In a previous blog post I shared a video of Jen Wilkins speaking about the role of women. You can read it here. Being impressed with her as a speaker I bought and read one of her books. It is well worth reading. Click here to buy from Amazon.
Below is a very helpful extract from the book, full of practical wisdom on how we can “redeem the time.”
Living in the Present Trusting God with our time means we make good use of the time we are given. This sounds simple, but it’s not. Ephesians 5: 15–16 tells us, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” The King James translates “making the best use of the time” as “redeeming the time.” We are commanded to be time redeemers, those who reclaim our time from useless pursuits and employ it to the glory of God. But how can we do this? I want to suggest three ways.
- Let Go of the Past.
Redeeming the time requires letting the past stay in the past. We can cling to the past by indulging in two different emotions: sinful nostalgia or regret. Sinful nostalgia causes us to idolize a time when life was “better “or “simpler,“ resulting in perpetual discontentment with our present circumstance. We may long for a time before bad news of some kind arrived, for a time when our health was better, when our kids were still young, or when a loved one was still alive.
Life’s changing seasons can cause a natural longing for the way things used to be, and though it is not necessarily sinful, it can become so. We are allowed to grieve the passing of happy seasons, but we are not allowed to resent their loss. There is a difference between missing the past and coveting the past. The antidote for covetousness is always gratitude: We can combat a sinful love of the past by counting the gifts we have been given in the present. Regret, on the other hand, causes us to dwell in past mistakes or hurts, robbing us of joy in our present circumstance and often dragging us back into old sin patterns. As a child I learned to sing the words of Charles Wesley: “He breaks the power of cancelled sin, he sets the prisoner free.” How often have I needed those words as a reminder that the power of my past sins (or the past sins of others against me) is broken in Jesus’s name. He replaces my historical liturgy of sin with one of holiness. When I become discouraged about giving in once again to a past sin, the “lifter of my head“ reminds me that though I am not yet who I will be, I am not who I was. He draws me from the past back to the present with an assurance that sanctification is slowly doing its work today. He keeps me from rehearsing my past hurts by reminding me to forgive as I have been forgiven. We can combat the “bad news “of the past by remembering and trusting the good news of the gospel.
- Let Go of the Future.
Redeeming the time requires letting the future stay in the future. We can cling to the future by indulging in two different emotions: sinful anticipation or anxiety. We indulge sinful anticipation when we constantly covet the next stage of life. The teenager who wants to be a college student. The young mom who can’t wait for her kids to be out of diapers. The woman in her fifties who can’t wait to retire. Looking forward to the future is not wrong in itself. Seeing a future life stage as an escape from the present one is. As with sinful nostalgia, sinful anticipation is quelled by gratitude for the gifts we have been given in the present. We feed anxiety when we live in dread of the future. We fear uncertainty or potentialities: the loss of a job, possible illness, or just the fact that we can have no idea of (or control over) what tomorrow holds. Our prayers become marked with requests to know the future rather than requests to live today as unto the Lord. Jesus reminds us not to be anxious for the future, “for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6: 34). The antidote for anxiety is to remember and confess that we can trust the future to God. This does not mean that we make no preparation for the future, but that we prepare in ways that are wise rather than in ways that are fearful.
- Live Today Fully
Redeeming the time requires being fully present in the present. We can squander today by feeding two different sins: laziness or busyness. Both the lazy person and the compulsively busy person subtly reject the God-ordained boundary of time. The lazy person believes there will always be more time to get around to her responsibilities. She can spend today as she pleases. She is characterized by procrastination, missed deadlines, and excuses. Like a profligate spender of money, she spends time without considering the cost, secretly believing she has an endless credit of hours. Laziness believes that the time God has given is not precious. We must redeem the present by considering the ant, as Proverbs 6: 6 says, gathering when it is time to gather. The compulsively busy person believes there will never be enough time to manage her responsibilities. She, too, believes she can spend today as she pleases, packing in more than one day’s share of activity, complaining that there are not more hours in the day. She is characterized by exhaustion and overcommitment. Like a penny-pincher, she wrings every ounce of productivity out of every minute of the day, secretly believing that rest is for when we die. Busyness believes that the time God has given is not adequate. We must redeem the present by leaving time to observe the practice of stillness and the precept of Sabbath, taking on the trusting posture of one who sits at the feet of her Lord. When we work to redeem the time, we reflect our Creator. God is the ultimate time-redeemer: He redeems all of time, and he redeems at just the right time. We are charged with redeeming the years he has given to us as a reasonable act of worship.
Written by Tony Thompson