Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Today, we’re looking at what my friend Matt Perman calls “the core New Testament passage on productivity.” But before we take a closer look at Ephesians 5:15-17, we need to establish some context.
After expounding upon the gospel of grace in Ephesians 1-4, the apostle Paul reminds us of our status as “dearly loved children” of God in Ephesians 5:1. What is our response to our adoption as sons and daughters of God? Today’s passage contains part of the answer to that question.
Paul is saying that part of our response to the gospel is to “[make] the most of every opportunity.” I prefer how the NKJV translates that phrase as “redeeming the time.”
The Greek word exagorazó which we translate to mean “redeeming” in “redeeming the time” literally means to “buy up” or “ransom.” If you’ve ever said, “I wish I could buy more time,” that’s the idea here. As Christians, we are called to “buy up” as much time as we can, managing our time as carefully and wisely as possible towards the purposes of our Father. Commenting on this passage, Tim Keller said, “Christians are solemnly obliged not to waste time. Time-stewardship is a command!”
Why are we commanded to steward our time wisely? Not so that we will have more time to spend on selfish pursuits. We are called to redeem our time because “the days are evil” and we are running out of time to do the will of the Lord. Jen Wilkin puts it this way: “We are commanded to be time redeemers, those who reclaim our time from useless pursuits and employ it to the glory of God.”
Amen. Paul is showing us that good time management isn’t “unspiritual.” It is a proper response to the gospel and our adoption into God’s family. God is at work in the world and He has invited us to participate in that work through our vocations. With that in mind, let us be “time redeemers” who make the most of this short life for our Father’s great glory.