Redeeming the Time

About this time last year America was preparing for a possible war with Iraq. On March 20, 2003 - U.S. forces launched early morning air-strikes at sites near Baghdad.   Less than three weeks later on April 9, 2003 - American commanders declared Saddam's regime no longer rules Baghdad.  Jubilant crowds greeted troops and toppled a 40-foot statue of Saddam.  Then last Saturday on December 13, 2003 Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops. 

America should never be proud and boastful of its strength and intelligence for the success of its campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.  This is what the Scriptures teach us:

“I returned and saw under the sun that – The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecc. 9:11)

The Bible also teaches us to use wisely the time and opportunities that are given to us.  The phrase “redeeming the time” appears twice in the New Testament. 

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17)


“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (Col. 4:5)


When you look at the phrase “redeeming the time” in both verses you can see there is a common exhortation for wisdom.  The original Greek word for “redeem” is “exagorazo” -  exagorazw  1805  which means to buy out, especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom.  This same word is used metaphorically in Galatians 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, . .”  Usually one has to make payment to a pawnshop in order to redeem something of value that has been lost like jewelry, watches or camera.


Here is the question.  How does one redeem time?  We often hear that time goes by and never returns.  Time is neutral and does not favor anyone.  If a task is not done within a certain period of time it may not be due to the lack of time, but most likely it is because time has not been properly used. This is what the apostle Paul wrote to the two churches about using time wisely in the Lord’s work.

We do not live in time but time lives in us. We create time with the mind. We might say time is the way the mind organizes experiences within a certain time frame. You may have watched a basketball game showing how a good team trailing by two points and have only three seconds of regulation time left, could still win the game.  It happened twice to the Houston Rockets basketball team in the past.  Three seconds can be an eternity if you know how to use it properly.   You can turn a losing situation into a winning one if you know how to redeem the time by using it wisely.

The apostle Paul gives us four important points that need consideration how we can redeem the time.

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17)

1.  Walk circumspectly

The word “circumspect” means to be very cautious, careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences before making any decision on something important.  This applies to situations pertaining to a Christian, family, church or business.  Our Lord Jesus Christ gave this teaching. 


“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he ahs laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.” (Lk. 14:28-30) 


Our church in Houston is about to make a very significant move regarding the chapel building. There needs to be an intensive seeking of the Lord in making this important move.


2.  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 


We need to recognize the days in which we are now living are evil.  Our Lord Jesus Christ prophesied: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Mt. 24:37)  What are the days of Noah like? 


“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:5-7) 


We are indeed living in an age that can be described as evil, brutal and violent just like the days of Noah.  All around us, in the newspaper, on the Internet and the TV screen we witness the evil and wickedness with which the world is filled.  Why is the present world so filled with wickedness?


“Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea!  For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Rev. 12:12)


The devil begins to step up and intensify his wicked and evil deeds in the End Time “because he knows that he has a short time.”  It is often said that the devil never sleeps nor take a vacation.  He really knows how to redeem the time.  Do the saints know they also have the same short time as the devil?   Do we know how to redeem the time?


3.  “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

“In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."  But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?"  Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (Jn. 4:31-34)

The “food” about which Jesus was speaking was His spiritual nourishment.  It includes more than regularly attending church services, Bible study, prayer and hymn-singing.  Spiritual nourishment also comes from doing God’s will and helping to bring His work of salvation to completion.  We are nourished not only by what we take in, but also by what we give out to God.  In John 17:4 Jesus refers to completing God’s work on earth.

In Acts 21:10-14 we are told the apostle Paul knew he would be imprisoned in Jerusalem.  Although his friends pleaded with him not to go there, he knew he had to because God wanted him to.  No one enjoys pain, but a faithful disciple wants above all else to please God.  Our desire to please God should overshadow our desire to avoid hardship and suffering.  When we really want to do God’s will, we must accept all that comes with it – even the pain.  Then we can say with Paul, “The will of the Lord be done.”

4.  “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (Col. 4:5)

“Those who are outside” refer to the people who do not have the opportunity to know the Lord Jesus Christ yet.  In verse 2 Paul requested for prayers “that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.”   Our Lord spoke to His disciples concerning vast opportunities to preach the gospel to them:

“Do you not say, "There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!   And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.  For in this the saying is true: "One sows and another reaps.'  I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." (Jn. 4:35-38)

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt. 24:14)

There is a tendency to direct our attention and preach only to the few truth-seekers that are already coming to the church.  Let us not forget there are more than four million people living in our city, and many have not even heard the truth yet.  What the apostle Paul wrote is for the Church to widen its circle of influence and reach out toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.”