Living on the Edge

From the first issue of Milk & Honey
May-June 1986

Eutychus is certainly not a name that is often thought of when names are being considered for a new son. Neither is he an individual that is often discussed at the mid-week Bible study. There are no books written of his life, and seldom do we hear a sermon concerning him.

We only read of this young man in one verse of Scripture. In Act 20:9 we read, "And there sat in a window a certain young man, named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep; and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead."In the following verse we are told that Paul embraced him and he was revived.

While this brief incident is the only mention of Eutychus in Scripture, there is a very important and practical truth that is illustrated by this story.

In order to learn this truth we might begin by asking ourselves the question, "Why did Eutychus fall from the window?" Our immediate answer would be, "Because he fell asleep." More often than not, when this story is considered the blame is placed on the preacher. He was sleepy and Paul's "long preaching" caused him to sink into deep sleep and he fell.

It is not uncommon today among the saints to hear comments such as; the message was too long, the message was boring, the message was irrelevant, etc. Unfortunately in some cases that may be a problem. However, I doubt whether the Apostle Paul was boring, or that the message was irrelevant. The blame for Eutychus' fall could not be placed on the preacher.

In reality the reason he fell from the window was not because he fell asleep, nor because of Paul's preaching. He fell from the window because he was sitting on the edge! If he had not been sitting on the window edge he would not have fallen from it. It was his position that led to his "downfall." If he had been seated among the saints his sleep would not have caused the fall.

From this simple story we can see why saints "fall" back into the world. Many times it is because they are living on the edge! Too often believers will attempt to live as close as possible to the world without being a part of it. They attempt to walk a fine line between Christianity and the world. In this position, it only takes a little sleep and one finds himself falling right back into the world.

How close are you walking to the world? Is it your practice as a Christian to get as close to the world as possible without being spotted (James 1:27)? Is your music like the world's, but with different labels? Do you attend the same movie theaters as they would, but only go to the movies that "aren't bad"? Do you dress like the world, but just a little less revealing or suggestive? Are your priorities similar to those of the world? Does your career take priority over Biblical principles? Are your friends also those who live near the edge of the world (Prov. 13:20)? Is your attendance at the assembly similar to the world's attendance at "church?' Do you read worldly magazines? Is you language "close" to the world's? Do you laugh at the world's off-colored jokes? Is your "thinking" like that of the unsaved world? Are the world's standards your standards (James 4:4)?

One of the easiest ways of determining if you are living on the edge of the world is to consider this question. 'On what basis do you determine if you should go to a certain place, do a certain activity, or listen to certain music, etc.?" If you find yourself saying, "There is nothing wrong with this," then you are most likely walking very close to, if not in the world.

In Philippians 1:9-10 we read Paul's prayer for the saints. "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ."

Paul prayed that the saints' love would grow in knowledge and discernment. Love that overflows these two boundaries can be as harmful as a river that overflows its banks. His desire is that they "approve," test and go in for, those things that are excellent, or "better." (1 Thess. 5:21) All of this is in view of the Judgment Seat of Christ (Day of Christ), at which each saint will need to give an account for the deeds done in the body. (2 Cor. 5: 10)

As believers we should be "testing" things in light of the Judgment Seat of Christ, and going in for those things which are "better." Our test is not, "Is there anything wrong with this?" Our test should be, "Is this the best?" Is this the best book I can read? Is this movie the best thing I can watch? Is this the best place to go? Is this better for me than being at the assembly? Is this the best friend with respect to my spiritual growth? Is this the best bathing suit to wear? Is this the best language I can use? It is not only a question of whether the Lord will be "displeased," but whether He will be displeased." (I Thess 4: lb) If we evaluate our activities from this perspective we will find ourselves moving further away from the edge.

It may be helpful to distinguish between "worldliness" and "sin." A sin, as we know, is an act that is contrary to the will of God. On the other hand, worldliness could be defined as an attitude toward the things of the world (Phil. 3:19; 1 John 2:15). The Lord not only wants the believer to be righteous, but also to be "holy" (I Pet. 1: 15-16). We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Our thinking is not to be "conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds" (Rom. 12:2).

Going back to the story of Eutychus we can see that living on the edge is very dangerous. One need not slip very far to suffer great harm. Scripture over and over again exhorts the saints to be awake and alert. Those who are often "sleepy" live on the edge. Those who are alert and aware of the danger "approve things that are better."

How close are you to the edge?