“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
In this passage Paul instructs us to be wise in the way we use our time. He tells us to pay careful attention to how we live our lives and do our work. Paul links together how we walk, how we use our time, and wisdom. No matter what job you have, no matter your personal or professional situation …a successful life requires the wise use of time.
The ancient Greeks used two different words for time: chronos and kairos.
Chronos refers to quantity of time. It refers to the passage of time as measured by the clock and calendar. Chronos is the duration and amount of time, such as “that will take 30 minutes” or “the shipment will arrive in two weeks.” The best representation of chronos may be the phrase, “the clock is running.”
Wise people pay attention to chronos. They plan and manage their action within the time available. They know how much time there is.
Kairos refers to quality of time. It is time judged not by its duration, but by its value. Kairos is a single moment or period of time that has significance. A simple illustration might be: “the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded” or “let’s go out to dinner on our anniversary.”
Kairos is a point of time—or a fixed period of time—that demands a response. It is a time in which life-shaping decisions are made. It is a defining moment or season. Wise people recognize and respond to kairos moments. They know what kind of time it is.
Kairos is the word for time that is used here in Ephesians 5.15-16. Paul is telling us to be aware of how much time we have every day and to pay special attention to the kairos moments. Paul makes it clear that to recognize and respond to those situations in life and at work, we must look carefully, we must be wise, and we must know and understand the will of God.
There are kairos moments during your day. There are situations that arise that require you to slow down and respond. Look carefully for those moments and listen for God’s voice of wisdom.
There are kairos seasons in your life. There are times in your life which require you to adjust your normal routine and pay special attention. Look carefully for those seasons and listen for God’s voice of wisdom.
Clock/calendar time—chronos—moves on inexorably. And it moves fast. But let’s not get so caught up in the pace and pressure and demands of clock/calendar time that we miss the kairos moments.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90.12)