Making the most of every opportunity

Time is a remarkable gift from God. The pages of our personal planners and the squares on our calendars represent the moments God has entrusted to our care. But how should we use them? We can fill those moments in an almost limitless variety of ways.

“Be very careful, then, how you live...making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” 
- Ephesians 5:15

Paul reminds us that the very nature of our world discourages our stewardship of time. “The days are evil,” he writes (Eph. 5:15). And because evil seems so powerful in our world, we are tempted to despair of making a real difference. The author E. B. White once said, “When I get up in the morning I am torn between saving the world and enjoying the world. This makes it very difficult to plan my day.” 

He’s right. Saving the world seems an impossible task. What difference will our little acts of goodness make in the overall scheme of things? No wonder so many people today allow time to run through their fingers like sand on the seashore. We pursue meaningless activities that kill time and the possibilities it presents.

Paul challenges us to be stewards of time, “making the most of our opportunities” (v. 15). Paul understands that because of Christ’s victory on the cross, time is redeemed. Our efforts to use time in ways that make a difference for the kingdom of God will not be wasted. God will establish our work through the power of his grace.

But then, should we go from one extreme to the other? Does seizing every opportunity mean we can never relax, never have a moment for ourselves, never take time to “smell the roses?” Is Paul calling us to become workaholics for the kingdom of God?

No! Here in these verses, Paul sets our use of time against an invitation to worship God. In so doing, he reminds us that using our time well is set against the backdrop of God’s divinely established rhythm for life. Early in Israel’s history, God set a pattern for us. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:9-10). God’s “six and one” pattern reminds us that we do not live by work alone. Not even God’s kingdom comes about by our work alone. Rather, our times are in God’s hand. God’s grace working through us makes a difference—not only for today but for eternity.

Source: “The Joy of Generosity" devotional series developed by Barnabas Foundation and available at www.barnabasfoundation.com; adapted from the HomeLink series written by Pastor Bob Heerspink and released by Faith Alive Christian Resources.