I’ve been reflecting on Ephesians 5:15-20 as I prepare to preach this upcoming Sunday. The message of these verses is summed up in 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
The phrase “making the most of every opportunity” can also be translated “making the most of the time” or “redeeming the time”. The idea is that our time, and the opportunities if affords, are limited.
Christians are called to intentionality and urgency. Our days our limited, and so are our years. 2018 won’t come again. Here are some ideas, applied from Ephesians 5:15-20, for making the most of 2018.
- Number your days. We’ll live intentionally if we pray with Moses “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) In 2018, attend a funeral, or spend some time contemplating your own.
- Make some goals. What do you need to accomplish in 2018? You might fail at 80% of those goals, but it’s still better to live with purpose than to drift.
- Start a Bible reading plan. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:17) The best way to understand God’s word is to read His Word. Download the Bible App (and become my friend) and start one of the many Bible reading plans today.
- Join a Bible Study group. The only thing better than reading the Bible on your own is reading it with others. Do both.
- Read a book that will help you think intentionally. One of the best ones I’ve read recently is Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.
- Become a better manager of your time. Scripture is our primary source of wisdom, but a couple of secular books have been extremely helpful to me in terms of time management. Check out Getting Things Done or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Ask God to give you opportunities to share the gospel. When Paul instruction the Colossians to make the most of their time (Colossians 4:5) it was in the context of sharing the gospel. Ask God to open doors for you in 2018.
- Make the most of the opportunities God gives you. Be prepared. Then be courageous.
- Cut out time wasters. The man or woman who is intentional sets a course and steers the ship. The one who doesn’t drifts. How much of our time do we waste “drifting”, mindlessly scrolling through social media, playing video games, or watching TV. Consider taking one or more technology or social media fasts in 2018.
- Replace “leisure” with “recreation”. God built rest into the system. But there are more and less constructive ways to do it. Look for activities that help you rest and rebuild, not just ones which let you turn off your brain.
- Cut out the (excessive) alcohol. The foil for wisdom in Ephesians 5 is drunkenness (5:18). At first, I didn’t think I needed to include this in the list, but alas… Christians, don’t get drunk (or high)!
- Use money for eternal purposes. The same principle that applies to time applies to other resources as well. We have a limited amount of money. It’s temporary. But by God’s grace we ca use temporary and limited resources for eternal gains. Here’s one way to do it: Sponsor a child through Compassion International.
- Spend time on the relationships that matter most. You have a finite amount of time with those you love. Use it well.
- Take care of your body. View your body as a tool for advancing God’s kingdom. Just as you intentionally use your time and money for eternal purposes, be intentional about how you treat your body. Maintain a healthy diet and get active.
- Prioritize worship. In the same passage that Paul talks about making the most of our time, he talks about worship – singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Worship isn’t a waste of time. In worship we’re bringing glory to God. I challenge you to attend Sunday morning worship every Sunday in January. Bonus: Get there on time.
- Count your blessings. “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). The best year without ingratitude is a waste. But godliness, with contentment, is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
- Decide to follow Jesus. We’ll never be able to perfectly live out the commands if Ephesians 5:15-20, but Jesus did. He lived the perfect life so that we don’t have to. He infuses our lives, no matter what they are, with eternal meaning and significance, not because we’re so great, but because of His great love for us.
- Don’t give up. 2017 wasn’t so great? Keep doing good and following God. Embrace this promise: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
Have a blessed 2018