A sermon by Dr Donald T. Williams - donaldtwilliams.com
Presented at Trinity Fellowhip on 10/10/99
Eph. 5:15-17 is a summary of the general teaching about walking worthily of our calling, a kind of pause before Paul launches into more specific instructions for walking worthily in the church, the home, and the marketplace.
In vs. 15, a literal translation would be "see that you walk accurately." Akribos is the same adverb used by Luke when he said in the prolog to his Gospel that he had carefully or accurately investigated the facts about Christ. How does one walk "accurately?" The picture is of someone crossing a river from stone to stone or walking over difficult terrain. A person on a smooth pavement can afford to pay no attention to what his feet are doing. But on rough ground each step has to be planned and executed with precision, or we will stumble or break an ankle. The picture then is of a life that is the opposite of the "unexamined life" that Socrates said was not worth living.
The way we show the wisdom of walking accurately is, in v. 16, by redeeming the time. Time is not Kronos (the regular word for time) but Kairos, a crucial moment of time. So the focus is on not missing our opportunities. Opportunities for what? For everything Paul has been talking about since 4:1--for using our spiritual gifts to edify the Body inside the Church, for walking in the light outside.
We are to do this because the days are evil. This is not the evil of the Last Days, as it is usually taken, because the Second Coming is not in view here. Rather, this evil is the evil of any day, of our best days, in a fallen world. At our best we are lonely, frustrated, misunderstood, rejected, subject to feelings of worthlessness--because of the futility built into the cursed world since the Fall. Therefore, there is great need for Christians to be light in such a world, to (literally) buy up all their opportunities, not leaving any on the shelf. Even if Christ does not come back in our lifetime, life is short, and therefore opportunities, being limited, are precious.
The other reason given to redeem the time is that it is the will of the Lord, v. 17. The word translated foolish here is aphron, mindless. It means a failure to apply the intelligence God has given toward its appropriate ends. So we are to "understand" what the will of the Lord is--not just to know it but to be able to see how it flows from the truths and principles that lie behind it and how it applies to the world we live in, and then act accordingly. When we do that we will redeem the time because we will realize that life is precisely an opportunity to return the love of the One who loved us while we were yet sinners.
Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living, and he was right. If only he could have examined his own life in the light of Scripture, as we are given the opportunity to do here! Our steps should therefore be not haphazard but planned in accordance with the truths taught in this book. And then they will indeed redeem the time.
Dusk to dusk and dawn to dawn, Starlight, sunlight slip away. Ubi sunt, where have they gone? All the sages cannot say.
Many things will be restored: Sanctity in flesh of men. But hours squandered from the hoard Never will return again.
Ubi sunt, where have they gone? All the sages cannot say. Hence the message of the dawn: Carpe diem! Sieze the day.
Here endeth the lesson