Time is our most precious resource. Once it passes, we will never get it back. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, once said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” There is great wisdom in that.
Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time (Col 4:5).” In our modern speech, we might express the same verse this way: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
The apostle adds further to this instruction in his letter to the Ephesians.
“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 (Eph 5:15-17).”
To walk circumspectly is to be careful how we walk. This of course has reference to how we live our lives, especially toward those who are outside of Christ. Christians are to walk in wisdom as opposed to the foolishness of this world.
What does it mean to walk in wisdom? It is to understand the will of the Lord. We are not meant to walk according to the cultural values of this world. Christians live by a higher, divine standard.
John has famously said that we are not to love the world or the things in the world. He draws a clear dividing line between those who love the world and those who love God. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1Jn 2:15).”
Part of living carefully among unbelievers is to make the best use of time. A reason Paul gives is because the days are evil. A cursory glance at the headlines of most newspapers is a stark reminder of the godless age we live in.
Time is running out. When the Lord returns, He will bring with Him judgement for all nations (cf. Mat 25:31-33). We shall have to account for how we live, i.e. how we spend our time and what we spend it on.
There is a fact which will do us much good the earlier we become aware of it. We often plan and live as if we will go on living forever, or at least, we will live for a very long time.
The wise man said, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest (Ecc 9:10).”
Spending our time in constructive activities is good practice. Gainful employment is one such example. It is a scriptural mandate that we should work. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (2Th 3:10).”
Using part of our time in service to the Lord and the community, improving our proficiency in various areas of our lives, spending quality time with loved ones to build meaningful relationships are further examples of constructive use of time.
The opposite of that is to waste time in too much recreation or worse, unwholesome activities.
It has become a common sight in public to see the majority of people with their eyes glued to their mobile devices. A quick glance will reveal that most of them are watching dramas, playing games or on some social media like Facebook and Instagram.
Some recreation is good and necessary but over indulgence can become a snare. How about using the time in public transport to read the Bible or a good book, memorizing scripture, or even pray?
This may escape notice, but we can waste time too in improper use of the mind. Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Php 4:8).”
When we spend our time brooding over some real or imaginary slight, or fantasize over the impossible or improbable, building castles in the air, we waste precious time. We are to love the Lord our God with our mind (cf. Mark 12:30). This calls for discipline on our part.
Brooding over past mistakes or sins can also become a time-eater. If there is anything in our lives that are not in peace with God, let us immediately repent and confess; God is faithful to forgive.
Once we have been forgiven, let us move on to better things. Paul said of himself, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Php 3:13-14).”
The biggest time-eater perhaps is simply laziness. We know what we ought to do; we know the longer we drag our feet, the more time we waste and we will never get it back. Yet we procrastinate and prefer to do something else—something pleasurable.
Keeping in mind that this age we live in is evil and that we are to walk in wisdom, let us “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (cf. 1Pe 1:13)” and redeem the time. Do we love life? Yes, of course. Then let us be careful how we use this most precious of resources.