“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
This series is examining what it looks like when we surrender each portion of an ordinary day to God. Yesterday we learned that morning is a time of preparation. It is the time of day when we declare our dependence on God. In the morning we must prepare our hearts just as we must prepare everything else for the rest of the day. As we read and study the scriptures, we prepare for the unknown. Morning is the time of day to lift up our families in prayer before God. We also need to dress in God’s custom-made wardrobe in order to encourage others, make wise decisions, and fend off our enemy. It is important we keep a sensitive ear tuned into God that drowns out the noise of the world. It is His voice alone we should listen to throughout our day!
Today we will take a closer look at midday. This is a time of execution. We must execute God’s will and accomplish what He has set aside for us to do by making the most of our time. During the workday it can be easy to forget about God. It is the time of day where our agenda and God’s agenda can get mixed up. We can become so focused on earning a living, doing our best at work or school, or raising a family, that we can easily forget God has a plan for us in this time period. The Bible talks very rarely about accepting Christ as Savior and speaks often about coming under Christ, our Lord. We are under His rule and reign as we go about the day. The goal of our lives is not to be successful. As Christians, it is to do the will of God every single day by the power of the Holy Spirit. What if we approached our day with a new definition of productivity? Instead of asking ourselves how can we can be successful today, what if we instead asked God how we can be significant for His kingdom today?
Walking Through Life Paul uses the term walk seven times in chapters four and five of Ephesians. Paul says in Ephesians 4:1 that we should walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. In Ephesians 5:2 he says that we should walk in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us. In Ephesians 8-10 Paul speaks of walking as children of the light.
Looking at our passage today, we read in Ephesians 5:15 a warning to be careful how we walk through our lives. We are not told to run or fly, but to walk. Paul doesn’t paint a picture of our lives as open highways without hurdles or barriers. He paints a picture more like we are taking a hike up a mountain or through thick woods. There are roots, stones and uneven footing to walk across, and we must be careful that we do not stumble. We are urged to walk in the wisdom of the Lord.
Understanding God’s Will Some people view the will of God as a treasure chest to be unlocked. Once it is unlocked, the rest of our lives will be easy and make sense. Leading up to this treasure chest are a thousand confusing clues that we must search for in order to find the key and locate the chest. We often paint the will of God as this big, magical, all-encompassing thing. We need to rethink the will of God. Instead of thinking about the “big” will of God, we need to start thinking about the “small” will of God. Instead of thinking about the will of God just in the big things like where we will live, who we will marry, and what our our next career move will be, we must start thinking about the will of God in the little things too. We should think about God’s will in the conservations we are about to have with other people. What is God’s will for this conservation? What does this person need to hear from me? What do I need to communicate to him or her from You? When God gives us a free hour of time in our schedules, we need to ask God what He wants us to do with it. When we receive discouraging news, we need to ask God what He is trying to teach us through it. Ask God what His will is for you in the moment. We need to take the will of God from a big, magical treasure chest to a small, step-by-step revelation of His will.
Ephesians 5:18 says we should not be drunk with wine but filled with the Spirit. The key to understand God in the step-by-step moments of life is to be filled with the Spirit of God. He has given us Himself to help discern His will in every situation and every decision we face. Galations 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is with us moment to moment as we live out the day. We need to reclaim this fact as we live out the will of God. God doesn’t just have a “big will” for us, He also has a “small” will in the decisions of our day.
Redeeming Your Time One of the keys to understanding the will of God is one of the phrases Paul uses in our text: Make the most of your time. The literal translation of this phrase is “redeem the time.” This means to buy back our time, or to purchase it. We should buy up every opportunity that comes our way. Take the precious element of time that could have been spent on other purposes and buy it back to use for God’s purposes. Use it for the Kingdom of God! When time has value attached to it, we want to appreciate it, utilize it, and enjoy every second of it. Paul tells us to buy up every opportunity and to treat our time as if it was purchased. If we had to pay a large sum of money in advance for every hour God has given to us, would we waste our time as much as we do?
Paul says we must redeem the time because the days are evil. Life is an uphill battle. If we are going to buy back opportunities to use for the kingdom, they are not going to come easily. We drift into all kinds of meaningless activities if we are not careful. Time is precious; it is a gift from God! Our time is short, and we don’t have much of it. The Bible says in James 4:14 that our lives are like a vapor, a midst, that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Moses instructs us in Psalm 90:2 to see our days as numbered so that we might present to God a heart of wisdom. Our time is truly a gift because we do not determine how much of it we get. We do not get to save it. Even the richest person in the world cannot add one more second to his time. Our time can be taken away from us at any moment. Be opportunistic for the Kingdom of God!
