I tend to be hypervigilant when it comes to trying to stay safe or making sure I have what I need. I tend to think ahead about possible bad scenarios that might arise, and what I’ll do if they do arise. I’m probably not the only one who does this.
So when I read the first three words of this little passage from Paul, it struck that place in me:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15-16)
There is a “be very careful how you live” that grows out of grace and peace, and there is one that is rooted in fear. There is a care that is based in love and a caution that grows out of anxiety. Maybe we could even paraphrase this first line as “care well for your life.” This sort of care is a wise thing to do at a time when there is a lot of without-God realities in play these days. (That’s how I read “evil” here).
So much of our world is oriented to a way of life without vital, interactive relationship with God. There is a great deal of carelessness in people’s lives. But Paul isn’t mainly making cultural commentary. He is mainly offering personal counsel to his friends. He wants to encourage us and stimulate us to care well for our actual lives.
Wisdom sees actual life, and real life is God-drenched. If my vision for life is God-thin, I will probably be unwise in the ways I live my life. God is with us in every single moment. We make the most of each moment when we remember this and live in this light. I don’t want to let the culture around me define life in a way that has little to do with the real, gracious, loving, generous presence of a Father in heaven.
I don’t want to allow a world that thinks that getting more, achieving more, impressing more people is the way to a full life to shape my intentions and actions. I want to be fully awake to my life and to the goodness God is always preparing for me.