Years ago when my son was very young I remember pulling into a gas station to get us some drinks. While we were inside he was viewing the candy isle not really knowing what all he was looking at. Something dawned on me; there was so much my little boy hadn’t yet experienced. I thought for a moment and told him my favorite candy bar was a butterfingers and asked if he wanted to try one. When we got in the car I gave him the candy bar and sat for a while and watched him take his very first bite ever of something I had enjoyed countless times. He loved it! The same was true for the first time I took him camping. We did just about everything expected when you camp, enjoyed marshmallows over the fire, told campfire stories, hiked, slept in a tent. I still remember our first night and watching him as we enter the tent for the night, he was so excited he couldn’t lie down.
I have found that time has a way of dissolving new experiences and as I’ve aged new experiences have become farther and fewer in-between.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
As the many years of my life have passed that harsh reality has become more and more apparent. In fact, as I’ve gotten older my view on time had changed dramatically. When I was a young man I didn’t think much about time or wasting it. These days I cherish time and my priorities as to how I spend it are better thought out.
The Apostle Paul seemed very aware of this fact too. If anyone made good use of his time it certainly seemed as though it was him. Maybe it was because he was so aware of the years spent moving in the wrong direction.
Let’s take a look at what Paul says about our time and how we should be using it.
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-21
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. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Ephesians is a letter Paul wrote while in prison to the church in Ephesus. The church of Ephesus was one of 14, maybe more churches that Paul planted in his lifetime.
Ephesus was a busy city that was bordered by a river. Port cities were known as being a bit wild and this one wasn’t any different. The city was well known for a large temple dedicated to the goddess Diana. Reports had gotten back to Paul that there were some issues, false teaching and people being lured into worldly trends.
Our text begins by instructing us to be cautious and watchful; in contrast we shouldn’t act as fools but as wise people. Have you ever known someone who seemed to be oblivious to what’s going on around them? They take foolish risks and put themselves in dangerous situations?
One night as I was working in the homeless shelter in Roanoke I was doing midnight rounds, checking the outside of the building. I came upon this young girl of about 19. She was balled up sleeping on the patio wearing nothing but short, shorts and a tank top. I woke her to see if everything was okay. She said she was fine, she was just waiting on her boyfriend who was spending the night in the shelter. I was taken aback by her lack of concern for her own safety.
Verse 16 continues by saying; “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Redeem means to rescue from loss) We are to use our time wisely, not foolishly. Time is a commodity we have a limited supply of and when it’s gone it’s gone. Further by saying the days are evil he was communicating his sense of urgency because of the draw of evil. To put it in today’s terms, evil was trending. Paul was stressing the need to keep our standers high and act wisely.
In verse 18 Paul reminds us not to get drunk on wine but to be filled with the Spirit. Here he contrasts the two. One is living for the world and the other is living for Christ. Again, how are we spending our time? Some folks use alcohol to escape reality. God calls this a waste of time. Drink all day long but when the bottle is empty your troubles are still there and now you feel even worse about the situation. Christ provides a way through the spirit to overcome those troubles and be overcome with a never ending supply of joy and peace. Anything other than turning to God to help with your troubles is a waste of time.
Paul gives us the results of being under the influence of the Spirit in verses 18 – 19. He lists three by-products of the Spirits influence in our lives; singing, making music and giving thanks. Now of course we aren’t walking around all the time singing and making music but the point Paul is making is whatever we do should be permeated with an attitude of joy, thankfulness and encouragement to others. We should spend our time focused on the blessings we have rather than the bad.
Finally in verse 21 Paul calls for us to submit to one another. He’s not calling for us to give up our will to others as to God. No, he is challenging us to consider others and their lives, to have a servant’s heart toward those in your home, those in your workplace and those in your church. This type of attitude is contagious. Imagine a church where every person was putting the needs of others ahead of themselves. Isn’t that the church you want to belong to?
Three Things we can learn from this scripture
1. Every moment matters (Ephesians 5:15-16)
The wise person lives in such a way that reflects the gospel. This doesn’t mean they are perfect or have arrived. It means their goal in life is to lead a life pleasing to God because they understand it’s the best deal going. You won’t find any other way to spend your time that will provide more peace, more joy, more satisfaction in life than the path Jesus has laid out for us.
2. Every action matters (5:17)
We should know the gospel of Jesus Christ and live it out. We can’t give in to temptation and console ourselves with the idea that we’ve been good for a while so allowing myself this one indulgence wont hurt. It’s like the person on a diet who decides they’ve been really good for the past two weeks and so they are going to eat things they know they shouldn’t. What happens? That one slip opens the door to falling back into their old eating habits. Every action matters and every action has consequences.
3. Every expression matters (5:18-21)
If you have ever been around a truly drunk person you know it. They cannot cover it. That is what this text is saying about being filled with the Spirit. Rather than having a worldly expression (like drunkenness) have a Spirit-filled expression.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says to Be imitators of God, just like little children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. That’s how we should be spending our time.
I titled this sermon, Ain’t waistin’ time no more, but many of us are indeed spending our days as if we have an unlimited supply? How many of you have been telling yourselves tomorrow you may reach out to that friend or loved one you haven’t spoken to in years, tomorrow I’ll forgive my sister, brother, old friend, mother, father, child? Tomorrow I’ll consider serving the lord with a greater commitment. Or even worse tomorrow I’ll turn my life over to the Lord? Scripture warns us time and again that no man knows the hour of their death and to be ready. What are you putting off today? How are you living your life? Are you living your life as if you have an unlimited amount of time?
Scripture teaches us that today is the day of salvation. And Christ has made this so simple for us and the rewards are abundant!