There are only a few moments in my life where I felt completely out of control of my life. One was driving over the Destin Bridge when I was a teenager. I was in my ’65 Ford Econo-line van and just as I was in front of the Coast Guard Station, I hit a huge puddle doing about 60. My van started going right, so I tried to correct it. When I came out of the puddle, it put me into a spin and I did three 360 degree turns on the road. My heart was pounding. If the road hadn’t been wet I would have probably flipped.
Maybe you have a driving story like mine, or maybe you have tried a stupid stunt and ended up getting a million views of it on Youtube. You probably thought, “Don’t worry, I got this!” But you didn’t have it, did you?
We often take the same approach to our personal lives. Whether it’s making the right choices financially, relationally or professionally, we tend to get overconfident about our lives. We often assume we know how to keep our lives under control without giving it any real thought. That’s usually when we make our most regrettable mistakes.
That’s the interesting thing about our culture. There are things that pretty much everyone agrees are out of control behaviors, but the steps to preventing them aren’t so set in stone. We get messages like “Drink responsibly” or “Consolidate your debt.” They’re not bad messages. In fact, they’re usually true, but they’re not always helpful. There’s a lot of us that could tell a story about drinking where you really weren’t sure where the line for irresponsible was, or maybe consolidating your debt gave you a false sense of confidence in your finances and that lead to more debt. We have a tendency to play as close to the edge of disaster in many areas of our lives, but maybe we need to establish some boundaries for ourselves that will keep us from losing control.
The apostle Paul was tackling this very same issue with the church in Ephesus. The Ephesians lived in a culture that was even more amoral than ours. What we would consider infidelity or adultery was considered common and having extramarital affairs was part of a religious experience.
In Ephesians Chapter 5, Paul explained this principle of establishing some boundaries and standards that will keep them from losing control. In verse 15-16 he says, “Be very careful then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
Paul knew the Ephesians were living in dangerous times and If they weren’t careful they could lose it. Much like the times we live in, if you weren’t vigilant and intentional about living out the kind of life your wanted to live, it was easy to fall into these traps that could dramatically alter your life. Whether its addiction, financial ruin or heartache, we know these traps are easy to fall into if we’re not taking steps to avoid them. If you’re careless and think, “Oh, it’s just going to work out,” there’s going to be a price to pay.
Paul goes on to give some practical advice on how to avoid these traps. In verse 17 he says, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Paul is asking us to be honest with ourselves. We know there are things in our lives that aren’t necessarily bad in themselves, but they make us put too much confidence in ourselves to keep us from going over that line of self-control. We should be putting our confidence in God’s hands. The Bible teaches that when you put your faith in Christ, the Spirit of God comes to live in you in a unique way to guide you and direct you. As we get closer and closer to the edge of losing control the Holy Spirit is there. Instead of trusting in ourselves to walk the line, the Spirit is there to help us define those boundaries in our lives that will keep us from flirting with disaster.
What would it look like if focused on creating boundaries and standards to keep you from the point of losing control? My hunch is that whatever came to mind, that is where God would you like to start.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.