15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
Have you ever had a day that, looking back, you wish you could do over? I’m sure we have all had such days. Unlike the brute animals, we humans have a sense of time that enables us to feel regret and loss very deeply, because we know that the past cannot be regained. Our sense of reason is both a blessing and a curse, because we remember both the good and the bad experiences of our lives, and we know that neither can be re-lived to make it any different.
However, as Paul points out in today’s verses, there is a way in which we can buy back time and live a better life in Christ. In both of the selections above, we see Paul use a particular phrase, “redeeming the time,” which is a very literal translation of the Greek. Paul is very precise in his use of words, and the Holy Spirit moved him to write these letters, so it is important to consider why Paul used the word “redeeming.”
When we consider what Christ did for us on the Cross, we often speak of having been “redeemed” by His death. Redemption is the act of rescuing someone by buying that person from the one who “owns” them. In our case, since we were slaves to sin, we are bought with the blood of Christ, He has payed our ransom to rescue us from lawlessness.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
So Jesus redeemed us “from every lawless deed” and purified us “for Himself [to be] His own special people.” We were redeemed from our past, which was leading us away from God. Jesus redeemed the time for us and turned us into His own brothers and sisters. Having our time redeemed for us, we ought therefore to become “zealous for good works.”
Now let’s look back at today’s verses. Our past time has already been bought out, all our sins paid for with Christ’s blood. In fact, Jesus paid it all for our sins past, present, and future. But we are called by Paul to redeem the time we have left, the time in which we live in Christ, to purchase it for ourselves and use it for Christ. How do we do that?
The verses say we should “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise” and “walk in wisdom.” We are called to be wise, to be careful to tread only as the Lord desires. “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17) So, to be wise is to “understand…the will of the Lord.” Someone who is wise does not just “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 4:5 New International Version) but that person buys up every day and owns it for the Lord. The wise person takes the treasure of the gospel given them by the Lord and multiplies it ten-fold every day. The wise person lives each day free from the bondage of sin. The wise person uses that freedom to use every second of every day to do good works “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let us redeem the time we have, using it for God’s kingdom. If we are teachers, teach as unto the Lord. If we are laborers, labor as unto the Lord. If we are supervisors, supervise as unto the Lord. If we are merchants, sell as unto the Lord. And in all things, give thanks and praise to Christ Jesus our Lord, who redeemed our past and gave us an eternal future with Him.
Lord God Almighty, our every day is given by Thee, and every moment we live and breath is but by Thy will. Redeemed we are by the blood of Thy Son, and so permit us, Precious Lord, to redeem these days for Thee. Teach us to live wisely and reverently, living always according to Thy will. Amen.