“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, ESV).
My bible is full of handwritten notes and highlights. Very few chapters have as many marks/entries as the fifth chapter of Ephesians. The first notation reminds me that Paul is using one of his common writing techniques, beginning the chapter with a statement that provides a principle for us to follow: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love.” This statement if followed by very practical ways to accomplish this, which includes the admonition to “live as children of light… and find out what pleases the Lord” (v.8b-10).
Having just completed my morning devotions, I was reflecting on my schedule for today (as well as thinking about what I may or may not face). It was at that point that I recognized once again that my challenge is found in v. 16. How often have you come to the end of the day only to realize that you failed to make “the best use of the time [opportunity]”? It is not something we should take lightly, since Paul begins the paragraph by saying, “Look carefully.” In his commentary, Peter O’Brien emphasizes how these verses stress the need for this type of self examination: “The adverb rendered ‘carefully’ signifies something done accurately, precisely, or after close attention has been given. Together with the imperative ‘watch’, it indicates that this admonition regarding godly behaviour is both important and urgent” (The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, 380).
The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to literally watch each of my footsteps as I move about. (This is especially true when walking around in the house without shoes where the dog leaves well chewed nylon bones!) How much more important is it for us to “Look carefully then how you walk…” in the spiritual sense. I don’t know about you, but this is just one more opportunity for me to put off some of the old and “…be filled with the Spirit” (v.18).