REDEEMING THE TIME
T. Pierce Brown
“I’m just killing time.” The expression almost makes cold chills run down my spine. I think almost 70 years of living and 5 heart bypasses makes me more conscious of time and its value. Or it may be that trying to travel all over the country, driving 400 or more miles per day and speaking to churches Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday night, working with 3000 students in Africa, and keeping in contact with over 200 churches and preachers there to follow up on my students, and writing articles while I am waiting for something else to happen, makes me more conscious that every minute is valuable. I am writing this while I am sitting in a waiting room having new tires put on my car. Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” He might have added “And the nights are even worse.”
It might be valuable to someone to see other ways to redeem the time. Since my doctors said to walk two or three miles a day, I try to do that. Since I need to be filling my heart with the precious word of God, I have a portable tape player with earphones so I can read as I walk. I have another tape recorder by my bed with a pillow speaker. In the few minutes it takes for me to go to sleep I again listen to God. Many years ago I read that some researchers found that persons could learn a foreign language by listening to it in their sleep. I do not know how true it is, but I would rather learn God’s Word as I sleep than anything else of which I know. A tape player in the car to listen to sermons, the Bible, or almost anything else is better than much of what I would be hearing on the radio. When I have to wait in the doctor’s office or barber shop, instead of wandering around looking at year-old magazines, I find it is a good time to catch up on my reading of various gospel papers or special books that I can `take with me.
There is a caution about all this that you need to know in case you get involved in such activities. If you feel under pressure to have to fill every waking or sleeping moment with some “worthwhile” activity, there may be a danger to your nervous system. God made each of us so that we require some time for relaxation. We should learn to walk and meditate or sit and let our mind “run free.” A rubber band that is kept under tension always will soon lose its elasticity and snap under pressure. I am simply suggesting that it is as possible to relax while listening to the word of God as it is to relax while your mind is being filled with some vulgar TV show. It is possible to relax as much with a good book or article that you need to read as it is with some out-of-date magazine with which you may “kill time.”
How you spend your time may depend on what and whom you really love. A man who loves his wife does not feel under undue pressure if he sits a few minutes, holds her hand and tells her he loves her. He does not have to get his “relaxation” by going out with another woman. The idea I am trying to suggest is that it is possible to relax from writing articles by changing activities and answering the questions ofWorldBibleSchoolstudents. Then it is possible to relax from that by doing research on some new Bible question. A time may come when you need to relax by going out on a boat or to the mountain as Jesus did. But he was not just “killing time.” He was simply changing his method of glorifying God.
One can redeem the time in dozens of ways by making use of it in interesting and worthwhile ways without feeling under pressure to be productive at all times, if he simply puts his mind to it. No one has to “just kill time.” If one goes golfing or fishing because he needs to relax while trying to serve humanity under God’s direction, he can do it and glorify God. If he goes just to “kill time,” he is guilty of misusing a treasure God placed within his hands, and will answer to God for it.
Part of the key to the whole thing is the motive and attitude with which one does what he does. Paul gave an interesting clue to it when he said in I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” One may eat just to satisfy his appetite, and become a glutton. One may try to rest from having done nothing all day just because he is lazy. One also may eat to the glory of God, and rest to the glory of God. He can even fish or play golf to the glory of God. He also can lie about it, and be out fishing every day, “killing time,” when he could be fishing for men if he loved God’s will.
I started this article in a waiting room getting my tires changed. I am finishing it in a motel room waiting to speak to a congregation about the thrilling opportunities and glorious honor God has given us to be workers with him in getting the gospel into every nation under heaven.
We could feed most of the world with the scraps that fall from our tables. We could preach the gospel in the entire world with the money we waste on tobacco, junk food and trifles. We could change the course of history and convert thousands if we would just redeem the time and use it for the glory of God in whatever way the opportunity presented itself. Please do not ever just kill time!