“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)
God has convicted me so strongly on this subject I went to Dr. John Gill and Matthew Henry to assist in my studies and pray their teachings may benefit others as much as it has myself. I will provide more personal insights I have learned at the end of the post.
Here are a few thoughts from Dr. John Gill on these verses:
Ver. 15. See then that ye walk circumspectly,…. “a man should see to it that he does walk, and to the way in which he walks, and how he walks; that he walks circumspectly, with his eyes about him; that he walks with diligence, caution, accuracy, and exactness, to the uttermost of his strength and power; and with wisdom and prudence, looking well to his going”……
Wow, some of the words he uses: “diligence”, “caution”, “exactness”, “uttermost of his strength and power”. To me, these are words that are very purposeful, representing ultra alertness, awareness and carefulness to control what influences our lives and how our lives influence others.
….“not as fools, but as wise” “such walk like fools, whose eyes are not upon their ways; who walk in their own ways, which are crooked, and ways of darkness, and lead to destruction; who walk after the flesh, and naked, without the garments of a holy life and conversation; and with lamps, but no oil in them: and such walk as wise men, who walk according to the rule of God’s word, make Christ their pattern, have the Spirit for their guide, and walk as becomes the Gospel of Christ; inoffensively to all men, in wisdom towards them that are without, and in love to them that are within; and as pilgrims and strangers in this world, looking for a better country; and so as to promote the glory of God, and the good of souls.”
WOW! My prayer is for God to place upon me the “garment of holy life and conversation”…..walking circumspectly “as a pilgrim and stranger in this world, looking for a better country…so as to promote the glory of God.” I almost get physically ill when I think of the decades I have wasted walking as a fool focused on things of this world and lusts of the flesh, causing others to stumble and continue in deception and false comfort.
Ver 16: “Redeeming the time”,…. Or “buying time”; a like expression is used in Da 2:8, which we render, gain time: but in the Chaldee text it is, “buy time”: and so Jacchiades, a Jewish commentator on the place, renders it, Myrkmn Mta tazh teh, “ye buy this opportunity”; and the Septuagint version uses the same phrase the apostle does here; but there it seems to signify a study to prolong time, to put off the business to another season; but here taking time for a space of time, it denotes a careful and diligent use of it, an improvement of it to the best advantage; and shows that it is valuable and precious, and is not to be trifled with, and squandered away, and be lost, as it may be; for it can neither be recalled nor prolonged: and taking it for an opportunity of doing good to ourselves or others, it signifies that no opportunity of discharging our duty to God and man, of attending on the word and ordinances of the Gospel, and to the private and public exercises of religion, of gaining advantage to our own souls, or of gaining the souls of others, and of doing good either to the bodies or souls of men, should be neglected; but even all risks should be run, and means used to enjoy it: in the Syriac and Chaldee languages, anmz, “time”, comes from Nbz, “to redeem”: the reason the apostle gives for the redemption of time is,
because the days are evil; as such are, in which iniquity abounds, and many wicked men live, and errors and heresies prevail, and are days of affliction or persecution; see Ge 47:9.
And here are Matthew Henry’s thoughts on these verses:
(v. 15): See then, etc. This may be understood either with respect to what immediately precedes, “If you are to reprove others for their sins, and would be faithful to your duty in this particular, you must look well to yourselves, and to your own behaviour and conduct” (and, indeed, those only are fit to reprove others who walk with due circumspection and care themselves): or else we have here another remedy or rather preservative from the before-mentioned sins; and this I take to be the design of the apostle, being impossible to maintain purity and holiness of heart and life without great circumspection and care. Walk circumspectly, or, as the word signifies, accurately, exactly, in the right way, in order to which we must be frequently consulting our rule, and the directions we have in the sacred oracles. Not as fools, who walk at all adventures, and who have no understanding of their duty, nor of the worth of their souls, and through neglect, supineness, and want of care, fall into sin, and destroy themselves; but as wise, as persons taught of God and endued with wisdom from above. Circumspect walking is the effect of true wisdom, but the contrary is the effect of folly. It follows, redeeming the time (v. 16), literally, buying the opportunity. It is a metaphor taken from merchants and traders who diligently observe and improve the seasons for merchandise and trade. It is a great part of Christian wisdom to redeem the time. Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment—one special preservative from sin. They should make the best use they can of the present seasons of grace. Our time is a talent given us by God for some good end, and it is misspent and lost when it is not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future. The reason given is because the days are evil, either by reason of the wickedness of those who dwell in them, or rather “as they are troublesome and dangerous times to you who live in them.” Those were times of persecution wherein the apostle wrote this: the Christians were in jeopardy every hour. When the days are evil we have one superadded argument to redeem time, especially because we know not how soon they may be worse. People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that would stir them up to redeem time.
WOW! Again! So much wisdom and challenge to the Christian! I understand that nothing I do can earn my salvation, and there is a time for rest, relaxation and revitalization. But, I’ve started asking myself when I have the choice as to how I will spend my time, “Is this spiritually beneficial?” “Will this feed my flesh to the detriment of my spiritual health?” “Will this distract me from meditating on Christ and preparing me for when I come before Him?”
Continued in Part Two, Lord willing…..
Susan, this is certainly timely (no pun intended) for me. As I get older I've become more aware that the time we are given truly is a gift from the Lord and to not use it wisely and productively is sin. I struggle daily with this. Thank you for your insights and I'm looking forward to part 2.
I am thankful to the Lord that He has impressed upon your heart to share this with us.
This is something that I'm always in need of hearing, self-evaluating, and praying for wisdom on.
I, too, look forward to part two.
Thank you both, Judy and Shannon, for your comments! I'm thankful to the Lord for using this post to bless you both. Judy, I completely agree with you that the time we are given is truly a gift. And nobody but me is going to be standing before God giving an account for how I spent it. Heavy stuff! But thank God for His mercies to put this instruction in His word and granting us light to obey it with His help. May God help us all in submitting to His word. Thanks again!