Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16

According to Ephesians 5, we are to live wisely, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion we’ll examine “making the most of every opportunity.” Today I want to zero in on the curious phrase “because the days are evil.” What are we to make of this? Do we live in evil days?

the head of a snakeThe notion of evil days does not condemn the literal calendar. Ephesians 5:16 is not saying the hours of our lives are somehow actually wicked. Rather, the expression “the days are evil” puts in a nutshell the truth that these days are filled with evil. We are reminded of the description of life apart from Christ in Ephesians 2:1-2, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” The days in which we live are evil because they are permeated with sin and because they are dominated by the powers of darkness.

From a biblical point of view, evil does not reside only in those who do obviously horrible things such as perpetrating terror or killing innocent children. Rather, we all live in evil days. We all confront evil in our lives, both around us and in our own hearts. Moreover, as we will see later in Ephesians, we all live in a time when the battle between good and evil rages (see Ephesians 6:10-20). Yet, we are not stuck. We are not captive. We are not without hope. When we acknowledge the evil of the days, we have a chance to do make a difference for good. Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about this.

I’m reminded of a line from a prayer Jesus taught his disciples: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). Traditionally, we ask to be delivered from evil. The NIV translation goes with the arguably preferable reading, “deliver us from the evil one.” Yet, whichever rendering is right, the request in the Lord’s Prayer acknowledges the reality and power of evil. It is something from which we need to be delivered. And it also acknowledges that God can and will deliver us from evil if we ask. The reality of evil should not frighten or discourage us because our all-powerful and all-good God is on our side.

Something to Think About:

When you think of the days being evil, what comes to mind?

Does the thought that the days in which we live are evil fill you with despair? Fear? Hope? Conviction?

If it’s true that the days are evil, what difference might this make in the way you live each day?

Something to Do:

Several times throughout the day, take a moment to pray the Lord’s Prayer, reflecting as you do on the line “deliver us from evil” or “deliver us from the evil one.” What do you sense God saying to you as you pray this line?

Prayer:

Gracious God, at first I find unsettling the notion that the days are evil. I don’t want this to be true. I want to be more optimistic. Yet as I reflect on the world around me, though there is goodness to be found, there is also plenty of evil. I see it in major tragedies, in pernicious violence, in dignity-denying racism, and, if I’m honest, in my own heart and actions. I am not untouched by evil, nor am I completely free of its grip.

Thus, today I pray that you’ll give me eyes to see what is real. Take off the blinders that keep me from seeing what’s wrong in the world and in my own heart. With Jesus I pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” Deliver me, O God, from evil. Set me free from the sin that holds me fast. Use me as an instrument of your goodness and justice as I oppose evil in all of its forms.

All praise to you, Lord Jesus, because yours is the victory over evil, sin, and death. Amen.

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commentary:
Salt and Light in the World of Work (Matthew 5:13-16)