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“Redeeming the Time”

Are you using your most valuable asset wisely?

by Larry J. McElroy

Even as you read this article one of your most valuable assets is slipping away. This asset is shared equally by billionaires and paupers alike. And once it is lost, it is impossible to regain.

This priceless commodity is time! Time is a precious asset, especially for those living at the end of the age striving to qualify to rule with Jesus Christ.

To the world, the phrase “redeeming the time” could mean the following: driving 65 mph in a 35 mph zone; skipping breakfast; cosmetic surgery; turning one’s gray hair to brown to recapture a youthful look; or sleeping 14 hours straight to recover from a lost weekend.

But to those in God’s Church, it has an entirely different meaning—with significant consequences. The apostle Paul admonished the first-century Church to “redeem the time.” This same admonition needs to be heeded by Christians living in the final era!

This article will give you keys to properly use your most valuable commodity to help you prepare for God’s kingdom.

The Problem—and the Admonition

How many of us have put off overcoming or facing personal problems, wasted time in frivolous pursuits, neglected our relationship with God, or took lightly our calling as His elect, relegating it to less than top priority?

Many have not sought the kingdom of God as their most important goal! Thousands have lost truth and understanding through the subtlety of men! In the last 10 to 15 years, brethren have missed numerous opportunities to grow! Most have succumbed to a misuse of time.

But this problem does have solutions, and we must begin working on them today.

What does it mean to “redeem the time?” The book of Ephesians contains the admonition: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). The word “redeeming” in the Greek can mean “to buy up, ransom, or rescue from loss.” We need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our life. We can only redeem today and plan to redeem tomorrow, for yesterday is gone! We alone are responsible for using what God has given to each of us—time—to prepare for our spiritual vocation.

Consider the following causes of time misuse:

1. The Days Are Evil: Paul admonishes us to redeem the time because the days are evil. “Evil” in the Greek means “hurtful evil in effect, calamitous, diseased, derelict and vicious.” These adjectives describe our modern world, as seen in daily news headlines.

We are living in the last days, a time when building holy, righteous character is becoming ever more difficult. Many paths of wrongdoing and wrong thinking can cause us to lose focus on God’s way of life. Evil can consume us!

2. Failing to Number Our Days: Most do not meditate on the temporary state of human existence or that our days are numbered. Human nature leads us to believe we will continue on, with unlimited physical days. This mindset permeates every new generation.

Psalm 90 provides the following instruction: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (vs. 10, 12).

Older individuals must spend more time and energy just to maintain a physical existence as compared to younger people. As an aging Church, we must relearn this vital principle and zealously use our numbered days and limited energy to do the works of God.

3. Procrastination: One way to make any important job more difficult is to keep putting it off! Human nature loves to procrastinate—to put off overcoming, facing difficult decisions, changing poor study habits, praying for others, putting God’s Work first in life, etc. Many people delay life-changing decisions, settling for anxiety, unfulfilled goals, frustrations and lack of accomplishment. Procrastination causes us to inhibit creativity and postpone potential accomplishments that would lead to spiritual growth. We all face the pull of procrastination that can rob us of the time God has given us to overcome.

4. Darkness: The people of the seventh era are engulfed in darkness. Spiritual blindness has led many into hurtful pursuits and paths (Rev. 3:17). These include materialistic idolatry—the pursuit of physical wealth, status, worldliness and position. In this end-time state of blindness, God’s people have drunkenly stumbled along, tripping over various forms of mind-wasting entertainment, human-based “morality” and selfish, competitive pursuits.

Adrift in an era of spiritual confusion, debate and sarcasm, brethren who have not “anointed their eyes” have lost their sense of urgency. This age is characterized by wandering people unable to settle down, groping in the darkness, without light. Lost are spiritual focus, goals and an attitude of service to brethren. Lost is vision—and “Where there is no vision, the people perish” in spiritual darkness (Prov. 29:18).

Finding a Solution

But how can one “redeem the time”? Ephesians 5 sheds light on this: “Wherefore he says, awake you that sleeps, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (vs. 14-17).

Time Well Spent

Is your time wisely spent? Are you spending too many hours watching television, or browsing the Internet? Are the programs you watch educational or edifying? Do you get more sleep than you need—or not enough sleep, with too much to do and seemingly not enough time to do it?

Your time—and how you use it—is important. Examine your schedule. Learn to budget your time and manage it well.

For example, do you make prayer and Bible study your top priority? Do you give these vital tools of Christian growth the proper amount of attention, setting aside part of your day to develop godly character and grow in “grace and knowledge”?

There are other ways to make the most of your time: read a book, take a walk, visit a museum or simply spend time talking with others. Fellowship is an important aspect of Christian growth.

