Ephesians 5:15 contains a sobering statement: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” In saying, “The days are evil,” I don’t think Paul was just talking about his time but about all times. We would prefer to think that we live in good times, where most people do good things and good things happen to us. But Paul warns us that human life is full of dangers, temptations, attacks, and challenges. Life is tough. That is why he said that we must be very careful how we live. That is why we must make the most of every opportunity—because there is so much evil around us that we must search for the good. We must search for a way to insert a good word into the conversation and to be wise about what to say and when to say it. We must search for ways to do good and to be wise and careful, making sure we do not participate in the evil schemes and systems all around us.
And then Paul offered some further advice: “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything” (Ephesians 5:19-20). This strikes us as being completely out of touch with what he has just said. In the midst of all of the evil around us, how can we do this? How can we sing and be thankful? The answer is that the times are evil, but God is good. Therefore, we can sing with joy the praises of the good God. And we can be thankful that He brings good out of evil and that He will ultimately redeem the world.
Paul knew what he was talking about. Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas being imprisoned for preaching the good news about Jesus. Verse 25 says: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” In prison, Paul practiced what he was now preaching to the Ephesians. He seized the opportunity to praise God. This led to an opportunity to preach to the prisoners and eventually to the jailer and his family. This gave a major boost to the developing church in Philippi. (And God also released him from prison.)