“Look carefully, then, how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, for the days are evil.”
The clock in the photo above looks out over St. Mark’s square in Venice, Italy. On the one hand it serves, as all clocks do, to measure movement as people go from place to place. At the same time it reminds us that movement within what we call time is temporal.
Scripture and our experience in time reveal to us that life is lived against the backdrop of this critical, temporal situation. St. Paul brings this home in the verse from Ephesians. Life is not a neutral ‘tabula rasa’ on which we simply write our experience for good or for ill. The Biblical witness makes it clear that we live in a creation in which evil militates against us. “…the days are evil”, Paul says.
There are many ways of describing this evil, to be sure. From the fiery images of the Bible’s apocalyptic writings (Daniel and Revelation) to the modern insights of evil as manifest in complex human behavior and institutions. But however we describe it, evil is a force which works, day by day, to pervert and destroy God’s good creation. Paul wants the church to keep this firmly in mind.
As people of faith, therefore, we enter the realm of the day with our eyes wide open. There is no room in the Christian faith for the naieve optimism of “Pollyanna”. We embrace with gratitude the gift of each day conscious of its untried opportunities, but we do so under the sign of the cross. We remember that like our Master, Jesus, our faithful walk in time takes place in a largely faithless world. Sometimes our lives exhibit in thought, word and deed just how close at hand and powerful evil can be. St. Paul once underscored this fact when he lamented the frequency with which he did the very things, as a Christian, he had resolved not to do (Romans 7).
Will we make the most of the time allotted to us? Of course not. That’s part of what it means to be caught in the reality we call sin. We will and do inevitably squander the gift of time in one way or another. But Jesus has overcome evil through His death on the cross. That’s the decisive thing for us. Because of Christ’s victory, we know that time itself has been gathered up in His grace! So, Christian, “make the most of the time” – that wonderful gift – but make even more of the greatest gift of all – the boundless grace of God that forgives sinners and bears with us in love – in time and eternity!
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”