Get to know other members of the Body of Christ. Take time to listen to the experiences, blessings, trials and triumphs experienced by fellow brethren. Since our future goal is to be born into God’s kingdom and spend eternity ruling together, we should get to know one another now. An effective way to do this is with Church activities.

Take every opportunity to participate in Church-organized activities, whether at the Feast or in a local congregation. Get involved! You will find the rewards are well worth it, as you build and strengthen bonds of friendship that will last forever!

If you use your time wisely, you will prevent having to “buy it back” later.

The context of this passage gives us several keys enabling us to “rescue from loss” the time we have remaining.

“Awake”: Those sleeping must be awakened by an outside source, since they are likened to being dead spiritually.

The word “awake” means “to waken, collect our faculties, rouse from sleep or sitting or lying down, from obscurity, inactivity or ruins.” This is what Christ does when He individually “knocks on the door” of each of His sheep. Notice: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

Once awakened, we must actively seek to fulfill our spiritual vocation.

“Repent and Be Zealous”: Those whom Christ spiritually awakens must recognize and understand their past lethargy and sleepy condition. They must “anoint their eyes”—repent and be zealous from this point forward, until Christ returns. They must realize the need for sustained urgency to propel one forward—to buy back time that should have been spent preparing for the kingdom of God (vs. 19).

Walk on Illuminated Paths: When we become awakened and zealous, Christ promises to give us light (Eph. 5:14-15). A Christian can make rapid progress following a leader who knows the way: “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Notice the paths that God says are His: “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me: for You are the God of my salvation; on You do I wait all the day. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Psa. 25:4, 5, 10). Walking down these paths will bring untold blessings as we build righteous character for eternity.

Mercy: If we receive no mercy for our sins, we remain in bondage, unable to use our time profitably. God’s mercy frees us from past bondage, including the misuse of our time due to blindness and neglect. If we receive no mercy our progress toward God’s kingdom stops!

We must take advantage of this opportunity and also afford mercy to those we will deal with in the future: “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment” (Jms. 2:13). God’s path of mercy requires us to show mercy to others so that we may obtain mercy.

We must continually seek God’s forgiveness for our transgressions so we can move forward on the path of mercy.

Truth: God’s truth is a path to freedom, enabling us to thrust forward without the hindrances of doubt, deception and indecision: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

In addition, we are sanctified (or set apart) for a special purpose by God’s Word of truth (17:17). Truth energizes us—it is the fuel that propels us forward to more accomplishment and greater understanding.

Mercy and truth work together to give us an advantage in the use of our time. They afford us extra time in an atmosphere of peace, and enable us to have favor with our Creator and our fellow man: “My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them upon the table of your heart: So shall you find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:1-4).

Accomplishing our part in God’s Work involves having favor with God and man. Having the favor of men means we have allies who will not impede our progress, but rather assist us in using our time wisely. God’s favor opens doors for us individually, and for the Church collectively, to perform more in less time.

Godly Wisdom: Colossians 4:5-6 states, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” As God’s people, we must “buy up” the opportunity to be the right example to the world through our daily speech and conduct.

Ultimately, we are being trained to prepare others for God’s kingdom. Helping others see a glimpse of God’s Way in this age, if only by example, is time well spent. Ask God for the wisdom to be a “people person” in distributing our most valuable product—the truth!

Doing God’s Will: As this age draws to a close, God’s great purpose for the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission. The more in harmony and in harness we are with that Commission, the more our time will be used productively. Nothing could be more important! Taking the gospel to the world, warning the modern nations of Israel, feeding the flock of God, and warning spiritual Israel of its prophetic future are what our lives are all about.

Jesus Christ said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Do we have this same desire and focus? If so, our time, effort and energy will bring great blessing, benefit and reward.

Changing Our Habits

One of the greatest problems facing humanity and God’s people is the proper use of time, which we are admonished to “buy up, ransom or to rescue from loss.”

Spiritual darkness, blindness, evil, deceit, perilous times, procrastination and our own sense of invincibility often deceive and ensnare us into wasting time.

We must change our habits! We must redeem the time that remains in our lives and the time remaining in this age. If we use each day wisely and “faint not,” we will be “renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16). Now is the time to establish new habits and right priorities!

Once spiritually awakened, we must repent and be zealous—and remain on fire. We must walk in the illuminated paths of truth and mercy established by Jesus Christ.

Using wisdom to set a right and proper example will help us to have favor with God and men. This is especially important as we zealously labor to complete this “short” end-time Work (Rom. 9:28; Matt. 24:14). In doing so, we will have redeemed the time God has mercifully allotted to us, His modern-day disciples.

Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes when no man can work” (John 9:4). Brethren, ask God to help you use your time wisely and yield to Paul’s admonition—redeem the time.