Redeeming the Time
The inspired apostle of our Lord exhorts us in Ephesians 5:17 to “redeem the time.” He adds fearful urgency to this exhortation by warning us that the days are evil. God has ordained the times of our life. He has ordained all the time of the history of the world. He declares the end of time from the beginning. He is the alpha and omega of all time. He sovereignly accomplishes His counsel and good pleasure in the history of the world. God has also ordained the time of our lives individually. He has appointed the time of our birth and the time of our death. Contrary to what we often imagine, our time on earth is very short, only seventy or eighty years, for most of us, and for some even far less than that. After that, we pass on to the eternal place that God has prepared for us.
Our short days on earth will determine how and where we will spend eternity. What a fearful reality that is! What an utterly amazing fact! God has a calling for each of us to perform. He has a purpose for our life on earth. We must fulfill that purpose in the days the Lord gives to us. And after our days on earth are accomplished the Lord will reward every man for the things he has done. The ungodly man will spend eternity paying for the evil deeds that he performed during the days of his life on earth. The saints of God, chosen by grace unto eternal life, will spend eternity experiencing and enjoying the reward of God's grace. The Lord will reward their faith in Him, their steadfastness, their good works, and the persecution and suffering they endured for the Lord's sake.
There will be a difference in the reward. Those who have been faithful in much shall receive a great reward. Those who have suffered and died for the Lord's sake will join the great company of martyrs who have not counted even their lives dear for the Lords sake. Exceedingly great shall be the reward which they will enjoy for all eternity.
Time is a very precious gift that God gives us for carrying out our calling in this life. We are carried along with it. Time passes and we cannot ever get it back. God gives us opportunities to serve Him and to live our lives unto Him. These opportunities pass and they can never be recovered. It is good for us to think of that often. Look at some old photos of yourself. Recall some of the events of your past life and consider that the opportunities that you had at that time will never again be yours. Take note how much older you are now than you were a few years ago. It is foolish to wish that you could be young again because that is impossible. With the passing of every day our time on earth is getting shorter. How often we must grieve over wasted time and pray to the Lord for His forgiveness for the great sin of foolishly squandering the time of our life.
We are to redeem the time. The word “redeem” implies that something is lost. Most often the word redeem is used in connection with the fact that we are by nature guilty and lost sinners. Christ came to redeem us through His sacrifice on the cross. We are now no longer eternally lost. We now belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed unto eternal life. We have been redeemed in order that we might live our whole life unto Him and for His glory.
It is possible for time to be lost. Time is lost when it is wasted, when it is spent in idleness and in vain pursuits, in ungodliness and the pleasures of sin. The ungodly man does that when he lives his life in unbelief and rebellion against God. He spends his time in evil deeds and without any regard for His calling before God. Daily he increases his sin and guilt and worthiness of judgment. He spends his time to gain the fame and wealth of this world. Often he makes himself very busy. There is no idle moment in his life. He must get more and more for himself through his work and through his achievements. Nothing can satisfy his cravings, his covetousness and materialism. In the midst of his busyness he has no time for the things of God and His kingdom. He is too busy to observe the Lord's day. He is too busy to bother himself with the commandments of God for his life. He is too busy pursuing his own selfish benefit to be concerned about the need of his neighbor. And then suddenly his life comes to an end. He did not expect that. Foolishly he imagined that it would go on forever. And he suddenly realizes that he has nothing of lasting value. All of his time has been spent in utterly futile labors. The great and holy judge of all men condemns him to eternal destruction. How unspeakably terrible that will be for him.
How we use our time is becoming an increasingly urgent matter in our age. The world is getting more and more busy. Everything has to be done as quickly as possible. Not one moment is to be wasted. Recently as I was walking to my car from the airport terminal I saw a man also walking to his car who was carrying a portable wireless telephone. He was engaged in what at least appeared to be an important business conversation. I shook my head in amazement. The poor man is so busy that he cannot even walk to his car from the terminal in peace. Just imagine! And, especially if such a one is an ungodly man, what good will it all do ultimately?
