So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– Ephesians 5:15-20
I was running down the street, heading for a nearby fast food restaurant. It was noon and I had another college class soon. I had to hurry if I wanted to eat. Suddenly I stepped into a hole and turned my ankle. It hurt! But somehow I managed to get to the restaurant and back in time for my class. Only later that night did I discover how badly I had sprained my ankle. It was black and blue and it ached. The next day I could put no pressure on it.
I hadn’t seen it coming, but I was a bit careless. I should have watched more closely. Then perhaps I would not have hurt myself so badly. I hit a pitfall and suffered for it.
“Be careful how you live…” are words easily dismissed. We know where we’re going. We know how to get there. If we have a mishap we can call a friend – or a wrecker! So we think. And often we can do just that. Misstep? We can often find our way of the troubles we encounter. Grace abounds, and we’re thankful for it.
But these words are not meant only to warn us from avoiding pitfalls. These words are meant to alert us to greater possibilities than merely staying out of trouble. In fact if we make the most of the opportunities we encounter we may discover greater challenges than we would have if we had merely watched our step and avoided the pitfalls along life’s path.
Imagine what happens if you stay sober at the Christmas party, and rather than falling prey to an illicit liaison, or causing a tragic traffic accident, you discover someone who is genuinely lonely and invest time there. Who knows what dangers you might have helped your new friend avoid because you were careful how you lived. What if, rather than making a fuss about political issues, you struck up a conversation about holiday traditions? You might inspire someone to take out the Christmas decorations afterall, and brighten his life and home with Christmas cheer that he was going to forego this year.
Living a careful life has to do not only with avoiding the pitfalls of sin and Satan. It has to do with being available to the opportunities that God puts before you. In the process you will discover a cause for thanks to God – which is a good thing to do.