Redeeming the Time

By Mark D. Roberts

December 31, 2018

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16


Christmas gift wrapping.Today is January 31st, the last day of 2018. This is a good day not only to prepare for New Year’s Eve celebrations but also to reflect on the last year. How was your year? How were you this year? What went well? What went poorly? What would you like to learn from the past year so that you might live more fully and productively in 2019?

I find a passage from Ephesians to be a helpful way to think about the last year. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Literally, the Greek says, “Look accurately at how you are walking.” Walking is a common biblical way of talking about our way of living, our pattern of moral choices. Ephesians calls us to pay close attention to how we’re living, to examine our behavior, thoughts, and feelings.

According to Ephesians 5, we are to live as wise people, thus “making the most of every opportunity” (5:16). This translation correctly renders the sense of the original language, though it misses its poetry. The Greek actually reads not “making the most of every opportunity” but rather “redeeming the time.” (Ironically, Greek speaks of “redeeming” or “buying back” time when we would talk about “spending” it.) The point is that we have been given time and can choose how we use it. If we live wisely, if we live according to God’s guidance and for God’s purposes, then time will be redeemed, or as we would say, well spent. If we live unwisely, then our days will be wasted, consigned to the evil of this present age.

Much more could be said about this passage, but, for now, I’d like to follow its direction and to encourage you to do the same. Set aside some time today for looking accurately at this last year. As you do, you might find the following questions and suggestion to be helpful.

Something to Think About:

Reflect on the past year. In what ways have you lived wisely? In what ways have you lived unwisely?

How well have you redeemed (or spent) the time given to you? In what ways have you used your time wisely? In what ways have you used your time unwisely?

How might God be leading you to redeem the time more wisely in 2019?

Something to Do:

Set aside a chunk of time, today, if possible, for reflection. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you look closely at your last year. Write down ways in which you have lived wisely in 2018, redeeming the time given to you. Then, write down ways in which you have not lived wisely. Offer what you have considered to God, thanking him for the grace to use time well, and asking for additional grace to live wisely and redeem the time more consistently in 2019.


Gracious God, thank you for being part of my life in 2018. And thank you for allowing me to be part of your life and work in 2018. Lord, thank you for helping me to use my time well in the last year. I’m grateful for the guidance and assistance of your Spirit as I make choices about what to do and how to do it.

Yet, Lord, I’m aware that I have not always redeemed the time given to me. I confess that I have not lived as a wise person, but, I’m sad to say, as an unwise person. Forgive me, Lord, for the poor choices I’ve made. And help me, I pray, to exercise greater wisdom in 2019. May I redeem the time in all that I do, each moment of each day. May I live fully and fruitfully for you, for your kingdom and glory. Amen.


Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Advent Hope: Redeeming the Time

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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