Redeem the time
Case Study 1
A publishing company in US places order for printing huge stock of books to a printer in India. The books are printed and it takes long time for delivery to US. The reason being the distance of printing facility from seaport, delay in loading of containers in ship and transport of consignment to US. Sometimes, it takes more than three months. A Chinese company comes in and negotiates with the same publishing company to deliver the consignment of books in less than half the time taken by the Indian company. How they can do it? They receive orders. A printing press is installed in a ship. All the raw materials: paper, ink, …etc are loaded in the ship. Within 24 hours of receiving orders, the ship sails. As the ship sails, the printing factory inside the ship begins its operation. By the time, the ship reaches the seaport in US, the books are ready to be delivered. The travel time was converted to production time and they deliver goods faster than anyone in the world.
Case study 2
One Christian organization has their leader stationed in one city and has the administrative headquarters in another city. Travelling between these two cities takes a lot of time. The CEO shared that he spent more than 27 days sitting inside the train shuttling between these two cities also. I told him, “You organization is so crazy that they can give you one month salary for just sitting or sleeping inside a train.” A national leader’s time, energy, creativity, and contribution is sacrificed in the altar of Gandhian idealism.
Revealed in Creation narrative
The Creation narrative in the book of Genesis provides insights to understand time. The Self existing God is not bound by time or space. Time was created for the benefit of human beings to fulfill the mandate of ‘dominating’ the earth. Time is not a deity as some religions believe; but part of created earth. God created sun, moon and stars to help us to enumerate and calibrate time. As humans are created in God’s image, time was given as resource to govern the earth.
Time is one of the best resources God has given to humans for free. Also it is given in equal measure to all people. There is no discrimination based on age or sex or culture or race or nation. Resources enhances our potential, helps in progress, multiplies the impact and makes life worthy and purposeful. Time is such a resource, God has given to be used in a wise, creative and optimum level. Paul writes that we should redeem the time, as the present context is not guaranteed and future is not sure. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5: 15,16) Time moves on steadily and waits for none.
In the modern world, time is equated with money. Like time, money is also a good resource to accomplish great things. Investing time, a person could earn revenue. The salary is calculated according to the time invested. In the case study 2, the leadership or board did not understand the time spent in train could be invested creatively for ministry. The leader’s abilities and skills are wasted by not allowing to use time available at his disposal.
Time is needed to develop relationships. Especially, husband and wife relationships, parents and children relationships, friendships and fellowship among believers need lot of time to be invested. God came to Eden to spend time with Adam and Eve. That demonstrates the need for investment of time in developing and nurturing relationships.
Received and cannot be retrieved
Time is a wonderful gift from God. It has to be gratefully received. One cannot purchase or borrow or steal time. It comes as gift provided freely by God. The gratefulness for God’s gift is expressed by wise use of that gift. Time could be misused by pursuing unprofitable or unedifying purpose or doing ‘dead works’. Time should be considered as a perishable commodity. If it is not used, it is wasted. When it is missed, it could never be retrieved.
Paul’s exhortation to redeem the time is consistent with the biblical worldview of time. It is blessed to receive time as gift from our Lord every day, so that we could work for Him, His Glory and His Kingdom.