This is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace, a Roman poet (65 BC-8 BC). “It is popularly translated as ‘seize the day’. Carpe means ‘pick, pluck, pluck off, gather’, but Horace uses the word to mean ‘enjoy, make use of.’” (Source: Wikipedia) What he actually wrote was, “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero" (“Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future”). So, he meant it to mean, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” That’s living in the present with little or no thought at all about the future.
But, I think Ephesians 5:15-16 has the best outlook in seizing the day: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (ESV) The word “walk” in verse 15 refers not to the physical act of putting your right foot forward then your left foot forward. It means “to live”. (The New Living Translation goes like this: “be careful how you live”.) But we are not just talking of living as opposed to dying. There are those who just let the days pass by. That’s not real living. That would be like a prisoner who counts the days left in his sentence but stays in his cell to rot away. Living is more than breathing. Paul was not talking of living it out. He is talking about living it up. That’s why he explained the command how to live carefully through this phrase: “making the best use of the time”. (The participle “making” clarifies how to apply the verb “look”.) We are careful in how we live when we make the best use of our time. Yet, Paul was not just talking about time management (though that’s one of the ways of careful living). In the Greek, “time” in verse 16 is not “chronos” or chronological time as we know it. It is not time as composed of seconds, minutes and hours. It is “kairos,” that is, chance, break or opportunity. (The New International Version goes like this: “making the most of every opportunity” or in The Message, “Make the most of every chance you get.”) We live up to our potential when we grab every opportunity to do so. In short, we must seize the day.
Someone commented that every New Year, we experience some sort of a rebirth. In other words, we receive another chance. Actually, every day we wake up, we get a fresh shot at change. We must live in the present with not just the future but with eternity in mind. As we face a New Year, we must seize the day. We need to seize it the right way by making our life count. Not the foolish sense of “carpe diem” but the Biblical sense. Brethren, seize the day!