Time Management for Eternity
By Matthew Black, Pastor
Text: Ephesians 5:15-16
Date: Sunday, January 25, 2009, 11am
Tabernacle Baptist Church
7020 Barrington Road
Hanover Park, Illinois 60133
Introduction: Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5:15-17. Last week we talked about letting our light shine before men. It was a message about living in the LIGHT—being a genuine Christian. Having NO fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness—watching our life and our tongue, and bringing other people under the influence of the light of the Gospel.
This morning we are looking at the Christian life from a different angle. We are looking at what we spend our time doing as Christians. The title of our message is “Time Management for Eternity”. Christians have an eternal focus in their living!
Ephesians 5:15-17 tell us not only the need to walk in wisdom, but HOW to do it. Lets stand and read Ephesians 5:8-16, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
[Prayer for Guidance]
We are told to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). That is the goal of the Christian life. We say “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. As Christians we are to spend our time, not on doing our own thing, but on doing the will of God. This is the essence of being a wise man or woman. Find the will of God and do it. “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). We are living not for this present age, but for the age to come—for eternity.
I. People who live for eternity exercise great Caution.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (verse 15). The idea here is literally to “walk carefully” or “walk accurately”. We are to be careful to walk exactly in the right path of God’s will. Paul just got done talking about shining your light to expose the darkness of sin in people’s lives. If you are going to have a strong light of influence for Christ, you must be careful how you live. We are called to shine the light of Christ on the dark lives of others, and so we must walk carefully ourselves. James 3:13 asks, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”
What does a careful walk look like?
A. Be careful to walk in God’s path.
MAP Illustration: If you want to walk wisely, you’ve got to follow God’s map for life, which is the Bible. God always has His perfect path for you. He’s given you a Bible so that you can find it. If you want to get to a place accurately, you must constantly be consulting the map. God has also given us a map to Christlikeness. You must carefully and accurately follow God’s map for you, which is the Word of God. It has the directions for God’s will in every situation.
God told His people of old in Deuteronomy 5:32, “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” To walk circumspectly is to walk strictly according to God’s path for your life. Proverbs 3:5-6 say it best, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”.
Remember that Satan is an angel of light, and he often makes evil look virtuous.
§ Many people are dragged away by friends. You have good intentions to influence a person for Christ, and they end up polluting you. Be careful!
§ We’ve talked about relationship evangelism. It looks good. You want to bring that special person to Christ. The intentions are noble. Remember, to obey is better than sacrifice. Don’t do it. Be not unequally yoked. A lost person is controlled by that wicked “spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience”. Satan wants to sift you like wheat and destroy your life and testimony. Be very careful!
§ Providing for your family is a good thing, but if you are laying up treasure on earth instead of bearing fruit for eternity, it can be a very bad thing. Christians are not here to make their bank accounts fatter, but to radically sacrifice for Christ. Be careful! Turn not to the right hand or to the left. Stay directly in the center of God’s will. Be wise with your money, but don’t let it be your master. Use it for Christ, not simply for comfort.
Application for the unconverted: A lost person cannot walk circumspectly, because they are still blinded by sin. They are still “darkness” (verse 8)—they are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). A lost person does not care to look at God’s map, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2:14, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.
Application for the Christian: A Christian on the other hand is diligent in applying the Bible to every place of his life. He knows are many traps that ensnare God’s people. This why Paul says we need to walk carefully and circumspectly. We need to ride the seas like in the days of old looking for pirate ships that will rob us and try to sink us. The wicked one is not your friend. His only motive is to take as many people to hell with him. Be careful how you walk! Follow the Lord diligently and carefully, like you are walking through a mine field.
So be careful to walk strictly in God’s path. Satan has all kinds of mines in this life that will trap you.
B. Be careful also to walk in God’s power. The only thing that hinders us from service for Christ is SIN. We are often tempted to make unwise and sinful choices. That is why Paul says: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (verse 15). We must not be foolish about the way we life. For a Christian, our wisdom comes from our connection to God. At times our connection with God is weakened by sin. Our position with God never changes, but our power is weakened. A Christian is always going to be someone who is very sensitive to being tightly connected to God.
CAR Illustration: My son will got an electric race track for his birthday. The cars have to be precisely on the electric track or the car will not go forward. Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” As Christians we must never knowingly live in any kind of sin. We must not allow it in any degree. We abstain even from the “appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). This will weaken our walk with Christ and weaken our testimony with those we want God to save.
