Making The Most of The Time

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Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
-Ephesians 5:15-17

What does this phrase, "making the most of the time", mean?

A similar line is written by Paul in Colossians 4:5, "Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time."

What got me thinking about this was hearing Jim Croce's song, Time In A Bottle.  It was a number one hit in 1973.  He wrote the song just after finding out that his wife Ingrid was pregnant, in 1970, with their only child.  It's about mortality and the desire to spend time wisely.

Here are the words:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

Sadly, Jim Croce died in a small plane crash, in 1973, at the age of 30.  From From Song Facts:

This hit #1, 14 weeks after Croce was killed in a plane crash. Croce started touring after he completed I Got A Name. On September 30, 1973 a plane carrying Croce and five other people crashed upon takeoff as he was leaving one college venue to another 70 miles away. No one survived the accident, and among those killed was Maury Muehleisen, who played guitar on Croce's albums. Terry Cashman, who produced Croce, told us, "Jim and Maury got together and all of the sudden Jim started writing these great songs, and Maury came up with these really wonderful guitar parts - the two guitars were like an orchestra."

"Time In A Bottle" entered the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 1, 1973 and finally reached #1 for the week ending December 29, a little over 3 months after he died.

It is very ironic that he wrote this song three years before dying.

Jim mailed a letter from the road, just before the fatal plane crash, telling his wife that he was sorry for being such a jerk and that he wanted to spend more time at home with her.

In Ephesians, Paul writes about redeeming time.  I opened up Markus Barth's commentary, and these are some notes:

What is time redeemed from?(1)
  1. The devil? (John Calvin)
  2. Evil men? (Johann Albrecht Bengel)
  3. The depravity characterizing it because of Adam's  and each man's own prior sin? (Thomas Aquinas)
  4. Loss and misuse? (Robinson)
Origen wrote that a saint can transform bad days into good ones, but Amos 5:13 says that the wise man keeps silent in evil times.

Paul does not clearly state for us, how to redeem the time.  Barth wrote: "Only one thing is clear: the transitoriness, deceptiveness, and adversity of the time in which the saints live does not excuse the people of God from using every opportunity and tackling each task they are given."(1)

Time here, in Ephesians 5, is kairos, which means "opportune time".  Kairos time is a "window of opportunity" time.  A kairos time may be a once in a lifetime set of circumstances or may be something unique that happens in your life, in time.

Chronos is the word for normal time, like when we say, "what time is is?"

Most people that are married meet their future spouse in their life time (chronos), but it becomes a special time (kairos), "the time when we met", "the time when we became engaged".  If someone does not ask someone to marry them or someone turns someone down, then the opportunity to become engaged is lost.  And one person may view this as a missed opportunity and another as just an unfortunate circumstance in time (chronos) when one person wanted something that the other did not.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
-Ephesians 5:16-17

Making the most of time (opportune time) means, "redeem the time".  Or rather, "redeem the time", means, to make the most of the time.

We need to make the most of the time we are given because time is limited.  Our time on earth, our time in time, has a limit.

Make the most of the daily opportunities that come to you, in time.

I want to go back to Jim Croce's song, that says:

There never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do, once you find them.

I've looked around enough to know, you're the one I want to go through time with.

I think that Jim was saying that time goes by and that time is limited, so he said  he wished to spend more time with his loved one.  In the song, he imagines that he would like to save up his time and spend it with his beloved.

But, he says that, "there never seems to be enough time".  That statement is true today.  It is easy to not spend time with the ones you love, because there are a multitude of other things that can take up our time.  The message to parents, and to spouses, it to "take the time", for your loved ones.

Since it is so easy to waste time or squander it, time-management is an issue.

Any Christian's priorities should be:
  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Vocation/ministry
  4. Recreation/hobbies
It is foolish to conflate God with ministry.  That's what happens when a person neglects their family for the ministry.  Spending time with God is the first thing and spending time with family is the second thing.  The rest of life comes after those.

The idea of redeeming the time actually means buying it back.  If you think about the word redeem, it means buying or taking.  Jesus redeems us.  He takes our sin, if we will give it to him.  To get redemption, there has to be an exchange.

Redeem means to make good or settle an account.  We might say that we liked a movie, because it was redemptive or had redeeming qualities.  Redeem means made good.  We are in a redemption process.

What does "buying back time" mean?  It might mean becoming aware of opportunities in time that can be missed.  It might mean to actively make the most of opportunities in time that come up.  It might mean to make the most of what comes each day.

After I finished college and did not have a job lined up, my grandma invited me to come and live with her.  My grandpa had died two or three years prior to this, and in that season, I had begun having dinner with my grandma each week.  I was going through my darkest years, at that time, and she was one of the people who was a loving light for me, in the time.

I took the time and said yes to this redemptive relationship and came over for dinner each week.  And from that, she invited me to live with her.  That was very redemptive, for both of us.  And it dawned on me that we would grow closer and it would be more painful for me when she died later.  But the grief from because of the love in relationship, is far better than the sour grief of the missed opportunity to spend with someone who loves you.

1. notes from Makus Barth: Ephesians 4-6, 1974; pp. 578-9