I’ve got to run now; I’ll close and you can finish without me.” This is an altogether too common a statement in the day and age in which we live. It is a statement indicative of the manner of our life. Families are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that they are enveloped in the race against the clock. And I know that many parents have become alarmed with this situation. There are serious attempts to rectify this common problem. Yet it seems that the more we battle against it, the more our schedule becomes compounded. Fathers as heads of households find themselves in smoky meeting rooms instead of safely tucking their children in bed after a favorite Bible story. Sunday afternoon has a close resemblance to rush hour than the day of rest. As a last resort, after desperately trying to work out a suitable schedule, we begin to eliminate on the basis of priority. It becomes clear to us that we cannot overextend ourselves, for in doing so we inflict injury and detriment in another aspect of our life. We desire in this little essay to evaluate that little driving force we call time and to come to some agreement as to our calling regarding it.
Time is not new. It is as old and basic as creation itself. In fact, God Himself set time in motion at the very beginning of creation. This very idea is comprehended in the words, “In the beginning . . .” Time is an integral part of creation. It is part and parcel of the creation of God. This is easily understood. God is the eternal One. He is always the same, having no beginning or ending of days. This God has purposed and determined in His own timeless conception to glorify Himself in and through a people in heavenly glory forever. And this eternal purpose He has chosen to fulfill along the lines of sin and grace within the realm of time. Time, therefore, is subservient to His eternal purpose and plan. Time is never an end in itself. This means that time cannot be endless but has to come to its completion. Thus when God created a beginning and formed out of the dust of the ground Adam, He implied in that beginning the end when. the last member of the church of His good pleasure would be gathered in. In other words, the only purpose of history is to bring forth and gather the church of Jesus Christ, that has been eternally predestinated toward the glory of God. When this is completed, Christ will make His appearance.
Understanding this, there is added a new dimension to the relentless ticking of the clock. For time and its effects so often seem so futile to us. Many a time we harbor the secret desire to be able to stop the world on its axis so that the end of the day does not draw nigh. We see our children grow up; and all too quickly they try the strength in their own wings and fly from the nest. Each time we face ourselves in the mirror another wrinkle appears. Children can’t wait to become teenagers, and when they get there they soon realize that these years have slipped away and thrust upon them the responsibilities of job, marriage, and covenant families. The Psalmist has often since of old told us about it: “Time like an ever rolling stream bears all her sons away!” We become aware that there is a time and season for all things, a time to be born and a time to die. Then we know that the passing of time has the higher purpose of fulfilling the will of God in us and in all of His creation. That’s why the hands of the clock continue in seemingly perpetual motion. They are hastening towards the end and final purpose of God.
But this revelation prods us on in our quest of time! We can, as we have done, speak about time as the passing of moments. We have come to an understanding as to why we ourselves and the entire creation are continually in motion and progress. But all we have done so far is to address ourselves to time from the angle of its being a succession of moments. But there is more. It was with this additional element that we began our discussion and subsequently became a little sidetracked with the issue of the motion of the hands of the clock. The original problem had to do with spending time or, maybe better, with that which transpires as the clock moves along. Time has a dimension which goes far beyond the mere characteristic that one moment gives way to the next, never to return. We mean, time has content! Our daily life is a constant witness of this fact. When we have a certain appointment, the subsequent question is not, “Did it go?” Of course it went, for time marches on. The question rather is, “How did it go?” The question is never, “Did you spend the day or week on whatever it might be?” for this is self-evident. Rather we ask, “What did we accomplish in a certain allotted time?” What we did at this or that moment, you see, gives time content. It is precisely here that our interests lie. We do not care simply to peruse time from an abstract viewpoint, but we desire to delve into it from a practical, purposeful point of view. We want to consider time as it is a particular vehicle of activity and function.
There is a particular text in the Scriptures that comes to mind. Fact is, the study of this text in society inspired the subject we are presently treating. We read in Ephesians 5:15, 16, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” In this passage Paul makes clear to us our calling with regard to time. Specifically, Paul admonishes us as to what we must do with our time. That is, as we live each day and moment we are responsible for our time. For God gives unto each of us an allotted period, a certain number of years in which we must live to the glory and honor of His name. Now when we speak of our lifetime, the question at hand seems somewhat remote and distant. And this is true because we often set for ourselves distant goals and accomplishments that are in the realm of the future. But we desire to accentuate our responsibility, as far as time is concerned, by reducing years to days, hours, even minutes. Then generalities turn into specifics and the admonition of Paul seems more pointed.
