Should I be pessimistic or optimistic?

Ephesians 5:15-20

by Pastor Mitch Sylvia, Parkway Bible Church, Scarborough, Ontario

Life is Uncertain

We can’t control the future; but we can make the most of our time. We can’t control the future; but we can pray. We can’t control the future; but we can get busy loving others in practical ways, sharing our faith, and serving Christ with our talents. Here is a third biblical truth – uncertainty is part of life. Verse 17 tells us to understand what the Lord’s will is. In other words, we are to live in daily obedience to God’s Word. But this does not eliminate the uncertainty of life.

For example, in Matthew Chapter 8, Jesus was with his disciples in a boat. Without warning, a furious storm approached. The waves swept over the boat, causing the disciples to fear for their lives. Jesus was sleeping through the whole thing. So His disciples woke Him up and He calmed the storm.

Couldn’t Jesus have prevented the storm in the first place? Of course He could have but He let the storm come. We can conclude that the Lord purposely used this storm as an opportunity to demonstrate His power and in the process grow His disciples’ faith. Uncertainty will always be part of life. Storms will come and storms will go. We don’t know what will happen 5 weeks or 5 months from now. But we can choose to trust the God who holds the future in His hand.

So, what should my outlook be?

Let me bring you back to my original question: as we look at the state of the world, should we pessimistic, optimistic, or should we be somewhere in-between?

Live Wisely

Ephesians 5 gives us some insight into how we ought to live in times like these. First, in times like these we ought to live wisely. Verse 15 of our text says, “be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise…” What does it mean to live wisely? The apostle Paul is saying that a wise person cares how they live; a wise person cares about the quality of their character; they care about what their life and relationships are like. A wise and godly person takes their witness for Christ seriously. More than ever, people outside the faith need to see Christians who live lives characterized by integrity and trustworthiness.

Use my time wisely

Second, in uncertain times like these we ought to use our time wisely. Verse 16 instructs us to make “the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” The New Testament has two different words for time. One word refers to the passage of time in the sense that we talk about hours, minutes and seconds. A second way the New Testament speaks of time is in the sense of seizing the moment of opportunity. In other words, we need to seize every opportunity to do what is good and right because time is short; it passes away quickly. This is the meaning of verse 16. Paul is telling us to understand that time is ​precious and the wise person looks for opportunities to display the love and light of Christ to others.

Faithfully follow God’s will

Here is a third application of Ephesians 5:15-17: In times like these, we ought to faithfully follow God’s will. Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that He had come to do the will of His Father. This was Jesus’ mission and the example we must follow. Nothing is more important than desiring God’s will, embracing it and acting upon it. Verse 17 instructs us with these words: “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Be a faithful follower and trust that God will take care of tomorrow

Those words (verses 15 to 17) summarize how we ought to live in the present and how we ought to face the future. As Christians, our primary occupation is to walk in daily obedience to the Word of God. The world needs to see Christians who love God’s Word and who are committed to applying it to their day to day lives. So let me come back to my original question: in uncertain times like these, should I be a pessimist or an optimist? There are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about the world we live in. But I believe we can live with a sense of optimism when we faithfully follow Christ and trust that God will take care of tomorrow.

Books about Christian Faith and Optimism


Author Blaine Smith calls it outrageous faith. In this book he examines the role of positive expectation in the Christian life.

Blaine believes that faith is the most underappreciated benefit in the Christian life. It is the means by which we receive the grace of God and every benefit he provides. He concludes that it means an overwhelmingly optimistic view of God and of his willingness to provide the best for each of us.

Glory Days book, Max Lucado

Promised Land living! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we can experience life like that? God promised and delivered in the Old Testament. Lucado shows that you and I can have a robust and victorious life like that today.

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