Yet, wisdom holds a unique feature. You can refuse to follow wise advice and still complete your tasks. You can wear loose clothing at the table saw; the saw will still power on. You can have greasy burgers, salty French fries, and sugary sodas for every meal; you will succeed eating. You can slice veggies with your fingers on the blade. Your bike still functions without you wearing a helmet. You can ignore wisdom and complete tasks… but(!) the table saw can grab your untucked shirt and pull you into a blade capable of splitting logs. Too much junk food clogs arteries, increases blood pressure, and can shorten life. Knives slice veggies and can slice off your fingertips. You can bike without a helmet, collide with a car, and damage your brain. Ignore wisdom and you put life in danger. Follow words of wisdom and you preserve life.
Each day you are confronted with following wise words or brushing wisdom aside. That truth not only applies to everyday matters, but also to your Christian life. Ignoring wisdom leaves you wandering into spiritual danger. So, God provides his Word of wisdom for you to follow and live. Be Careful to Live Wise. Remember the will of the Lord! Make the most of every opportunity!
In verse 17, God defines wisdom: [U]nderstand what the Lord’s will is. If you want to know what the Lord’s ‘will’ is for your life, then you must read God’s Word and hear what God says. There, in the Bible, God reveals his ‘will’ for you: God wants all [people] to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4). God wants you(!) saved. So, he took the necessary steps to accomplish his desire. He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Those who are wise recognize that life has a beginning and an end. The time you have now (in this life) is the time you have to know that only Jesus makes you right before God. You need to know this truth now because when you die, it will be too late to learn it then.[A.G.E.1]
So, real wisdom (1) knows there is an eternity. Real wisdom (2) knows, trusts, and believes that Jesus paid the price for you to enter heaven. Real wisdom (3) remembers the will of the Lord is for you to spend eternity with him. To those who know this, to you (and me), God expands his will. It is God’s will (his ‘want’ for your life) that you should be sanctified (or, ‘live a holy life’) (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Wisdom can be lost. That is why God cautions: Be very careful, then, how you live— not as unwise but as wise. Wise people remember— constantly, always, continually. God has saved you and has called you to live a holy life. Only a fool thinks he is so secure, so safe, so certain that nothing will destroy his faith. And that fool grows careless about what his heart believes. Are you a fool?
Well, what’s your response to God’s command (in verse 18): ‘Do not get drunk on wine’? Are you smirking inside? …replaying your drunken escapades? … chuckling about that one time your buddy mouthed off to the cops? Are you rolling your eyes because this sounds so, well… so “prudish?” I mean, this is one of those commands your friend points at: “Oh, Christianity is so strict! It’s no fun; it’s full of rules!” You do not want to be prudish, right? So, ignore God’s wisdom! Brush it aside! Follow whatever decision feels right to you! Let loose! Be excessive! Lose control! Because, after all, getting drunk does not hurt anyone, right?
Do you realize God gives the reason for his command? ‘Do not get drunk on wine.’ Why? [It] leads to debauchery. ‘Debauchery’ is wild, immoral living. Just think about where drunkenness leads. Sexual boundaries are crossed— sometimes against better judgment, at other times, it’s illegal. Drunk drivers crash cars and damage property; they injure others and ruin lives. Children are abused by a drunk parent. Reputations suffer. (It takes longer to erase the title “drunk” than serving a jail sentence.) Those are just the shameful, physical consequences! Drunkenness affects you spiritually! You indulge again… and again… and again. Little by little your conscience dulls. Breaking God’s command no longer bothers you; you do not even give a second thought to the holy life you are meant to live! Little by little you foolishly wander away from your God.
This command highlights the spiritual dangers surrounding you (and me). The devil uses the most innocent of looking objects and whispers the most subtle of lies: “Is it really that bad?” He wants you to leave God’s wise Word— a Word meant to preserve your life!— and to follow the opinions of your faulty human heart!
He can take just one single sin and make it explode exponentially. Yes, maybe you’re not the one getting drunk, but ask yourself this: Does the sight of drunk spouse or a drunk child still bother you? Or, do you tolerate it? Do you laugh? Do you condone it? (Which, by the way, means you stand on the opposite side of God)
And if you condone one behavior God calls ‘wrong,’ why stop there? Live in whatever way feels right to you! Dabble with drugs; say nothing when you catch your kids smoking pot! Never mind that God calls you to be sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8). Who cares if your relationship does not honor marriage as God intends it? Follow your own moral code— even if it means you willingly choose to do the wrong instead. You know you should immerse yourself with Word and sacrament— and you even admit this! But create all sorts of flimsy excuses as to why it is just not possible to worship every Sunday. Ignore wisdom and complete tasks!
