Summary: Paul continues his emphasis on the Christian’s walk and the necessity of using wisdom (#6 in The Christian Victor series)
“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Paul’s great theme in chapters 4 and 5 has been the walk of the Christian. He has presented his exhortations and encouragements from numerous angles. We are united in Christ. We are His body; members of one another. We are each, by virtue of the talents He has given us, gifts to the church for the function of worship and ministry.
We are now expected to grow up. To learn Christ and understand that through regeneration we have been created anew in the likeness of God.
He talks once more of putting off the old self and putting on the new. He speaks of laying aside all of the habits and behaviors that marked the old man, and taking up and demonstrating the behaviors that are befitting one who has Christ in him.
You are light in the Lord, he says. You once were darkness, but now you are light.
Walk accordingly. Do not participate with those who are darkness, in their deeds of darkness. Bring light into their darkness and by your presence and your Godly behavior, expose to them the danger and destructiveness of those things done in darkness.
It’s the walk. It is all based on the daily walk of the believer. With all that he is saying, his fundamental message is, don’t walk like who you were before Christ, rather, in His power and direction, walk like who you are now, in Him.
So he continues that theme in our text verses today, and we’ll see that he begins to get more specific now with the things that should be avoided and the things that should be practiced in wisdom and brotherly love.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Different translations use different words here in verse 15 to define how the believer is to walk. Careful, Circumspectly, Purposefully, Accurately; the Wycliff translation says, “Therefore, brethren, see ye, how warily ye shall go…”
At least two translations say “Look carefully”.
Taking all these together we can get a picture of a troop of soldiers trying to pick their way through a mine field without triggering any of the mines. Or a man crossing an old rope bridge with some of the boards broken or missing. You don’t just go tripping merrily along in cases like those.
That’s the strength of emphasis Paul is making here. He is telling us that the Christian’s daily walk, to be successful and spiritually fruitful, and to avoid disaster, must be one of diligence, accuracy, wariness (not weariness), purpose.
Preston Collins, who is serving a Baptist church in Oklahoma, included in his newsletter
a section of a U.S. Government Peace Corps Manual for volunteers who work in the Amazon Jungle instructing them in what to do in case one is attacked by an anaconda.
I cannot confirm that this manual actually exists, but whether real or concocted, it makes its point.
This is what the alleged manual said:
1. If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.
3. Tuck your chin in.
4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.
5. Do not panic. (‘scuse me?)
6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet end -- always from the feet end. (Does the U.S. government guarantee this?) Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.
7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
8. When the snake has reached your knees, slowly, and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the side of the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upward, severing the snake’s head.
9. Be sure you have your knife.
10. Be sure your knife is sharp.
As I said, I can’t verify the existence of this manual, but having done time in the U.S. Military, have no trouble accepting that it’s out there somewhere.
It is difficult for us to stay mindful of, ~ in our society of comforts and protection by the law and law enforcers, and immediate gratification virtually in arms reach for any need; perceived or real ~ but the Christian lives in a world of spiritual danger, spiritual warfare, and Paul admonishes him to walk warily and ready for anything.
Pastor Collins wasn’t preaching in Ephesians 5 when he used this anaconda illustration, but he followed it with this observation and I thought it fit well here. He said: