Every week, each of us has 168 hours. If we were to try to account for those hours, we may allocate about 56 hours to sleep and 40-60 hours for employment, including commutes. That leaves 50-70 hours/week for shopping, education, family, church, and household responsibilities. Once all of that is factored into the equation, the Wall Street Journal recently concluded the average American still has 5 hours and 13 minutes a day for leisure activities. That should lead us to ask ourselves a few questions.
- What do we usually do with those hours?
- What did we do with them this past week?
- How much time did we spend intentionally heeding the command of Scripture to live the Christ-centered life? If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:1-2).
If you and I are honest, we must admit that nothing is so easy to do as waste time, nothing is easier than simply coasting through the Christian life without the intentional pursuit of Christ. And yet, as new creatures in Christ, living for Him is our calling. As 2 Corinthians 5:15 states, Jesus died so that “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
We find the same message in the book of Ephesians. After spending three chapters lifting up the glory of God our Savior, the apostle calls us to walk in manner worthy of our calling in Christ (Eph. 4:1). Ephesians 4 then provides numerous examples of what attitudes and behaviors should characterize this new walk. Then, in the fifth chapter, we are called to walk in love, walk in holiness, walk in light, and walk in wisdom.
But what does it mean to walk in wisdom? In part, it means to use our time wisely (but we’ll get to that in a minute). To walk in wisdom means we must continually walk two ways.
Walk with care (vv. 15-16).
The apostle commands us to look carefully how we walk. The KJV says, “circumspectly.” The word means to walk by a strict standard. Kenneth Wuest, in his Greek Studies in the New Testament, illustrates the word this way: “It is like a motorist accurately following on the right side of the center line dividing traffic.” Walking carefully means heeding 1 Thessalonians 5:22, to abstain from every form of evil. Our walk is the conduct of our lives, which should not be unwise like Nabal in the Old Testament, who was known for being a foolish man, or the five foolish virgins who did not prepare for the future, especially eternity.
Instead, we are to walk with wisdom, which refers to applying the knowledge we have acquired. A wise man is one who lives by a strict standard, a standard that is established by his study and understanding of God’s Word. This is what it means to walk carefully. An anonymous author described the circumspect life in his or her poem entitled Be Careful.
Be careful of your thoughts
For your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words
For your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions
For your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits
For your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character
For your character becomes your destiny.
Walking with care means making the best use of the time. This phrase means to buy up at the market place; i.e. seize the opportunity. Why? Because the days are evil. We live in a day when evil is more than passive, it is active evil; evil in active opposition to good; moral corruption. The world is evil and needs the Lord. We must seize the day, using our time wisely for the advancement of the gospel (Col. 4:5). Our days are limited. We must use them for the sake of Christ.
Walk with understanding (v. 17).
The apostle continues his call to walk in wisdom by saying we should not be foolish; i.e. without understanding, senseless. The word refers to imprudence, folly in action, stupidity. In other words, the apostle is telling us it is senseless to live our lives without conscious thought of the will of God. Instead we are to understand the will of the Lord. This spiritual understanding is something we gain from the Word of God, but also through prayer (see Colossians 1:9-10).
Spiritual understanding begins with a posture of reverence toward God and His Word. Psalm 111:10 says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. Understanding the will of God comes when we offer our life to him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2).
Life is short. It is too short to waste in the pursuit of our own will. Therefore, how will we use the hours and years the Lord gives to us? Will we use them carefully and wisely? Or will we spend them foolishly? This poem and prayer by A. B. Simpson has always convicted my own heart. Consider its message.
God has his best things for the few
That dare to stand the test.
He has his second choice for those
Who will not have his best.
It is not always open ill
That risks the promised rest.
The better often is the foe
That keeps us from the best.
Give me, O Lord, thy highest choice;
Let others take the rest.
Their good things have no charm for me
For I have got the best.
[Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon.]