The apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians cautioning the members of the church there they should be imitators of God as beloved children, (Ephesians 5:1). He went on to say that they were supposed to be different people than the Gentiles that comprised most of the European world in the last half of the first century.
He encouraged them to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” Translating the word that began this sentence in Ephesians 5:16 has been difficult for those who have had the responsibility of making English translations from the Greek New Testament. Probably, the best translation of this verse is in the New American Standard Bible which says, “Make the most of your time because the days are evil.”
Christians are people who “make the most” of their time. We know that a day will come when we will have to give an account of the time we’ve been given. The apostle who wrote Ephesians also told the Romans, “For it is written, ‘AS I LIVE,’ SAYS THE LORD, ‘EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.’ So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God,” Romans 14:11-12. We must be determined in this life to spend our time wisely for God expects us to do so as his servants.
The lesson of the one-talent man is a specific example of what I’m talking about. In Matthew 25 beginning with verse 14, Jesus talked about a man who left his estate in the hands of three men and went on a long journey. He gave to one of the men five talents, another two, and one other received just one talent. The five talent man gained five more talents. The two talent man gained two more talents. But the one-talent man went and hid his talent in the ground because he was afraid, according to Matthew 25:25. The one-talent man was condemned by his master because he failed to make the most of what had been given to him because of his fear.
There are many reasons why people don’t make the most of their time. Some are so involved in the affairs of this life, they believe they have no time to give to God. They are concerned with their business, or their possessions or the accumulation of money or friends, or power. There are so many things that can compete for our time in this world. If we’re not careful, we can allow the things of the world to overcome us. The rich fool was such a man. Jesus talked about him in Luke 12. Jesus taught a parable and said, “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
Okay. What happened in the parable? Was Jesus taking issue with those who had money or possessions? No. He was not critical of this person because he wanted to be successful in having things. Jesus was showing what could happen to a person who was so consumed with the world that he begins to believe he should chase things instead of making the most of his time. Instead of being rich toward GOD, this man was too busy laying up treasure for himself. Jesus then said, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment,” (Luke 12:22-23).
You see, friends, human beings are going to fill themselves up with something. Our minds are like an empty glass. And, because we’re like that, we begin looking for those things we can fill our minds and time with. We can use our minds and our time however we choose. If we want to fill our lives and our minds with pornography, we can do that. If we wish to fill our lives and minds with the use of drugs, we can do that. The question we must consider is WHAT IS THE BEST USE OF THE LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME WE HAVE? What is REALLY WORTHWHILE?
A person can get drunk every night and when he breathes his last, what will he have accomplished? He won’t be a richer, will he? He will not have built for himself a lasting reputation, because he has done everything possible to destroy his name and his reputation.
I remember people in television shows and movies who played lovable drunks, but in the end, they were still just drunks. We feel sorry for them because they used their time and their energies in the pursuit of drink and intoxication. Sure, they’re funny after a sort, but in the final analysis, they’re just pitiful people who’ve wasted their lives.
The apostle Paul in this same context in Ephesians 5 wrote, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:17-18). The word “excess” in this passage means that in the pursuit of alcohol is a wasted life that has been lived with reckless abandon. Instead, we should want to be filled with the Spirit, which is where the word of God comes from.
It’s not just alcoholic drink that can drain away the time from our lives: time that could have been used in obeying and praising the God of heaven. There are so many other worldly things that are very good at alluring us away from God. Jesus talked about these in his parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3 and verses following.
Jesus said a sower went to sow and some of the seed fell by the wayside where it was eaten by the birds of the air. That seed produced no fruit. Some of the seed fell on stony places and could not reach the soil where it could take root. That seed was scorched and withered away. Some of the seed fell among thorns where the life of the plants were choked out and they died. But, the seed that fell on good ground took root, grew and brought forth fruit. Not everyone understood the parable, but Jesus explained it so his disciples could gain the meaning.
The seed that fell by the wayside were those who heard the word of God, but they have no place for the word of God in their hearts. Satan then arrives in that heart and takes it over. There are people whose lives are so filled with evil things, they have no room for the word of God. Folks, each of us FILL OUR MINDS AND TIME WITH SOMETHING. If we fill ourselves with evil, there will be no place for the Lord or for anything he says. Remember: WE MAKE THE DECISION which direction we will take! WE DECIDE what we will fill our minds and time with. If we shut out God, we will do so because we DECIDED TO DO SO!
The seed that fell on stony ground, Jesus said, is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy, but because the truth has no root in him, when tribulation and hard times come, the word he heard withers and dies. LISTEN, my friends. If we allow the situations of the world our attention, we will find ourselves in this group. I know many people who allow their health, their fiscal status, their children, JUST ANYTHING ELSE to keep them from being the kind of obedient servants of God they COULD HAVE BEEN. These are the ones whose lives have become so filled with regret they have ceased long ago trying to please God because of all the things that GOT IN THE WAY.
Jesus said the seed among the thorns is the one who heard the word of God, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches have choked the life out of it. My friends, this world will always try to impress upon us the idea that it is more important to care for IT, than to care for the word of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There are so many things in the world that can occupy our time and our minds every day. We can easily see the world often attempts to claim priority over our lives.
This is, after all, what we’ve been talking about this morning. My friends, are you so far away from God because other things have become more important in your life than Jesus Christ and his word? Have you allowed the cares of this world and the situations of life to find their way into the mainstream of your attention? Do you find yourself saying, “Well, I’d like to go back to church. I know my spouse and children need good spiritual guidance. I know I need a better direction in my life.” Perhaps the next part of this statement is, “BUT, THERE’S JUST NO TIME.”
My friend, you decide what you will do with your life and with the time you have. All of us have the same amount of time. We all have 24-hours in the day, seven-days each week and 365-days every year. It is WELL WITHIN OUR POWER to use that time however we see fit!
If you have never obeyed the gospel and never tried living your life for God, can you see the effect your decision has had on your own life? Can you see how your decision not to obey God has influenced others? Can you see how you have wasted your time and your life here? Sometimes, we must strip all the façade away, all of the pretense, all of the glitter that we shower on ourselves and look at the bare facts. Look at yourself in your heart’s mirror. What do you see? If you’ve never obeyed the gospel, you are probably looking at a not-so-flattering reflection.
The good news is there is something you can do about that. There is a Savior who loves you and is willing to rescue you from a life of sin. You can begin making the most of the time you have left and you can become the good influence you always wanted to be to your spouse, your children and your friends. You can turn your life around and be free from sin and the guilt it has. You can be FREE!
All you need do is believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, repent of your sins, confess the name of Jesus and be baptized in water for the remission of your sins. Then, live your life in search of God and his way for your life. Make the most of your time by glorifying him with your life and by teaching others the glorious gospel of the Christ, the lamb of God whose blood cleanses sin away. Begin living life as a faithful disciple of Jesus, molding your life into his example: the example of a faithful CHRISTIAN!
You have the power to save yourself. On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter said, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation,” (Acts 2:40). You can change your life starting today! All it takes is your determination to change your direction and start walking the path of the Christian. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” in John 14:6. He is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth, the ONLY life.