It feels like I merely blinked, and my daughter turned seven. She has morphed from a needy colicky infant into a witty, inquisitive, and independent young missy.
And though it feels like she was born just yesterday, the glaring physical and intellectual changes are a testament that seven years have indeed elapsed.
In the humdrum of life, it's easy to forget that time is constantly whizzing away. The clock is always ticking, and once a second, minute or hour is gone, it is gone for good.
Because time is a very precious commodity, Paul urged the Ephesian church not to only make good use of it but to also seek ways of redeeming it.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
To redeem something is to buy it back in order to regain possession of it. How can we possibly recoup time that has already elapsed? What did Paul mean when he urged the Ephesians to redeem time?
Paul wanted believers to adopt an excessively careful attitude toward time. The NIV translation calls it “making the most of every opportunity.”
This means that believers should be very aggressive in using time properly as if they were attempting to recoup lost time. All our actions should be laced with a sense of urgency.
Paul further says that we should redeem the time because the days are evil. And isn't that true in every sense of the word?
On one hand, the church has a mandate to make disciples of all nations (Mathew 28:19). On the other hand, the church is muddling through various challenges such as moral degradation, outside the bounds of created sex, greed, social media allure, false doctrine, and many more.
The days are indeed evil, and this realization should fuel our zeal to make use of every opportunity. Here are six aspects of redeeming the time that every believer should embrace.
1. Doing Everything to the Glory of God
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
God wants to have full custody of our time. He is concerned about the nitty gritty aspects of our lives. Paul urged the Corinthian church to do everything to God's glory — even eating or drinking. As Christians, it is tempting to compartmentalize our lives.
We may, for instance, be well aware that God is concerned about how we treat others, our prayer life, and our service to Him. But we may assume that He is not concerned about how we spend our free time.
As a result, we may use our free time recklessly, e.g., by scrolling mindlessly on social media, engaging in idle talk, and procrastinating on important issues. We may assume that we have free rein on our downtime and that we are not accountable to God then.
Nothing could be further from the truth. God wants to be glorified in all that we do. — whether we are serving in church or watching a movie on Saturday evening.
Paul urged the Colossians to do everything (whether in word or deed) in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17).
When we do everything as unto the Lord, we will weed out the things that squander our time and thereby redeem the time.
2. Doing Things at Their Right Time
“The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions’” (Luke 12:42-44).
We are all stewards of the gifts, talents, careers, callings, and resources that God has bestowed upon us. A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven (John 3:27). But how do we handle what God has entrusted to us?
When God looks at us, does He find us doing what He commissioned us to do, or is he appalled at how distracted we are? A wise servant will be found doing the right thing at the right time.
But a foolish one will be caught unawares, having abandoned their core mandate and gotten entangled in futility.
That's why Paul, before admonishing the Ephesian church to redeem the time, asked them to walk circumspectly and not as fools (Ephesians 5:15).
Paul also urged the Corinthians not to run the race haphazardly but to run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
We should not use our time recklessly. As faithful and wise stewards, we need to ensure that the master will find us executing His assignment.
3. Walking Wisely Towards Unbelievers
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5).
Paul urged the Colossians to redeem the time while interacting with unbelievers. We should always be conscious of our actions since we are under the scrutiny of unbelievers, and this boils down to how we use our time.
Paul reminded the Hebrew church that they were surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. They were, therefore, to lay aside every sin that easily ensnared them (Hebrews 12:1).
The sin that easily ensnares us may include things that we deem as harmless. Things that chip away at our time, yet they add no value to our lives or the kingdom of God.
Unbelievers have high expectations of us, and they may be appalled to find us spending our time thoughtlessly. Part of being the salt and light of the world involves how we spend our time.
4. Realizing That Our Time Is in God’s Hands
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me (Psalm 31:15).
None of us has control of our time. Only God knows what our future holds. David prayed that God would teach him to number his days so that he would apply his heart unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Realizing that we are not in control of our time on earth will help us put things into perspective.
James warned against boasting about tomorrow. He cautioned against setting out plans without saying, “If the Lord wills,” because none of us knows what will happen tomorrow (James 4:13-15).
Jesus gave a parable of the rich fool who had grand plans of building great barns where he would store his crops and goods. He would then relax, eat, drink, and make merry for a jolly long time. Unbeknownst to him, his time under the sun had elapsed (Luke 12:16-20).
Because none of us has control of our days, it's only wise to make good use of every opportunity. Our time is priceless, and we should guard it jealously.
5. Realizing That Your Life Is Not Your Own
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Christ died to liberate us from the power of sin. His resurrection power enables us to live in obedience to his statutes. We are, therefore, dead to sin but alive in God (Romans 6:11). We no longer live, but Christ lives in us.
Paul reiterated this when he said that for Him to live is Christ and to die is gain. While writing to the Roman church, Paul also said that if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord (Romans 14:8).
If it is true that it's indeed Christ living in us, how would He expect us to spend our time? Would Christ get caught up in idle chatter and reckless living? While on earth, Jesus made good use of every opportunity that He had.
Bible scholars opine that He died at the age of 33 years. At this age, He had accomplished so much, including saving the world. Jesus never wasted any opportunity.
He was always busy doing the will of His father and redeeming the time. If He is the one living in us, we should imitate this careful attitude.
6. Realizing That There Is a Time for Everything
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
God would have us do the right thing at the proper time. That's because to everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It's ridiculous to be planting in the season of sowing.
Take the ant, for example. Though she has no captain, overseer, or ruler, she provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).
God would have us do the right thing at the right time. Misappropriating time leads to missed opportunities.
The five foolish virgins missed the bridegroom because they went to oil their lamps at the wrong time. Part of redeeming time involves doing the right thing in its season.
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Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected].
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