REDEEMING GOD'S GIFT OF TIME
Ephesians 5: 15,16 says, “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” This is one of many instructions Paul delivered to Christians in Ephesus. This passage informs Christians the correct way to use God's gift of time. It is equally applicable to believers and unbelievers, to the saved and the lost. To live in a pleasing way to God, people must have correct notions of time . In the language of the text the most correct notion of time is to know how to redeem it. We usually do not think of time in terms of redeeming it. Redeem time! That does not compute with most people. Apparently, many Christians in Ephesus were careless in the way they were using their time. Just before this unusual statement about time, Paul said it was time for those Christians to wake up and rise from the dead, and live by the light that Christ gives to His followers. They were asleep spiritually and living like spiritually dead people, that is, like people in the world who do not recognize God, worship God, thank God or serve God. Apparently, Christians can be asleep morally and religiously and not know it. If they did know it, they would not be asleep. The way to prevent this situation is to wisely use the gift of time God has given us.
First let's take a look at this word time which Paul says can be redeemed. We don't normally think of time as something that is redeemable. There has been some discussion as to the exact meaning of the word time in this passage. What is time? Webster's dictionary uses over 800 words to define this word. The best definition Webster's dictionary gives is: “The entire period of existence of the known universe. Earthly duration as distinguished from eternity. The entire period of existence of the world or humanity.” That is the correct d definition of time as used in the passage under study. However, Webster uses over 800 words to define time and gives 10 related definitions. I like the word “duration” used in defining this term. Duration is the time that a thing continues or lasts. Revelation 10:6 makes the statement, “Time shall be no longer.” We learn from this scripture that time is of limited duration. It has a beginning, and it will have an ending. It is the time of human existence on the earth. It is God's gift to every human being. The Bible says that the days of our years are 70 , and by reason of strength we get 80 years of time. But we are informed in that advanced period it is accompanied by labor and sorrow due to bodily weakness(Psalm 90:10-12). Because of the advancement in medical knowledge, unusual physical strength, and the goodness of God, it is possible to get 90 or even 100 years of time. 70 is the average limit of life; 80 is the providential limit of life, and a little over 100 is the ultimate limit of life. This is time as we know it on earth.
However, God in whom we live, move and have our being exists in eternity; He looks at time a little differently than we do, and He wants us to know that His mode of existence differs from man's. Time and eternity are two different things; one is limited duration, and the other is unlimited duration. Psalm 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past.” The apostle Peter expressed it like this, “With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day”( 2 Peter 3:8). We look on one day as lasting 24 hours, but one human day is equivalent to 1,000 years of God's existence. A human year of time is equal to 365 days; but comparably speaking, God's year is equal to 365, 000 human years. An average human lifetime is 70 years, but 70 human years with God is equal to 25, 550, 000 years of God's existence. Of course, this is figurative, metaphorical language, but it does give us humans some idea of the difference between time and eternity. What an exciting thought that Christians are being prepared for an existence in eternity. Surely such a possibility should not be taken lightly. But man must use the gift of time wisely to win the gift of eternal life. So far as God is concerned we have a very brief time of existence on this earth. This computation gives some slight idea of the great difference between time and eternity.
Secondly, how shall we go about redeeming this stuff called time. Paul said, “See that you walk circumspectly, not as unwise but wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The reason given for redeeming time is that we live in an evil time. The danger is that we will use God's gift of time to live in an evil way and support the practice of evil in the world. However, Paul did not explain what he meant by redeeming time. The meaning must be in this word redeem and what the word meant in the first century. The word has lost much of the significance it had in olden times. It is not a familiar word in our modern business world. The word literally means, “to buy up or buy back.” It was a common business term in the marketplace of life in ancient times. It was the language of the merchant, the business man. If a man could not pay his debts, he could work it out by becoming the man's servant until the debt was paid. However, it was possible to be bought out of such servitude for a price. If someone was willing to his debt, the man could be redeemed or bought out of a form of slavery. People could be bought out or redeemed from a variety of debts or financial situations. In ear;y times you paid your debts. one way or another. If necessary you could sell yourself into slavery. If the debtor took a man's property as payment for his debt, it was possible to buy his property back for a price. If so, his property was redeemed. Scripture teaches that Christians have been redeemed out of sinful habits and a sinful life by the blood of Christ.
