“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
“Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day,” so reads a verse from the hymn “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”, accentuating the inexorable march of time that slows for none. We continue to age as the perpetual clock of the universe does not miss a beat. The New Year is a constant reminder that you cannot slow the continual passing of seconds, minutes, hours, days, or years, as 2015 becomes 2016 in a tick. We cannot find a place, a timeless oasis, in which time is suspended for a season on Earth. Even in the state of a comatose mind, time marches on and the body continues to age. We have sometimes wished to suspend time, but God alone can do it and has done it for only a brief two intervals in history.
The celebration of the New Year should be more than just a time to sing Auld Lang Syne, kiss your sweetie, and toast the first moments of a brand new 365 day period we label “2016.” It surely serves as a statement of the fact that time is ever moving forward; it is, as we say, fleeting. Time is an opportunity awarded to you for who knows how long a season. You are not guaranteed tomorrow; only God knows how many days are ordained for you to live on this earth. Despite the knowledge that you feel fine, are in good health, are not living dangerously, and take no risks, your life can be taken from you in a split second of time by circumstances beyond your control. If you survive until midnight tonight, you will have weathered 2015, with 2016 laid out before you, a new year of months, days, and hours to invest wisely or unwisely. How much of your time is free and unencumbered? How much is required of you for your met responsibilities? How much is discretionary? These are worthy questions to ask if you are intent on being obedient to God’s Word, that is, walking circumspectly and wisely in the midst of living in your circumstances. What exactly does it mean to walk circumspectly, redeeming your time?
“Circumspectly, a word not used often in common vernacular anymore, means carefully, strictly, appropriately, taking all things into account. It means considering your life as a whole, not just certain moments. What is your big picture? What is the goal of your life under the eyes of the Creator? How should/would you live if you knew you had 30 days left? Redeeming your time means treasuring time as a rich opportunity not to be frivolously squandered. A good news, bad news statement goes, “The bad news: Time is fleeting. The good news: You are the pilot. Is that really true? Are you the pilot of how you live your life and use your time? Do you go with the flow, or do you make mid-course corrections?
It is not just a question of how you choose to use your time to live circumspectly; it is a question of how God would guide you in the use of your time if you yielded such a decision to him. This is a parameter which is paramount in seeking to redeem time because you do not really redeem time for yours, but you really redeem time for his glory. Most of us live by a calendar, even if it is a haphazard one. The hours and days of that calendar fill up with work and family responsibilities primarily, as well as your own time to do what you want. It seems as though there are enough “responsibilities” to fill your calendar to overflowing…all the time. Where is there time for anything else? Everyone’s pot of time is the same. Everyone gets the exact same amount. How much is spent in prayer, study of his Word, worship (private and public), service, making a living, time with family, time with friends, time alone? It is your choice. They are your priorities. You alone have to weigh the division of your time to fit the priorities you set. If you want God to guide you in that task, you have to ask the Counselor to give you his advice. The Holy Spirit needs to be regularly consulted as the circumstances change. He has to be involved in the choices you make regarding where you invest your time. If he is not, it is very doubtful you are redeeming your time.
365 days is a lot of time – too much to consider all together, though a year’s plan can be set out in broad terms. Take a week at a time to determine how you will redeem your time for God. Assess your success over a week. Improve your goals as the weeks pass. Once earnestly into it, God will guide you to make the right corrections. See what has been accomplished by 2017. Happy New Year!
“Mere human power will fast decay and youthful vigor cease; but they who wait upon the Lord in strength shall still increase.”
(5th verse of Isaac Watts’ hymn, “Have You Not Known, Have You Not Heard”, 1707)
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