Redeeming the time

There have been many sermons preached on redeeming the time. One of the most famous of all was a sermon preached by Jonathan Edwards in 1739. Many believed that this sermon was one of the sparks that ignited the “First Great Awakening” in America. Therefore, in the same way this message could ignite a spiritual awakening in our own lives, in our local churches and in our nations today.  

Let us look at a number of scriptures:

Ephesians 5:16, «Redeeming the time, for the days are evil.” The phrase, “Redeeming the time” can mean the following:

Firstly the word redeem, means to buy back. This implies that we sometimes may need that we pay a price and sacrifice the time that we would normally use for other activities, to do something profitably for the Kingdom of God.

Secondly, it means that we will make good use of our free time or slack time. For example we could use the time that we have while we are travelling or standing in a queue profitably. For example, could use this time praying, reading the Bible or doing something for the Lord. We could also use this time to study do something to improve our life skills.

Thirdly, it means to make good use of the opportunities that we do have. The Amplified Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity or to seize the opportunity.” We can use of the opportunities that we have and do something for the Lord. We read in Colossians 4:5, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” The NLT version says, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.” We should see our encounters with the un-saved as divine opportunities from the Lord, and use these opportunities to draw them to Christ. We should never allow any opportunity slip through our hands to influence people for Christ.

Fourthly, redeeming the time can also mean to value our time. We should see time as a precious gift from God and do everything possible not to waste it.

As we continue to read in Ephesians 5:16, it goes on to say, “… because the days are evil.” As we approach the return of Jesus and the end of the age, which is the time that we are now living in, we should be all the more careful how we live.  There is a greater demonic onslaught against Christians than ever before. It is also means that we don’t have much time left before the return of Jesus, therefore we cannot afford to waste any more of it.

Ephesians 5:17 goes in to say, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Therefore, in order to redeem the time, we must make it a high priority to always do that what God has called us to do and live in the centre of God’s will. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in all the decisions that we make.

The following verse in Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not be drunk with wine … but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” This implies that that we use every opportunity that we have to build up our own spiritual lives, to increase our anointing and to continually be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we do these things, we will always be redeeming the time and preparing ourselves for God to use us.

There is a very important verse found in John 9:4,where Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” He was obviously speaking about Himself, saying that He had to use every opportunity that He had to do what the Father called Him to do, because He knew that He would soon die on the cross and He would not have those opportunities again.

In the same way, while we have opportunities to do what we believe God wants us to do, we must not lose these opportunities. One day, “the night will come” and we will no longer have these opportunities. We do not know how long we will still be alive and how long the doors of opportunity will still be open to us.

Let me give you an example from our own lives: About a year ago, Frances’ brother Derek was in hospital in Pretoria in a critical condition. We felt a prompting to visit him one Saturday afternoon. At first we did not feel like doing so because we were tired and it was a long way to travel. However, we went to see him and for the first time in many years, his heart was so open to the things of God. We lead him to Christ and he publicly confessed Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Two days later he passed away into eternity!

Therefore, today, if we know that we must phone someone, visit them or share the gospel with them, we should not delay any longer. There may, “come the night”, when we will no longer have the opportunities to do so.

In Jeremiah 8:20 we find one of the saddest scripture in the Bible. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!”  This verse is the cry of the lost, who have already landed up in a lost eternity. They are crying out to us, “Why did you not tell us about Jesus when you had the opportunity to do so. Now it is too late! Therefore, while we still have opportunities to do so, let us use these opportunities to tell our families, our friends and others about Jesus. We can no longer afford to just “be nice” and let them go to hell. One day it will be too late and we may have their blood on our hands forever.

There are two very important reasons why we should redeem the time:

Firstly, because our time is so short:

We have less time left than we realize and it flies past so fast. We don’t know when we will die or when Jesus will return. Jesus said to his brothers in John 7:6, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.” He was saying to them, “I still have some time left before I die, but you can die at any moment.” Jonathan Edwards in his famous sermon, “Redeeming the time,” gave these two examples:

Firstly, imagine a man on his deathbed with only one hour to live. The uppermost thought in his mind would be:  “If only I had more time on earth.”  Today, we have the time that he does not have! 

