"Welcome to 2010!" said a sign I recently saw. As I glanced at it, something registered in my mind. We have entered the next decade of the "new millennium." It is amazing how time doesn’t merely fly, but seems to rocket past. That moment caused me to reflect upon the past 10 years and consider what was and was not accomplished.
The Bible references time in different ways. It even considers how to restore lost years. A prophecy from Joel said, "I [God] will restore the years that the swarming locust has eaten…" (Joel 2:25a)
In the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he instructs believers to "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
What does it mean, redeem the time? It is often misunderstood. The simple reality is that you cannot go back again. Even if you were able to go back to a different time or place, the circumstances surrounding your life have brought a permanent change to who you are.
For people who try to redeem the time, problems compound. In their efforts to "go back," they misuse the current time. That time becomes damaged or lost as well. Consider a parent who has wrestled with long-term problems with his or her children. In the effort to go back and repair the relationship, they try to build the relationship from the point that it was damaged. They fail to consider that the child is now an adult. From the opposite end, that child fails to consider that the parent, now older, has different values and responses. The result is the continuation of problems on a new level. The overall problem becomes larger than it was before.
Redeeming the time is not about going back and reclaiming lost moments. The word redeem comes from a Greek word that means "by payment of a price to recover from the power of another." Think of it like the coupons you find in a newspaper. Printed on a piece of paper, they are worth nothing. However, if you clip them out and present them to a store clerk, they are worth money … because you redeemed them!
Redeeming the time is about recognizing and drawing on the true value of time. It is about discerning the purpose of each moment. Regarding the earlier example of damaged relationships: Rather than trying to reclaim time by going back and rebuilding, redeeming the time means that you build with the understanding of where things currently are. You build fresh and righteously. When you do that, God restores time so you can build a relationship that feels like there was no time lost.
How you redeem the time plays the greatest role in the development of your prosperity and your future. For instance, there are 168 hours in a week. In 168 hours, most people give God one hour on Sunday. However, for consideration, let’s record 10 percent of your time: 16.8 hours. You have 151.2 hours left. You should sleep 8 hours, or 56 hours per week. Now you are at 95.2 hours. Subtract another 40 hours for the work week and you are left with 55.2 hours. Dedicate two hours per day or 14 hours per week to family time and you still have 41.2 hours left. For the person who says there is not enough time to get ahead, you can work your job, give God His time, give your family their time and have enough time left over to enjoy yourself.
"Walk as wise and not as fools, redeeming the time…" means not disregarding the true value of time. It means not treating time the way many treat coupons. They line bird cages with them or simply throw them away. Time rockets on. If you learn how to discern the purpose of each moment and how to draw upon its value, you will prosper.
Dr. Byler is the senior pastor of Bethesda "The Amazing Life" Church in Hinesville.