February 13th 2019 – Ephesians 5:15-21

"15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Ephesians 5:15-21

The words 'redeeming the time' in 16 require to be understood properly. They must not be construed as a 'carte blanche' for forcing our witness upon people indiscriminately. Indeed, the opposite is indicated. The right to approach people and witness to them and tell them of Jesus is something that has to be paid for (as the etymology of the word 'redeem' makes clear as meaning 'to release, or set free, by the payment of a price') and the indiscriminate approach in Christian witness is often a substitute for the costly work of identifying oneself with the needs of others. The price to be paid here is: reality. Above all, we must be real, for the outsider sees through unreality and cant and humbug, and abhors it: You redeem the time by being 'utterly real and of sterling worth'; and when you are, no moment will be wasted, everything you do and say will tell for God. But this takes time. And time needs to be bought - bought from other things, redeemed from the useless waste of it that is so often our lifestyle, because of self-indulgence, laziness or indiscipline. Buy it back, for God, says the Apostle, at whatever cost and price. This is what 'redeeming the time' really means. Many Christians, for example, have too many irons in the fire for them to have much time for the real priorities in the Christian life, and the price to be paid to redeem precious time is often too great for them even to contemplate. And as soon as it is suggested, the process of rationalisation begins in their hearts, and they quickly persuade themselves that this, that, and the other, are all valuable things and essential for our well-being, and of course cannot be displaced from their lives. And so, time for prayer, time for serious Bible study, time for costly Christian service, that lays demands on time and energy - these are the things that are displaced: it is a solemn thought, is it not?