God has alotted to each of us a certain amount of time here on earth, and unfortunately none of us know how long that is. You may have once been asked "If you could find out when/where you die, would you want to know?" Most people answer "no" to this question. I wouldn't! It would then be all I would think about. The time we are given, should be, as Paul states, spent wisely, making the best use of the time.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).
I like the KJV translation of verse 16 wich says 'redeeming the time', which, (in the original greek) means to literally 'buy' or 'ransom'. Redeeming the time, or, buying the opportunity, was a metaphor related to merchants and traders who would seize every opportunity they had to improve their business. Even today, if someone wants to start a business, they better know how to run one and have superior knowledge in that which they are trying to sell. Since learning has yet to be acheived by osmosis, we must apply ourselves to learn these skills. Here Paul is conveying that same metaphor into our Christian life, to make the best use of our time. As Matthew Henry puts it:
It is a great part of Christian wisdom to redeem the time. Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment - one special preservative from sin.
Why such an ardent command?--"Because the days are evil". As Henry states it is a "special preservative from sin". By being properly employed, we won't have time to sin! Think of all the times you have fallen short and went back to that one sin you promised you'd never go back to...how were you spending your time? It's usually when we were being negligent with our time that temptation comes in and snatches us up. Now this isn't to say we need to be spending 24/7 in the Bible and prayer to be able to withstand sin, we obviously need to spend time doing other things, such as going to work to pay your bills, spending time in fellowship and edification with other believers, or being attentive to your family, but we must be spending our time wisely! I also like what Henry has to say when he talks of 'buying back' the time we've lost:
If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future
My time is probably something I have been fairly foolish with in the past. I believe all of us can relate and have procrastinated some time or another. But it literally took me forever to pick a career for myself and actually make a decision. It wasn't until this last year when I got extremely sick and spent a whole year wasted away on a couch to evaluate my life choices. I literally had to almost die to make a career choice! (Don't let that be you). During/after my recovery from surgery, I then applied myself towards my career, and spent nearly 8-10 hours/day, 6 days/week for 6 months studying web development and coding through an online school. I would literally go and sit in a coffee shop for 10 hours and just study (as when I am home I feel like doing nothing). Being a new developer is hard, as I am still trying to land a full time job, but it has provided me with ample freelance work, as well as temporary and potential long-term work with my brother, who also works in this field. All that being said, I am currently juggling two jobs and college work, as I decided to go back to college this quarter to finish my degree to pad my resume.
Now even though theses verses are more specifically addressing how we should make the best use our time in avoiding sin and in spiritual growth, I believe it can still be applicable in regards to life choices. I am not one who believes that I should wait on God for every decision (God gave us free will for a reason, as He gave us boundaries, not 'orders'). Many people treat the Christian life as if they are waiting on a train, yet it never comes because they are expecting this big 'cloud parting moment' and for the train to arrive, yet it never does. We need to push on doors and see what opens, and let God shut what He wills, but we can't be living life passively, especially as men, men make choices, boys don't. And even though I am spending all this time on these things, I must also remember to "make the best use of my time" so that God still remains my priority and I spend time with Him first before anything else.
Paul goes on to list other examples about how we should conduct ourselves... on how we shouldn't be given to drunkenness, on how we should spend time worshipping God and edifying each other, on spousal roles and how husbands should love their wives, etc. Ultimately (as per my last blog), that is what matters most. Things that have eternal value.
How have you been spending your time?