Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Paul’s command in Ephesians 5:17 to “understand” God’s will is an exhortation to face up to what we know in our hearts we ought to do. We are masters in the art of self-deception. So Paul, leveraging the grammar of his day, reaches off the page, grabs us by the collar, pulls us up close, and shouts, “Quit playing games! Quit pretending. Quit rationalizing! Face up to what you know you ought to do! Ask the question and embrace the answer!” This is Paul’s final attempt to get us to admit what we know and act on it.
As commonsense as all this sounds, truth is, most folks don’t make the wise choice until it’s their only choice. By then they’re attempting to reclaim something they’ve lost or are about to lose. Like you, I have friends who changed their unhealthy eating habits overnight after a brush with cancer or heart disease. Lumps, clogs, or shortness of breath forces us to face up to what we’ve refused to acknowledge for years. Revelations such as these often lead to death-defying discipline.
But why do we wait?
To leverage Paul’s words, we wait because we are unwilling to face up to what we’ve known all along. When we quit lying to ourselves, it’s amazing what happens. Everyone I know who has undergone a transformation following a health scare says the same thing: “I should have made these changes years ago.” Translated: “For years I refused to face up to what I knew in my heart was true.”
Bankruptcy can have the same effect. So can a surprise pregnancy, a letter from your spouse’s attorney, a DUI, or a trip to detox with one of your kids. And perhaps that’s what it will take. There is something out there somewhere that has the ability to get your attention, something that will force you to face up! Unfortunately, that something may scar you as well as scare you. You may be left with limited options and reduced opportunities. So why let things go that far? Why not face up now to what you know in your heart you need to do? Why not ask, What is the wise thing to do?