Vigilant flexibility ∙
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. – Ephesians 5:15
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.
16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
17 Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
18 Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
19 singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
In June 2020, America entered a difficult new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The remainder of 2020 warranted flexibility and tolerance, trying different ways to adapt to new evidence. In a country with such fractured politics, this was no small challenge.
That challenge was a function of a complicated public-health picture combined with contradictory public attitudes. Even as economic activity resumed, COVID-19 cases rose in many locations. This was not a second wave. Instead, it was a series of spikes of the first surge. In the following months, some States would see infections rise while others fell. The trick would be to manage the constant risk of COVID-19 while restarting normal life.
Instead of a “binary choice” between lockdowns and total freedom, this phase called for “vigilant flexibility,” as states and cities adapted to shifting circumstances. Public officials should strongly encourage masks and distancing as the economy tentatively reopens, and when hotspots arise, they should track the origins and “be ready to curtail specific activities.” We “need to focus on building public confidence” and instilling “the patience to get through what could be a hard fall and winter” (Scott Gottlieb and Yuval Levin June 14, 2020, WSJ).
How should the children of the King live in uncertain times when seen and unseen hazards and difficulties abound? As children of the King, we have a special responsibility. It requires a delicate balance. We are to stand firm upon the foundation of the Truth that we have received and yet be caring, affable, and flexible. We should be willing to modify our words and reactions.
Proverbs 27:12 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Vigilant flexibility is what is needed! The apostle Paul told the Father’s children how to live wisely. Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. – Ephesians 5:15-16
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father has set the bar high for each of His children. But He is also made it possible to attain and realize His standards through the work of the Holy Spirit within us.
Father teach us to walk circumspectly and exercise diligent flexibility in the perilous times in which we live. Encourage us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word translated as carefully, circumspectly is akribos. Akribos has a sense of exactness or thoroughness. When it comes to ethical decisions and behavior, it is often translated diligently, perfectly, circumspectly, or accurately. In other words, “pay close attention to how you behave” (UBS).
Consider how a cat can walk on top of a very thin narrow fence without falling. They are careful where they place each paw as they navigate their way. They walk circumspectly.
How do we live wisely?
Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
At a minimum, the Holy Spirit can be understood as a positive influence and a supernatural power source. He becomes our guide and companion as we navigate our way through life’s choices. The Holy Spirit is just the power source we need to be able to live wisely and walk circumspectly. He provides direction and the ability to accomplish what the Father sets before us.
The Greek verb translated as filled, be full is pleroo. Pleroo means to fill completely, to make full. In this context, it has the sense of being controlled or under the influence. It is contrasted to being intoxicated with alcoholic beverages.
Being filled has to do with control or influence. We take on the characteristics of what controls us. “In other words, the one who is filled is characterized by that which fills him, whether it be fruits of unrighteousness or righteousness (Phil 1:11)” (Hoehner).
In the Greek language, the verb is a command. In simple English, it is a command, not a suggestion. The Father requires us to be filled continuously. Thus it could be accurately translated, “Be constantly, moment by moment, being controlled by the spirit” (Wuest).
The results of being full of the Holy Spirit continuously have a dramatic and wonderful effect. “Being drunk with wine leads to dissipation but being filled by the Spirit leads to joy in fellowship and obedience to the commands of the Lord’s will . . .” (Hoehner).
As we learn to live being filled or under the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, our wisdom grows, and our life choices improve.
Philippians 1:27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ . . . standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
“So, what Paul is saying is: ‘You and I know full well the privileges and the responsibilities of being a Roman citizen. You know full well how even in Philippi, so many miles from Rome, you must still live and act as a Roman does. Well then, remember that you have an even higher duty than that. Wherever you are, you must live as beﬁts a citizen of the kingdom of God.’”
“What does Paul expect from them? He expects them to stand fast. The world is full of Christians on the retreat, who, when things become difﬁcult, play down their Christianity. True Christians stand fast, and unashamed in any company. He expects unity; they are to be bound together in one spirit.”
“Let the world quarrel; Christians must be united. He expects a certain unconquerability. Often, evil seems invincible; but Christians must never abandon hope or give up the struggle. He expects a cool, calm courage. In times of crisis, others may be nervous and afraid; Christians will still be serene, in control of themselves and of the situation” (Barclay).
© Dr. H 2022