by Mike Ratliff
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12 ESV)
It seemed that the moment I posted Are You Walking Circumspectly? that the pressure came to bear upon me from nearly every direction in an effort to distract me from doing that very thing. To walk circumspectly is to walk in light of the gifts of wisdom and discernment from God. However, we all have people and circumstances in our lives that are the sources of fiery tests and trials that are allowed by God to buffet us so that we will see clearly our dire need of His grace and cause us to draw closer to Him in repentance. It doesn’t help that we are at the height of ragweed season where we live and the older I get, the worse my symptoms to that become. Lay on top of that circumstances that are clear affronts to our concepts of what is “fair” and “right” and given no recourse then our emotions can certainly take over. As I reflected on these things before I prayed and sought God’s will for this piece I actually “felt” completely unworthy to do this. How can I teach from God’s Word when I have been struggling so much with my own battles over these very things?
As I prayed about these things and I came unto the throne of grace, shedding my “rights,” my “hurt feelings,” my complete exasperation with my circumstances I came to re-realize what I have known along, that my sufficiency is in Christ, not me. The ability to rightly divide the Word of Truth comes from the Spirit as He works through me and the Spiritual giftedness given to me for this purpose. The closer I draw to Christ, the less self-sufficient I am and the less important all “this stuff” that has all my attention really is. In fact, my Lord is Sovereign and I have been fretting because I have descended to operating in the flesh. However, for me to be above all of this stuff, even if it is all still there, I must operate or walk in the Spirit instead, that is, walking circumspectly, not as a fool, but as the wise (Ephesians 5:15). Let’s complete the thought.
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:16-17 ESV)
ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσι. διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνιέντες τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Κυρίου. (Ephesians 5:16-17 GNT)
redeeming the time, because the days evil are. Through this not become foolish, but understand what the will of Lord. (Ephesians 5:16-17 a word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
The word I translated here as “time” is καιρόν, “a decisive or crucial place or point.” A good parallel passage to this one would be Colossians 4:5, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” or “Εν σοφίᾳ περιπατεῖτε πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω, τὸν καιρὸν ἐξαγοραζόμενοι.” In both passages the Apostle used the same word for “time” and ἐξαγοραζόμενοι a present tense, middle/passive mood, participle of ἐξαγοράζω or exagorazō. That means that this is talking about continuous or repeated action relative to the main verb in the passage. In any case, ἐξαγοράζω means “to buy up.” It was used in Galatians 3:13;4:15 to describe Christ purchasing His people out of the slave market of sin. In this passage and in Colossians 4:5 Paul is saying that Christians who walk circumspectly, that is, in the Spirit, in wisdom and discernment, must do so by buying up all our time and devoting it to God. God wants us to be concerned with decisive points of time and specific situations of life, to consider each and every moment to be an opportunity for growth, service, and witness. To do otherwise is foolish as we saw in Ephesians 5:15. The fool wastes time, but the wise man or woman invests it.
I use the ESV most of the time, but I think its translators zeal for relevancy have missed what Paul was teaching in these two passages, Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5, because they have over interpreted ἐξαγοραζόμενοι instead of simply translating it. My 1560 Geneva Bible translates ἐξαγοραζόμενοι as “Redeming” in Ephesians 5:16 and “redeme” in Colossians 4:5. Of course, the New Testament in the Geneva Bible was taken primarily from William Tyndale’s 1534 New Testament. The NKJV gets it right too. Paul is not telling Christians here to “make the most of your time;” he is saying “buy it” and make it yours and use it correctly.
In these Post-modern times, in the false doctrine of seeker-sensitive paradigm, which is all about people looking inward and doing things with their own energies and with their own talents, et cetera, instead of seeing oneself as a sinner in desperate need of a Saviour and God’s Grace, we also hear a lot about using every opportunity to “do good.” That is not what Paul was talking about here. No, he was telling us to buy it out, purchase all that it offers. That means to pay the necessary price in effort and exertion. In other words, we don’t just use the time; we buy it, no matter how much it costs. Wisdom does not come cheap. It takes time, effort, dedication, and in fact, a lifetime of investment, and devotion to walking circumspectly. We are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10), but we are not saved by them. These good works are walking as a Christian in this evil world reacting as our Lord would not as someone who is walking in the flesh. That is why the pressure comes to bear so severely on us when we dedicate ourselves to this.
Soli Deo Gloria!