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Redeeming the Time

3/7/2021 Ephesians 5:15–16 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Our Bible verse uses the phrase “redeeming the time”. It also appears in Colossians 4:5: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” In both instances, the phrase pertains to how we are living our lives, how we are walking our path. Within the context of Ephesians, and using a different translation, we see more clearly what we are to learn: “Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.” Wasted time is time spent unwisely. Pablo Picasso told us, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” We cannot get back the time that we have; we cannot bargain for more. It is a gift from God, and we do not know the amount that we are allotted. The verse refers to ‘evil days’. This could mean evil in terms of the wicked people, their poor actions, hurtful decision, and how others are being treated – persecutions, prejudices. It could also be a general warning about the worldly situations we find presented to us and may even pertain to the spiritual nature versus the human nature. Every day we are faced this challenge: to overcome the draw of the world on our earthly nature and move toward the Light and Truth of Spirit through our spiritual nature. Regardless of what the meaning is, how we go about our day has meaning. How we choose to speak has meaning. I’ve heard that there are four things that we cannot get back: the spoken word, our past, wasted time, and a neglected opportunity. We cannot ‘undo’ or ‘unsay’ mean and hurtful words. That is why angry words are so harmful, and untrue words so destructive. Written words and actions fall under this category, as well. We cannot take back our actions or what we have written. Oh yes, we can apologize for what we’ve said and done, but none of this can be erased. We must be careful how we live and not live like fools – unthinking, inattentive, and cavalier. We cannot erase our past. We cannot erase the words, deeds, attitudes, and thoughts of the past. We cannot deny that they happened. But we can make changes right now and know that the past has no power of us today. We have to live with the fact that our past may have hurt people. We can apologize, ask forgiveness, and then make changes. Life demands that we move on, and Christ offers forgiveness and aid to the repentant heart. The unrepentant are not banned or denied God’s love; it is just that their hearts are darkened by their choices, and they cannot see the Love and Light that is being offered. We cannot get back lost opportunities. Now, I am a firm believer the God will always give us another chance, another opportunity. But each one is valuable, precious, and unique. An old man lost his wife. At her funeral, he was inconsolable. Friends tried to comfort him, but to no avail. Finally, one friend asked what he was going through, and through tears and choking sobs, the old man said, “I almost told her. I almost told her.” “What did you almost tell her?” asked the compassionate friend. The old man bowed his head, and almost inaudibly he gasped, “I almost told her … that I loved her.” By their very nature, doors of opportunity open and close. Some opportunities cannot not be identically repeated; some are extended over and over again. Some doors are better left closed, others are life changing when opened and walked through. But it takes wisdom, living carefully, listening to Spirit’s guidance, and faith to recognize the difference. As we live, the idea of redeeming time, using time effectively, grows more important. The Apostle Paul declares in I Corinthians 7:29, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short.” James says in James 4:14, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Someone put it this way: When, as a child, I laughed and wept, time crept; When, as a youth, I dreamed and talked, time walked; When I became a full grown man, time ran; And later, as I older grew, time flew; Soon I shall find, while traveling on, time gone. It is important that we live every minute as if it were our last, because one of them will be. Therefore, we are encouraged to “redeem the time,” as our Bible verse states. Paul’s concept of time was that it is a fragment of eternity, given to us by God as a solemn stewardship. What is a “steward”? The etymology originates from an old English word “styward”. The “sty” was the place where the pigs were kept called the “pig sty”. The person who cared for the pigs was called the “styward”. From that word our word “steward” has evolved. A “steward” is defined by Webster as “one who is a supervisor, administrator, manager or keeper of a trust.” A Christian steward is “one to whom God has given a trust, which is to be managed for Him and for which we must ultimately give an account.” Time is one of those trusts. We are to be good stewards of the gift of time. Some great minds have turned their thoughts to the importance of time: • Emerson said, “Whoever loses a day loses life.” • Lord Bacon said, “To use time is to use life.” • Dr. Otis Young said, “Time wasted is mere existence; used properly is life.” • Benjamin Franklin said, “Time is what life is made of.” Many of us have said, “I don’t have time.” Sadly, that statement advertises that we need to be better stewards of our time. That sentiment flies in the face of what we read in Ecclesiastes: 3:2-8: A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.

Notice that this compilation on time does not say, “a time to waste”! God asks the man in Luke 16:2, “Give account of your stewardship.” Spirit is whispering that question to us: what are you doing with your time? Are we selfishly pursuing earthly pleasures and goals, thinking only of ourselves in our words, deeds, thoughts, actions, and attitudes? What we want, how we can benefit, without a thought to helping and serving others? I pray, instead, that we are living with eternity’s values in mind, through the guidance of Christ, with an attitude of Love in all our thoughts, words, and actions. II Corinthians teaches, “Now is the accepted time.” Now is all the time we have; right now! There are no time limits, just an eternity of Now. Let’s make the most of it.

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