A diligent person also looks carefully how he walks, “not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). This kind of care requires a cultivated vigilance. It does not come naturally to most of us.
Most of us have a natural inclination to coast, to fall into familiar ruts of thinking and behaving. Most of us have sinful or defective habits of emotional responses to certain situations and relational dynamics that were conditioned in childhood and adolescence. We might hardly notice them because we’re not looking carefully. Most of us don’t want to expend the mental, emotional and spiritual energy to cultivate a vigilant care over how we walk.
Which means most of us are not wise. I know I’m not by nature. I don’t have a natural inclination to this kind of vigilance. But I’m old enough now to realize the real, long-term benefits of vigilance where I’ve applied it—as well as the consequences where I’ve not applied it. This only increases my resolve to abandon the foolishness of carelessness and to look more carefully how I walk.
And finally, diligent people faithfully persevere in cultivating and applying a discerning focus, a sense of urgency, and a vigilant care over how they live. This is not explicit in the text, but it is surely implicit, especially in the word “time” (Ephesians 5:16).
The “evil days” describe the age in which we live. Every one of the days we live as Christians on earth, until we are taken by death or Jesus returns, are embattled with evil, which Paul makes clear in Ephesians 6. The dangers of falling into sin or giving ourselves to “civilian pursuits” do not disappear. Paul’s exhortation is one we must apply “every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of [us] may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
Whatever It Takes
All diligence is hard work. But Christian diligence goes beyond hard work to a Spirit-empowered cultivating of a discerning focus, sense of urgency, vigilant carefulness and faithful perseverance. And a Christian knows that without God’s help, we’ll miss the mark and waste a lot of life on a lot of sin and “civilian pursuits.” So we pray:
Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to do your will with all diligence.