Sunday, 8 December 2013
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. Romans 13:13
Paul uses the common idiom “walk” to describe the way to conduct one’s life. When he says, “Let us walk properly” he is saying then that we should conduct our lives properly. When we walk about, we interact with others, we converse with others, we set our paths on certain goals, etc. Therefore, as we walk about, doing any of these or a myriad of other things, we should remember our conduct and select honorable destinations.
To describe this proper walking, Paul says that it should be “as in the day.” When one walks at night, they can’t see clearly where they are heading. It’s also harder to see where one’s foot is going to step. Tripping becomes easier, falling into a pit may happen, or even bumping into a nice hard wall is a possibility. The spiritual symbolism of walking at night is one of improper and unhealthy conduct.
And as examples of such conduct, he says we should not walk “in revelry and drunkenness.” Excessive alcohol leads to belligerence and fighting. Someone who is already a loud-mouth will only increase in that manner when in a stupor. The natural result of hanging out at bars all night is trouble. Paul asks us to consider who we belong to and the name that we bear and not to allow ourselves to diminish others’ perceptions of Christ through this type of behavior.
He next mentions “lewdness and lust.” This was a common attitude in the Roman and Greek areas of Paul’s time and it is ever-increasing in the world again today. Young TV stars grow up, and along with their fame comes a desire to continue to be noticed. And so they will stretch what is morally acceptable to see how far they can go. As they do, young eyes notice and they emulate what they see. Quickly society has been reduced to doing anything in order to grab attention, no matter how profane. With the advent of the internet, someone can demonstrate the most vile perversions to millions of people, and then others then want to join in. It is a cycle of depravity which we are asked to refrain from. We are to conduct ourselves in a circumspect manner, remembering that the Lord is not pleased with sexually immoral behavior.
Finally in this verse, “strife and envy” are noted. Strife is the constant argumentative attitude which many possess. It doesn’t matter what they believe, they will always take a contrary side to an issue, simply to cause division and argument. Strife could also include having a litigious attitude. When someone sues another for minor or dubious reasons, they are causing harm to others. Suits should be used only in circumstances where actual harm has resulted. And that harm must have been by the truly negligent conduct of another. Spilling hot coffee on oneself is not a just an honorable reason for suing the maker of the coffee; it is perverse.
“Envy” is from the word zelo (zeal). It is a fervid passion, but it is misdirected passion. In Galatians 4:18, Paul says, “But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always…” The reciprocal is true too though. Misdirected zeal is always a bad thing. We must use the Bible as our standard for the things we are zealous for. If the Bible is silent on an issue, then our zeal is acceptable as long as it doesn’t turn into an idol. For example, it is wonderful to be zealous for hard work, and the Bible commends hard work. But we can make hard work an end in and of itself. It can become an over-riding passion and thus replace our devotion to God. Setting aside a day of rest in one’s work week is a wonderful thing as it helps us to redirect our thoughts away from what otherwise consumes our time.
Life application: Paul tells us to walk “as in the day.” Our life should be plainly and evidently seen by those around us. Our conduct should be honorable and glorifying of Christ. If we act in a manner which belies our calling, then He will be diminished in the eyes of those who see us.
Glorious Lord, You have instructed me to walk properly, as if in the daylight. And so, may the conduct of my life be appropriate to the high calling of Jesus. Keep me from deeds of darkness and the sin which so easily besets. Rather, give me the wisdom to walk in holiness, purity, and as a radiant example of the precious mandates You have given me in Your word. Amen.