How can we best redeem the time?
Make the most of your encounters. We have encounters with a variety of different people throughout our day: neighbors, friends, store clerks, coworkers, colleagues, family members and many others. We communicate with others through meetings, phone calls, emails and texts. What if we learned to make the most of our encounters? What if we invited God to part of every encounter? God should infuse every encounter. Every encounter should be submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ. View the encounters you have throughout the day as opportunities for God to work in and through you to be a blessing to other people. Pray over every encounter.
Pray without ceasing. We shouldn’t have just a “prayer time” reserved for the beginning or end of the day. It is important to set aside a time pray in the morning and in the evening, but it cannot end there. The spirit and the essence of prayer is the spirit of dependence on God. Even when are not speaking consciously to God, there is this deep, abiding dependence upon Him that is woven into the fabric of the heart of our faith. We need to walk through our day exhibiting this prayerful dependence upon God. We should pray repeatedly and often. We can’t pray every second of the day, or we would never get anything else done. However, we should pray over and over and over again. Our default mental state should be, “Dear God…” Praying without ceasing also means we should not give up on prayer and come to a point where we stop praying.
Listen to God’s guidance and direction. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and God is living inside of us. This is the great promise for every Christian. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through scripture. We cannot be in tune with the Holy Spirit if we are not reading God’s Word. God uses His Word to help other people. He speaks His Word through you and through me in our encounters. The Holy Spirit helps us recall certain passages. When we immerse ourselves in the Word of God as we read it it, meditate upon it, and begin to understand its meaning, God will bring it back around again for the blessing and the benefit of other people. The Holy Spirit also speaks through biblical teaching and preaching to speak and move in our hearts. The Holy Spirit knows exactly how to speak directly to our individual hearts. He prompts us into action. We can take the words we hear in a sermon and use them to bless others we come in contact with throughout the course of our day. The Holy Spirit also speaks through promptings in our lives. He will do it if you will listen. It doesn’t happen all of the time, and it usually not an audible voice. The Holy Spirit will absolutely provide for you prompting of what to do in certain situations. When you are child of God, His voice becomes recognizable in your walk.
Make the most of your work. Some of you have difficult work environments, within the home and/or outside of the home. What does it look like to buy up opportunities at home, in the office, or at school? To those who work outside of the home, there is often a line drawn between the secular and the sacred. Most people approach their careers, and have been conditioned to view their work, as separate from real ministry. We need to challenge ourselves and shift our focus from career to calling. View your work as a ministry. We can encourage our coworkers, visit them when they are sick, cry with them in times of tragedy, counsel them and give them spiritual insights, use teachable moments, and exhibit the fruits of the spirit in every moment. Be a minister in your workplace. View how you respond to the people you encounter as an act of worship to God. Be a minster instead of just an employee, employer, colleague, or professor. The work itself can also be an act of worship. Worship is declaring that God is worthy of our lives in everything we do. The task at hand can be an act of worship to God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to approach our work as slaves to Christ by doing the will of God from the heart. Not as slaves to our bosses, although we should love, obey and respect our bosses. At our workplaces, our first boss is Jesus Christ.
Make the most of your meals. The Son of Man came eating and drinking. The meals Jesus shared in the gospels embodied His message of love and grace. He ate with tax collectors, sinners, and self-righteous Pharisees. He used these meal times to express God’s welcome to a lost people. People in Jesus’ day were often furious because of who He ate with. What would happen if we used our meal times more intentionally and practiced this biblical concept of hospitality at our meals more often? We all eat and have 21 ready-made opportunity in the course of a week to express God’s pleasure with the people in our lives. Maybe this includes a breakfast with another person of accountability for a study of the scriptures, taking a colleague out to lunch to show concern for them, or inviting your neighbors over for dinner more frequently. If you know someone is struggling or in ill health, you can take a meal to their home. Many of us need to redeem our family meal times as purposeful acts that show the love and compassion of Jesus. Utilize three intentional meals per week to forward the Kingdom of God and make the most of your time.
Be intentional about YOUR life. Don’t become lazy, dull and ignorant of the needs around you! The days are evil. Don’t shift your day into neutral and go. Redeem the time that God has given to you for the sake of His kingdom. Midday is the time to execute God’s will by the make the most of your time. What would happen, if instead of seeking fame and success, we tenaciously obeyed the will of God for the prime time of our day, one decision at a time?