The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 38

The Need to Redeem Time for Spiritual Investment

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:16)

The year is closing fast on us. For some people, it has been a fruitful year whereas others might wish the days which had passed could be redeemed to redo, repair or renew. One thing is clear. Time gone will never return like water is to the ground. However, twice in Scripture the expression, “redeeming the time” is given with the imperative with a continuous sense. “To redeem” means to buy or purchase back what has been sold. It is an economic word that motivates a person as it were to go back to the pawn shop to retrieve what was sold and acquire it back as if the stuff that was pawned is back for good. Not only for good but as if it had never left the seller before. This gives hope and encourages those who have lost time; they can gain what was lost in terms of time. One of the most valuable thing that we will ever purchase is TIME. TIME, in short, is precious and a most valuable gift in our life.

How easy it is for us to let time slip away like the grains of sand sifting out of our bare hands. Before we realise it eleven months are torn off the calendar. We cannot help a passing train going forward but what may bother us is how much have we done with the time passing by us. Have we not said to ourselves we could have done better the previous time, or I should have spent more time in doing the work of God’s kingdom? Some may even regret that you should have acquired more knowledge of His Word rather than allow the thieves of time to steal it without our realising it.

Thieves of Time

What would be some of the things in modern life that steal our time. The modern gadgets are for good if we use them for our spiritual growth. But the thousands of applications in them can be a real stealer of time. How many travellers in the trains and buses are bogged down in full concentration to kill boredom or being occupied for the space of nothing to do while waiting to arrive at their destination. The games in them can absorb all the time of the day. At the end of the points or goals achieved, time just passes away, but does it benefit the player? Let us think again. Have we in the engagement of the smart phones, ipad and other electronic gadgets become more spiritual or keener towards God and His word.

Those who may not be engaged with electronic devices may also have their precious time stolen by worry, daydreams, thoughts of mischief and lust. The challenge of the Apostle Paul is to redeem the time for our spiritual benefit so that we will not be caught with the lusts of the eyes and flesh. Our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak as Jesus told His three disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. When the thieves of time have stolen our time to do all the non-spiritual things, we will have less time for spending time with God and dwelling in prayer. Could it be said that today’s believers are less devoted to God than a decade or two ago.

How can we follow the admonition to “redeem the time”? We all have the same amount (24 hours) allotted to us each day. Many books on time management can provide help, but God’s Word has valuable  motivations and methods for time management.


Romans 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

As soon as we are aware that we have been wasting time, we should take action. The moment of awareness is the moment of salvation from a wasteful life. The prodigal son was wasting his life in wantonness and lavish squandering of his inheritance. But, as soon as he realised that he would perish with hunger if he continued his demoralised time with the pigs, he said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” (Lk 15: 18) His realisation saved him from further moral degeneration, and helped to turn back to his father for help.


Indeed, when we read the news in the papers, or even the obituaries, we  cannot but recognise that some people live to a ripe old age, but many die young. Some live past 80 years while others die when they are in their prime. Psalm 90:10, 12 are verses which remind us that no matter how long we live, time will still pass by. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Therefore, we need to…


Galatians 6:10 tells us “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Opportunities, there may be many, but they can be missed too. How many times have we caught ourselves saying, “Aiyah, I should have shared the gospel with him… now it’s too late.” Or “If I had been more diligent in my revision, my results would have been better.” Or “If I had been on time for the interview, I would have gotten that job.” Or even, “If I hadn’t said those nasty things, my relationship with him would not have deteriorated.”

Indeed, life can be full of regrets for those of us who have a tendency to procrastinate, to hold on to grudges or to blame others. So, if we are one of such persons, let us do something about it.


“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” (Eccl 12:1). God’s Word reminds us to dedicate ourselves to God when we are young. Young Samuel’s mother dedicated him to serve God even before he was born. Hannah “vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” (1 Sam 1:11). But does any modern Christian parent dare to make such a vow> Even then, Samuel himself must have been aware God called his name in the middle of the night, Samuel responded by saying, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” (3:10).

Many of us have heard God’s Word since younger days. The older ones would also have heard God’s Word preached many times. But does God’s Word fall on deaf ears, or ears which refuse to hear? I pray not. It is never too late to determine to be holy and be useful to God. To the youths, let me challenge you to be like young Samuel or even young Daniel. Daniel and his friends were brought as captives to the palace of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. But, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Dan 1:8). How many of our youths would choose to be a Daniel in this sinful world? How many, when invited to a party of wine and meat would say, “let them give us pulse (beans) to eat, and water to drink.”


Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay every weight, and the sine which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Why do we need patience as we strive to lead our life with God’s Word in mind? Patience prevents us from being discouraged. It also prevents us from being distracted by people and things around us. A marathon runner knows best that if he wishes to complete the whole marathon race, he needs to persevere. Even if he suffers cramps or pain in any part of his body, he still has to keep on running. Besides that, he needs to keep focused on his goal to reach the finishing line. As he runs the course, there will be too many things which my distract him: others runners, especially those who may run off the course or be injured, and those who decide to give up half way. There could be some bystanders who may also be persuading him to give up since he is experiencing much pain.

Likewise, in the course of our pilgrim journey towards our heavenly home, let us be focused on our goal. Like Paul, let us be able to say, “I press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14).

Even as Christians may face problems and difficulties in their running towards the heavenly goal, so also do those who serve in God’s vineyard. There are just to many reasons to give up serving God: failures, discouragement, backbiting, criticism, bitterness, and many more. But those who have been called to serve know full well that they need to persevere on.


Philippians 1:10 says “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” Indeed, the Apostle Paul also says, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim 6:6). Do not be distracted by others or the things which the would can offer, because Christ offers us hope, peace and joy which the world cannot give. The world can offer us more riches, but a smile on the Master’s face is better than all the money in the bank. If we are suffering physical pain and discomfort, Christians know that these are only temporary because life in heaven is better than life on earth. Rev 21:4 tells us that in heaven “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more deaths, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Beloved, our days are already numbered – yours may be longer than mine. But, let us awake from slumber and slothfulness, and redeem the time that has been wasted. Let us walk in wisdom especially when we are with those who do not know Christ so that we may bring some closer to our Lord Jesus.

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing on 23 Nov 2014)

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