Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Redeeming the Time

One of my favorite teachers growing up was my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Sanchez. Mr. Sanchez was unabashedly religious, I cannot judge his message because I was unregenerate then and for more than a decade later, but I do remember him openly speaking about his Baptist church and the conversion of his Jewish wife to Christianity. What I do remember is that he loved life and loved his students. I don’t remember anything explicitly that I learned in fourth grade, except for this one thing, a quote Mr. Sanchez quoted often,


“Anything Worth Doing, is Worth Doing Well.”


I would credit this one statement above anything else I learned in school as making me the person I was and even am. This statement carried me through nearly straight A’s in high school, it made me a competent mechanic by sixteen, it allowed me to have some hotrod cars and motorcycles, and it carried me into the Air Force where I was able to do some amazing things. I must note that while this statement drove my adolescence, it was also greatly reinforced by the work-ethic of my father who lived this statement out in his own life.


Where this statement fails, is that it doesn’t give any objectivity towards what is worth doing. I took this motto and pointed it as much at sin as I did towards vocation. I know by experience as well as instruction that the Apostle Paul is correct when he says, “The age is evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Now that I have met the Ancient of Days, the Sovereign of History, I am much more concerned with doing everything worth doing well. And this is magnified all the more by how evil the age is, which Paul tells us to watch how we operate in the world,


Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16


I am certainly a great sinner in this area, that though I use a lot of my time wisely, I also squander just as much of it. Recently this has been my great point of conviction and an item that I am working to correct. For one example, I have been working on my doctorate now for six months, and have yet to finish the first class. I recently, with the grace of the Seminary, reordered my plan of completion and hopefully will, along with this command in Ephesians, make the best use of my time.


Do not confuse this with busyness though, we are not to just use our time, but to use our time for the best purposes, making the light of Christ visible as we have been called to awake and rise from the dead. The current age is evil, I notice in many areas that people are able to surround themselves in all sorts of activities that are certainly not their best use of time. Phil Johnson recently made an amazing point on why Open-Air Preaching is so obnoxious to the culture, “People have always been offended by it, because it tends to confront them with the truths they least want to think about at precisely the moment they are trying to do something to avoid thinking about things like eternity and accountability to God.” I believe it is exceedingly prevalent in our culture to cocoon ourselves into activity so we don’t need to stop and think about whether we’re being good stewards of our time, afterall, when I was even more guilty of this sin than I am now, I could think, I did so much surely it had to have been worthwhile.


But that is not at all a biblical viewpoint. In fact, at least two different biblical examples point to people who were doing a whole lot, but weren’t well received by Jesus; for sake of brevity I’ll only give you the addresses (Matthew 7:21-23, Revelation 2:19-20).


How then do we redeem the time? The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Corinth, gives the best advice in this battle for our usefulness, explaining that we ought to do just what he does, “we take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This requires more thinking, it requires knowing why we are doing things, it requires us considering whether things are sinful, righteous, or even indifferent. Stopping to think seems like such a waste of time in our fast moving culture, if you don’t think so, turn on a TV or Radio, they are experts at removing dead air, making sure you never have to think about what you’re seeing or hearing. This impacted me recently as I was watching an interesting show in the History Channel, which I intended to think about after it was over, but the very next show enthralled me so much that I completely forgot about the last show. It was not I who had captured my thoughts, but by the media which I was watching.


Therefore, we must think more on our actions, we must be considering where our affections are pointed, we must strive to point every thought towards obedience in love towards Christ. The Bible is more than clear in many places that sin starts in the heart. Murder doesn’t just happen, it is born in disdain, moves to dislike, towards hatred, and finally manifests itself in action. So then must our love begin in our thoughts, taken captive to Christ, and pointed outwards for good in action. Jesus says that out of our mouths, our hearts profess.


Before conversion our curse words and insulting speech show a sick and sinful heart, after conversion we are privileged even to preach the words of eternal life. We can even look at our words to determine the affections of our hearts, as Jesus said, “on the day of judgment people will give account for every idle word they speak…” (Matthew 12:36). I have so much work to do, such an idol to kill in my time wasting; taking every thought captive to obedience to Christ.


But I give thanks to God, who sent his Son, who made the absolute perfect use of his time, who never spoke an idle or careless word, was the epitome of obedience to his Father, and yet who died in my place to redeem me from this present evil age, who was raised and makes the Christian’s labor never in vain. So then, please join me in repenting of idleness, of time wasting, of careless thoughts, and so much useless action.


Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. - Colossians 3:17,23-24


Let us press forward towards Christ, repenting of every sin which weighs us down. Let us walk wisely in the light. Let us forever remember that we have only one life, and it will soon be past, and only what is done for Christ will last.


Let us redeem the time, for the days are evil.

1 comments:

Dakota said...

Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand