Thursday, June 19, 2014


I've been around a few people in my 58 years of ministry who have been sick and in pain and some who had very little time left. [When you think about it who of us doesn't fit that description!] They were faced with a few very serious questions at that juncture. 

After the practical questions of dealing with how to dispose of what is left behind materially, they were then faced with one very narrow question that may be the biggest they'd ever faced. What did they wish to do with the time they had left? That may be the question of any day we live as I'm going to attempt to show in this blog post.

There is an Ephesians verse that addresses this. Ephesians 5:16 says, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." But what does it mean to “redeem the time?”  The word “redeem” in the Greek means “to buy up, ransom, or rescue from loss.” So the need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our life might be what is intended here. But this would only involve today since yesterday is past and tomorrow may not come, at least there is no guarantee of it coming.

A need in all this, however, is to understand the phrase "the days are evil." 

This word "evil" in the original Greek here means "hurtful evil, calamitous, diseased, derelict and vicious." That is certainly an apt description of today if one were to read newspapers or watch television news channels. We are living in the kind of days that make the facing of what paths of life we take of prime importance. Even our thoughtless habits can cause a loss of Kingdom reality in our living. That evil can win the day is not an understatement. [We know the end is secure however don't we!]

But in order to follow a wise course of action for redeeming the time that we do have today, it would be appropriate to understand what misusing the time might look like. It may be simplistic, but I think it could basically be boiled down to the loss of one concept and the need for a recovery of that concept.

Psalm 90 has that concept in it. It's the idea of living with an awareness that our days are, in fact, numbered. Most people don't entertain that thought often, if ever. It's only human nature to believe and live as if we have unlimited days ahead of us. This idea is especially prevalent among young people. [Although, honestly, it has always been so, even my generation as a young person, a hundred years ago, which is but a slight exaggeration.] But an important and factual statement is found in Psalm 9:10-12 where it says this, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” 
It is clear that numbering our days is connected to wisdom. So, if we were to regain the understanding of living each day as if it were our last, being wise today would result.

That resulting wisdom is described in that Ephesians 5 chapter just preceding the 16th verse mentioned earlier. Verses 14-15 have this to say,
“Wherefore he says, AWAKE you that sleep, and ARISE from the dead, and Christ shall give you LIGHT. See then that you WALK CIRCUMSPECTLY, not as fools, but as WISE."  Look with me at that sound instruction. 


The word “awake” means “to be wakened, to collect our faculties being roused from sleep or from just sitting or lying down.” [It's like being raised from the dead.]

“Repent and Be Zealous” 

This means to have a change of mind and to recognize and understand we are alive in Christ Who is, Himself, our very life and we are to live zealously with this frame of reference. 

Walk in the light

When we are truly awake to this reality and zealous in it, there is a promise that He gives light for this day. [And this day ONLY.]

Walk circumspectly

This is an old word which means  to walk cautiously; to look where one is stepping; to be vigilant, watchful, diligent, attentive. In simple terms, to pay attention. To what? 

To being wise and not a fool

This wisdom is articulated in the several verses following which could be clearly and yet simply stated as being joyful, [verse 19] being thankful, [verse 20] and being a servant to others. [verses 21-33] It would be utter foolishness for us to live each day ANY OTHER WAY

Now, were we as Christians to face the fact that we all are in that very situation daily, asking what do we do with our time left, and were we to come up with the same answer, to love God and love people and serve others rather than being served, we would discover ourselves living what scripture describes as "the Normal Christian life." We would be, in fact, redeeming the time.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


As Hercule Poirot would say, "the little grey cells have been very busy". A very thoughtful article.

"So the need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our life might be what is intended here, but this would only involve today since yesterday is past and tomorrow may not come, at least there is no guarantee of it coming."

Amen to that!

I don't think the situation in your country would be much different to the one in which I'm blessed to dwell, and it would seem that the very opposite of what you are saying is true.

The strange thing is that those who claim they are "redeeming the time" are often thoughtlessly living as hedonists functioning under the hedonist adage "eat,drink,and,be merry, for tomorrow we die".

I have had the acquaintance of many Christians, including pastors, who live purposeless busy-ness filled lives, whilst claiming to be "redeeming the time", and, at the same time admitting that the driving force in their busy-ness is the belief that it is necessary to ensure the smile of God upon their lives.

How I wish that they understood, and took to heart, your last paragraph, which, first and foremost require the freedom bought by Jesus Christ as He inaugurated the New Covenant negating any driven busy-ness designed to please a frowning Father.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I appreciate your words.

Since I'm a great fan, this..."As Hercule Poirot would say, "the little grey cells have been very busy". A very thoughtful article." really pleasing to me. ;)

Victorious said...

Great thought-provoking post, Paul.

I heartily agree with Aussie John's mentions of "purposeless busy-ness" among many of God's people. As a performance-focused society, it seems to be the natural method of attaining God's approval and assure a gold-star reward for our efforts.

The subject of numbering our days and only being assured of today has been on my mind a lot lately. As I'm approaching the later phase of life, I've been hoping my sons forget the negatives I may have brought into their lives and are able to focus on the positives. These thoughts are not necessarily intentional, but spring to life as a result of something that triggers a memory.

As life entails a number of passages, I pray I'm redeeming the time I have left in this particular phase. I must admit I encounter a bit of flack from others about my lack of busy-ness (performance), but find I much prefer the rest I find in Him.

Thanks as always for this post! I love how you convey your thoughts and bring out the beauty of scripture and how it applies to our lives.

Mary Ann

Paul Burleson said...

Mary Ann,

Thank YOU for comments that, with those of Aussie J, make my posting seem worthwhile to me for sure.

Chad Pritchard said...

Great post. Just thought I would share my churches Mission Statement that we try to follow as closely as possible - "Love God by Loving People, Serve God by Serving People". Cary Church of God, Cary, North Carolina. Blessings to you.