Ephesians 5:15 and 16: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Several weeks ago, as I was looking at my mail, I discovered a brown and tan envelope from Beacon Lights. Before I even opened it, I said to myself, “They’re probably asking me to write an article. Well, I don’t have time to write an article. I just don’t have time!” But as I read the letter asking me to write an article about the Christian’s use of time, a wave of guilt swept over me and I knew that I did have time to write an article for the magazine of our Protestant Reformed youth. We, as young people, and all God’s children around us, must constantly be reminded that we are creatures of time, that life is short, and that we are called to redeem that time.
God is a God of eternity, but in order that his creatures might have an orderly life, God created another creature — time. What is that creature of God? Superficially, of course, we may define time as the succession of moments. Perhaps because of the mysterious nature of time, we find that it is rather impossible to define. There are several characteristics, however, that we should notice. It is a reality of which we are constantly reminded, with which we are always in contact. Yet, the more we contemplate it, the more mysterious and incomprehensible it is. Let us say, first, that it is itself a creature. Time was created by God in the beginning, distinct from the Eternal, the Creator of time. This creature is not a bit of the Creator, time not a bit of eternity; rather, creature and Creator, time and eternity, are essentially different.
Secondly, time is the undeniable and inescapable characteristic and law and bond of all that is created. Time is the stream on which we are borne continually, always advancing, never returning, showing us the scene once and not again. Time is that invisible and often unnoticed stream that flows on and we with it: it picks us up at our first moment, speeds ahead through childhood, youth, the strength of life, old age, and lays us down in the rest of death.
Thus we see time as an opportunity, the full measure of God-given opportunities and occasions to walk in those good works which He has prepared for us. Time brings all those opportunities and occasions and whether we grasp the opportunity or not, snatches it away and it never returns.
That time we are called to redeem, that is, to pay a ransom or a price. We must do this with respect to the full measure of the opportunities to walk in the works which God has prepared for us as they are brought to us in time. We must seize them, make the most of them, get all we can out of time, and use them for the glory of God.
In our entire walk, in everything we do, we must walk as children of light, not as fools, but as wise. It is a fool who cannot judge reality and time in the light of eternity; his wisdom is of the earth; his life is filled with eating, drinking and enjoyment. He is a slave of himself, of pleasure, of lust, of vain glory.
We, too, by nature are fools, although in principle we are wise because we are redeemed. And so through all our life we continually hear questions ringing in our ears. “Where shall I go — to society or to that important game? What shall I do tonight — finish my homework or watch that good movie that’s been advertised for so long? What shall I read — the Standard Bearer or that paperback novel I picked up the other day? What will be my entertainment on Friday night — should I join the world for a few drinks in one of their bars, or maybe see one of their latest movies? Where will I be this summer during the P.R.Y.P. convention? How will I use my time at that convention?”
I have cited several situations which may and do arise in our walk, but we must remember that our walk in life is more than scattered examples to which we must give special consideration. Rather, we must realize that our walk is a whole outlook, a whole system of priorities. We have to walk circumspectly, and carefully, not carelessly and at loose ends, carried along and tossed about in the maelstrom of this world. With each step that we take along the pathway of life, we must ask ourselves, “What is important to me?” and then, “What must be important to me?” And because our 1973 convention is only a short time away, we should ask ourselves another question, “Am I going to this convention willing to use my time as the world uses it, even though I am separate from them? Or do I have a wholehearted desire to use my time to strengthen my own faith and the faith of others?”
Perhaps you hear the voice of the fool answering loudly, “I am going to this convention to have fun. I am going to skip society to see that game. I’ll read my new novel instead of the Standard Bearer.” And then you ask yourself, “How do I make the right alternative important to me?” And the answer is found in prayer, in instruction, in God’s Word, in fighting against that old man of sin. Step by step we watch — praying — that we fall not into temptation. We pray that God will strengthen us to do the right, correct us for our iniquity, and keep us from falling into the hands of the enemy.
Why is it so important that we use our time properly? We have only a few years and we are seriously called in God’s Word to use those few years of our lifetime to serve God for preparation for serving him perfectly in eternity. Psalm 39 shows us this importance in verses four and five: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity’.”
And because we have such a small beginning, it is so easy to follow the temptations of the world, and to be pulled in by the suction of things below. There are enemies and pits, snares and stumbling blocks; there are anxiety and sorrow, cares and troubles. And all these forces work against our small beginning. They allure and they threaten; they tempt us to be lax and faithless; they pull us down into the depths of anxiety and care.
So we must fight against those temptations by seeing that we walk circumspectly. We have to put on the armor of God and fight the battle of faith. And we must pray with the psalmist David: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry: hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence and be no more” (Psalm 39:12 and 13).