How have you lived your life? Regardless of your age, when you look back at your past–are you happy with how you have spent your time and with what you have done with it? Or do you have regrets, wishing you had handled things differently?
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)
Today’s verse uses a word we no longer understand well, “redeem.” Those of us old enough will remember S&H green (and various other) stamps which stores gave out with purchases. Customers would collect them and fill up their books to redeem them for useful products like toasters and blankets and the like. In ancient Israel, God allowed for a close relative, a kinsman redeemer, to buy back property for someone–foreshadowing Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer, who has bought us back from judgment and eternal punishment. Thus, to “redeem” means to get back.
For those who turned to Christ at an early age and have faithfully followed Him redeeming the time may not be particularly meaningful, but for those who have lived lives of disobedience and rebellion against God, the idea that He can take what has been misused or squandered and redeem it–get it back, so to speak–is nothing short of beautiful.
Of course, wasted time is not really gotten back–we don’t get to turn back the clock and re-live our lives. This is why God’s Word admonishes us to, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Yet, God takes us where we are at when we trust Christ and come to Him in faith and obedience. He forgives us and uses the time that remains in a way that glorifies Him–redeeming, or buying back, if you will–what came before:
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall…praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.” (Joel 2:25, 26)
Regardless of when we come to faith, the power of God through Christ in us helps us make the most of our lives from that point forward. But why is this important? Why should we make the most of our time? The reason we are told we are to make the most of our time is because the days are evil.
Older people are fond of saying, “When I was young, things weren’t so bad.” Yet we must recognize that while the moral compass of various cultures fluctuates, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Even a superficial examination of the Old Testament (not to mention secular history) will reveal that while technology improves, the sin-filled condition of the human heart–apart from the power of Christ’s Spirit–does not. All of history’s days are tainted with wickedness. Having said this, however, within a particular culture–and ours is no exception–there are spiritual ups and downs. Ancient Israel had times when they repented and walked with the Lord, and other times when they turned away and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) The same is, unfortunately, true of the United States.
From the prodigious beginning of devout Mayflower Christians fleeing religious persecution, we have suffered periods of spiritual decline followed by times such as the Great Awakenings in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Yet at this point in our history we have been, as many observers have pointed out, on a significant spiritual decline. While not yet imprisoning those faithful to Christ, the climate towards God’s holiness is increasingly hostile and angry, and those faithfully proclaiming it considered ignorant and intolerant. Yet God does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) And He forewarns us, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” (2 Timothy 3:12-14)
Not only does God redeem the value of our lives once we submit to Him, but He also instructs us to make the most of the moments we have–to redeem the time–because the days are, indeed, evil.
Thank You that You have redeemed us. Help us now make the most of the moments You allow us–redeem the time–recognizing that the days are evil. Amen.