Someone who can play church, but has no power to live for Christ in the home or in the work place does not know Jesus Christ. The Bible says there are some people who have a “form of godliness but they deny the power thereof”. You can look like you are connected to God, and not be connected. There is always a measure of power and connectivity because we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ.
Application: In order to have God’s power, you must be rightly connected to God. If your life is dirty and out of order, you will lack power in your life. Just like physical power comes by being rightly and tightly connected to an outlet, so spiritual power comes by being connected with God who is the outlet of heaven. Are you connected to God in close communion today? Be careful about it. Walk carefully with God.
Transition: So people who live for eternity exercise a great amount of caution! Be careful! Walk circumspectly!
II. People who live for eternity have Clear Thinking. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (verse 15).
Paul says Christians are not fools, but wise. The problem is no one is born a Christian. In fact every one born into this world is born a fool.
A. Let’s first look at Foolishness. When we speak o foolishness, we are not speaking of the forgetfulness of a child, but rebellion and sin against God. The fool in the Bible is anyone who lives outside of God’s control. Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." A fool may believe there is a God intellectually or superficially, but it never affects his life. He is a practical atheist. He lives as if there is no Judgment Day, as if there are no consequences to any of our choices. Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child”. Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way”. A fool in the Bible is someone who has departed from God.
A fool may believe that there is a God intellectually, but in he lives as a practical atheist, as if there were no consequences for our choices. A wise person is someone who lives in the presence and principles of God, making choices that please God. A fool is one who doesn’t need advice—he always does his own thing.
B. Now let us look at Wisdom.
1. The Definition of wisdom. What is wisdom? We have a definition of it in verse 17: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is”. To be wise is to know the will of God and do it. He has given us all the resources to know exactly how to please Him in every situation. Those who are careless about their lives are truly fools.
2. The Motivation of wisdom. True wisdom is living in light of facing God very soon.
§ Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”.
§ James asks, “what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).
Reverencing the fact that we will very soon give an account of our life before God motivates us to live in a way that pleases God and depart from evil. Job said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
3. The Personification of Wisdom. Paul says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (verse 15). As a Christian God has made you wise. You are called wise. You were born a fool, but by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit you are wise. The Holy Spirit is wisdom personified. He dwells with in us. God has given Christians this kind of wisdom. This wisdom is an attribute of God that He gives to redeemed men and women. This is why God could say: “ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (verse 8). We are united with the Holy Spirit and now we can see! Now the Spirit communicates and communes with our Spirit.
4. The Conviction of Wisdom. Wisdom is believing that God’s way is the BEST way. You may not understand His way, but you know that He is wiser than you. He says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
5. The Disposition of Wisdom. What does a wise man look like? The following is the description of a believer in Christ. This is a picture of the new nature.
a. A wise man forsakes this world’s wisdom. 1 Corinthians 3:18, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” We learn from Paul that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and we now have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
b. A wise man builds his whole life upon Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24). We say with Paul in Philippians 3:8, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”.
c. A wise man knows how to accept criticism. Proverbs 9:8, “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
d. A wise man has a teachable spirit. Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning”.
e. A wise man numbers his days. Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
f. A wise man plans for the future. Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
g. A wise man is careful about his friendships. Proverbs 13:20, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
h. A wise man edifies people with his tongue. Proverbs 12:18, ‘There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” He speaks carefully. Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.”
i. A wise man is gentle, not abrasive. James 3:14-17, “if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
There are many other ways we could describe a wise man, but this is a good start.
6. The Fountain of Wisdom. God is the fountain of wisdom, and if you ask Him, He will give it to you through a diligent study of His Word. James says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” If you want to be wise, you must plant the Word of God in your heart. It is the Word which birthed in you a new heart and a new nature. James says that God “of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:16).
The blessed man learns to depart from the counsel of the ungodly, because “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper”.
You may say, “I don’t have time for the Word!” If you are living for eternity you will always MAKE time! That brings us to our next point.
III. People who live for eternity Conserve their Time. Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”. We live in an evil world, and there are so many opportunities to waste time! Remember to spend your time well—it is an eternal investment. Right now counts forever! Paul says we are to redeem, or literally “buy back” each moment of our time for the Lord’s use. What are we buying back our time from? We are purchasing and guarding it from waste! Time can be wasted. Therefore, we are to make the most of every opportunity. How can we do that? Remember these principles:
A. Our time is not our own. It is a stewardship from God. Therefore we are called not to use our time for our own comfort, but to please God with it.
