Redeeming The Time – Part 1

Today is the first part of a two-part message I preached a few weeks ago on “redeeming the time,” based on the Scripture passage in Ephesians 5:15-20:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why Redeem The Time?

The obvious reason “why” is simply because God tells us to redeem the time.  Every second of our lives is a gift from God.  Our gift back to Him is in how we choose to live it.  In the Ephesians passage above, Paul tells us to be careful how we live so we can “make the most of every opportunity” that God gives to us.  Let’s take a look at one suggested summary of the activities that fill a typical lifespan of 70 years:

Sleep                           23 years                                  32.9%

Work                           16 years                                  22.8%

TV                                8 years                                    11.4%

Eating                          6 years                                    8.6%

Travel                          6 years                                    8.6%

Leisure                        4.5 years                                 6.5%

Illness                          4 years                                    5.7%

Dressing                      2 years                                    2.8%

Religion                       0.5 years                                0.7%

Total                            70 years                                  100%

Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon titled The Preciousness of Time, in which he said, “Things are precious in proportion to their importance, or to the degree wherein they concern our welfare.  Being uncertain of its continuance—knowing how little of it remains, whether years, months, weeks, days or hours—we ought to see the preciousness of time.”

When you look at the numbers in the table above in light of what Edwards preached, religion is not that precious to the average individual.  How is it with you?

Funny thing about time: there is no inherent value in it until it is invested.  If we invest our time on stuff that truly doesn’t matter, we end up living a life that truly doesn’t matter.  But when we invest our time on things that have eternal value, we end up living a life of eternal value.  I’ve learned the hard way that the greatest time waster in the world is doing something God doesn’t want me to do . . . and having to clean up the mess afterwards!

Since time is a gift from God, we are stewards of it . . . not owners.  Each week God gives us 168 hours to use any way we choose.  The wise person is described in Scripture as one who redeems those hours by investing them in the advancement of the kingdom of God in every area of life.  We are to advance the kingdom of God in our homes with our families, at work with our co-workers, in our communities with our neighbors, and in our recreation with our friends.  Everything we do is to be done for the glory of God; that will only happen when we are in some way advancing His kingdom in this world.

We are His ambassadors on mission to redeem our time for the advancement of the cause of our King.  What we need to remember is if we don’t order our time someone else will do it for us.  The problem with that is that they might want us to be filling our time in ways that might not be what God wants for us.  We must live as the psalmist instructs: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).  We do not want to live as the person Pascal describes: “The last thing one knows is what to put first.”

The choice is clear for the Christian.  Jesus Christ is to be our first priority in every aspect of our lives.  We are to live coram Deo—that is, “before the face of God.”  Living before the face of God means living under his authority and living for His glory moment by moment.  And it is the truths of the Gospel that free us to live this way—not in order to gain His favor, but because we already have it, thanks to the finished work of our King.

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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