I’ve spent some time thinking through Ephesians 5:15-16 recently:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
The word “carefully” has jumped out at me, and since it’s in the context of walking, I think about how I go to check on my kids after bed time. We live in an older house, and it seems like at night the wooden floor creak with every step. So I creep through the playroom down the hall – being very careful how I walk – to try and keep the creaks from waking them up. The thing about my walk in that instance is that it’s a defensive carefulness – I’m careful with every footfall, like I’m walking egg shells, because I don’t want to step in the wrong place.
But the verse above I don’t think is meant to cause us to watch every footfall, our head swiveling back and forth and sweat beading up on our foreheads to make sure we don’t step wrongly. It’s true, that some of the Christian life demands that, that we are careful where we go, what we see, and what we do to make sure we are avoiding sin. And sin is everywhere, because, as the verse says, the days are evil.
In the context above, however, it seems to be more of an offensive carefulness that Paul wanted to inspire. We are to be careful in order to make the best use of time – literally, redeeming the time. When you redeem something, you trade it in for something better. You “buy back” the time you have been given to use for good. In that sense, our head is swiveling around, but it’s not fear that motivates it. It’s anticipation. We look in every direction to make sure we’re not missing any chance to good by way of the gospel.
We take an offensive posture of carefulness rather than a defensive one.