As a kid my mom would tell me to "be careful" when I would jump off the roof of the garage. I used to think, "It's the danger that makes it fun!" I never considered myself reckless, but I did take a lot of risks. Maybe that's just semantics. I'm not jumping off roofs anymore, and these days I'm the one telling my elderly parents to be careful and not get hurt. But the need to live carefully is more important than it has ever been. The stakes are higher.
This week I was reading through Proverbs 16 and was once again reminded of the need to live carefully. It's always convicting to me because, in many ways, I can be careless. Not with my body, but with my soul.
The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
The path of the righteous is, at times, risky. Danger abounds for those who follow Jesus Christ. The enemies of the Devil, the world, and even our own flesh, plot against us. Temptation abounds and opposition is abundant. But the path of the righteous steers clear of evil. It may come upon us, but we do not seek it. The life of a believer is protected, in part, by living carefully in the midst of evil days.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
This is not a call to live in fear of danger, but to live intentionally and wisely, avoiding sin and overcoming temptation. It demands that we walk by faith, according to the word of God, among the people of God (Ps. 119:105; Pr. 27:17; Ecc. 4:9-12; 2 Cor. 5:7).
There are two areas in particular where I must exercise more caution: in my thoughts and in my words. My thoughts easily drift when I am not careful. While there is much good to think on in this world, I must work harder at thinking more often of the things above (Col. 3:1-2). I must lead myself back to the truths of Scripture for frequent mediation. There I am reminded of God's presence and promises, and directed by his commands. Jimmy and I recently discussed this on Doctrine and Devotion.
Of course, as we think so we speak (Mt. 12:34. And I find that too many of my words are useless. There is a time to laugh, a time to encourage, a time to rebuke, and a time to be silent. Often these things are out of balance in my life. The careful Christian life takes words seriously because with them we can glorify God and serve our brothers and sisters, or dishonor God and harm his people. Words matter because the relationships he has given me matter.
God calls us to live carefully, not foolishly, or thoughtlessly. I know my time is limited and my days are numbered. None of it should be wasted.