Bible Reading: Ephesians 5:16

Years ago, while I was serving as a Director of Missions for a Baptist Association, I attended our association’s most uniquely located church. Accompanied by my two young sons, we trekked through a cow pasture to get to the church building. My younger son remarked as we walked along, “Daddy, this is a strange place for a church.” I jokingly assured him, however, that there must have been many such churches in biblical times, since the Apostle Paul admonished us in Ephesians 5:15 to “walk circumspectly”; that is, to watch where you’re stepping.

Seriously, the Apostle Paul does admonish us in Ephesians 5:15 to diligently practice circumspection (caution) in our Christian walk. By doing so, we will not carelessly rush through our spiritual pilgrimage like “fools.” Instead, we will prove ourselves “wise” by carefully taking every step. If I might be permitted to paraphrase the Apostle’s directive, he is simply telling us in this verse that we should not sleepwalk through our Christian lives.

How many Christians today are guilty of spiritual sleepwalking? With our world on fire and the sun setting on this sin-cursed planet, how many pew-sitters are more concerned with who will win the next American Idol than with whether or not their lost family and friends are won to Christ? And how about today’s younger generation; how many of them are text messaging and twittering their way through life without any ambition or personal aspirations? 

As Christians, we should be conscious, cautious and careful of every step we take in life. First, we should be careful that every step taken is in accordance with God’s will for our life. We should not take any step outside of God’s will, but be certain that every step we take is within the parameters of God’s will for us. Second, we should also look for an opportunity to serve God in every step that we take. Unless we’re carefully looking for our opportunities, we’ll more than likely miss them.

In the very next verse, Ephesians 5:16, Paul adds an additional admonition for us to observe in our Christian walk. He writes, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” To “redeem the time” means to “buy up our opportunities.” If we fail to take advantage of the opportunity of the moment, it will be lost to us forever. In light of this truth, I put a big sign on my college dorm room door that read, “I pass this way but once.” I wanted to be reminded every morning that each day’s opportunities come my way but once. If I fail to take advantage of them, there will be no second chance.

It was John Greenleaf Whittier who wrote, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Oh, how intolerable it should be for the Christian to be forced to face the missed opportunities of a day and to be left wondering at day’s end what might have been. I pray for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ that they have had far fewer of these haunted evenings than I have.

Did you know that our English word “opportunity” comes from a Latin word which means “toward port”? The Latin word referred to a ship that was taking every advantage, such as the wind and the tide, to get itself toward port. In this same vein, the Christian ought to take every advantage to serve his Lord. In order to do so, however, we must be carefully looking for every advantage that daily presents itself to us in the service of Christ. Only by being this diligent in our Christian lives, will we be able to seize the moment and maximize our Christian service.

As a beloved old hymn teaches us, we should live our Christian lives moment by moment. Each moment should be viewed as a precious commodity, since life itself is comprised of mere moments. Every fleeting moment of life should be carefully scrutinized as to our obedience to God’s will and carefully surveyed for any opportunity presented to us to do God’s work. Permit me to conclude this piece with Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays’ powerful poem, “Life Is Just A Minute.” Nowhere is the importance of life’s moments captured better in verse than in this little rhyme.

Life is just a little minute, only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give an account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny, little minute,
But eternity is in it!