“Grant us Now A Glad New Year”
“Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16
As we approach the coming New Year we are reminded of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:16: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The Christian view of time is different than that of the world. In God’s Word, we have a new perspective on the past, present, and future. God has freely forgiven our past sins for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior. Therefore, confiding in His grace, we can now look to the future, not with fear and dread, but with new hope and confidence. God is in control of the affairs of entire world; nothing can touch the life of the child of God apart from His loving and wise permission. In the present we rejoice that God has objectively justified the entire world because of the vicarious life and death of His Son and freely offers the forgiveness of sins to all men through the message of the Gospel.
Because of the sure promises of the Gospel the Christian’s future has been made certain. We do not know the exact details of all that will happen in the years to come, but we trust in the promises of God’s Word who cannot lie or fail to keep His Word. As we look to the future Paul exhorts us to redeem the time God has given us; to make the most of the finite number of days we are given on this earth. God has given each of us a vocation to fulfill with our lives, and we are to labor to His Glory. “Redeeming the time” also includes faithfully serving the Lord in accordance with His Word in the Church, using our individual talents and abilities. Christ has commissioned His believing children to proclaim the Word of Reconciliation to the world that men might believe the Gospel and be saved. This blessed privilege of extending the Kingdom of God is the Christian’s priority as he lives in the world.
While on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ was focused on the priorities of His saving work, and He understood that His time on earth was brief. He once said “I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4). “Redeeming the time” is living by divine priorities, using the time God has given us for the most important things in life and eternity. Our Lord told a parable of a rich man whose priority in life was the accumulation of wealth and personal comfort. He is shown in the parable planning his future retirement and life without any consideration to his dependence on God or the reality of his own mortality. God said to him: “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). Jesus posed a similar question to all of us regarding the real consequences of wrong priorities when He asked “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark. 8:36). Because we don’t know the times and the seasons regarding our own life and death, we must live by God’s priorities; none of us knows what the day may bring.
Our newspaper in town carried a story a while back about a businessman in his mid forties who was involved in a large building project worth millions of dollars. Every day he could be found at the job site consulting with his engineers and contractors on the details of the project; and, by all accounts, the work was going very well. His family and friends later told the newspaper reporter that he had always appeared to them to be in excellent health. His personal physician also confirmed that he had no history of heart problems. Yet one day without warning, he had a massive heart attack and died. He was a very successful man in the world’s estimation; he likely had many plans and dreams for his future; but he suddenly discovered that God had other plans for him. In the end, the most important thing about him was not his money; it was the condition of his eternal soul before God. “Redeeming the time” is making our first priority the present condition of our soul in light of God’s Word.
Scripture warns all of us not to receive the grace of God in vain and invites penitent sinners everywhere to be saved today. “Behold now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:1-2). We dare not trust our past “spiritual track record” but rely solely upon the work of our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the payment in full for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2). God has given all of us a certain amount of time during our Day of Grace to believe on Jesus Christ; and the Apostle James reminds us that in light of eternity our time on earth is very brief: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Therefore we must seek the Lord today and not put off calling upon Him while He is near to us in His Word. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near”(Isaiah 55:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ lived His life upon this earth in perfect obedience to His Father in Heaven, always “redeeming the time” and making the Father’s will His life’s priority. His entire life on earth was filled with good works and deeds of mercy as He, as our Substitute, purchased righteousness for all mankind. He earned in our place a life filled with the Holy Spirit, grace, joy, and peace that is ours through faith in His Gospel. He paid for our sins by His atoning death and calls us through His Word to walk in His steps in the power of the Holy Spirit (I John 2:6). He has revealed to us what God’s will is toward all men, namely that they “be saved and come unto the knowledge of the Truth” (I Timothy 2:4) and that He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:11b). As we look forward to the New Year, may God grant each of us continued repentance and faith to live in the grace of God through Jesus Christ, our precious Savior, “redeeming the time” God has given us as we live in an evil world eagerly anticipating “the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.” Amen.
—R. A. M.