Redeeming the Time

Robert Wurtz II

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16 NKJV)

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. (Col. 4:5 ESV)

Walk in wisdom towards those without, redeeming opportunities. (Col. 4:5 Darby)

Our passages offer great insight into Paul’s approach to the Christian life and ministry. In Eph. 5:15-16, he does not use the Greek word chronos (time) in this verse, but kairos (opportunity).  This is significant because Paul wrote Ephesians in roughly 62 AD (near the end of his life) having experienced severe hardships that left him imprisoned on several occasions. He suffered first hand the “evil days” that he writes about.

Every minute was precious to him because he never knew what a day would bring forth — except that the Holy Spirit warned him in every city that chains and afflictions were waiting for him (Acts 20:23). He was liable to be imprisoned for years at a time with little access to the people he desired to minister to. So when an opportunity presented itself, he “redeemed it” and made full use of it. Otherwise, those moments of time… those opportunities would be lost forever. Other than daylight savings time, there is simply no way to turn back the clock. 

Businessman pulling a clock hand backwards

Wasting Time and Opportunity

When I was a child, minutes seemed like hours, hours seemed like days, days seemed like weeks, weeks like months, and months like years. Everything seemed to be in slow-motion and my mind was recording it as it were on a high-speed camera — logging details so precise that the memory of my youth seemed to be decades long. But now that I’m old, years seem like months and months like weeks, weeks like days, days like hours, and hours like seconds. What happens? When we are young we are so impatient and time seems to drag by. When we are old we grow patient and time no longer waits for us. Youthful impatience slows the speed of time to a crawl. Aged patience unlocks the wheels of times to blazing speeds. The young man asks, “What’s taking so long?!” The old man bellows, “Where has the time gone?”

The famous British missionary C.T. Studd (1861-1930) wrote a poem that captures the essence of Paul’s repeated admonition to “redeem the time.” I quote only the last stanza:

Only one life shall soon be past and only what’s don’t for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee. — C.T. Studd

 

When opportunities come along to do God’s work we need to make use of them. In one sense, time is opportunity. In fact, sometimes we need to make our own opportunities. If we make ourselves available to God He will present opportunities to us. If we waste away our time those opportunities will be lost. 

We simply never know what a day will bring forth. Why procrastinate? Why waste our time on meaningless things? We may have far fewer opportunities than we realize. For Paul, he knew he had to make every one count. He could be thrown in jail and the opportunity to minister to specific needs in time would be lost forever. In these last days, loaded with every means of time-wasting one could imagine, may we ever be mindful of Paul’s and C.T. Studds words:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16 NKJV)

Only one life shall soon be past and only what’s don’t for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee. — C.T. Studd