Redeeming the Time
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) These words are at the essence of a handy tool of time management, Redeeming the Time Study Guide. This book gives us much more than just another school of thought to help you manage your time wisely. In the book, we are given valuable insights into getting the right perspective on time’s quantity, value, how to spend time in light of eternity, overcoming procrastination, and much more. At the end of each section, there are also several thought provoking questions that will aid you in forming a personal application of the material. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:15-17 again. What can we gather from these words of wisdom? From a study of these passages, we can glean three important concepts from the book and to live. First, we are to live life to the fullest and in light of eternity. Secondly, we are to understand what God’s will is for our lives. The third is less obvious and comes as a result of adhering to the first two, overcoming procrastination. How do we accomplish these tasks and live them out day by day? For starters, let’s look at the importance of understanding God’s will for our lives and how to find it.
I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve heard the expression “my way or the highway.” Let’s look at this expression from a Christian perspective. We can choose to do things the way we think they should be done (my way) or choose to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and discover God’s will for us in any given situation (the “high way”). In Redeeming the Time, it refers to understanding God’s will at any given time as the “real key” to making the most out of our life. But how do we discover what God’s will is for us? The apostle Paul explains for us some necessary steps we must take in chapter 12 of his letter to the Romans. Paul tells us to do two things. We are instructed to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices” and “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” In other words, we are to dedicate our lives to serving God and not living like the unbelieving, pagan world, but living a life that is set apart to honor God in all we do. God’s grace enables us to do this and as a result, two things will happen. First, we will be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” and secondly, we will be able “to test and see what God’s will is.” God’s will is shown to us in many ways such as prayer, spending time with Him, and studying His word and provides the light to show us the way he wants us to go. (Psalm 119:105)
The next major concept of Redeeming the Time is perceiving time in light of eternity. I’ve learned that in decision making many people, myself included, have made the mistake of having an unbalanced and unwise view of time and the consequences of our actions. There’s an old saying that I really like which says “If you dwell in the past you rob the present, but if you ignore the past you rob the future.” I don’t remember who it’s from, but it displays that it’s essential we maintain a balanced view of past/present/future. Likewise, cause and effect shows us that our actions have consequences. What we sow in this life we reap both now and in eternity. I think too often we just think about the now and not enough or even at all about the eternal consequences of what we do. We certainly do not have “all the time in the world” While the average life expectancy is 70-80 years, there are no guarantees that any of us will live that long. We don’t know when Jesus is coming back, but there are two things we can be certain of when He does come back. First, when He comes back it will be final, no more chances and secondly, He will “give to each according to what they have done.” Some will ascend with Him to heaven, others will descend into hell and it will last much longer than 10 duotrigintillion years (10, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 and yes, it’s a real number)
Finally, we come to the last main concept which is overcoming procrastination. As I said earlier, this really comes as a result of putting the first two concepts into practice. I’m not going to go into extreme depth on this one, so for more information you can read my blog article Personal Study Habits: Overcoming Procrastination. Redeeming the Time defines procrastination as “putting off until tomorrow what God wants me to do today.” This is so easy to do, but is a dangerous trap that we must avoid at all costs. We need to look at procrastination through the lens of the first two concepts. If we are thinking about the eternal consequences we most likely not procrastinate. Think of it this way, if a farmer procrastinates during harvest time, his crops may go to waste or be taken away by animals or even thieves. In a spiritual sense, if we procrastinate during “harvest time” our crops or what we’ve sown may dry up or go to waste or be stolen away by the enemy. There are certainly those who understand God’s will but turn away, Jonah for example. Jonah knew that God wanted him to go to Nineveh and deliver the words God had spoken to him. However, out of fear (one of the main causes of procrastination) he ran away from God’s will. But it’s quite impossible for us to know and follow God’s will and procrastinate at the same time. So by following God’s will and staying in step with the Spirit we can overcome procrastination.
In closing, here is a plan of becoming a more effective time manager that I intend to put into practice based on my reading of Redeeming the Time and maybe you will find it useful too. First, I plan to utilize the time-keeping chart found on page 42 of Redeeming the Time. I can easily make the chart yourself if you don’t have the book writing down each day what you are doing in thirty minute intervals. After you do this, reflect on how you spent your time over the course of the week. Did you waste any time? What or where did you waste it on? If so, what adjustments can you make to be more responsible with your time? Prioritize your schedule using a pda or daily planner based on the most important and time consuming tasks first, then moving on to the smaller ones. Our biggest aid in managing our time is God. One thing that I know that I MUST create more time for in my weekly schedule is setting time aside for prayer and fasting. These two things really belong together and are very powerful and effective tools to grow as Christians and overcome obstacles that come up throughout our lives. We must live each day to the fullest because time is constantly running out. Time is irreplaceable and I plan to spend it more wisely in the future. What about you?