Redeeming the Time

The Misuse of Time

It has been said that the past is a wonderful thing to contemplate but a terrible place to dwell. Although this statement holds much truth, I must admit that an occasional mental trip into my past has brought back to life many satisfying memories. After all, the past is the foundation that the present stands on, and almost every aspect of our character is a direct product of our past experiences, both good and bad.

In considering that today is tomorrow’s past and will become the foundation on which it is built, we must endeavour to make today a worthwhile foundation for our tomorrows. Our response to the present commitments of life will greatly determine whether we succeed or fail in the future, holding true for both the spiritual and natural aspects of our lives.

In his epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul emphatically declared that, “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The Scripture continues to say that when a man sows to the flesh he shall reap corruption. In contrast, he that sows to the spirit shall reap life everlasting. (Gal. 6:7-8).

Sowing always precedes reaping and a bountiful summer harvest is only the result of an adequate spring planting. Of course, we dare not overlook the fact that where there is no sowing there will be no reaping.

In other words, whether it be for our individual lives or for the church, success hinges on how much is accomplished at the present. Time management must be given serious consideration; in reality, it is as important as money management.

It has been correctly stated that, “Lost health may be restored by medical science, lost wealth by hard work and industry, but lost time can never be recovered.” Time is precious and must be used with extreme frugality. Our desires and goals for the future will never be attained if our visions and dreams remain only in our imagination. The proper use of our time today will determine our achievements and success tomorrow.

A great man once suggested that if I plant an acorn in my youth I will be able to sit under the shade of an oak in my old age. But, this priceless advice would only amount to a cherished fantasy if left as mere theory. On the other hand, if this is pursued and implemented it can become a blessed reality. Similarly, every good idea would be useless if it remains only in one’s imagination and dormant truth is as ineffective as fiction. As scripture beautifully puts it: “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” (Pro. 21:25).

In an age where one can waste endless hours on entertainment and leisure, it becomes necessary for God’s children to walk circumspectly. An unwise use of our time on frivolous programs produced by the ungodly can result in enormous time loss and develop a spirit of complacency.

Solomon condemned the unproductive use of time by saying, “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” (Pro. 19:15). Again, in Proverbs 24:30-34, he described the field of the slothful as “grown over with thorns, and nettles”, and having a broken wall. This was the result of “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep…”

Recognizing the lethargy and slumber that overpowered the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul challenged the believers to awake from their sleep and arise from the dead. He continued his admonition by saying, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:14-16).

The term “redeeming the time” is better translated as “buying up the opportunity”. It is my conclusion that Paul was suggesting that the Ephesians use their time more profitably with special consideration given to their spiritual welfare.

We need to consider the fact that if a powerful New Testament church such as Ephesus fell prey to the spirit of the age, how much easier is it for the church of today to drift into a spiritual slumber?

However, spiritual slumber should not only be viewed as a simple inactive posture, but rather a more subtle scheme. It is one thing to sit idle, but it is something else to be busy about nothing. The Devil would have great victory over us if he can convince us that we are doing a lot and will be rewarded greatly in the future when, in reality, we are accomplishing nothing in God’s sight. A lack of labour is bad, but to labour in vain is devastating.

Our Lord Jesus said, “Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt. 7:22-23).

Scripture makes it quite clear that no matter how engaged we are in the work of the Lord, our efforts are in futility if iniquity is found in us.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, the apostle wrote about the working of iniquity, associating it with satanically influenced signs, lying wonders, and great deception. He emphasized that “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie…” Although it may be disappointing, it is a scriptural fact that the religious convictions we cherish today will greatly determine the extent of success and the rewards we receive tomorrow. Being religious is not as critical as being religiously correct. Our concept of God must not necessarily be influenced by tradition or the religious trends of society, but on the correct interpretation of scripture.

Fact or Fable?

The age we live in thrives on fiction as a major form of media entertainment. As such, it is important that the child of God be able to isolate fact from fiction, and more so, truth from error. The blending of truth and falsehood is detrimental and will ultimately undermine the effectiveness of truth in our lives. A fictitious fantasy will never be attained and a hope that is based on falsehood will never be realized. It would be a grave disappointment to live out our entire lives in service to God based on a false hope.

Our Lord Jesus said: “…This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mt. 15:8-9). If this statement, made by the Lord Himself, means exactly what it says then every child of God must give careful consideration to their doctrinal convictions lest they too worship God in vain. A misunderstanding of the word of God will result in a misunderstanding of His will. This will place a false hope in our hearts so that our sacrificial efforts in accomplishing “many wonderful works” will yield no eternal rewards. (Mt. 7:21-23).

This article is not intended to motivate the child of God into mere religious involvement, but rather the type of religious involvement approved of by God. Like the Jews in the days of our Lord, who allowed tradition to become the major obstacle to their acceptance of Christ, many today are hindered for the same reason.

The absence of prophets for over four hundred years, from the time of Malachi to the birth of Christ, had resulted in the apostasy of the entire nation of Israel. In their effort to find substitutes for God, His word was replaced by man-made principles. Illumination was replaced by education, and true prophets by doctors of the law. As a result, when a true prophet, such as John the Baptist came on the scene, he was viewed as a heretic who posed a threat to established religion. Both John and Jesus were executed because their doctrines contradicted the religious orthodoxy of their day.

In considering that almost 2000 years has elapsed since the last New Testament apostle, the church today must not see itself as impervious to the spirit of apostasy. It is not the direct offspring of the church which came out of the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost. (Act 2). The fact is that Christianity today is more divided than it has ever been, and included in its history of continuous struggle for survival is a period of 1260 years described as the Dark Ages. In light of scripture and history, we would indeed be naïve to think that there are no traces of impurity in our doctrinal concepts. Of course, misconceptions in doctrine will result in ‘vain worship’.

The gap between truth and falsehood varies. For some people truth is so unimportant it is almost completely ignored or overlooked, while for others truth has become an absolute necessity. I am convinced that every true child of God will desire truth as a priority for the Body of Christ in our day, and, like the Apostle John, we too will rejoice when we witness God’s children “walking in truth”. (2 Jn. 4-10, 3 Jn. 3-4). Our attitude to truth is of great importance.

The Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine…” (1 Tim. 1:3-6). Also, he was to show no interest in fables, or any other aspect of life that was contrary to sound doctrine. (v.10). To be a good minister, Timothy had to be nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine…and refuse profane and old wives fables.

As we advance into the future we should strive to become faithful stewards with our time and our money. Our attitude to truth must not be passive, yet not so over-sensitive that we become immobilized by fear of being wrong. Someone correctly said, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have, now!”

In Ecclesiastes 9:10, the author suggested, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, wither thou goest.”

May God help those of us whose overconfidence in our possession of truth has pulled a self-righteous wool over our eyes, so that, like the Pharisees, we also contribute to apostasy in our day.