It is ironic that in our age life is going at an ever-increasing pace. One would have expected that with all our modern conveniences we could perform the necessary work of our life in a much shorter time than a few years ago and we would not need to be so busy. We should have lots of extra time for the most important things in life. But the exact opposite happens in the world. Many companies today make ever increasing demands on their employees. And there are always those who are ready to give their heart and soul to the company and who are willing to give more and more of their time to the company, the competition is fierce. As a result there is less and less time for other things, even for things that may be more important in life. Very few are the evenings available for quiet reflection and study. To use an old cliché, “life is a rat race.” Day and night man must work, labor, and toil. And all of this is utter vanity if man's life is not lived unto the Lord.
Our lives and our Christian homes are affected by all of this. We are all so busy. It is so easy to be too busy with the wrong kinds of things. And time is rushing by. One of the modern-day tactics of the devil is to make us as Christians so busy with the things of this world that we do not have time for our calling in our Christian homes. We do not have time for private study and meditation and prayer to God. We do not have time for sitting in our homes with our children to instruct them out of the Word of God. We do not have time for proper Sabbath observance. We do not have time for getting involved in church activities and for showing Christian concern for those who are lonely and in need.
We justify this in our own minds by saying to ourselves that we need to spend so many hours at work to make enough money to pay for everything we “need” today. Mother must work outside the home too, and often she does not have enough time for her work and calling in the home. All sorts of compromises are made. We justify all of this by saying “that's just the age we live in.” We have to have a nice home. We must have costly recreational equipment. We must be able to pay for expensive vacations. Our children have to be involved in this activity and that activity.
Meanwhile, the time of our life rushes on. Soon our children are grown up and it is too late to instruct them in the truth of God's Word. Years of busyness have not permitted time to foster strong Christian family bonds. We have missed the joy of seeing our children growing up and of spending time with them. We just didn't have the time. Soon our children are out of the home and living on their own. They are now as busy as we are, establishing themselves in their careers, and there is no time for Christian family fellowship. We taught them this ourselves.
Elderly people languish and die. Few have the time to visit them and care for them. Just put them away in nursing homes. Someone else can care for them. We do not have the time. Many Christians grow up seldom taking the time to read good solid Christian books, doctrinal books, and Christian journals. There is no time. And then we wonder why the church is so weak and perishing because of lack of knowledge. It is easy for false prophets to propagate false doctrine in the church because few members of the church know enough to oppose it on the solid teaching of the Word of God.
Then we grow old and the time of our departure draws near. When our life is over we look back and consider what we have done with our lives. Where has the time gone and what have we gained? Maybe we are sitting in a big and beautiful house and feel secure because we have a large retirement account in the bank. But what lasting value does it all have? How easily the devil can deceive us into wasting all our time for things that are ultimately without value and profit so that we neglect the things of the kingdom of God that have eternal value and significance.
As children of God we are called to redeem the time. Christ has redeemed us that we might live unto Him and consecrate our whole lives unto Him. We redeem the time when we lay hold of each moment of our lives as a gift of God's grace to serve Him. We redeem the time when in the fear of God we consider the great issues of time and eternity. We redeem the time when we often stop and evaluate our own life and how we are spending our days. We redeem the time when we learn to say no to certain demands on our time because of more important considerations that must be taken care of. We redeem the time when we refuse to get caught up in the crazy rat race of the world that is fueled by covetousness and materialism and greed and ungodliness. We redeem the time when we spend it laying up treasures in heaven and not on earth. We redeem the time when we use it to equip ourselves in the knowledge of God and of His Word and for walking in His commandments and enjoying fellowship with the Lord. We redeem the time when we spend it in our covenant homes with our families to talk of God's Word and His kingdom with our children. We redeem the time when we use our days for the good works which the Lord has ordained for us. We redeem the time when we spend it in testifying of the truth and grace of God in our lives and doing works of genuine concern and love for our neighbor. We redeem the time when we spend it busy with the great work of the church and the preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we do these things by His grace and Holy Spirit we shall gain an eternal reward that even the supreme sacrifice of our life will not be able to compare with.