Friends, we’re about to cross the threshold of another year stretching out before us like the countryside covered with fresh snow. What principles will guide us as we step out onto the pristine landscape of the New Year?
In his letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle Paul outlined a simple strategy:
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).
Paul’s guidelines for life are usually seen in negative terms—where we shouldn’t walk. In reality, he emphasizes that we must be aware of where we should walk. The concept reminds me of my grandfather’s preparation for ice fishing in Minnesota.
Before stepping onto the ice early in the season, Grandpa would survey the frozen surface of Bass Lake and choose a path to the place he had selected to set nets.
Based on his experiential knowledge of the lake, the location of springs and water depth, he chose a path with the thickest and most stable ice. Then, aware of our surroundings, we could confidently step from the shore and cross the ice-covered lake.
Similarly, people who walk circumspectly are aware of what is happening around them and can choose the best path in life. Walking circumspectly is walking wisely.
A cursory look at the second half of the text may also give the impression that Paul is talking about time-management. In reality, his warning to make the most out of life goes beyond the idea of making every minute count, although included.
The word translated “redeeming” conveys the idea of buying for profit or advantage. The word used for time is not χρονος (kronos), a word that expresses time in terms of seconds, minutes and hours, but rather, καιρος (kairos) that describes time in the sense of opportunities.
A wise individual looks for and profitably uses every opportunity.
Paul’s next statement, because the days are evil, is significant. In context, Paul addressed a church experiencing evil days during intense ongoing persecution under the oppression of Rome. He did not tell the Ephesians to avoid trials and difficulties. Rather, Paul advised that we must seize opportunities created in the environment of evil days and use them to our advantage.
We seldom think to look for opportunities in evil days. Yet in today’s text, people of faith are encouraged to seek opportunities to increase our faith—to use opportunities to demonstrate peace, joy and grace during evil times—and to seize opportunities to communicate the Good News when people are most responsive.
Let the principles of God’s Word guide you. Step into 2019 determined to walk wisely and prepared to seize every opportunity in the New Year!
All images used for illustrative purposes/Public domain/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios.
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, devotional content. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.