Application: We are called not just in getting things done, but in getting the right things done. I say this because there are many lost people who know that time is precious. Steven Covey is a lost Mormon who has a time management system. I’m not talking about that kind of time management. What Paul is saying is “Redeem the time for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom”. The lost person lives for himself. He may organize his time well so he has plenty of time for self. But we are not called to serve self, but God alone. You see organizing is not enough. To redeem the time is not just organizing, but we must prioritizing for God’s kingdom. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The goal is to be satisfied in Him every moment and use every moment to please Him. Paul says in Colossians 3:1-2, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
That means getting done what God wants done and what glorifies Him most, no matter what I feel like. The Scottish preacher Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910) put it this way:
No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.
B. Our time is perfectly measured. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. Busy people are not given a special button they can push to get 28 hours. If you find out where that button is, please inform me. Unfortunately, no such button exists. Therefore, a wise person knows we have very little time in this life, and our time must be invested wisely. He remembers the words of Job who said, “Now my days are swifter than a [running currier]… 26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:25-26). Time is a precious commodity that is quickly passing away.
C. Time is a non-renewable resource. In other words, you live in this moment once, and once it passes away, it is gone forever. Use it wisely. Here are some ideas.
1. Redeem your time from the mundane. We spend many hours in getting ready for the day, driving to and from work, down time at work, break time, or doing mundane tasks around the house. Many of the things we do are automatic functions that require no thinking. How can you redeem that time?
a. If you are driving, turn off your radio. Instead, get an interesting audio book—it could be theological, historical, scientific, whatever. Expand your heart and mind. You can also use an mp3 player in your car for this.
b. Use the mundane time for praying for people. Use the book Operation World. Each day a different country is listed with its needs. Learn about the countries of the world so that you can have more compassion in prayer and pray for
c. Meditate on a passage of Scripture. Learn a verse during your morning devotions, and bring your mind back to it during the mundane time.
2. Instead of surfing the web, checking out Facebook, watching TV, etc, do something fun with your family. Read a missionary biography together.
3. Husbands, we have a tendency to think that time spent at home is a waste of time. We would never say it, but most men are goal oriented. We like to see big projects accomplished. Most of the time there are no great mountains to scale at home. I have cheated my family out of time so that I can get more projects done at work. What I’ve realized is that God will bless me with efficient use of my time if I put priorities first. We’ve got to spend quality time with our family. As I said time is a non-renewable resource. Use it wisely.
Application: Let me make an application for parents and children. Be careful of time wasters for our children such as video games and films (even though they are good films). As parents we are stewards of our children’s time as well. Instead, spend time with your children. Memorize Bible verses together. Play a family game together. Have a family night at home. It doesn’t have to cost anything. Time with your family is a non-renewable resource.
Finally, we come to another important principle:
D. We are to live every moment of time to the fullest. Paul says in Colossians 3:23, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”. We need to redeem the time. We must from the heart and for the Lord fix our fierce concentration and focus on the task at hand. We won’t get any rewards in heaven for day dreaming. Day dreaming is a waste of time. We must put all our effort to doing the will of God in the task at hand.
Young Jonathan Edwards made a series of resolutions one year early on in his life. One of those resolutions reads this way:
Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
The missionary-martyr Jim Eliott said in his college days at Wheaton College not far from here:
Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt any situation you believe to be the will of God.
Application: Look back at the countless minutes of your life. Have you used your time wisely for Christ? Have you used the mundane times and the exciting times—the joyous times and the times of trial—the heartbreaking times and the times of success—what about the times of sickness—have you used those times to further your growth in Christ and the Kingdom of God? Every moment is to be redeemed. You are given this moment only once. Be careful not to waste it!
Conclusion: Let me close with verse 17, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Listen, if you are going to live for eternity, you’ve got to get into the Word of God.
Wisdom in the Bible is not just understanding what the will of the Lord is, but understanding and doing it. Wisdom is practical knowledge. It is God’s Word lived out on fire in the life. So remember:
1. Get into the Word! The Word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Word!
2. Get the Word into your life! Jesus said in John 4:34, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me”. John 8:29 we read that Jesus did always “those things which please the Father”. Can you say that? Redeem the time! Live for eternity!
 This Greek word is also used to describe Herod in how he searched diligently for the Christ child that he might kill him (Luke 2:18).
 Parallel verse: Colossians 4:5, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time”.
 Alexander MacLaren. Record of Christian Work (Moody: East Northfield, Mass, 1910), 338.
 Jonathan Edwards. Works, Volume 1 (Converse: New York, 1829), 68.
 Jim Eliott in Kenneth Boa’s book Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2001), 269.