REDEEM THE TIME
J. N. Manokaran
Case Study 1
A publishing company in the US places an order on a printing house in India for printing a huge stock of books. The books are printed and delivered to the US, but with considerable delay. The long distance between the printing facility and the seaport, the time taken for loading the containers on the ship and transporting them to the U.S. contributed to the delay.
A Chinese company comes in and negotiates with the same publishing company for executing an identical order in less than half the time taken by the Indian company. How do they do it? Here’s how: no sooner the order is received, a printing press is installed in the ship which is identified for sailing, along with the raw materials like paper, ink, etc., and the ship sails within 24 hours. While the ship is in transit, the workers and printing machinery inside the ship are on the job, and by the time the ship reaches the U.S. seaport, the books are ready to be delivered. The travel time is converted into production time and the goods are delivered promptly. So much for the value ascribed to ‘time’!
Case Study 2
A Christian organisation has its leader stationed in one city while the administrative headquarters is situated in another city. Travelling between these two cities consumes a big chunk of time. When their CEO told me that he spent more than 27 days in a month shuttling between the two cities, I told him bluntly, “Your organisation is crazy to pay you 30 days’ salary just for travelling!” A national leader's time, energy, creativity and contribution are sacrificed at the altar of a Gandhian idealism.
The creation narrative in the book of Genesis provides a clue to understanding time. The self-existent God is not bound by time and space. Time was created for the benefit of us humans to fulfil the mandate of 'dominating' the earth. Time is not a deity, as some religions believe, but part of created earth. God created the sun, moon and stars to help us enumerate and calibrate time. When the first humans, of whom we all are the descendants, were created (in God's image) ‘time’ was given to them as a resource to govern the earth.
The Resource. Time is one of the best resources God has given us in equal measure for free and without discrimination. God-given resources enhance our potential, contribute to our progress, multiply their impact on our lives and make life worthy and purposeful. Time is such a resource God has given us to be used wisely, creatively and optimally. We are called upon to ‘redeem’ the time because the present context is not guaranteed and the future is not certain. "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Eph.5:15,16). We know that time moves on steadily and waits for none.
The Revenue. In the modern world, time is equated with money. Like time, money is a good resource to accomplish great things. As salary is calculated on the basis of the time invested in work, time spent wisely and judiciously can yield good revenue. In Case Study 2, the Board failed to exploit the precious resource of the time that was available while the CEO travelled. His travel time could have been used creatively and profitably for the work of the ministry.
The Relationships. It requires time to build relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, friends and colleagues. Similarly, fellowship among Christian believers cannot grow as it should without their meeting together frequently – which requires each one to give of their time. Remember, God came to the Garden of Eden to spend quality time with Adam and Eve.
Retrievable? Never! We cannot purchase, borrow or steal time; it is a wonderful gift from God for which we should be grateful. We express our gratitude for the gift of time by using it wisely. It is foolishness to misuse and abuse time by pursuing unprofitable and unedifying activities or simply idling. Time is a perishable commodity – if unused, it is lost and wasted; once lost, it can never be retrieved.
Responsibility. Paul's exhortation to redeem the time is consistent with the biblical worldview of time. God’s gift of time is a great blessing for us and it becomes our responsibility to invest that resource in the task of building His kingdom.