Active or Passive Living

"Idle hands are the Devil's workshop," or "idle minds are the Devil's playground," are sayings that you may have heard before. These phrases or similar phrases date back to sermons and writings in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The point is that if you are idle or passive, it is easier for Satan to tempt you to sin.

Ephesians 5:15-16 carries this same idea.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

When someone walks "circumspectly," they are looking all around them at all times. They are on the look out for something, whether it be good or dangerous. If you were in war or you knew that someone was out to get you, you wouldn't walk around carefree. You'd be careful. As Paul points out in Ephesians here, only a fool would live passively, if they were aware of the danger. The danger is evil, outside and inside ourselves.

You've probably heard the phrase "the devil made me do it." The problem with that statement is that we often give him more credit than he deserves. We often tempt ourselves to sin. That is why Paul writes that we should always be on the look out, but for what? There are two categories of things we need to be aware of:  (1) sin (or the temptation to sin), things that we ought not to do; (2) opportunities, things that God gives us that we ought to do.

When it comes to sin, we need to look out for ways in which we could be tempted. We shouldn't be alone with anyone of the opposite gender that is not our spouse or family. If we have a natural leaning towards a particular sin, then we should set up safeguards to keep ourselves from those sins. We need to guard ourselves. 

We also need to be on the look out for opportunities. God will give us moments or opportunities to serve Him, and we need to look out for those moments and seize them. Paul writes that we should walk aware of our surroundings, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. When Paul writes about redeeming the time, he is talking about using our time wisely. Avoiding sin and striving to serve God is a good use of the time.

Paul's point here is that we should always be seeking to serve God because the days are evil. If we do nothing, this world and those we love who are in the world will remain trapped in sin and evil. We have to be active in redeeming the time. How do we do that? In our homes, we seek to be families that serve God, we spend time with Him every day, and we encourage and lead our children to follow Him. In our Churches, we look for ways to reach out to the those who are not following Him, we take note of those who have strayed from following Him, we work together and encourage one another to continue serving Him, and we make sure that those who do come to follow Him are taught how to faithfully serve Him. Literally we take charge of every moment of every day and strive to make it about God.

Remember that idleness, or passive living, is the place where Satan can do the most damage. If we are busy about doing God's Work, being close to Him will make us wise enough to make the right decisions. So will you live actively or passively?

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16