my time? Am I reflecting the light and forgiveness of Christ?
So, children of light, be careful! That sounds so negative, but it is important to be warned of dangers against our faith. But there is a positive side: Look at the opportunities to reflect the light of God’s love and seize them. Amen.