Devotional # 108. 10/27/14. Ephesians 5:13-16.
Intro. The last couple of weeks we’ve read through Ephesians 5 and talked about the different ways to “walk” with the Lord as a Christian. In v. 2 it was to “walk in love” and in v. 8 it was to “walk as children of light.” This week it is to “walk circumspectly.” We’ll explore what this means and how it leads us to being wise and (next week) understanding God’s will. Just as a reminder: these devotionals are set up so that you read the passage at the top (today it’s Ephesians 5:13-21) and then the notes below will (hopefully) answer some questions and get you deeper into the Word. As always, if you have questions, comments or arguments – I would love to hear them!
v. 13. In order to understand this re-read vv. 8-10. Last week I asked what “light” meant in regards to the phrase, “walk as children of light”. Then we saw that in the metaphorical meaning of the Greek word it meant to be “truth and its knowledge” and “understanding” as in “moral and spiritual truth”. That coupled with verse 11 which told us to “expose” any “unfruitful works of darkness” instead of letting them be hidden shows us that here in verse 13 “light” will expose darkness because that’s its nature. “Manifest” means to show or expose. So if we feel awkward or weird or guilty of exposing a sin we must remember that we can’t help but to expose sin. This doesn’t mean that we go rat people out – notice that it says “unfruitful works of darkness”. If I know of people hiding Jews from Nazi’s it doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to tell the authorities. Since the context of this book is unity and equality amongst believers, this simply means that as a Christian the Holy Spirit will shine blinding light from you and often it will hurt non-Christians darkened spiritual eyes.
v. 14. Notice there is no reference where this is from. It is possible that this is summarizing a verse like Isaiah 61:1 (Source 2). Guzik says, “Paul quoted what was probably a ‘worship chorus’ from the early church to illustrate this truth” (Source 1). Regardless, Paul quotes this as God speaking so we should listen. “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” The context is to Christians which makes us think about the possibility of us being asleep (content and complacent) and thinking we’re awake (living a full life). Personally, I walk and talk in my sleep so this makes sense to me. Spurgeon explains that for the “asleep” Christian, “It is enough for them if they are comfortable. If they can attend a respectable place of worship and go with others to heaven, they are indifferent about everything else” (Source 1, quoted by Guzik). (Another translation has this as “Awake, Oh, Sleeper…” which is where the Christian metal band “Oh, Sleeper” gets their name).
vv. 15-16. Our friends, family, co-workers, Hollywood and secular scholars say Christians are fools for believing in God and living by the things He tells us. But we get a different message from the Bible. Paul is building off of Ephesians chapters 1-3 which told us what God had done for us. Now we’re being told how to walk as Christians. Here is the third command of how to walk. A quick definition of “circumspectly” means “carefully.” The word in the Greek is akrinos (G#199) and means, “exactly, diligently, accurately” (Source 3). Paul tells us to walk in wisdom, but what is wisdom? Wisdom is the application of knowledge. When a baby is learning to walk they have the knowledge from seeing others walk and from hearing their parents tell them what to do, but until they try it for themselves they won’t do it. But when it comes to spiritual wisdom, it only comes from following God’s word (the Bible, Proverbs 2:6).
How can we be spiritually wise? “By redeeming the time.” Why? “Because the days are evil.” What does it mean to redeem the time? Guzik makes a very good point: “Paul isn’t telling us to make the most of every moment, even though that is good advice. He tells us to seize opportunity for the glory of Jesus. It isn’t to make the most of time, but to make the most of the time” (Source 1). I have tried to make a practice of redeeming the time in several areas of my life: 1. I’m not a morning person but I’ve learned that as I’m preparing and eating my breakfast I can read the Bible, 2. I don’t let the fact that I’m at work stop me from studying the Bible, on my breaks and lunches I read. It’s funny to me how many people think they don’t have time. If you always go out to buy your food, sacrifice 2 days a week and bring your lunch. Start off with the first 15 minutes alone by yourself and then go do whatever you do for the rest of the time. (You’ll start loving that calming time with your heavenly Father which straightens out the rest of your day and you’ll soon be redeeming your whole lunch time!) 3. When I drive my kids to their various activities I intentionally review a verse they’re memorizing or talk to them about evangelizing at their school (sure we talk about other stuff but I try to make sure a couple times a week to have that conversation) 4. When we’re at the doctor’s office or at an automotive repair place I can read my Bible (on my phone or my actual Bible since it’s always with me). The point is that you don’t naturally do it and you don’t WANT to do it and that’s why you should do it! It will start off as a sacrifice of your time (like playing a game on your phone was soooo much more important, right?!) but it will turn into a valuable resource. And when your kids see that it’s important to you they will grow up thinking it’s important to them.
Conclusion. If we walk in the light and walk carefully (“circumspectly“) then we’ll realize that there is more to life than just getting by. There is more than just being entertained. By walking carefully, we actually care what others think of how we portray ourselves in the sense that we’re portraying God. It is a very American thing to not care what others think (and make sure that everybody knows it) but it’s a very spiritual thing to realize that if we’re shining light on sin (which brings people to salvation) then we shouldn’t be doing the very thing that we’re shining a light on as being sin.
Lord, help us to walk carefully, even though we’ve been trusting the old, sinful self that we’re fine with walking carelessly for far too long. Help us to redeem the time for You, because we’re almost out of it and that’s one thing we can’t get back. Help us to tell others about You because shining Your light should become the only natural thing for us to do. Amen.
Source 1: https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Eph/Eph_5.cfm?a=1102015
Source 2: John R.W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians, 1979, p. 201.