On 5th March at our evening service we were joined by Sarah & Richard Edwards, who are members of Buelah URC, Rhiwbina and are following the Training for Learning and Serving (TLS) course.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15
It is not difficult to find quotes on time – Benjamin Franklin said this;
‘Do you love life – then do not squander time, because it is the stuff life is made of.’
Michel Altshulner, an American speaker and author on business leadership says this;
‘The bad news is that time flies, the good news is that you are the pilot.’
But what does the Bible say about time. We have already seen some of what the old Testament has to say in Ecclesiastes. Paul in Ephesians chapter 5: 15-16 writes this, and I quote from the revised standard version;
‘See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.’
But what does redeeming the time actually mean. The Greek word for uses for redeem is Exagorazo. Ek meaning out of and agorazo meaning to purchase. It was a marketplace term and used in the sense of when you are redeeming a slave, for example out of a bad situation. However, it is not slaves but time that is being talked about here. I.e. Making something good out of a bad situation.
You will have to bear with me for a bit. I am no Greek scholar, but a bit of research into the Greek word used the time in the Bible helps gain some deeper insights into what Paul is actually saying in Ephesians. I thought it would be useful to share this tonight.
I want to share with you to two Greek words used for time.
Kairos is the one used here in Ephesus and is used to refer to a pre-destined time.
Chronos is another Greek word used in the Bible to refer to time, and refers to hours and minutes. I found this particular analogy helpful in this context. Chronos is conscious of every minutes in every hour – a bit like a blinkered horse going up and down a ploughed field. It gets plenty of work done but little else and fails to see the bigger picture.
Kairos time is likened to a hawk flying overhead ready to swoop down and use every opportunity. Kairos time sees life as a series of possibilities – interestingly not every second having the same worth.
So Paul is asking us essentially to make the most of every opportunity – why? Because the days are evil.
We like Paul live in a less than perfect world. As Christians we are called to do good in hostile territory. Opportunity to do good can end up getting swallowed in busyness and in a mind set on less than important priorities. Our concern with Chronos-redeeming time in terms of hours and minutes means like the blinkered horse we fail as we have mentioned to see the bigger picture, and can end up being driven by the amount we have to do. Kairos time on the other hand are those predetermined opening arranged by a sovereign God to act as salt and light – a slice of time when we have the opportunity to do something good. Paul calls us to be wise and since wisdom comes from God, life is precious and should be handled with prayer.
If we look at Jesus’s life there is never any sense of hurry his times like ours were in God’s hand. We have constant examples of where when any big decisions had to be made he would withdraw and often spend the whole night praying. Certainly when he was very busy he would make an extra effort to get up a” great while before day” in order to pray. Prayer was a priority and he always made time for it.
I started with quotes and I want to end with a couple from some reflections entitled Time management, God’s way, the first is this;
Life is always a process, and it is the process God is more concerned with then the productivity, (remember the ploughing horse). When we overly emphasise productivity we often pervert the process-
Instead of Faith we substitute work,
Instead of depth we substitute speed,
Instead of love we substitute money,
And instead of prayer we substitute busyness.
The second quote is one which our church in Rhiwbina found particularly helpful and reads as follows;
Schedule margin time – margin is the space between our load and our limits. As we can see from the Bible, Jesus never seemed in a hurry, time urgency was absent from his life. Creating margin time is perhaps one of the best ways to allow Christ-like spontaneity and interrupt ability, that into our lives. Margin time blunts hurry and allows us to focus on the divine appointments God sends our way.
As someone once said;
Blessing is the flexible, because they are not easily broken.
I love the words of the prayer of St Francis of Assisi – because it really captures this idea of Kairos time. It expresses this idea of taking something from darkness into light – of redeeming something out of a bad situation and using time to make life better.
As we seek to become more sensitive to the opportunities God gives us let is finish with this prayer and bow before God to say this prayer together;
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me so love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned
And it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life. Amen