4 March 2021

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Sermon - 17 August 2003
Bible Verse: Ephesians 5:15-20
(click the verse above to read the passage online)

Be Wise

Be wise for these are evil times says the writer to the church at Ephesus. Be wise.

So the after ball parties for some schools were held at the head hunters head quarters. The Principles were shown and quoted as being horrified that their charges were meeting there.
But it was the parent?s reactions which I found fascinating. From a Kristen School parent - well at least there wouldn?t be any gate crashers
True - but did he think Why? Mr Doyle , with convictions for murder among others , was looking after the kids well even using his own money to get them taxis home says one mother. Don?t worry he said to a distraught head there are camera?s even in the toilets.
Safe? In a place where the police only raid for major drug deals. Be wise?
What wisdom is being displayed here, That of the outward appearances, that safety is one dimensional?
It reminded me of a friend who had come from Kuwait after being for years living in the hostilities in Lebanon then in Kuwait. She said "I don?t feel safe in the banks here. At home there were always armed guards present". Safe? With trigger happy people carrying huge weapons designed to kill people around you?
Where is the wisdom that can discern what is safe in this? Whose idea of safety is it that they can think their young people are safe in the hands of people with proven records of violence , rape, and drug dealing?
The world says that if you?re with whose who are the strongest and the toughest and who have the biggest and best weapons , you are safe ie what is expedient is OK.
What works cannot be equated to what is wise.

The wisdom of the writer to the Ephesians says there is an entirely different perspective . A wider world view which says start by knowing who you are in the sight of God. Wisdom starts by knowing you are not God and with the awe of God.

Knowledge is mistaken for wisdom.
Has anyone ever tried to follow the instructions when they?ve been written in a translation word for word from say Japanese?

From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo : When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor

On a Japanese medicine bottle : Adults: 1 tablet 3 times a day until passing away
More laconic Swedish statement on a chainsaw. : Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands

Maybe the Instructions for a puzzle toy made in Taiwan : Let's decompose and enjoy assembling!

Yes they are English words but it simply doesn?t make sense?
Our oldest son is teaching English in Japan at the moment and one set of his classes is in a Technical school. The students have a full sized fully equipped car assembly workshop to use for metalwork. He says they aren?t very interested in learning English, I said they?re the ones who?ll write the instructions for using your next toyota.

Knowledge may give you a set of words, but its only wisdom which allows us to make sense of them. That combination of experience, knowledge and sense of what is going to work.

Knowledge culture - We can?t teach wisdom , it is an attitude to life and living, it is caught, or learned through experience, it is a gift of God.. So often governments think they can teach people to be wise by teaching the facts about something. They put dollars into learning schemes which inform about for example warning about the effects of drugs. Or education about preventing early pregnancies - now information is important - but it on its own doesn?t make the slightest bit of difference unless it is interpreted into the mind and lifestyle of that person in a way that makes sense to them. They need the wisdom to appreciate and interpret what they have in front of them.
And that is not part of the package.

The Bible tells us - Wisdom starts with the fear of God. some perspective of who we are and what we are part of . and that is the very part of our learning which is removed from our education system. Unless a class is fortunate enough to have wise teachers.

Be wise, says the writer to the church,
So be careful how you live. Don't live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days.
This Wisdom is for serving others
A wise person will make the best of every opportunity, market place language here. Priorities will be sorted, time will not be frittered on things which are not important. There?s a time management clause in here. Poor use of time can lead us to miss the really important things. Worship, our children growing up, it is too easy to always be working
missed opportunities to spend with the people we love,
or too busy to take a moment and make a difference in someone?s life.
American funeral director- drive by and see your loved one.

Be wise - don?t be sucked in by the world?s so called wisdom or the world?s priorities.
We do it without thinking. the Christian community so often takes the thinking of our society as our own and there are dangers to the faith which we must have the wisdom to question.
Wisdom and understanding does count for something. People need to be able to discern. People need to be taught some theology so that they will have the critical tools to discern what is froth and bubble and what is authentically Christian.
Lots of claims are made in the name of Christ. Some of them are just plain foolish and empty; others are downright dangerous. History and our own times are littered with such claims.
Sometimes we are just lazy. A number of years ago I was discussing the youth programme with a buisnessman in a congregation I was in . He wanted to teach the young people how to give. I asked him to come and tell about his experiences but he decided, against my advice I might say that the young people should be able to experience the hard work of giving money away for themselves.
We divided the youth into five groups and 3each group was given $500 and told to go away and report in one month what they had done with it.
They agreed to do this . were given cash. One month later one group hadn?t even met ot dsicuss it - they were too busy and didn?t know what to do. Others were underway but wanted oanother month.
Then they reported back. One group divided into four portions gave one lot to the church, one to YFC, one to Bible society, one to the City mission
One group did not know what to do so they had bought some lotto tickets in the hope it would increase and gave the rest to the Tear fund [which was that weeks appeal on TV]
One group , the entrepenuers went and bought some ingredients made cakes and sold them thus tripling the money. They then gave a large chunk to YFC, some to the lions appeal, and had a party themselves. They brought the $ 500 back to the giver. It had taken work but they found it very difficult to know how to distribute the money.
The other two had done nothing - it was too hard to decide. Not one team had the tools to work out what might be specifcally christian in their giving of money. They learnt that the responsibility of using money wisely was not a breeze. But how often do bodies charged with distributing money given for Christ?s work are seduced by the "Good Cause" a nice thing to give to rather than doing the hard work of discernment of where to give.

Wisdom came to some during this exercise - the donor was amazed that they had found it so difficult to do this exercise. But to exercise God?s gifts takes wisdom, energy and the willingness to serve.
Be wise
How do you and I use the gifts of Time and energy , the days and people God gives us. Have we got sucked in by the world.

Be wise, Within the priorities which Ephesians sets, love is at the top anything which puts national or sectional interest ahead of the dignity of all peoples is clearly off track.
The world tells us to separate off into sectional interest or cultural groupings as a primary identity
but Anything which divides rather than brings wholesome reconciliation runs counter to a the teaching of Ephesians. Anything which discounts other human beings, both those now alive and those of future generations who will inherit our planet and whose welfare we affect by our stewardship of it, is contrary to love.

Be wise, take time to celebrate, have a party where we celebrate our connectedness in Christ, our wisdom.
Be filled not with alcohol but the joy of the Spirit, The real ecstasy of which the manufactured stuff is a tragic and pathetic attempt to shortcut.

Be wise, love fully, and use every opportunity to serve. But start by knowing where it all begins, in God who loves us and calls us into unity in Christ, the bread of life who in God?s own wisdom gave his life that we might live.

Rev. Margaret Anne Low


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