Be very careful, then, how you live (and walk), 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)
This post builds on Be Wise, Not Unwise
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) was an American pastor. As a young man, he wrote down seventy resolutions to help him grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Edwards re-read this list weekly to keep his heart and mind focused. But he was not relying on his own strength to be holy. Edwards resolved and promised, in humble reliance upon the Holy Spirit’s grace, that he would strive to live as a follower of Christ. God made him a renewed man who acted justly, who loved mercy, and who walked humbly with God.1
Many of Edwards’ resolutions have to do with Time Management. Here are some:
- I will do whatsoever is most to God’s glory and for the good and advantage of humankind.
- I am resolved to do this whatever difficulties or opposition I meet.
- I will strive to never lose one moment of time, but use it the most profitable way.
- I will strive never do anything which I should be afraid or ashamed to do, if it were the last hour of my life, or near the time of Christ’s return.
- I will not give way to lukewarmness which hinders me from being fully and fixedly set on following Christ.
- I will examine myself every night how I have been negligent, what sins I have committed, and if I have denied myself for Jesus’ sake. Then I will repent and turn back to God and His ways.2
Edwards’ resolutions seem strict to us, but he was serious about loving God and obeying Hebrews 12:14: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Make the Most of Every Opportunity, Because the Days Are Evil. (Verse 16)
The Old Geneva Bible (1599) comments, “The worse and more corrupt this world is the more watchful believers need to be.” Jesus says: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”3
People take great care of their lawns, cars, houses, clothes, physical appearance, jobs, and hobbies. Christ says: “Take care your whole Christian life.” Beloved, our time is our life. The way we spend our hours and days is the way we spend our life. The Greek text on Verse 16 says we are to redeem or buy up (or buy back) the time. It’s a phrase taken from merchants who work hard to earn a profit before taking time off for pleasure. Other versions say: Make the best use of your time (ESV); make the most of it (NAS); use it to the full (NEB).
It reminds me of Galatians 6:10, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Augustine says, “Since you can’t do good to everybody, all at once, pay special regard to those people who by time, place, or circumstances, God brings into connection with you.” We all have the same amount of time each day, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day. We can’t stretch time, so we must spend it to the fullest advantage.
Remember Moses the Man of God
Moses’ timeline looks like this:
1st 40 years
Thinking he was a somebody
The adopted son of Pharaoh
2nd 40 years
Learning he was a nobody
Tending Jethro’s flock in the wilderness
3rd 40 years
Discovering what God can do with a nobody who trusts and obeys the Lord4
Near the end of his life, Moses prayed: “Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”5 Other versions say: “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are. Help us to spend them as we should….Teach us to live wisely and well!” (TLB and MSG)
We live in God’s wonderful world with countless privileges around us on all sides. But it’s also a fallen world because of human sin. There is trouble and wickedness around us and within us. And we never know which day will be our last. So we must be careful to use our time for the greatest good as God defines it and not get sidetracked.
John Wesley (1703-1791) said: “Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can, in all the ways you can,
In all the places you can, at all the times you can,
To all the people you can, with all the zeal you can, As long as ever you can.”
Scripture says: “Lord, what are human beings that You care for us, mere mortals that You think of us? They are like a breath. Our days are like a fleeting shadow….We do not even know what will happen tomorrow. We are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes….We were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow….God has made our days a mere handbreadth. The span of our years is as nothing before the Lord. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.”6
Minutes, hours, days, and years fly past us and they can’t be recovered. So we need to seize the best opportunities for service and fellowship that we can. Theologian J. I Packer (1926-2020) said: “Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is the practical side of moral goodness.”7
In a fallen world, both idleness and busyness can lead us to sinful thoughts, words, and actions. John Calvin (1509-1564) says: “Everything is so full of scandal and corruption it’s hard for the godly people who walk among so many thorns (wicked people) to remain unhurt. These days are so corrupt, the devil appears to have seized tyrannical power and it takes great effort to dedicate our time to God.” He wrote that 460 years ago! What would he say in 2024?
To be continued
Prayer: Lord, help us to be wise people who don’t waste time. Help us to be disciplined in using it. Help us to value time like the valuable commodity and resource it really is. Help us overcome the pressure in this sinful world to misuse our time or fritter it away. Help us to use our lives well to impact the world for You. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Micah 6:8. 2 Adapted from revpacman.com, edited for brevity and archaic language. You may also like Covenanting with God by Gwyn Davies. 3 Matt 4:4. 4 Adapted from D. L. Moody. 5 Psalm 90:12. 6 Psalm 144:3-4; James 4:14; Job 8:9; Psalm 39:5. 7 From Knowing God (1973).