8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
I read this section of Ephesians 5 over a week ago, for the umpteenth time. Before, it was those first verses I quote that always struck me. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light...
Walk as children of light. What a command! I love the constant imagery in the New Testament of light versus darkness, of being the light, reflecting the light, living the light. (Y'all might remember my post on how we should shine...). It's something I've thought about and talked about a lot because, well, it's just so powerful. So deep. So thought-provoking. It's always struck a chord.
But this last time when I read this chapter, it was verses 15 and 16 that slammed me. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Did you catch that? That bit about redeeming the time? I never had. When I pondered redemption before, it was always as something we received, that beautiful gift of Christ. He redeemed us. That means he saved us from death. Literally purchased our life with his own. According to dictionary.com, this is the technical definition of "redeem":
1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage.
2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.
3. to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.
4. to exchange (bonds, trading stamps, etc.) for money or goods.
5. to convert (paper money) into specie.
Understanding how that applies to our souls is big. Huge. But it's used differently here. Here we are not the redeemed...we are the redeemer.
Yikes. I don't think I ever paused to realize before the sheer responsibility Paul is showing us here. That we are the redemption of our time, of our age. Though surrounded by evil, we are to buy our neighbors more time to learn the Good News. We're to be those ten righteous men in Sodom that would have stayed judgment. We're to be the David for the sake of whom the nation isn't forsaken.
We're to be the light that staves off the darkness.
Of course it comes back to that. ;-) That is, after all, the instruction on how to redeem the times. On what it looks like when we walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise. But I'll no longer read that as a simple command to do--now I also see the inherent why.
Because we don't shine into the darkness to light our own way. We shine in the darkness to draw others to Him. We shine to show the Truth to those trapped in the dim, dim cave (thank you, Plato). We shine because without us the days would be night, and there would be no reason for God to withhold His judgment from the world.
But the world isn't ready to be destroyed. And it's up to us to buy it a little more time. To pay with ourselves, just as Jesus did for us. To give our lives to this walk, this Way, this fight, so that just one more souls can see the path. Can be bought and forgiven. Can be redeemed.
Can then join the ranks of those redeeming. It's a call to action, that charge. A purpose. One that changes the way I see that dark, evil world around me. Not just as something deserving destruction--but as something that needs to be saved from it.