I just read a blog post that was published today that was quite refreshing. It’s titled, “Redeeming the Time,” and you can read it by clicking here. It’s based off of the King James Version (KJV and also NKJV) of Ephesians 5:16, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Here is a quote from that blog post:
“Redeeming” is like having a free ticket to a carnival. It is like winning the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We redeem points, we redeem a coupon. We redeem the time because it is a gift we’ve been given and granted dominion over. When Christ “redeemed us,” He was claiming what was His, and cashing in.
“…Because the days are evil,” redeem the gift you’ve been given! So break out the good silver, wear your best dress, and stop saving everything for a rainy day. It’s raining now. Don’t focus on all the evil, redeem what you have been granted, time yes, but time spent in His presence, His peace, His joy…. (Quote source here).
Reading that was like applying a balm to my soul. “Balm” in the Bible is described as the “Balm of Gilead–a rare perfume used medicinally, that was mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, and named for the region of Gilead, where it was produced. The expression stems from William Tyndale’s language in the King James Bible of 1611, and has come to signify a universal cure in figurative speech” (quote source here).
A universal cure….
In an article published on March 15, 2021, titled “What is the Balm of Gilead According to the Bible?” by Tammy Kennington, author, speaker, and contributor on Crosswalk.com, she writes about the three times in the Bible that the “Balm of Gilead” is mentioned, and their significance and meaning to each other (her article is available at this link). At the end of her article she answers the question, “Why is the Balm of Gilead so important for Christians?”:
The Balm of Gilead is a powerful symbol of Christ’s power in the life of a believer beginning with the initial covenant established in the book of Genesis. Like Laban with Jacob, we have an enemy who “seeks to steal, kill, and destroy,” [see John 10:10] but once Christ is our Lord the covenant is sealed. There is a testimony that stands as an agreement between heaven and hell. Satan knows He has no power over those who belong to God.
This was made possible because the Balm of Gilead, the Great Physician, was pierced like the tender root of the balsam plant. In the same way that the leaves of the plant were thrust through to extract the resin, Jesus was broken that we might benefit from His wounds. We received new life through the one tree—the cross upon which Jesus died. (Quote source here.)
In a book published in 2015 titled, “Let God Fight Your Battles: Being Peaceful in the Storm,” by Joyce Meyer, one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers, a New York Times bestselling author, and President of Joyce Meyer Ministries, there is a chapter titled, “God Will Provide” (Chapter 11), with a subsection titled “The Enemy Steals, God Provides” on pages 107-109. In that section, she writes the following regarding the scripture reference mentioned above (John 10:10):
The Old Testament includes many stories about the enemies of Israel and Judah, enemies who wanted to destroy God’s people. Likewise, you and I have an enemy, Satan. He has a plan to destroy us. He is working on that plan, and part of the way he does it is to steal from us and bring loss into our lives. But God has a plan to surprise him and bring us victory. We can be confident of this, and this is why we can worship God in faith when we find ourselves in the battles of life.
A good friend of mine who is a Greek scholar once shared with me a paraphrase of John 10:10. It gives us a clear idea of just how determined the enemy is to kill, steal, and destroy, but it also show us that Jesus has something else altogether in mind.
The thief wants to get his hands into every good thing in your life. In fact, this pickpocket is looking for any opportunity to wiggle his way so deeply into your personal affairs that he can walk off with everything you hold precious and dear. And that’s not all–when he’s finished stealing all your goods and possessions, he’ll take his plan to rob you blind to the next level. He’ll create conditions and situations so horrible that you’ll see no way to solve the problem except to sacrifice everything that remains from his previous attacks. The goal of this thief is to totally waste and devastate your life. If nothing stops him, he’ll leave you insolvent, flat broke, and cleaned out in every area of your life. You’ll end up feeling as if you are finished and out of business! Make no mistake–the enemy’s ultimate aim is to obliterate you!
But I came that they might have, keep, and constantly retain a vitality, gusto, vigor, and zest for living that springs up from deep down inside. I came that they might embrace this unrivaled, unequaled, matchless, incomparable, richly-loaded and overflowing life to the ultimate maximum! (Quote source: Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems, p. 548 and at this link.)
I am so glad for the words, “But I have come,” spoken by Jesus Himself. He is always able to interrupt the enemy’s plan and to bring victory. As I said earlier, no one gets through life without battles. But those battles belong to the Lord, and if we worship Him through them, He will bring us to victory. (Quote source: “Let God Fight Your Battles: Being Peaceful in the Storm,” pp. 107-109).
In a book published in 2019 titled, “Unfailing: Standing Strong on God’s Promises in the Uncertainties of Life,” by Rob Renfroe, Loft Lead Pastor at The Woodlands Methodist Church, and President and Publisher of Good News, there is a chapter titled “The Promise of New Purpose” (Chapter 3) with a subsection titled, “Come to Me.” On pages 39-40 in that subsection, he writes:
We look to all kinds of things outside of ourselves to bring us life and give us peace–a drink, a drug, a promotion, money, success, the admiration of others, a more attractive spouse. But our problem is not an outside problem; it’s an inside problem. It’s a soul problem, a spiritual problem. And there’s only one reality that can satisfy what our souls long for–a relationship with the One who created us to know him.
