We are not guaranteed the amount of time that we have here on earth. As Christ followers we are told to keep ourselves holy (set apart): “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” (1 Pet. 1:16) In order for us to walk in wisdom we must begin by walking wisely, that is, carefully and deliberately. As we walk with precise steps we learn to walk not as fools but as wise men and women. Wisdom is having a right perspective, that is, a right view of God, self, and sin. The next verse in our text then tells us that as we walk in wisdom we must redeem the time because the days are evil. “See then that you walk circumspectly [wisely], not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)
The motivation for redeeming the time is that the days are indeed evil. Is there any doubt that we live in an evil time? Of course we understand that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9), but the days in which we live seem to be growing worse and worse. Paul told Timothy that in the last days “perilous times will come” and he describes these times with a list of serious sins. The days are evil. There is evil all around us. And that is exactly why we must redeem the time!
How do we redeem the time? To redeem the time means to “make the most of our time”, to “buy up” and use our time wisely. The word time here does not refer only to seconds, minutes, hours, or days. It refers to the “time of our life, or lifetime.” The truth is that we are to redeem every moment of our whole life, devoting ourselves to God’s service and glory.
We have no guarantee of tomorrow, so we are to make the most of today. While this has been perverted by those who would proclaim, “Eat! Drink! Be Merry! For tomorrow we die!” They do not understand the vital truth here. They are living for self, seeking to fulfill their own lusts and selfish ambitions in order to experience life to its fullest. The Biblical response to that of course is that it is simply not worth it to gain the whole world and yet lose your own soul (Matt.16:26).
We are to make the most of every moment of the rest of our lives for the glory and purposes of God. We live in service to Him; we are His and so we are to live like it. What do the Scriptures say about redeeming the time and using our life for the glory of God?
The time of our life (our lifetime) is a fixed, appointed time from start to finish. This speaks of course to God’s sovereignty and also to His Lordship over us. He is the Potter and we are the clay (Jer. 18:6). The clay should not presume to talk back to the Potter, nor can the clay influence the Potter in any way to change what He is making with the clay. We need to remember that Jesus is Lord, we are not.
The Bible tells us plainly that God creates us in our mothers womb (Ps. 139:16). He “knits us” or puts us together. He gives us life. He causes our delivery (Isa 66:9). He knows the days we will live before we are born and He knows how and when we will die (Ps. 39:4-5). He knows every word we will speak, every thought we will think, and He even keeps count of the hairs on our head.
And He tells us that death is an appointment. “It is appointed unto man once to die…” and this is an appointment we will not miss. (Hebrews 9:27) It is an appointment that might be changed however! Our life may be shortened as the result of sin (Ps. 89:38-45). This is why we are told not to fear the devil but to fear God – that is to rightly understand His power and prerogative concerning our lives. The devil may steal, kill, and destroy, and he may kill the body, but God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt 10:28).
God is able to lengthen our lives if He so desires. He did so with Hezekiah. He spoke through the prophet Isaiah and told Hezekiah that he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed and asked God to remember his faithfulness, and as he prayed God sent Isaiah back to declare that he would live another 15 years. He even caused the shadow on a sundial to go back 10 degrees in order to confirm the Word He had sent by Isaiah (2 Kings 20:1-11).
God is in control of our lives. He gives and takes our lives as He pleases. As He does, we must never forget that our lives are full of opportunities for service and obedience to God. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal. 6:10) We have opportunities to do good and to do what is right. We have opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. It is sadly the case that we miss many opportunities because we are serving self instead of serving God with our every moment. “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) Think about it – if we do not serve God with the moments then we will not be able to serve Him with our lives – because our life is simply a series of moments.
Let us not forget that our lives will be over before know it – it exists as a vapor of breath on a cold day, here one minute and gone the next (Ps. 89:47; James 4:14). Time gets faster and faster the older we get, or so it seems. And when we look at all of our earthly life is comparison to eternity, whether it is 20 years or 100 years, it is over quickly and has existed as briefly as a wisp of vapor when we speak in the cold air. Here and then gone. Do we live with death in mind? Do we live knowing that we will die? Or do we presume upon tomorrow for ourselves and those around us?
The fact is, however long or short our lives, our days are in God’s hands. (Ps. 21:4; James 4:15). We must not presume on the future – but “Lord willing” we will fulfill our dreams and desires in service to Him. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, and so we must “buy up” every moment we have and offer it to God in His service. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Rom 12:1)
That is what it means to redeem the time. To have a view toward eternity and toward the sovereign control of God over His creation and over us. Today, even in the slow moments, give some thought to how you are using that moment for the purposes and glory of God. Think about how you can redeem the time. “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:16)
- Life Application Study Bible and Bible Gateway
- Redeem The Time