Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
— Ephesians 5:15–17

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
— Proverbs 1:7

Remember not so long ago, when you were a teenager and you were — without a doubt — the smartest person you knew? Pouting through life, knowing that things would be better, easier, happier and simpler if your parents, or any adult for that matter, would just let you make your own decisions and would listen to you for a change? Everybody’s rules and advice were grotesquely outdated.

These were the days when you were absolutely certain that bedtimes were a social construct devised by dictators who just wanted to control you for the sake of control. That the only time you could possibly have any fun with friends was after curfew, and your parents developed a curfew because they hated fun. When speeding shouldn’t have been a big deal because you knew how to drive, and your learner’s permit was proof that the state deemed you an expert driver.

You probably read those scenarios and remembered vividly how obnoxiously arrogant and thick-headed you were in your glory days of peak “intelligence”. For your parents’ sake, I hope you cringed a little.

And now that we are all adults, we are really enjoying that 20/20 hindsight. Through experience, we came to know that bedtimes are pretty crucial for midterms, athletics and for not making our boyfriends or girlfriends cry because we were cranky, sleep-deprived jerks. We soon discovered that, generally speaking, nothing good happened after curfew, and that our learner’s permits did not protect us from totaling our cars or having to pay those hefty traffic tickets. Perhaps we weren’t the wisdom-filled experts we thoght we were.

But that was our younger days. We were so dumb then, weren’t we? Thank goodness we are truly life experts now. Let me ask, do any of these seem familiar?

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place…
— Ephesians 5:4

“It’s just water-cooler talk with the guys. No harm done.”

And do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.
— Ephesians 5:18

“That’s not referring to me. I can handle my alcohol.”

Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
— Ephesians 5:22

“Yeah, but my husband can be a lazy jerk. If I submitted to him, nothing would get done. These are different times, anyway.”

Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
— Ephesians 5:25

“God doesn’t understand the level at which my wife nags.”

“God just made all those rules up to control us. He doesn’t want us to have any fun. God doesn’t understand the times we live in. Things are different now.”

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Our parents didn’t want absolute control or to ruin all our fun. They wanted us to be happy and to be at peace with the decisions we made. They wanted us to avoid hurt, tragedy, broken relationships and failure. They wanted what was best for us, and they were flawed humans. How much more do you think our Father in heaven wants what is best for us, how much more he wants us to be at peace and to live fulfilling lives? The wisdom offered above isn’t a list of demands to put us in chains. It’s a list of advice to free us from self-damnation, sorrow and grief.

Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
— Ephesians 5:17

In other words, don’t be dumb.