See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16—NKJV)

When I was a boy there was a sixth grade joke circulating that went something like this: “What two musical notes does a tightrope walker need to remember? C sharp, or B flat.” Frankly, I am not sure it was ever that funny, but if you will bear with me, you will see how it serves to illustrate the point of our text.

Our discussion focuses on the word “circumspectly.” The English word means to be watchful, cautious and prudent, to look around. It translates a Greek word (from which we get the word “acrobat”) whose root meaning is to go up high. It could better be translated carefully, precisely, and accurately. Paul means to challenge believers to live with the utmost care and concentration in order to maintain an irreproachable life.

Just as any daredevil high-wire performance requires strict adherence to the fundamentals, profound respect for the dangers, and fine-tuned attention to the details, so the believer’s life must be prosecuted with professional precision. Anything less and the musical prophecy will be fulfilled with startling results.

The first half of the fifth chapter of Ephesians describes the training which allows a believer to have “high-wire” credentials. First, Paul identifies the narrowness of the rope, the path which believers are to traverse (verses 1–7). Second, Paul teaches the technique (verses 8–14).

Paul’s opening admonition is to imitate God with childlike simplicity. Such fundamental obedience requires a life lived in loving sacrifice for the glory of God. The believer has graciously received great freedom and liberty to practically imitate the nature of God by lip and life. This freedom leads to a thankful heart expressed while living a life with a clear demarcation between obedience and disobedience. Sin is clearly and unmistakably identified, named, and forsaken. For the believer, sinning is like stepping off into the air for the acrobat.

A genuine believer will go to great lengths to separate himself from the very appearance of evil. He will have such a desire to be obedient that he will tirelessly grapple with any “gray area” until, in the light of the Bible, he has discerned whether any given behavior is right or wrong. Obedience is that important to him, and to his God.

The technique for traversing safely to the other side is “walking as children of light.” The believer keeps his eyes open, taking advantage of the light. His steps are sure for there is a firmness of footing where the Spirit of God directs his path in goodness, righteousness and truth. These things are acceptable to the Lord.

His balance is maintained by observing with precision the difference between right and wrong, and he walks upright in the path of the Lord. He will not bend in partnership with evil. His life is a testimony of righteousness vindicated by the Lord, and the Lord alone.

The wise believer will conduct his behavior with high precision in order to faithfully serve God. In so doing he is redeeming (buying up for oneself or for one’s advantage) the time (opportune seasons) because, as we all know, the days are evil.

Gravity would love to get the upper hand and bring the acrobat down. The only thing that keeps the acrobat safe is following the path and remaining faithful to the technique.

Have you entrusted the redemption of your soul to the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ? Without His grace you are doomed in your sin. If you have trusted, are you observing the admonition of the text? Is there sin in your life which must be confessed and forsaken? Are you walking uprightly in the light? Trust and obey.