Practical Christianity

A Reformed Christian Blog in Nigeria

A New Year’s Charge

It is a new year, and as is usually the case, there is a surge of optimism in us that all will be well. Somehow, our minds seem to be conditioned to switch from despair, hopelessness, and pessimism once the clock chimes 12 o’clock on January 1. Even the irreligious will say to themselves, “old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.” 

We all like fresh starts and nothing stirs our hopes in a positive direction than the commencement of a new year. A survey of crossover night services proves this point. Positive declarations like “it will be well”, “this year is your year” and other such statements ring out from pulpits with a loud cry of amen given in response from the eager and worked-up congregation.

But as the past has proven, reality soon sets in and, sadly, the old things we thought had passed away, we soon realize never really did. 

What is tragic about this is that the reality of our world is clearly spelled out in Scripture and is manifest all around us. In Ephesians 5:16, Apostle Paul describes the days as evil. By days, the apostle may have in mind generally the state of the world after the fall or specifically, the last days i.e., the period between our Lord Jesus’ ascension and his second advent. Both are applicable but the latter is more likely the case.

This present world is evil (Galatians 1:4) and the majority of its inhabitants will proceed from bad to worse (2 Tim. 3:13). If ever there was any prophecy to be given, it is this. Saying the days are evil is not a scare tactic but the reality of this world from the moment Adam disobeyed God in the garden and sin became the fabric of our existence.

All of this is to say that 2022 is a continuation of the evil days. The chiming of the clock at midnight on January 1 did not change that. All the positive proclamations cannot wish away this reality.

What Then?

Are we to fold our hands and not act? No. In that same portion of Scripture, Apostle Paul gives a very useful instruction in light of the evil days. 

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NASB).

The Apostle, having expounded the rich indicatives of the precious gift of salvation wrought through the Lord Jesus Christ in the first three chapters, began to unfold the application of these truths in the various spheres of life of the church in chapters four to six. The word representing the thrust of his application is ‘walk’ (Ephesians 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15) i.e., live.

In the immediate context of verse 15, the word ‘therefore’ indicates the apostle was resuming the train of exhortations begun in verse 7. Those who are light in the Lord ought to take care how they walk. The word careful (circumspect, KJV) indicates an attentiveness to how one lives his life. 

Those who throw caution to the wind are unwise or foolish men. Such men disregard the treacherous nature of the heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and the craftiness of Satan (Gen 3:15). Such are the men who went about their normal lives while Noah built an ark or like Lot’s wife who looked back though sufficiently warned by the angels.

Unwise men are those who do not guard their hearts diligently. They are the ignorant who dwell in darkness and reject the light. They make light of truth and teachings on the judgment to come; for them sin is the way of life. And so Paul exhorts true believers not to be like them. 

The second charge following this is to make the most of your time or redeem the time or make the most of every opportunity. Time is both a precious and scarce commodity. Apostle Paul is keenly aware of the fact that evil days means we only have a limited amount of time to live lives pleasing to the Lord; if death does not come for us, our Lord’s imminent return will take place. Our times are not in our hands, and so good judgment of these truths ought to lead us to make the most of our opportunities. 

Dear child of God, what Paul wrote all those years ago is as applicable today as it was when he wrote it. One may even argue more so today seeing how devastatingly evil the current generation is. While you harbor hopes of change in the outlook and direction of your life (this is not necessarily a bad thing), know for a fact that the days are evil and your ever-present resolve should be to live carefully and make the most of every opportunity. There is nothing more important

How?

First, the evil days should not deter you from making the most or best use of every opportunity. The apostle writing this letter while in a prison cell is proof of this. The evil days of 2022 are not grounds for laziness. History bears witness that the church has made great progress in advancing the gospel in times of terrible evil perpetrated by men.

Secondly, make the most of every opportunity in 2022 to know God. In John 17:3, the Lord Jesus Christ, in his high priestly prayer, said to know the Father and himself the Son is eternal life. In other words, the essence of being is to know God. The means by which this may be accomplished is the word of God and prayer. To this end, we ought to sit under the faithful preaching of Scripture and invest ample time in the private study of the same. Consequently, we ought to draw near to God in prayer. 

Thirdly, make the most of every opportunity in 2022 to make God known. The fact that the days are evil is enough reason to stir our hearts and move our feet to bear witness to that name revealed from heaven by which men will be saved. Parents, seize every opportunity to bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The world ferociously seeks their souls and is adept at utilizing every opportunity to convince them of its ways; will you then be lazy stewards of their souls? 

Outside our homes, we have family members, colleagues at work, coursemates at school, and acquaintances of every shade whom we are best positioned to reach with the gospel. Let us make the time we have, count for something noble, and what is nobler than heralding Christ to lost sinners.

Lastly, and by no means least, let us make every opportunity in 2022 to put sin to death. This is Apostle Paul’s charge to believers in Romans 8:13. Evil is sure to increase in 2022 (2 Tim. 3:13) and believers will be caught in the crosshairs of Satan’s darts. As it was in Job’s day, Satan roams about on the earth (Job 1:7; 2:2) but not aimlessly (1 Peter 5:8). 

The reason the days are evil is because of sin, and to deliver us from its clutches and damning consequences, God sent his only begotten Son to pay the ultimate price for our ransom. What greater motivation do we have to wage war against remaining corruption in 2022 than this knowing that we are assured of victory? 

Dear friends much more can be said, but let these few thoughts serve for now in directing your minds on how you should think about the year in front of us. And may the Lord be pleased to bless your considerations with fruit.

Soli deo Gloria!

Osi Nwoko

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