by way of forgiveness. Christ bought us out of a life of slavery to Satan and sin. Christians are said to be bought with a price. Such is the meaning of the word
It is quite evident that we cannot understand Paul to say we are literally to redeem time. We cannot literally buy back time we have wasted, but the word implies that in some way we have lost the correct use of our precious time. We have permitted someone or something to take it away from us, and we need to get it back. We have given our time to an evil way of life. :Paul uses the term the term in a spiritual or religious sense. One thing is certain about time; all past time in our life is irrecoverable. We all wasted much of our precious time before we became Christians, but we must not continue to misuse and waste it now that we are servants of God. Most people in the world permit time to get away from them and end up with no preparation having been made to face God in the judgment. There is no way to recover time that belongs to the past of our lives. We can receive God's mercy and forgiveness for time we have wasted in the past, but it cannot be recovered. Christians have been bought out of an evil life by Christ who took their sins to the cross and suffered the punishment that was due them.
In the Christian use of the word redeem, time is redeemed or recovered first by God forgiveness through Christ, then it continues to be redeemed when it is properly used in the discharge of Christian duty. Time is to be used by Christians in a much different way than do people of the world. The world has forgotten that time is a gift of God, and they cannot use it anyway they please with impunity. Paul gave us the key to understanding the term in the statement that precedes our text and the statement which follows it. In verse 15, he said, “See that you walk circumspectly not as unwise but as wise.” He followed that thought with the words, “redeeming the time because the days are evil.” . The teaching is, “Use time to live wisely, not unwisely.” Christians are in danger of misusing much of their time because of the evil that is in the world. Don't waste your time, for you are now the servants of God and Christ.
Please note also the verse that follows our text says, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, giving thanks
to God the Father..” These words give us the key to understanding why Christians and why unbelievers waste so much of the precious time that God give them. One of the greatest dangers that draws us away from
living an acceptable life to God is that human nature feels the necessity
of excitement of some kind in their lives. Paul warned the Ephesian Christians against the low, base and and embarrassing excitement they can get from wine and all alcoholic drinks.. There is something about us poor human beings that we crave excitement. We can't stand too much boredom and routine. Everyone needs some excitement. That why people go to the movies, on vacations, travel to foreign countries, go to football games, basketball games, gamble in the Casinos, pay to see entertainers in person, and on and on. We need some thing to stimulate us from outside our selves. We like some lively feeling that will interrupt regular routine and our quite and ordinary state of mind. But this feeling of need for excitement can be a great danger to Christians. The church, its worship; its fellowship, its music, and the study of the Bible can provide much of what we need in the way of excitement instead of the degrading entertainment of the world. Be filled with the Holy S pirit instead of alcoholic drinks. In addition the need for excitement in our lives can be filled by the many forms of clean forms of entertainment available in the world. Christians can receive excitement from the many good forms of entertainment and enjoyments in the world. We don't need alcohol, the racy songs of the night clubs and bars, the dirty jokes of entertainers and other filthy forms of pleasure and entertainment.
Many commentators think Paul means that we are to buy up the opportunities that time allows us to take advantage of. Opportunities to honor God and Christ. Opportunities to advance the cause of Christ on this earth. Opportunities to help the lost people of the world. Opportunities to make this world a better place to live in for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. We all have wasted enough time before we became Christians. We should walk in the light as God is in the light. Because of the prevalence of evil in the world, there is much need for God's light. We are to walk or live as children of light, and over this light Christians have much control. We are to have knowledge of the path that leads to heaven, not like unwise people who miss the path. We are to follow the light that falls on our path. We are to foresee the dangers of the way and provide against them. To walk circumspectly is to walk strictly, wisely, and recognizing the dangers all around us and avoiding them. . We are to have Christ for our companion on the way, like Enoch of old who walked with God. Finally, we are to keep in view the end of our walk. The apostle Peter said that after we have lived a godly life, we receive the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.