“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
I have often heard the passage above applied as a time management principle. Business managers love to quote this Scripture and tell their employees to “redeem the time” by getting organized, working harder, and learning how to squeeze the most out of every minute.
This may sound great on the surface, but it takes the passage completely out of context and isn’t what Paul is talking about here at all!
You see, Paul could have used the Greek word chronos for “time” in this passage, which is translated “exact, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, time.” This would have made sense, since this was the word most commonly used to describe time in his day. But he doesn’t. Instead, Paul uses a Greek word that is used much less often, kairos, which describes not an exact moment of time, but an entire season of life.
The word kairos is also found in Revelation 12:12, which states that “the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” The entire season that the Devil is allowed to roam this earth may seem like an eternity to us, but in God’s eyes it is a very short time.
So what season is Paul referring to here? The answer is right in front of our eyes: “Redeeming the time.” The Greek language does not always use the definite article (“the”), but the definite article is indeed found in the original language here. He’s saying that we can redeem, or “buy back,” the one and only time we will have on this earth. He’s saying that no matter what mistakes we have made, it is possible to redeem our life!
Is he talking about salvation, then? Not so fast! If you look in Ephesians 1:1, you will see that this letter is addressed “to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus.” Paul is talking to faithful Christians here! So what is he trying to say?
He’s saying that even after becoming a Christian, it is possible to waste the short time we have on this earth. Thanks be to God, however, if we stop making foolish choices and start walking circumspectly (walking carefully, as a Christian ought to walk) right now, the Lord can help us to redeem our lives and have them count for something in eternity.
Have you ever asked what the Lord’s will is for your life? Well, friends, the answer is given to us right here in verse 17: “but understand what the will of the Lord is.” God’s will for every Christian is that they avoid foolish living and spend their earthly time walking correctly.
How’s your walk? Would the Lord be proud of the way you’ve been traveling through life, or do you need to get things back on track and begin redeeming your time today?