Now, our specific calling is, that we must always be “redeeming the time.” Though the language seems at fist glance somewhat obscure, let us be assured that it is not only very clear but also powerful. This verb “redeem” is the same word that the N.T. Scriptures use for the redemption of the people of God through Christ. We read of this redemption, for example, inGal. 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” We can use the latter to illustrate the former. We know what our redemption by Christ involved. Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law. This redemption required the ultimate sacrifice of Himself. It is through the blood of the Lamb of God that we are set free from the power of sin which is death. We are bought with Christ’s blood! Exactly this idea Paul wants to bring across to us in this admonition regarding time. Time must be redeemed even as we are redeemed by Christ. This means, then, that we must buy time. But this does not make sense, for time is already ours! Oh, but let us get back to time from the aspect of its content. This is the point. With regard to every moment, we have the choice to let it slip by, never to return again, or to utilize it toward a certain purpose. Now it has become clear! To buy out the time means that we take hold of time and purchase it unto ourselves for a particular usage and purpose.
We are touching upon a very serious question in our lives. This seriousness lies in the fact that this is a recurring question that requires a continual strain of decisive answers. As time marches on, the admonition of Paul speaks to us with every “tick” of the clock. There is no escape. And God is no respecter of persons or situations. Whether we are young or old, housewife or factory worker, professional or student, rich or poor, title or no, our calling is one and the same: Redeem the time God has given unto us. God keeps a log of every moment of our life; and that log will be opened on that day of days when Christ returns in glory. Of this we must be conscious as we walk our pilgrim’s trek here below. Then the real question that faces us each moment is, “Am I buying this moment to the glory of God?” We often compartmentalize our lives. We speak of study time, work time, play and leisure, recreation time. But God doesn’t care about our neat little distinctions. He demands every moment. How much idle time that is merely a passing of moments do we let slip by? How much time do we spend on ourselves, seeking our own glory and material advancement?
And let us not be ignorant, there are many things that vie for our time, while God alone is entitled to it. First of all, we have to struggle against our own flesh, because, even though we seek after God with sincerity each moment of our life, according to the new man in Jesus Christ, this is but a small beginning. My carnal flesh also seeks to utilize each moment to the fullest. However, my flesh seeks to have for itself the pleasures, excitements, and sins of this world rather than the glory of God. And to complicate this, in the second place, we must realize that Satan, through the instrumentality of the world, entices and tempts us. He knows that his avenue of approach cannot be through the heart, and he therefore appeals to the flesh. He makes indulgence in sin, immorality, worldly pleasures, everything but the Kingdom of Christ, look so very good to us. All the wickedness and corruption that abounds round about us is, in the hands of Satan, a powerful weapon for the destruction of a godly life and walk. How easy it is for us to neglect this command of Paul, yea, of God! For, it seems more appealing to labor for earthly things than for the treasures of heaven. It seems, for example, more appealing to rest the flesh on Sunday morning than to walk unto God’s house. More appealing, it seems, to read a “good” novel than to study the Bible and prepare for society or catechism. Need we go on? How do you and I spend our time?
Let us then walk in the fear of God, not as fools but as those who are wise! A fool is out of touch with reality. If a man plans to throw himself from the precipice of the Grand Canyon and says he will live, we call him a fool, for he is not in touch with the facts. He will dash himself to pieces on the canyon floor. So are those who are spiritual fools. They disregard reality as God has revealed it in His Word. They gainsay the Word of the Almighty. They eat, drink, and are merry for, so they say, tomorrow we die. But we are wise through the enlightenment of the Spirit. We have been shown the reality of heaven and earth, this life and the one to come. We know that time must give way to eternity. More, that time must serve God’s eternal purpose, Let us buy out, utilize our every moment given by God to the furtherance of God’s glory and the coming of the kingdom of Christ in which we have a part for aye. Then we walk in His fear.