Growing up in small town in Central Illinois where high school basketball and football were king, I remember at a very young age being out to prove you were the best and would be the future quarterback or basketball star. One way you could prove it to the high school coach and the community as early as second grade was during the summer camps run by the high school coaches and players. The biggest platform to do this in basketball was the one on one contest. I remember not being able to sleep the night before which seems so silly now and the trash talking started months ahead of time. When another kid began saying how he was going to beat me, I remember my Dad and older brother telling me to say to him, “You can talk the talk, but can you really walk the walk?”
In today’s reading, Ephesians 5:6-20, God is telling us as a Christian and Christ-follower to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk. Ephesians 5:8 reads, “for at one time you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light.” Align your actions with your values. Again, in Ephesians 5:15-16 it says, “Look carefully then how you walk not as unwise but wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil. ”Did you catch that? ….”because the days are evil.” As we dig in to the character of God over these 40 days, we see here that He knows the temptations we face in this world because Jesus faced them himself. He knows it’s not easy.
He gives us 3 ways to help us walk the walk.
- Choose who you spend your time with wisely. Ephesians 5:6 -7 tell us not to partner with the sons of disobedience. I love and believe the saying that who you will be in 10 years is a result of the people you surround yourself with and the books you read. Even Jesus spent time with the worst of sinners to help guide them in the right direction, but are the people you spend the most time and partner with those that will nurture your faith or bring you more temptation which could cause you to fall into more sin?
- Ephesians 5:10 tells us to try to discern the will of God. How? I believe there are 2 primary ways to know the will of God better…being in the Word daily (back to the books you read from above) and asking Him for wisdom and discernment daily in prayer. How often are you in the Word, and how often are you asking Him for wisdom not only on the big decisions and issues, but even on things you don’t know may come at you in the upcoming day?
- Ephesians 5:20 tells us to give God thanks in everything. You will live (walk) differently and inspire others to have a relationship with Jesus when you have an attitude of gratitude no matter the circumstances. I’ve heard it said you can’t feel gratitude and stress at the same time. How often do you write down the things you are thankful for or not only thank Him in prayer for His saving grace on the cross, but also for the simple things like your home, your spouse, or your kids? Do those around you see you as someone who is extremely gracious for the blessings God has given you despite the stress and challenges on this Earth? Would they be drawn to Christ to want what you have by seeing your walk?
Take some time to ask yourself how you are doing on these 3 items. What is the nature of my faith? Am I growing closer to Him and learning the character and will of God which can help me in my walk? Do my actions align with my values and what I say I believe? We are not perfect and need Him as our Savior, but let us honor His sacrifice on the cross by striving to improve every day and live a life worthy of His calling.