Back in 2011, I read a book that had a foreword by Dr. C.J. Williams. I am of a naturally curious nature, so I went to his bio online to find out more about his background. In the midst of his short bio, I saw that he had written an article entitled “Redeeming the Time.” Those words really jumped out at me since the Lord had so recently put those verses on my heart, so I obtained permission from my husband to contact Dr. Williams and ask for a copy of the article. Dr. Williams was very gracious to take time out of his busy schedule to look for the article. He was not able to easily locate it for duplication, but he did send me a copy of an older sermon he had preached on the same subject, which I believe God provided to me as a wonderful means of grace to help me grow in this area.
I have included below, with his permission, the sermon notes included in that CD sent by Dr. Williams:
REDEEMING THE TIME by Dr. C.J. Williams
Most people in our fast-paced society regularly agree in the complaint that “time flies”. However, this consensus of modern experience was first captured in the ancient Latin proverb tempus fugit. Time moved no slower for the Romans because the passage of time is a human problem, not a modern one. But, like most human “problems” and the proverbs which accompany them, tempus fugit misses the point. Time is not to blame for moving too quickly, rather, we are to blame for wasting it. The divine corrective is to “redeem the time”.
1. The word “redeem” (Greek exagorazo – “to buy back” or “rescue from loss”) is used only four times in the New Testament. Twice it refers to Christ’s redemption of His people and twice it is found in a command to us to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) Obviously, the thing redeemed is of great value and importance to the redeemer. Time is a holy thing to the Christian, truly a “window of opportunity” in the great edifice of eternity. Time is a scarce, precious and unrecoverable thing.
2. The reason we redeem the time is “because the days are evil.” Perhaps so because they are commonly filled with evil things and thoughts, but perhaps also because they are commonly filled with nothing, or at least nothing of importance. Time is not just a neutral measurement of activity that is either good or indifferent. All of life is a spiritual endeavor – there is not “time out” from it. Therefore the default mode of each day is evil. It takes something to redeem a day; it takes nothing to make it evil.
3. So, what does it take? The way we “buy time” according to the apostle is to “walk circumspectly” (i.e. with diligence and carefulness), and to be wise (vs 15). Wisdom is to “understand the will of the Lord” (vs. 17), and a circumspect walk is one that acts upon His will with diligence and carefulness. So much sanctification ahead of us, so many people to whom we can witness, so much to be done for the edification of the church, so much to learn about the Lord who saved us, so much prayer left undone – and so little time. With such things being the business of God’s people, “wasting” time is too gentle a notion. You either redeem it or desecrate it.
4. Now is the time. You only live in a tiny sliver of it called the “present”. The past is unrecoverable (though not unforgivable), and good intentions for the future don’t count. (“Good intentions” are the things we plan to never do, and a clever way to waste the present.) Employ the only time you have, the present, to its most profitable end. Use that time which can be used for spiritual good to the utmost, and “do all things as unto the Lord” during the time that must, of necessity, be filled with more common things. Let rest and entertainment be the servants which refit the body and mind for the work of our calling, not the masters of our time which claim an undue proportion of it. While time lasts, and some is still allotted to you, consider that you will give account for it and use it accordingly.
WOWW-EE-WOW-WOW! “Therefore the default mode of each day is evil. It takes something to redeem a day; it takes nothing to make it evil.” ……. “With such things being the business of God’s people, “wasting” time is too gentle a notion. You either redeem it or desecrate it.” To me, so much food for thought and meditation.
I recently read the following quote from A.W. Pink and thought it might be apropos to this post: “The more we are occupied with the Lord our God, the more shall we be weaned from this perishing world, the more shall we be delivered from Satan’s snares, and the better shall we be equipped for the fight of faith”.
Through all of the means of grace mentioned previously in this post that God graciously has used to teach me, my eyes have been opened to see that time spent in idleness and distractions of folly had become a HUGE idol in my life. The Bible has taught me, and I have seen it so many times, that my flesh is CONSTANTLY at war with my spirit; and unless I ask God for help to be diligent (remembering those words from Dr. Gill: “diligence”, “caution”, “exactness”, “uttermost of his strength and power”) in hungering and thirsting after righteousness and the means of grace God has provided to make a way through this life, the war will be lost.
My dad, after reading Part 1, relayed a personal anecdote to me that I have found helpful in keeping the principle of redeeming the time ever in my focus. He said “Years ago, I was looking into the word ‘circumspectly’ just as you are. What helped me the most was this simplified version, ‘circum’ (circumference) plus ‘specs’ (eyeglasses … to see) = ‘to see all around’.”
My prayer is for God to help all of His children redeem the time and walk increasingly circumspectly in these evil days, and that He may be glorified.