“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15 – 17
Do you, young people? Sit down for a few moments and read the entire chapter in which the verse on the top of the page is found. Think about what is written there. The apostle commands that we be followers (imitators) of God as dear children. We were of darkness, but now we are of the light. We must then in our lives imitate the Light Who is God. Spiritual virtues — love, grace, wisdom, mercy — these are seen in our entire being, for we are imitators of God. So I ask, do you redeem the time? In so doing, you reveal wisdom which must mark you as being truly an imitator of Cod.
Although the truth of this Word of God applies to the Christian from his infancy to his old age and in every circumstance he confronts during this lifetime, I would rather consider this text especially as it applies to you, young people. The word “time” refers not to some general time, to the minutes that tick by every hour and day; the word rather points to specific, allotted times which God gives for very definite purposes. Thus, in the life of each person, God gives certain periods or times in which He requires that this person perform according to the requirements of His Word. You have such time-periods, too.
This time must be redeemed. By nature, man uses these allotted time periods in the service of sin. As man is born of Adam, he is totally depraved, unable to do any good. Then will he not use time aright either. To redeem time, then, is to repurchase it, to use it in a way other than what our old nature would desire. That is the calling of dear children of the light. They must use time contrary to the dictates of the world, the devil, and even of their own flesh.
Let’s look once at the time God has given you. God gives certain time to train children. He gives certain time for performing the work of gathering the church. He gives a time for each activity and work which He requires. You, now, are given the time of youth. It is a time for preparation for your place in the church of God. It is a time for godly, religious instruction so that you, in turn, may instruct and guide the coming generation. It is a time in which you reveal to the wild and wicked youth of our day that you are of the light and hate the works of darkness. It is a time for diligence in preparation for catechism, for society, for Sunday School. This time which you now have is very definitely limited. I know. That period of time for me has already gone. Soon it passes for you too.
Do you redeem this time, young people? Of course, this is an activity of the regenerated child of God. Natural man will not and cannot redeem the time. The Holy Spirit must have turned your heart from darkness to the light. He must have implanted the life of Christ within you so that you are a new creature. Then you must and you will redeem the time — although your flesh will still continue to oppose this.
You may not then squander this time- period of your life. This “time” may not remain idle, nor may it be used in the service of sin. Many like to use the period of youth simply for “fun,” not that good clean “fun” of the Christian, but “fun” which involves it in the enjoyment of worldly entertainment in movie, television, radio; a “fun” which can dream up all kinds of evil pranks; a “fun” which does not respect the authority of home, of school, or of church. Others simply would waste their time. They consider it as a commodity which is endless. Like the widow’s cruse, it seems to continue forever. So, the time is wasted on all kinds of nonsense. Night after night is spent doing nothing — nothing profitable or worthwhile, that is.
You have your abilities, your possessions (limited though these may now be), and your time. As children of the light, all these must be used in the service of the light. It is a time for you to walk in proper obedience: to parents, teachers, and others in authority. It is especially a time for you to be trained—not simply in the learning required for living in the present age, but you must be trained in the principles of the Word of God. Especially is that true in catechism and societies. There you are taught and trained. To redeem the time is to make use of these means faithfully. This must prepare you for your place in the kingdom of God, especially to prepare you in holding fast to the truth and instructing others in it. Are you using wisely your time? It is time to examine yourself.
And it is so very urgent — this calling to redeem the time. The days are evil. Evil they are in the sense that the world is filled with all manner of corruption. No matter where one turns, evil is seen. And that is true today more than ever before in the world’s history. The result is and will be evil days for the church. These will be days of terrible persecutions; of threats; of death — for those who hold fast to the Word of God.
These evil days are upon us right now. Open your eyes and see. We would blind ourselves to the evilness of our day. Almost everything seems acceptable to us. But look in the daily paper and see the horrible, filthy, sexy advertisements of the movies; note how these same movies now appear on television and are applauded by those who were horrified years before when a church member might be caught in a “movie.” Take a glance at the book-rack in the drug store (or others too). Look at the covers, read the titles — reminds one of that great whore of Revelation, does it not? Consider too the manner of dress in our day. Deliberately it is made provocative and seductive; purposefully it is emphasized that this is “fashion.” How many in the church too do not simply slide along with this argument that one can be a member of the church and still be fashionable! Need I continue? The days are evil. The time is short. This is not the time to be idle, to be careless with our time. Young people, you were born in a time of rapid change. You may take it for granted that our age is simply normal. The last days appear to be far away. But do not be deceived. Those days are upon us now. Therefore, faithfully redeem the time.
Thus, you will not be fools. A fool is one who knows the basic facts but cannot or will not apply these in a concrete situation. In this text, a spiritual fool is one who knows that the days are evil, but he walks deliberately along with that evil. One who does not redeem the time is a fool. Do not use the excuse that you are but a young person — that you should first enjoy yourself before settling into the routine of a Christian’s walk; then you are the greatest of fools.
One who is wise understands what the will of Christ is. Christ reveals His Word to us in Scripture. That directs in the way we must walk. You must study that will of Christ. The Spirit must apply that truth to your hearts. And according to that will you must live. Then you have a “circumspect walk” too. That is a walk which is straight — one not deviating by even a hair. You must be very strict concerning your walk. You cannot depart by even a little bit. Jesus called this walk the straight and narrow way which leadeth to life.
Are you redeeming the time, young people? Truly are you? Then you are wise and not a fool.