Making the Best Use of the Time
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15–16 ESV
Paul gives this instruction in this middle of a passage in which he is calling the Ephesians to holy living and warning them against sin and foolishness. Look at how he ties the first three clauses together.
How you walk…Paul is talking about our manner of living - the things we say and do and think every day. He says to be careful about the manner in which we walk.
Then he clarifies what he means by “how” - not as unwise, but as wise. Shepherding all our thoughts and words and deeds requires wisdom. Thanks be to God that he teaches us this wisdom. In fact, part of what it looks like to follow Paul’s instruction here is to get wisdom through the ordinary means of prayer and searching the Word of God.
Not content with this, however, Paul further clarifies what it looks like to “look carefully how you walk”. He calls us to make “the best use of the time.” Having served for a few years in the military, I’ve often noticed that veterans tend to share in common the same notion of what it is to “hurry”. You don’t know what it is to hurry until someone is yelling at you to do it faster, no matter how fast you’re going. It becomes a habit among those in the military to do things quickly when they need to get done quickly. The military doesn’t have a corner on doing things quickly. Their definition of “quickly” just tends to be a bit faster.
Paul wants to impress upon us that time is a limited resource. We have been given a finite quantity of it in which to do our work. We should make the best use of it.
Why? Because the days are evil. That is, because we are on a mission in the world - the Kingdom of Heaven against the Kingdom of this world. Evil is at work, but God is at work in us and through us as we storm the gates of hell - gates that will not prevail against us. Put more simply, why should we be careful how we walk? Why walk in wisdom and not in foolishness? Why make the best use of the time? Because the ultimate reality in the world is one of spiritual warfare, and we are combatants. Time is short. The work matters. Make the best use of the time given to you.
Thanks be to God that in Christ Jesus our combat is that of the victorious Israelites pursuing the defeated Philistines in 1 Samuel 17. The battle is won, but there is work yet to do. Let’s join in the battle, All Saints! For Christ and for the Church!
Your fellow servant in Christ,