As we stand on the threshold of a new year, we tend to wax philosophic. We think about the circle of the year; we think about the steady hourglass of time. We think about all of resolutions we meant to accomplish, but never seemed to have the time. We intended to achieve our goals, but time got away. Moments turned into months. And now we stand ready to end the old year and welcome in the new one.
During this season I often meditate on St. Paul’s phrase from his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians: “redeeming the time.” As we enter the new year, I want to ask emphatically: are we redeeming the time?
When we think about the concept of time, time is the only thing in the world that we cannot get more of. We can work longer hours or learn a new skill, and make more money in so doing. We can take money and buy more possessions. We can “show ourselves friendly” and get more friends. We can exercise and get more strength, or read books and get more knowledge.
But time—time!—time is the only thing that we cannot get more of. Because of this fact, time is an inherently valuable commodity. It is one of the most precious things that we have. And we are always losing a little; moment by moment, it is slipping away. Time is always being spent, but rarely is time being invested.
When we think about the concept of redeeming, to redeem something means that we trade one thing for another. Take, for example, this obscure Old Testament law about redeeming a donkey.
And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck (Exodus 13:13)
If the donkey was not redeemed, it had to be killed. But if you wanted to keep the donkey, you could trade the donkey with a lamb; and the lamb would die in the place of the donkey (there is preaching in that!!). Redeeming means trading one thing for another. This is how it still works today; when we redeem a coupon at the store, we trade a worthless piece of paper for a bag of groceries. A trade must take place.
Time is such a valuable thing, that we need to start redeeming it. There are so many things that steal our time these days—perpetually scrolling on social media, endlessly watching Youtube videos, ceaselessly texting friends, overcommitting ourselves, excessively sleeping. It would be impossible to list every possible time trap; and they are different from person to person. Left to my own devices, the amount of time I would waste pleasure reading is sinful! Almost anything can be a tax on our time.
We need to start redeeming our time. We need to start trading things, so that we can invest more time in what is most important.
I’m just going to “tell it straight.” If you can make multiple social media posts in a day, but can’t find time to read at least one chapter of your Bible, you are sinning and need to repent. Your time is more valuable than that; quit wasting it on social media and spend some time with God in his word. If you have time to watch an hour-long movie at the end of the night, but you can’t find even half an hour to give to God in undistracted prayer, you are sinning and need to repent. Quit wasting your time—your valuable time, the only thing you cannot get more of—on something so trivial. These things may not be sin in-and-of themselves; but they will steal our time if we let them. We have to redeem the time: trade the useless for something that truly is valuable.
As I type this, I am fully aware of things that have got to go in my own life. The Lord deserves more of my time. When I pray, I tell Him that I love Him; how much sense does that make, if I can never find time for Him??
Now more than ever the time is urgent. When Paul used this phrase in Ephesians, he said, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (5:15-16). These are the last days. We must live carefully; the days are evil; we cannot afford to be fools! We must redeem the time, and “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and…run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb12:1).
We must make time to study the Bible and pray. And we must make time to evangelize, to reach lost souls. When Paul used this phrase in Colossians, he said, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” We must be wise with our time—we cannot afford to be foolish—because we have loved ones who are going to die lost and go to hell. What will God say to us when we could have been reaching for a lost soul, and instead we watched silly cat videos on Youtube? These are the last days; very soon our friends and families will stand before God. Are you taking time to help them get ready? If you want to see your friends and family saved, you’re running out of time; redeem the time.
Some things aren’t sin; they’re just stupid. So much of what we waste our time on isn’t sinful; it’s just silly. Why don’t we exchange some of those things, and spend that time on God?
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how valuable time is; and everything I have said is right. But from another perspective, time is inherently useless. In-and-of itself, time is not valuable at all. Time is only valuable if we redeem it; if we invest it into a worthy cause; if we trade our time for something with real value.
In this next year, I want to issue a challenge to my readers.
- Find time to pray daily for at least 20 minutes. During this prayer time, be sure to thank God for all the ways he has blessed you; and pray for your lost friends, that God would help you lead them to salvation.
- Read at least one chapter of your Bible daily. If you read one chapter a day, you will read the entire New Testament in just under a year.
- Try to bring someone to the Lord this year.
And, if you are reading this and you are not saved, please reach out to me through the contact tab on this site. There is no better way to start “redeeming the time” than to get saved!
Happy New Year! Remember, “redeem the time!!”