Ignore wisdom and you put life in eternal danger. You see, the more you (and I) ignore God’s commands, the more you dull your conscience. The more you dull your conscience, the less you care about the wrongs you commit. The less you care about the wrongs you commit, the less you care about a Savior. Because, if you do not think your lifestyles are wrong, then what is there to confess? Nothing! And if there’s nothing to confess, then you don’t need a Savior. That, my friends, is the very definition of ‘foolishness.’
You need a Savior. You (and I) cannot save yourself. So, God provides his Word of wisdom to preserve your life. The Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation [eternal life] (2 Timothy 3:15). The Bible points you to Jesus, the only One who desires to obey God’s will, the only One who desires to obey every single command (Psalm 40:7-8; Hebrews 10:5-7).
Just like you (and me), the devil trots up to Jesus (Matthew 4:1-10). “Jesus, make bread out of stones; it doesn’t look like your Father cares.” “Jesus, jump down from the building. Let’s see if God will keep his promise of protection.” “Jesus, worship me— just this once— and gain wealth.” Each seductive whisper wants Jesus to wander away from God’s commands. Following the devil’s lies, would lead Jesus into sin. Following the devil’s lies, would fail you (and me). Yet, Jesus wisely stands on the Word. Yes, ‘wise’ because Jesus’ obedience brings eternal life in heaven!
God chose to love the world, to send his only Son, to stand in your (and my) place, to suffer separation from God, which is where your foolish wandering leads—separation. Jesus has brought you back to God. Jesus has removed your foolishness. In its place, he fills you with wisdom. The wisdom to know that you are indeed forgiven. The wisdom to know eternal life is yours. The wisdom to know life leads to heaven.
God has made you wise to know, to trust, to believe this. So, he urges you, Be Careful to Live Wise! Remember the will of the Lord. Remember you are walking to heaven. Since this walk continues your entire life, make the most of every opportunity.
That is how you live wise. Mak[e] the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Non-Christians in the world— friends and family, co-workers and neighbors— will invite you to participate in the things God calls ‘wrong.’ Your sinful heart will continue pushing you to make your own choices. The devil will whisper foolish lies. Every day you will confront countless opportunities to wander into foolish behavior that only harms you.
So, make the most of your personal time. Instead of filling your heart up with earthly pleasures, be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit already lives in you. At your baptism, when water was poured on your head and God’s Word was spoken, he entered your heart. He continues working in you as you remain in God’s Word. When you are unsure of a decision, turn to the Bible first for guidance. Reflect if your words are pleasing to God or not. Consider if you can still control yourself as you head out with friends. Deflate your pride by relying on the fact God saved you. If you are defending and justifying lifestyles you know are wrong, the time to return is now! Separate yourself from that which tempts you. Do not put yourself into a position of pressure. Make the most of every opportunity, that is, make the most of your time on earth by keeping your heart and thoughts close to God.
Make the most of every opportunity with others. You have family and friends, co-workers and acquaintances, those you are friendly with and those you know struggle. Some are walking the wide road to hell and may not even know it. The worst thing you can do is to condone the evil you know is wrong. It does not mean that you wag a finger, present a lecture that only rips people to pieces. Rather, speak the truth in love. The friend (young or old) who shrugs off God’s beautiful gift of marriage, simply say, “But marriage is God’s gift of blessings.” The kids smoking bowls when you’re gone; you, as a parent tell them: “I want you in heaven. Follow what is right.” The child greedily craving status, remind: “Status has an end. Your life does not.” God has handed you words of wisdom meant to preserve life! Make the most of every opportunity, fighting to dig deeper into the Word, fighting to sing it with others, fighting to share it now before the Savior returns. Be Careful to Live Wise, making the most of every opportunity to be close to God.
You can refuse to follow wise advice and still complete your tasks… but(!) ignore wisdom and you put life in danger. Follow words of wisdom and you preserve life.
Each day you are confronted with following wise words or brushing wisdom aside. That truth not only applies to everyday matters, but also to your Christian life. Ignoring wisdom leaves you wandering into spiritual danger. So, God provides his Word of wisdom for you to follow and live. Remember the will of the Lord! Make the most of every opportunity! Be Careful to Live Wise.