Fifth-century theologian and philosopher Augustine, who converted to Christianity after giving in to all the desires of the flesh, wrote in his autobiography, speaking to God: “For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” Twelve hundred years later, Blaise Pascal wrote about the same reality, which he described as an “infinite abyss [which] cannot be filled but by an infinite and immutable object, that is, but by God himself.” In the early twentieth century, the Indian Christian missionary Sundar Singh describes in a beautiful way the yearning of the soul and our need for a relationship with God. “In comparison with this big world, the human heart is only a small thing. Though the world is so large, it is utterly unable to satisfy this tiny heart…. Its capacities can only be satisfied in the infinite God. As water is restless until it reaches its level, so the soul has not peace until it rests in God.”
There is a reason the things of this world cannot put our souls at peace or bring our spirits alive. In Ecclesiastes we are told that God has placed eternity within the human heart (3:11). Within each of us there is a desire to be connected to what is real and true and lasting and to live for a cause that will make a difference in this world and in the world to come.
It’s no surprise that trying to live by the rules does not bring rest to our souls. It’s no wonder that a religion of striving to reform ourselves never satisfies our desire for an abundant life. Neither do professional success or the pleasures of the flesh make us complete or fill the emptiness within our hearts.
We are human beings made in the image of God. We have a spiritual nature. Whether we recognize it or not, the restlessness within us–the “in-here” longing we try to fulfill with an “out-there” solution–is the cry of our souls not for something, but for Someone.
One of the beauties of the Christian faith is the truth that the universe is inherently relational. Before physical reality existed, there was one God in three persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–sharing life together. Being made in the image of God, at the heart of who you are, there is a relational need greater than any earthly pleasure or achievement can fulfill. So, Jesus calls us to a relationship. He says, “If you want rest for your soul, first you must come to me.” (Quote source: “Unfailing: Standing Strong on God’s Promises in the Uncertainties of Life,” pp. 39-40.)
And this brings us back to the original topic that started this blog post–redeeming the time. Let’s take a closer look at what that means. GotQuestions.org provides us with the following information:
Ephesians 5:15–16 in the King James Version says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The phrase redeeming the time is also found in Colossians 4:5: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (KJV). In both passages, redeeming the time is related to wisdom in how we “walk,” that is, in how we live.
To redeem something means to buy it back, to regain possession of it. Time is a gift from God, and none of us know how much of it we are allotted. Only God knows how much time each of us has on this earth to make decisions that will impact eternity (Psalm 139:16). When God says we should be “redeeming the time,” He wants us to live in constant awareness of that ticking clock and make the most of the time we have. In fact, the NIV’s translation of Ephesians 5:16 uses the phrase making the most of every opportunity instead of redeeming the time. Rather than waste our days on frivolous pursuits that leave no lasting imprint, Scripture instructs us to be diligent about doing good (Titus 3:8).
The context of the command to redeem the time helps us understand what redeeming the time looks like and why it’s important: “Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life” (Ephesians 5:15–18, NLT). Redeeming the time means that we are careful in how we live. We seek out and employ wisdom (see Proverbs 2:1–15). We seize every opportunity and use it for God’s glory. We think through our plans and make sure they align with God’s will. And we avoid empty, harmful activities such as getting drunk. Why are we to live this way? “Because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). We must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Jesus taught His disciples the necessity of redeeming the time: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Jesus was diligent about keeping to His mission. Distractions were as prevalent then as they are now, but He let none of them deter Him from preaching and teaching God’s Word. That was why He had come (Luke 4:43). Though He spent only 33 years on this earth, Jesus changed the world forever because He redeemed the time.
We can learn to redeem the time by becoming conscious of the fact that we may not have another day. The song “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw is about redeeming the time. While its focus is on pursuing earthly passions in the time we have left, the lyrics make an important point. They conclude with this thought: “Someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying.” As Christians, we should live like we were dying and pursue all God has given us to do while we have time. Everything done for Christ on earth earns eternal rewards (Mark 9:41). That which was done for selfish, carnal reasons will burn up and blow away (1 Corinthians 3:12–15).
Another way we can learn to redeem the time is by asking God to help us. We should start every morning by committing our day to the Lord and asking Him to help us do something that day that has eternal significance. By beginning our day with eternity in mind, we become more aware of spiritual nudges in our hearts. We look for ways we can honor the Lord, help someone else, or utilize our time in productive ways. Sitting at a red light, we can pray for our neighbor. Mopping the floor, we can worship in song. At a restaurant, we can leave an extra big tip along with a gospel tract or a card inviting the waiter to church. We can evaluate our gifts and interests and find ways to invest them for God’s kingdom. Volunteering, serving at church, leading a ministry, taking Bible studies to the jails and prisons, and studying to show ourselves “approved unto God” are all ways we can redeem the time (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV).
James 4:14 reminds us that our earthly lives are no more than a fog that appears and then quickly evaporates. Our money and possessions will be given to someone else. Our jobs will be filled by others. Our families may remember us with fondness but will move on with lives that don’t include us. All that remains of our lives on earth is that which was invested in eternity. In the end, all that matters is what we did or did not do to redeem the time (Psalm 102:3; 144:4). (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with the words from a plague that hung on my bedroom wall when I was a little girl. It was written by a British missionary named C. T. Studd (1860-1931), and on that plaque were these words–Only one life ’twill soon be past…
Only what is done . . .
For Christ . . .
Will last . . .
YouTube Video: “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw:
YouTube Video: “God Turn It Around” by Jon Reddick:
YouTube Video: “Yes He Can” by Cain: