There are so many fascinating, often obscure verses in the Bible that have had an effect on my life. Paul said that we should be “renewed in the spirit of our minds” (Ephesians 4:23). For me, it was reading, memorizing and embracing the words in the Bible that had so much to do with renewing my mind.
In one little known verse that Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he told them we should “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16), a fascinating idea. Does that mean we should stay real busy? You hear people say nowadays, “don’t waste time.” But why not? Why not just goof off as much as you can?
It comes back to what I wrote in “The Heavenly Vision” and “Is There Not A Cause?” For Christians and believers in God, our whole starting point for how we view life is different. If anyone should have a “purpose driven life”, it’s a Christian or believer in God. If Jesus was doing anything, He was giving us a vision for a life saturated with meaning, purpose, significance and even a sense of urgency to obey God and fulfill the calling and role that He communicates to us.
Besides our lives, our time is the next most important thing we have. Does that mean we should be rushing around all our lives, frantically trying to obey all that we know God wants us to do? No. In the story of Mary and Martha, Martha was busy doing housework and physical service while her sister was “just sitting there”, listening to Jesus. But when Martha complained to Jesus about it, He told her that “Mary has chosen the good part” (Luke 10:42), to sit at His feet and learn of Him. On the other hand, we can’t or shouldn’t just sit around all day in mediation and personal prayer.
So it comes back to our personal, living relationship with the Lord. Day by day, only God is way out there in front and knows what’s going to happen and is able to lead you and guide you and show you what to do. What did He show you to do today when you prayed about it? Should you take a day off to really pray about something? Did He show you to get busy and diligent with what He already showed you to do?
But in whatever you’re supposed to be doing, whatever He has showed you to do, we are to do it whole heartedly, with vigor and vision. That’s why all these things tie together so much. If you lose the vision, you probably can’t really “redeem the time” because you haven’t really found out what the Lord wants you to do.
And sadly that’s what so many believers succumb to: they loose the vision. “Where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18) and how many believers just end up “fainting in their minds” (Hebrews 12:3) and loosing the vision over the years. Jesus talked about the virgins who let their lights go out (Matthew 25); it’s pitiful how many people that happens to. They no longer have the ardor they originally felt for the Lord and have lost the desire to go forward in their walk with Him.
Some people I know think that means they lose their salvation, if they are in that condition. I don’t believe that. But Jesus said, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). If we’re going to give an account for every idle word, will we have to give an account of idle time, wasted on frivolous, worldly vanity that most of us are surrounded with in these times?
At the end of the day, I try to weigh up the books with my soul and ask myself, “What have I done today that I won’t have to do tomorrow? What have I done with this wonderful life that He’s allowed me to have? Have I spent it for myself? Have I been a blessing to Him and others? Have I “laid up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) or “wasted my substance in riotous living” (Luke 15:13) ? Has my vision today been for the world to come and to preach His Word in whatever way He has made for me? Or have I turned back to Egypt and settled in Babylon, like so many of the ancient Jews did?”
There’s a time to just take some time off. Read a book, go for a walk, have a glass of wine, go to a movie. But for so many, redeeming the time by staying full of the vision and active in the Lord’s service daily is either something they’ve almost never really gotten on board with or it’s something that they remember they did for a while years ago.
Even Jesus redeemed the time. He said, “I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day” (John 9:4) and “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34) God help all of us to keep the vision and to redeem the time daily for Him and others.