“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”- Ephesians 5:15-16
There is a song which has recently gained popularity by Josh Groban and Angie Stone titled Prayer. It begins with these words:
”I pray you’ll be our eyes,
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to our place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe.”
These words express a common theme which runs through the New Testament concerning the Christian walk. Simply put, there are times when the Christian does not know how to walk. The way can become dark, confused and discouraging. This is indeed a time to ask for the Lord to be our eyes, to watch over us, and to lead us to our place. But the words suggest something better. They ask for wisdom to know the way so that, rather than walking in a cloud, the Christian is walking a well marked path. This, I believe, is walking circumspectly.
The word circumspectly means to walk exactly or diligently. It does not mean that the Christian can achieve perfection in this life, that one may live above and beyond sin. Walking circumspectly is walking in knowledge given. As we have suggested, this is quite different than claiming ignorance and God knows the truth of the matter in our own individual lives.
This kind of walking is observed all through the Bible. When God’s people faced the great walls of Jericho I am sure they were discouraged. They, too, were asking for guidance. God’s commandment was this: “And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets”. To men of war, this probably seemed like unwise military stratagem. Why not make a great battering ram and knock a hole in the wall and march in with God’s strength. As we all know, they followed God’s plan. They walked circumspectly. They did it exactly as God commanded. Do you think the great walls would have fallen if they had compassed the city only six days? Or, perhaps, if only five priests had blown with five trumpets? Or, what if they had not used ram’s horns, but substituted the brass horn instead? This is walking circumspectly, walking exactly as God has said. It is the simplest way. It does not require the reading of many books, though books may be enjoyed. It does not require the knowledge of deep doctrinal truths, though they are wonderful to explore. Walking circumspectly must begin with the faith of a child. What was difficult about walking around Jericho? They had the rest of the day for themselves. What was so hard about blowing a ram’s horn? Surely, that was not hard to understand. Is “Honor the sabbath day and keep it holy” a difficult passage? Or, “Honour thy father and thy mother”? How about, “Thou shalt not steal” or “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. The simplicity of this walk is spelled out all through the scriptures by the many godly virtues that every Christian has some knowledge of. This walking should cause us all to examine our own hearts. What do I know? Am I asking for guidance when I am not walking in the light I have been given? Am I to read God’s word to know how to walk circumspectly? Am I to be in God’s house to be taught how I am to walk circumspectly? Though the flesh will claim ignorance, the spirit knows. The Christian must believe that great walls collapse when things are done as God has commanded.
If you will notice, walking circumspectly is compared to redeeming the time. This means to make the best use of the time that God has given us. In this regard, all are equal. Every person has twenty-four hours in a day. One person has noted that “Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” Even old Ben Franklin said, “If we take care of minutes, the years will take care of themselves”. We all need divine help to walk this way. Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!