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Redeeming the Time

Our heart affections are the only thing that we really have — ultimately — to give to the Lord. And the litmus test of where our heart affections lie is our use of our time and money beyond life necessities. Do we use our free time and money for things that God treasures or for things that we treasure — whether money, hobbies, pleasures, experiences, or what have you. As the Bible says, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our focus today is on time, particularly the passage in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.” The idea in this passage is to use our time  wisely, so we turn a profit in God’s eyes. This isn’t easy. This world is so polluted with iniquity — both things that are obviously vile and things that are subtly tainted — that we can’t keep defilement from sticking to our feet, which is why we need to get our feet washed. And because the world is this defiled, we can’t pass a clean day in it. All of our days in this vile world are defiled.

So how do we go about redeeming the time? The first step is to make sure that your life purpose — the fire in your heart — is the Lord and his eternally focused designs and ambitions, not yourself and your own temporally focused designs and ambitions. If we go through life with a world-pursuing dream rather than a God-honoring, Bible-trembling vision, then we will feel torn — a giant spiritual tug of war — between the things of GOD and the things of ME. More often than not, me will win out and self will be left feeling dry, or restless, or empty. And so long as a worldly dream sits on the practical throne of the heart, you cannot make any spiritual headway with step two, which is practical principles of time management. And if you try to fix the problem with time management rules, you will find yourself powerless and unsatisfied, and will soon drift back to what you were. Time management principles work poorly without the heart on fire.

The second step is to make significant time management changes. The biggest time stealer for most believers is their hobbies, recreation, and entertainment. Many christians could cut the time they spend on such things in half and still have more than enough to satisfy the divine purposes for rest and relaxation time. The second biggest time stealer for most is little wastes of time — five minutes here, fifteen minutes there — on things like social media, day dreaming, dawdling at tasks, games. If we don’t have a definite purpose for what we are doing, we are likely wasting time, not redeeming the time.

Now some in the church raise the cry legalism every time they hear such time management principles advocated in a Christian context. But the application of these principles, assuming the heart issue is first addressed, is not legalism but serious discipleship applying the “wisdom [that] cries aloud in the streets” — wisdom so commonplace that the world uses it to obtain their own worldly goals. May God help you to lay aside the time management weights that so easily beset you and run with patience the obstacle course that is set before you. Serious spiritual blessing awaits all who take these two steps.

“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”

Lee W. Brainard

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