Activities lead to habits, and habits lead to lifestyle. In essence, what we do regularly eventually becomes habit and, over an extended period of time, these habits come to characterize our lifestyle. So, it behooves us to choose wisely as to what we do. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5.15-16)
If only good intentions were the same as actual activities! Many of us find a certain satisfaction in what we intend to do, but the reality of action is another story entirely. Christian lifestyle is not determined by what we intend to do and practice, but what we actually do. As such, Ephesians 5 provides us with some excellent and important directives for lifestyle action. Active imitation of our heavenly Father, especially through the practice of love (Ephesians 5.1), is implored. Decisive action against things like immorality, greed, and inappropriate talk and conversation is also to be taken (Ephesians 5.3-5). Ultimately, we are called to live what might be called a “careful lifestyle”: a thoughtful, pro-active, God-honoring life.
At least twice in this chapter, a thankful lifestyle is mentioned. Gratitude for grace overarches a specific do’s and don’ts lifestyle. In the absence of thankfulness, we will live little more than a legalistic, works-based lifestyle. And, high on the list of that which we are grateful for is the availability and work of God’s dynamic Holy Spirit: “do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5.18). The lifestyle we are called to can only be realized through the energizing work of God’s Spirit as we yield in every way to it. Without the aid of Holy Spirit, our lifestyle will only amount to good intentions.
Perhaps at no point in recent times has a non-believing and cynical society looked more closely at the character and lifestyle of Christ’s followers than now. Glaring inconsistencies immediately squelch an appeal and witness to them. As such, the lifestyle qualities outlined in Ephesians 5 take on more priority for us than ever before.
May our lifestyle be a compelling example and witness as a bright light in a very dark world.
©Steve Taylor, 2015 --Used by permission
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