Secondly, imagine someone in hell, experiencing the most unimaginable suffering and torment. The uppermost thought or desire in his mind would be: “If only I could have had more time on earth!” We have that, what those in hell so desperately desire. We have the gift of time! Therefore, we should value our time and not waste anymore of it!

We read in Psalm 39:4-5: “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days … Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.” In James 4:14 we read, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

Therefore, if we have wasted much time in the past, we should use the remaining time that we have, wisely!  The Bible says in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days…” We need to see each day, as a valuable gift from God and use every opportunity that we have to make an investment for the Kingdom of God.

The second reason why we should redeem the time is because we will be held accountable for in eternity for how we have used our time on earth:

The single most important event that will ever take place is the day that we will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ in eternity. The Bible says in Romans 14:10 and 12, “… for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. … everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.” What we do with our time on earth will affect us for all eternity. We have a similar warning in 1 Peter 1:17,  “And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:” Notice the words, “the time of your sojourning.”  If we fear the Lord, we will redeem the time! Someone once said, “the garment we weave in time, we will wear in eternity.”

How do we redeem the time?  

Firstly, we need to establish our priorities:

Our priorities depend on our values. I suggest the following:

–  Our relationship with God: It is always profitable to spend time in prayer, worship, reading the Bible and having fellowship with God. We see this in the life of Jesus and many of the saints in the Bible. Daniel 11:32 speaks about the last days and says, “The people that know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.” We need time to “know God” and develop our relationship with Him.  

Our relationships with other Christians: The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,… and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching…” In the eyes of God this should be a high priority. Jesus is not only coming back for us as individuals but He is coming back for a glorious church.  Furthermore, in order to stand strong for Christ in the last days we are going to need our brothers and sisters in Christ.

– There are a number of other important priorities:  For example, our family members, our health, our vocation and whatever God has called us to do.

Secondly we need to remove some of the things that waste our time:

What we read and watch:  In Psalm 101:3 we read, “I will set no wicked thing before – mine eyes.” The word wicked, also means worthless. Some of the things we read and watch may be fascinating or even interesting, but they don’t add any value to our spiritual lives and they simply just waste our time!

The things that we cannot change: In Psalm 131:1 it says, “I will not exercise myself in matters too great for me.” We should not be too involved in activities that we cannot influence through our prayers or our involvement.

Those things that God has not called us to do: We read Matthew 8:21-22, “Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Sometimes we just need to “let the dead bury the dead.” There are certain things and relationships that are not our assignment from God, that simply waste our time. We should not let the expectations of others; especially our family and relatives waste our time. We do not have to go to every funeral, birthday party and every event that others demand of us. Jesus said, “Follow Me!”  His will is our highest priority. We may even have offend certain people in order to do so.

Unresolved conflicts and bitterness.  There is nothing worse that wastes our time than strife, conflict and bitterness. These give the devil a foothold into our lives to steal our time. It is not worth it!  Titus 3:3 speaks about “Living in malice.” The Amplified Bible says, “Wasting our days in malice, envy and jealousy.

Thirdly, we need have a sense of urgency:

We read in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” God’s time is always now. The devil’s time is always tomorrow, or some time later. If we keep on delaying, we will lose valuable opportunities. For example, when Jesus called His disciples, they immediately left all and followed Him. When the Holy Spirit told Paul to go to Macedonia, he immediately obeyed. So if we know that God wants us to do something, we need to do so, as soon as possible!

Fourthly, we must make the most of our opportunities:

We read earlier in Amplified Bible in Ephesians 5:16, “Make the most of every opportunity.”  This especially applies to our holy opportunities, when we pray, spend time with the Lord, read the Bible or have fellowship with other believers. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward...” If we do not give our best or make the best use of our opportunities, we are simply wasting our time. Therefore, whatever we do for the Lord, whether we preach, pray or worship, we should give Him our very best. Notice it says, “You will receive a reward.” God will not only reward us for this on earth, but also in eternity.

Finally:

The investment of our time follows the principle of sowing and reaping. As we invest our time in the Kingdom of God, God will bless our time and our lives will be blessed and fruitful.  Furthermore, as we approach the end of the age, we need to value the time more and more and use the time that we still have wisely. As we do so, we will receive a great blessing from God, not only on earth, but also in eternity. Amen