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.  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 which means 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 while we are travelling or standing in a queue profitably. We 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, the Amplified Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity.” In other words, we can make good use of the opportunities that we have and do something for the Lord. It can also mean that  we use our time well when we do something for the Lord. This can especially apply to reaching the lost. We see our encounters with the un-saved as divine opportunities from the Lord to draw them to Christ. 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.” Furthermore, the Amplified translation also says,  “to seize the moment.” We should never allow any opportunity slip through our hands to influence people for Christ.

Fourthly, this phrase 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.” This can mean that as we approach the return of Jesus and the end of the age, which is the time that we are now living in! There is a greater demonic onslaught against Christians and we should thus be more in how we spend our time. We cannot afford to waste time and live carelessly. It is also means that we little 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 should always 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.

Jesus said in John 9:4 .”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 saying that He had to use every opportunity that He had, because He knew that it would soon be “night’ and He would not have those opportunities again.

The same can apply to us today. 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.

About a year ago, Frances’ brother Derek was in hospital in Pretoria. 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 his heart was open to receive Jesus and the assurance of salvation. He publically confessed Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Two days later he passed into eternity!

Therefore, if we know that we must phone someone, visit them or share the gospel with someone, we should not delay any longer. There may, “come the night when no man can work,” We cannot afford to waste any more time!

In Jeremiah 8:20 we read, “The harvest is past, The summer is ended, and we are not saved!”  This is a warning to us about the un-saved. Therefore, while we still have a ‘summer of opportunity,’ or while it is still ‘harvest time’ let us use these opportunities to tell others or friends that do not know Jesus. These people are going. We can no longer afford to just “be nice” and let them go to hell. We must redeem the time and use every opportunity to influence them for Christ. One day it will be too late! We do not want to have their blood on our hands when we enter

Two important reasons why we should redeem the time?

Firstly, because our time is so short.

We have less time than we realize. Time flies fast and 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 illustrations:

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 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 opportunity to make an investment for the Kingdom of God.

Secondly, 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 take p Therefore, what we do with our time on earth will affect our eternal existence. 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.” This verse is for born again Christians and not for those who do not know Jesus! We also read in 1 Peter 1:17 we read, “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! 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 waiting on 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 and the local Church are important. 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 but also for a glorious church.  We will be able to stand for Christ in the end times without the help and prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

– There are a number of other important priorities for example, our family members and our health. (Sleep and exercise)

– Our vocation: This can apply to our ministries, our work or to 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. For example, the reason why I am interested in the political landscape in the USA is because I am praying about it!

The thing 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 that are not our assignment from God and will simply waste our time. We should also be careful about the expectations of others, especially our family and relatives. We do not have to go to every funeral, birthday party and gatherings that others demand of us. Jesus said, “Follow Me!” His will is our highest priority, even if we may need to offend certain people in order to do so.

There are certain relationships that waste our time: We do not have to befriend every person on the planet. God has assigned certain relationships to us. If a relationship wastes our time, distracts us from God’s purpose and wears us out spiritually, we need to “trim off” these relationships.

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. There are many examples in the Bible. It would be wise to write down the things that we believe God wants us to do, and take the initiative and begin to do them!

Fourthly, we must make the most of our opportunities:

We have already referred to this in the Amplified translation. These especially apply to our holy opportunities. For example, when we pray, spend time with the Lord, read the Bible or  worship with other believers. We should do so with all our hearts and give God quality time.  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 on earth, but also in eternity.

Finally:

Time is like finances, we can invest our time. For example when we put our finances into the Lord’s hands, He will bless and multiply our finances. This follows the principle of sowing and reaping. In the same way when we invest our time in the Kingdom of God, He will bless our time and our lives will be blessed and fruitful.  As we approach the end of the age, we need to value the time that we still have left and use it wisely. We will receive a great blessing from God, not only on earth, but also in eternity. Amen