"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
Before dealing further with the command to make the best use of the time, let's take a look at Paul's motivating clause: "because the days are evil." What does that mean?
Well, let's think about the original context of the letter. What was life like in Ephesus for these Christians to whom Paul was writing?
Look at chapter 4, verse 17: "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." And then Paul goes on to describe Ephesian culture in the next two verses: "They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity."
And the description continues throughout the next several passages: there are deceitful desires, lying, stealing, corrupt talk, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice, sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, crude joking, idolatry, & unfruitful works of darkness which - Paul says - are too shameful even to speak of, and the list goes on & on...
The days were definitely evil.
But if you explore the history of Ephesus after Paul, you see that days were going to get even more evil. In less than 100 years from the time Paul wrote this letter, the Roman government would begin to persecute Christians in this city. Believers would be burnt alive, thrown to hungry lions, abused, and brutalized.
In the second chapter of the book of Revelation, the Lord writes a letter to the church of Ephesus. In it he commends the church for their good works, their perseverance, and for their stand against false teaching.
But then he goes on to say this...
"But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent."
But it seems as if this church did not heed the Lord's warning. It seems that they did not use the TIME that God gave them for repentance. During the 2nd Century their lampstand was removed. The Ephesian Church disappeared. It ceased to exist. And from what I understand, there hasn't been much of a Christian congregation there since.
They did not "redeem the time" -or- "make the best use of the time" - that the Lord gave them for repentance.
May we learn from their example.
Okay. The days are evil. The stakes are high. That's our motivating clause. But still... what does it mean to make the best use of our time?
... to be continued ...