By Elder Lynette Shek
We are at the last weekend of 2023 and on the threshold of 2024. A lot of us take this time to look back at the previous year and look forward to the new one. For the Christian, looking back should always include gratitude to God, but there may also be pain, regrets and hurts. Looking forward, there may be expectancy and excitement, but also fears and uncertainties. For the pastoral page 2 Decembers ago, I wrote about how the Christian should be aware that we live in chronos time (minutes, hours, days and years) but also kairos time (God-ordained time). I reminded us that kairos means we pay attention and take advantage of the times, seasons and moments. We need to slow down and remind ourselves of the unexpected times when God has shown up with His love, grace and mercy in the ups and downs of our existence.
The Bible reminds us again and again not to be foolish but to use our time wisely, or, as the KJV puts it, “redeem the time”. But why and how should the Christian redeem the time? So many of us think we are masters of our destiny, that we have all the time in the world, that we can control what happens to us. But the Bible and life tells us otherwise. Those of us who have had health issues in 2023, who have lost loved ones, lost jobs, will realise this. Those of us who have frittered time on internet surfing, binge-watching TV, party after party, realise that these leave us empty and we yearn to make better use of our time. The Bible uses the word “fool” for those who do not redeem the time in the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25) and the parable of the rich man (Luke 12).
We are wise if we redeem the time. Eph 5:15-17 says, “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.”
So how should the Christian redeem his time? May I suggest 3 ways. First, let us decide once and for all our goal and destination for our lives. Can you articulate clearly what the goal of your life is, what you wake up for each day, where you put your energies? Think about this, remind yourself of it throughout the day, and you will find that your priorities and how you spend your time will be aligned.
Second, make time to understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5 tells us that it is foolish if we do not know what God’s will is and instead live our lives according to our own plans and purposes. God’s plans cannot be stopped. Job in all his suffering knew this, and declared “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2)”. But we also know that His plans for us are good and we can trust Him. God says in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So why not understand God’s will, and live in accordance to it? We will find that the yoke of life becomes easier because we travel the road of life with Jesus.
Third, let us encourage each other as a body of Christ to do this. For 2024, we will focus on what it means to be a community of Jesus. May I encourage all of us, when we see each other in church, in our CGs, to ask each other “are you redeeming your time for the Kingdom of God?” We need the encouragement of each other to walk this life in a way that honors God, builds up the church and brings us joy.
My dear brothers and sisters in The Bible Church, I pray that we will have a Jesus-filled 2024 as we reflect on His love for us and choose to redeem our time for Him.